Author Topic: RE: How do you mark your old chisels?  (Read 7788 times)

David Conley

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RE: How do you mark your old chisels?
« on: November 23, 2009, 11:22:18 PM »
One of the things that I really like about SAPFM is that anytime I have a problem, I can float you the question.  And every time, I get a great suggestion that is better than what I was planning on doing.  So, thanks in advance.

Let me start out by saying that I have always wanted to carve wood.  I got my first taste last weekend as the Ohio River Valley Chapter invited Mary May to come up and teach us how to carve a shell, a ball & claw, and acanthus leaves.  I must say I really enjoyed it. 

Before the class, I had sharpened my chisels and then used a “Sharpie” to mark the sweep /width on the steel portion of the chisels because I didn’t want to permanently mark the chisels or damage the handles.  However, this did not work very well because the writing quickly wore off.  It also slowed the carving process down as I tried to figure out which chisel I wanted to use next.

These chisels are old style “Cast Steel” chisels by Addis, Buck, Henry Taylor, Maiers, Herring, and others.  This means some of the sweeps are clearly marked on top of the steel, but most are not.  And, there is a wide assortment of handles (which helps in differentiating the chisels).

I guess what I really need is a permanent system for marking my chisels.  So my question to the group is:  Do you mark your OLD chisels?  And if so, how do you mark them?  And if not, how do you keep them in order?   

Thanks,
David

Jack Plane

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Re: RE: How do you mark your old chisels?
« Reply #1 on: November 23, 2009, 11:43:27 PM »
The sweep numbers are only relevant when buying new ones at the store as a means of identifying them amongst the large quantities of stock.

Once on the bench, with cutting edges towards me, I just select the one that suits what I'm doing.
Regards, Jack.

David Conley

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RE: How do you mark your old chisels?
« Reply #2 on: November 24, 2009, 10:11:00 PM »
Jack,

I like arranging my chisels by sweeps and then by widths.  That way, I can look at them and roughly tell which chisel I want next.  I am just too new to carving to be able to just glance at the chisel and tell the difference between a Sheffield #3 and #4.  That is why I am leaning towards a more permanent method of marking the sweeps.  Once I have the chisels arranged by sweeps, the widths are pretty obvious. 

In the “Storing Carving Tools” thread, Al Breed also mentioned he arranges the cutting edges towards him.  I understand the visual reason you guys are doing that.  But I can also see me dragging a hand across the bench in an absent-minded moment and catching a chisel across a hand.  I think I will stick with the slower, more idiot proof method of positioning the cutting edges away from me.  As Clint says, “A man has got to know his limitations.”   Maybe when I get more comfortable with carving, I will give your method a try.

Thanks,
David

jim vojcek

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Re: RE: How do you mark your old chisels?
« Reply #3 on: November 25, 2009, 07:36:32 PM »
Jack is correct.  It took me a while to get the hang of what sweep to use.  If you cannot tell the difference between a #3 and #4, use either one!  With practice you will get the hang of it.


                                         Jim Vojcek

frangallo

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Re: RE: How do you mark your old chisels?
« Reply #4 on: November 25, 2009, 09:56:42 PM »
I use a Sharpy. (TM)
There is a tide in the affairs of men which, taken at the flood, leads on to fortune.

David Conley

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Re: RE: How do you mark your old chisels?
« Reply #5 on: November 27, 2009, 11:46:57 AM »
In the “Storing Carving Tools” thread, Al Breed mentioned about stamping the sweep on the handle with a steel punch.  I have a 1/8” size set and I think I will use that.

Thanks all,
David

jdavis

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Re: RE: How do you mark your old chisels?
« Reply #6 on: December 02, 2009, 10:43:19 PM »
David, they are your chisels to do as you wish but I wouldn't recommend  using a steel punch on any antique tools if they are in good, original condition. Tool collectors often disparage marked tools and devalue them. That trickles down to tool users. Its ok when you're buying them cheaper with user marks, but when your heirs sell the tools you marked, they will only get to spend their inheritance vacationing in OH instead of the Bahamas. :>)  Ok,  I'm exaggerating for fun but I say Go with the permanent sharpie.

On the other hand, my favorite chisel is one of a set of 12 Bucks. A novel was engraved on the 2" chisel. The Author wrote in part, " Fred Tresize,  2/4 Irish,   1/4 Amer Indian, 1/4 English, Master Patternmaker, Master Molder". I always wonder about him and what he did, and it makes it more pleasurable whenever I use the chisel.  John

albreed

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Re: RE: How do you mark your old chisels?
« Reply #7 on: December 03, 2009, 08:33:15 AM »
David-I had already done about 15 years worth of carving before I knew what an 8-13 looked like. Ask the DC guys who I taught to build the secretaries- they would ask me if they should use an 8-13 and I would say "I don't know, show it to me"......Almost all of my tools were old and unmarked, so I just recognized them by the handles, which were all different. Now I do call out gouges by their numbers because my students usually have new tools. The reason you need to know your sweeps is to put them in the right draw or to get the right one when following directions.

I would suggest the following:

Arrange them with the edges facing you. You'll get used to it, it's faster, you'll learn to recognize them and you won't cut yourself. You'll cut yourself sweeping the chips off your work while holding the gouge in the other hand......

Get a chart of sweeps from a catalogue or from the tool company and laminate it and hang it by your carving tool box. Check the old tools against the chart and mark them on the handles if you need to. John Davis may be able to retire from the sale of his unmarked tools( just kidding, John), but you probably won't. If you're really worried about defacing old tools and reducing the value, take a few thousand and buy all new ones.

If you're a tool collector, tools are the end product. If you want to be a carver, tools are the means to the end. This doesn't mean you can't be both, I think we all are, just don't be afraid to do what you need to do to use them easily.

Am I ranting? Good luck-Al

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marymaycarving

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Re: RE: How do you mark your old chisels?
« Reply #8 on: December 04, 2009, 08:29:04 AM »
Hi Dave, you have a beautiful set of tools, and I wouldn't suggest stamping the numbers on the tools, because I'm sure as you work with them more, you will naturally recognize the curves. If you were to stamp anything, stamp your initials or name (I'm sure the antique collectors are cringing). I say this because I love the idea of the history behind these old chisels, as some have 3 or 4 different names stamped. If only that chisel could talk - possibly 3 or 4 generations of master carvers. When you add your name, you are adding your generation of carvers. These chisels could last another couple hundred years, and each name stamp tells another story. Having said all that, I haven't yet found a stamp that I like that will not detract from the beauty of those old handles. Probably a custom made stamp would work.

After all that, if you are planning on keeping these for monetary value, your own stamp may reduce the "antique" value, but if you are planning on passing this on to the next generation to use, put your little bit of history on them...then when they look back in several hundred years, they will say "wow - this is a David Conley chisel" and they'll sell it for millions...

Rick Yochim

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Re: RE: How do you mark your old chisels?
« Reply #9 on: December 04, 2009, 09:07:54 AM »
David,

As a rank beginner at carving myself, I've asked myself exactly the same questions about marking and arranging my set for use. Al and Mary have given you very good advice that has also been helpful to me in sorting this out.

That said, if in your antique tool heart of hearts you can't come to to permanently marking your chisels in any way, then I have a little suggestion.

Try wrapping the handles with thin width colored plastic tape. One color per sweep. You'll have your "at a glance" arrangement by sweep with the added benefit of the tape being removable when your heirs decide to cash in on your collection.

Now as for avoiding bloodshed I can't help you except to say keep them sharp. Slices close up quicker and the healing process accelerated. Trust me on that one.   

Hope this helps.

Rick Yochim           

awleonard

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Re: RE: How do you mark your old chisels?
« Reply #10 on: December 04, 2009, 02:55:32 PM »
I have only carved a few things, but I can say from a rookie's persepctive that it won't take long before the numbers aren't as important as the shape you are attempting to create.  Now, when I do pay attention to nyumbers is when I am trying to re-create something I did "on the other side" of the carving.  "was that a 3 or a 4?- hmmmm"  Sometimes, I'll keep a copy of the pattern close by and pencil in the numbers I use as I use them so I can replicate the effort.  I also find myself grabbing a tool and placing it on the carving and thinking, "Nope, that ain't it...." 

I'm not a tool collector.  I like the old tools because my hopes are that they already have been trained! 

Tony

albreed

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Re: RE: How do you mark your old chisels?
« Reply #11 on: December 04, 2009, 08:04:50 PM »
David- I like Mary's advice about putting your name on the tools. I've always done that, to the dismay of my collecting friends.

Just in case you don't have enough advice on the subject, one more thing- when you're through with a carving project, and the only tools out are the ones you actually used, take them and hammer the profile into a board and write down the profile next to the imprint. This way you'll have a record of the sweeps next time you want to do the same carving. I have a whole deck of these things on a chain.-Al
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Jeff L Headley

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Re: RE: How do you mark your old chisels?
« Reply #12 on: December 04, 2009, 11:03:13 PM »
To me the key word is old chisels. I am not lucky enough to have a complete set of chisels. Ours have been collected over the years. I look for handles also. You can't do that as well with sets. All the handles look alike except for the one that your spouse used as a paint can opener. Not that it ever happened to me. I was told that from an acquaintance. I don't like most modern sets of chisels, to much heavy metal. Would you rather carve with Bach or Ted Nugent. Not that there is anything wrong with Ted.  There is a time and a place for either. I have yet to find a new chisel that will rivale an old one in feel and execution. Every carving is different. Try drawing out the flow of the carving and then match the sweep to the drawing like a pattern. You will start to recognize the ones you use more than the others. Why would you need to mark an old tool anyway. It has it's marks it came with as to recognize it from the others. Your tools should be treated like your children. Love them for what they are not what you want them to be. OK It's getting a little deep!

John McAlister

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Re: RE: How do you mark your old chisels?
« Reply #13 on: December 04, 2009, 11:25:13 PM »
I'd just like to express my appreciation and thanks to all the contributors to this topic. When you can get exact answers to a "how to" question involving carving, plus a little editorial comment, from the likes of Al Breed, Mary May, Jeff Headley, John Davis and the others who responded; brother you are indeed on a roll!  Thanks all!
John McAlister
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Hobbies other than furniture making include fishing, hunting and tennis. Flew P 51's WWII, 8th Air Force, Europe.

jdavis

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Re: RE: How do you mark your old chisels?
« Reply #14 on: December 05, 2009, 12:46:26 PM »
Y'all have converted me. After reading Mary's prediction, I've worked through the night stamping "David Conley" into all of my tools! :>)

John