Author Topic: carving chisels versus firmer gouges.  (Read 12175 times)

JamesT

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carving chisels versus firmer gouges.
« on: November 29, 2010, 03:20:50 PM »
I have been on a carving tear as of late and I have a dumb question.There are carving chisels/gouges and then there are these gouges that have no numbers.What is the difference between the two.I realize one is finer and the other one seems heaver steel.

marymaycarving

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Re: carving chisels versus firmer gouges.
« Reply #1 on: November 29, 2010, 07:12:49 PM »
Can you explain a little more? Are the ones without numbers antique? Are they labeled with a brand name or stamp? Very few of my older antique English gouges are numbered, but they are absolutely wonderful tools - usually finer and more delicate compared to the bulkiness of some of the newer ones.

Tom M

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Re: carving chisels versus firmer gouges.
« Reply #2 on: November 30, 2010, 08:06:56 AM »
You might be referring to pattern maker's gouges.  These are much bigger than carving gouges. A pattern maker would make the mahogany patterns that sand and resin would be pressed into to make the forms for castings.

 I understand there are two types: in-channel / out-channel (I think this is what they are called).  They would have a bevel on one side only (inside / outside).  With the bevel on the inside the pattern maker could carve the outside shape of the gouge (a groove).  With the bevel on the outside a cylinder could be formed.

I don't have any pattern makers gouges, but think a nice pattern maker's gouge would be great for making swing hinges.  I made one for a card table in white oak using a carving gouge, and broke a large chunk of steel off.

Tom Meiller, SAPFM Member #684

JamesT

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Re: carving chisels versus firmer gouges.
« Reply #3 on: November 30, 2010, 12:01:16 PM »
Hi Mary and Tom, I guess I should have put more info in.They are antique and they have maker stamps but no sweep numbers.I think they must be pattern makers gouges as Tom said but I have used a couple of smaller one's for carving and had no trouble.I have been searching around and there really isn't much out there in terms of defining what different chisels are.Not that it matters much.Just use them when you can.I was just curious is all.I have found the addis with the masonic logo to be my favorites.They really feel good in your hand and as you run your fingers over the steel it just makes me...LOL

John Cashman

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Re: carving chisels versus firmer gouges.
« Reply #4 on: November 30, 2010, 01:09:52 PM »
As Mary wrote, many older tools don't have sweep numbers or anything besides the maker's name stamp. The Addis chisels you mention might. The Masonic logo is actually Ward and Payne, who had bought the S.J. Addis name and made the tools. They were the most recently made tools with the Addis name. There are lots of tools made by many makers, and they have never come up with a common numbering convention. And if someone tells you the numbers between two systems are off just by one digit, it isn't so. It's much more complex than that. For a good comparison of modern tool makers and sweeps, check out http://www.alte-beitel.de/bildhauerwerkzeuge_e.html  For antique tools, forget it.

But to get back to your original question, you may in fact have some patternmaker's gouges, as Tom M pointed out. If they are really long, that's what you have. Other gouges were a bit heavier or longer than carver's tools, and were used by carpenters, joiners, sash makers, etc. You can use them for carving, but they might be a little too beefy for some tasks, but they're great for roughing out. Or they might just be earlier unmarked carving tools.

JamesT

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Re: carving chisels versus firmer gouges.
« Reply #5 on: November 30, 2010, 01:59:57 PM »
Hey John thanks for that link.Thanks for the addis history as well!Also note that a lot of carving chisels that come out of England are hand made by individuals so they won't have numbers.I have a few of those.Another question would be this what are the marks that the chisel makers make when they make their own tools.ie forge marks?I am not sure how to phrase this but the hand forge mark is what?What do the other marks represent?
« Last Edit: November 30, 2010, 02:04:26 PM by JamesT »

JamesT

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Re: carving chisels versus firmer gouges.
« Reply #6 on: November 30, 2010, 02:02:23 PM »
I also wonder if some of the bigger gouges might be used for architectural type carvings.Big stuff.
« Last Edit: November 30, 2010, 02:05:11 PM by JamesT »

marymaycarving

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Re: carving chisels versus firmer gouges.
« Reply #7 on: November 30, 2010, 05:25:40 PM »
I have a question for those antique tool gurus. There are all sorts of antique English tools available on e-bay (I try to stay away from that - dangerous!) or auctions sometimes. Why is it that most new high quality gouges are made from companies in Germany, Switzerland and Austria? Where are all the antique German tools? Do they tend to stay in families and pass them down? Maybe just the accessibility to English tools is easier. Maybe there was just an over-abundance of them. Just wondering... Who's hiding those wonderful antique german gouges! Or Italian???

jim vojcek

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Re: carving chisels versus firmer gouges.
« Reply #8 on: November 30, 2010, 06:25:44 PM »
John, when I click on the link you supplied,I get a foreign language !

Jim Vojcek

John Cashman

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Re: carving chisels versus firmer gouges.
« Reply #9 on: November 30, 2010, 07:07:22 PM »
Jim, I just tried the link and it does go to the English page. Some of the menus are in German, and there is a German-only page. The translation on the English page is rough, but his English is better than my German.

John Cashman

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Re: carving chisels versus firmer gouges.
« Reply #10 on: November 30, 2010, 07:23:35 PM »
That's a good question Mary. Besides antique English tools, I've only ever seen a few German and Swiss tools. All of the old German carving tools I've seen have been from around the WWII era, and I suspect they may have been brought home by GIs. Soldiers love souvenirs. But you are right, there should be more. I think there is a German eBay. We could look there.

I also think that the antique English tools are not as old as most people believe. There has been a little bit of research for the bigger names, like SJ and JB Addis, but it's a hazy field. Something tells me that, the older the tool, the more likely it is that it got used up, or broken opening paint cans. I often think that's why the seldom-used (and seldom sharpened) tools like spoon gouges seem to make up an inordinate percentage of antique carving tools on the market.

Here's a wild theory. Did Germany have scrap metal drives during WWII and before, the way we held them here? Because conditions in Germany were so much more dire, and Patriotic fervor so intense, did workmen donate tools to make weapons? It's a reach, to be sure, but it might be interesting. Germany did some strange things. For example, because strategic metals were restricted by the Allies in the 1930s, Germans used pure nickel for all their coins, so that they could be melted down when the time came for alloying steel.

Sorry for the wild tangent.

albreed

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Re: carving chisels versus firmer gouges.
« Reply #11 on: November 30, 2010, 09:14:28 PM »
Mary- I bought over a hundred carving tools from the master that I worked for in 1974. He was Italian and trained in Italy before coming to the US. None of his tools were Italian, almost all English. Maybe the English made the best tools.....? I don't know. Most of them have no sweep no's on them, but that's typical, as you said-Al
Allan Breed

klkirkman

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Re: carving chisels versus firmer gouges.
« Reply #12 on: December 01, 2010, 05:20:55 AM »
I was trained essentiually as a pattern maker in the U.S.  circa 1950s.

The most highly valued chisels and gouges in that trade at that time were mabe in the U.S. by Buck Brothers. As I recall now, they had a stamped enblem that was the head of a buck, or something similar.

By the 1960s, the quality of their new tools had sharply declined and the old timers would no longer purchase them. 

The thing I recall most about using the vintage versus newer tools was that the Buck Brothers stuff seemed to hold an edge many times longer than the competitors.

Karl
Karl

Antiquity Period Designs, Ltd.

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Re: carving chisels versus firmer gouges.
« Reply #13 on: December 01, 2010, 08:33:32 AM »
Karl,

I too was trained as a wood patternmaker.  I bought several sets of Buck Bros. chisels and gouges from retired patternmakers as well as inheriting my Dad's sets.  There is a stamp on each chisel and gouge.  These old sets hold the edge very well as you stated.  Years later I bought a new set of carving tools from BB but the steel was poor.

The chisels and gouges come in both bent shank and straight shank.  They also made a set of gouges with a removable handle (I have this set) so it would take up less space in your tool box.

If you find an old set of BB chisels and gouges at a flee market or antique store/show buy them.  Most dealers don't know the quality of these old pieces.

Dennis Bork
Antiquity Period Designs, Ltd.
Professional period furniture maker since 1985.  Received a B.S. degree in physics then apprenticed and worked as a wood patternmaker for 12 years. Retired Dec. 2018.

dkeller_nc

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Re: carving chisels versus firmer gouges.
« Reply #14 on: December 02, 2010, 09:48:31 AM »
Mary - the reason that so many antique chisels and carving tools are english is because of Sheffield. Sheffield was one of the first "integrated" steel making cities on an industrial scale, where high-quality coal, limestone and iron ore were found in one place. 

Sheffield became "the" place to get steel and the cutler's wares made from it in the 18th century because the "arts and mysteries" of correctly judging the carbon content of steel to yield high-quality tools was well-known there (and not so much anywhere else).   The manufacturers of Sheffield continued their reputation into the 19th century - so much so that anywhere else had a hard time competing with them.

For example, large-scale steel making for tools was pretty much unknown in the US before Henry Disston started doing it in the 1850's - 1860's.  Even then, steel was very, very expensive and highly prized.  It took Dale Carnegie's gamble to scale up the Bessemer process in the 1870's before steel became cheap, readily available, and of high quality.
Period Furniture & Carving as a hobby - about 20 years woodworking