Thursday, September 30, 2010

The Katana

The next knife that I would like to discuss is a little guy I like to call the Katana.  I know, I know it doesn’t look a thing like a samurai sword, but I had to give it a name didn’t I?  This particular knife falls into the all-purpose category of knives with its blade being 1-1/2” long and slightly narrower than its predecessor.  Here’s what she looks like.

Alright, here’s the scoop on how she carves.  I have to admit, this knife is a workhorse and I find myself reaching for it more and more often.  Let’s talk about the handle first.  It’s the same dolphin shape as the Scimitar but I tried something a little different, lamination.  It might not be apparent from the photographs, but there are actually several layers of different types of wood, oak and poplar, sandwiched together to make a solid block for the handle.
Tip from the Stump: if you are going to make a lamination, choose woods that have a high contrast in color and grain so that the two woods really “pop”.  Black walnut and white oak would make a great combination and maybe maple and cherry.  One could even use three or more if the laminations were thin enough to allow it.  The possibilities are endless.
Now let’s focus in on the business end of the knife for a few moments.  Like I stated earlier, this is a great knife with a lot of diversity in its uses.  The blade comes to a nice point that can really get into those tight corners.  You will have to use a slicing cut most of the time since the cutting edge is flat, but if you don’t already, that’s a habit you should really pick up.  The place where this knife really shines above the rest is in making stop cuts.  That little point really gives you great control over the depth of the cut and the narrowness of the blade lets you follow practically any line.  I would also consider this knife a “crossover” to the detail side as I use it quite frequently, and with great success I might add, to carve out even some of the smallest details.  The one downside would be that it’s not great at roughing out a work piece, but then again, that’s not a function it was meant to undertake.  Alright, let’s look at a summary of the Katana’s characteristics.
·         Great for tight corners
·         Excellent for stop cuts
·         Crosses over for detailing
·         Must using slicing cuts
·         Not good for roughing out
In conclusion, I give this knife a score of 9 out of 10 for its diversity and effectiveness.

Wednesday, September 29, 2010

The Scimitar

I have recently become immersed in the fun and excitement of knife making and I have to admit that I’m addicted, but you know what they say, to admit that one has a problem is the first step to a full recovery.  Since most of my carving is done with a knife, I have been pushing the boundaries and exploring different knife blade shapes and sizes to see what works best for different situations.  I thought for the first few posts I would share my opinions and findings.  Let’s begin with the first knife that I have ever made.

This is my first born which I affectionately call the Scimitar.  The handle is made of red oak and shaped in a design that I call the dolphin.  I really like this handle shape as it give a good firm grip and yet doesn’t interfere by bumping into the carving.  For this reason, most all of my handles have this shape.  As you can see where the blade inserts into the handle does not have that “hump” that many knives have.  This “hump” restricts the use of the knife and for one of my knives, I won’t stand for it.
The blade of the Scimitar is the most important aspect of the knife.  Well of course it is, it’s the business end of the tool.  It would be silly to stop with the handle, then it would just be a really pretty piece of wood but it wouldn’t get much done.  Anyway, the cutting edge has a gentle upsweep towards the tip that allows you to make a slicing cut even if you are pushing it straight into the wood.  The blade is a full 2” long and would therefore be classified in the “rough-out category” of knives. 
The three categories of knives in my book are the rough-out, the all-purpose or carving, and the detail.  The rough-out knife usually has a longer, thicker blade and is made to remove a lot of wood in a short time.  The detail knife is usually much shorter and narrower than its bigger cousins and is made to get in close and make those fine little cuts that give your carvings the look you are after.  The all-purpose knife fits somewhere in between the other two extremes and is used for general shaping and carving. 
Tip from the Stump: always use the largest knife possible to make your cuts.  You will speed up your carving process and leave cleaner cuts.  The fact is you could complete an entire carving with a detail knife, but it would take approximately ten years to finish.  Use the right tool for the right job. 
Now that you know a little knife 101 you can dazzle your friends at parties with you new found knowledge. 
Hey, weren’t we talking about the Scimitar?  Let’s get back on track!  This thin tip really makes those scooping cuts with ease.  This blade shape also slices through end grain like the proverbial hot knife through butter.  The length of the blade also allows you to get into those hard-to-reach spots like separating the legs of a figure or that area between an arm and the body.  On the flip side, because the blade is thin, it doesn’t really get in there and hog off a lot of wood and since it is a 2” long blade, it doesn’t cross over into the all-purpose category very well.  Ok, let’s sum up the findings.
·         Great for slicing cuts
·         Good on end grain
·         Gets into narrow places
·         Comfortable in the hand
·         Not great at removing a lot of wood
·         Good only for roughing out

Welcome to the Old Stump

Greetings and salutations everyone, and welcome to The Old Stump Blog.  This is an exciting new adventure for me, to start my own blog and I really look forward to sharing my interest in woodcarving with you.  By way of introduction, my name is Brandant Robinson and I am very happy to make your acquaintance.  I reside in Southern Utah where I am a professional engineer by day and a husband, father and woodcarver by night.  I am very passionate about carving and knife making and anticipate sharing my findings, ideas, and my own carving journey with you.  I truly hope that you will follow along with me and most importantly that you will enjoy the ride.