W. & S. Butcher

Stanley Planes

English Braces


Tips from Old Millrat - James D. Thompson


Chinese Carving Tools



A good friend who shall remain nameless (unless he would like to jump in here) sent me 5 carving tools which were recently made in deepest darkest China.


They appear to have been made by the village blacksmith with a minimum of tools. The sockets are not real well made.

I just finished making 2 handles for them and sharpening the same 2. I don't know what they make carving tools out of, but the steel is HARD.  Sharpening was a real chore, particularly on the tool that is used like a drawknife. The gouge was not as difficult to sharpen, but it was not nearly as easy as most of my carving tools.

It seems that they are not as fond of deep gouges as I am, because all these are shallow. The vee tool is strange because of the bend in the shank. I prefer vee tools to be straight, but I will try this and see how I like it.  I haven't sharpened the vee tool yet, but the shape is interesting because the wings are cut back at 45 degrees.  Americans generally sharpen them square on the end.

I added a second picture containing an Addis tool for size comparison.  The Chinese tools are rather long, and I made the handles to be proportional to the tool. Most of the handles on my carving tools are smaller, like the one shown.

The wood is Coastal Live Oak from a friend's tree in Monterey CA. I kinda like the way this wood looks on the Chinese tools.


I forgot to mention that the tools are pretty thin, and they came ground with an incannel bevel.  I found that a little odd too.  But the Chinese may have a completely different carving style than we do.


August 30, 2005

I just put up a picture of the 5 Chinese carving tools that I recently received. I made handles for them and sharpened them, so now they are ready to use, provided I can find a chinaman (Chinese man ? Which is correct?) to use them.

I took them to my carving club meeting today and had several serious carvers try them and offer their opinion. They all disliked the tools. The style and shape and almost everything about them is contrary to what we westerners like in our carving tools.

I offered the opinion to the galoot who gave me these tools that it might require an apprenticeship in China while holding the work with your feet to learn to appreciate them. I have seen pictures of carving in the orient, and that seems to be the method of choice.

August 30, 2005

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