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What Power Carving Bits Should I Get

Friday, January 27, 2017 9:06:17 AM America/Denver

Power carving is becoming more popular all the time.  The rotary tools available today like the Ram Micro Motor, OZ Plus, and Foredom make carving so much easier.  With power carving the carver can use just about any type of wood and make projects from caricatures, realistic animals and people, to relief carving and so much more. 

 

As people get started into power carving often times they feel lost knowing which type of burs they should get to get started.  We get questions quite often on what the different grits do and what each shape is used for.  We briefly explained some of these in the video above, but in this blog article we hope to answer some of these questions and to help you get started.

 

What are the Different Grits/Coatings:

 

Roughing Burs:

Saburr Tooth Burs/Roughing Burs:  These are the bits we call roughing bits and color coded in Green, Yellow, and Red.  These are the burs to use when large amounts of material needs to be removed.  I would consider using these burs during Stage 1 of the carving process when the carver needs to shape, roughout, and form the carving.  These bits are made out of carbide and are incredibly long lasting.  Sometimes these burs get clogged and need to be cleaned.  The best way to clean these is to use a small torch to burn out the buildup.  Don’t worry about a torch harming these bits. Most butane torches will not get the bit hot enough to affect the temper of the carbide but will do a much better job than a wire brush.  These bits are available in 1/8” and ¼” shanks.

 

Fluted Carbide, Vanadium Steel, and Stump Cutter Bits:

After the initial roughout is complete it is time for Stage 2 of the carving process.  The carbide bits, vanadium steel, and stump cutters are the best to use in this situation.  Normally, I would start using these bits when you have less than ¼” (in depth) of material to remove.  These cutters do cut fast but not as fast as the Saburr Tooth Burs.  They do, however, cut incredibly clean and leave a relatively smooth surface.  I would compare them to using a knife or a gouge in the way that they slice the material away instead of grinding it away.  These burs are available in 3/32” and 1/8” shanks.

 

Diamond and Ruby Bits:

Stage 3 is the clean-up stage. Usually when you power carve you are left with those pesky “fuzzies”.  These are areas where the wood has been torn but not removed.  The Diamond Bits and Ruby cutters are some of the best bits to use for clean-up.  Treat these cutters like you are using 120 grit sandpaper.  You would never try to use sandpaper for roughing out a project, but to finish it when it is almost complete.  Diamond and Ruby cutters are used in a similar way.  Because they are so fine you can also use them for doing a little detail work where you may not want much material removed.  Most of these burs are available in 3/32” and 1/8” shanks.

 

Ceramic Stone Bits:

Ceramic stones are some of the finest cutting bits available.  They hardly remove any material at all, but are wonderful to use when fine and intricate details are required.  Many people will use these stones for hair and fur texture and the results are great.  They do have a tendency to load up and turn black.  When that happens simply turn the tool on and touch the bit against a diamond sharpening stone.  This will remove the outer layer and expose new grit.  You can also use a diamond stone to reshape the ceramic bit to fit your needs.  Ceramic stones are available with a 3/32” shank.

 

What shapes should I get?

Asking this question can be similar to asking, “How long is a rope?”  The size and shape of the bits depend entirely on the scale of project you are working, what type of texture you want to create, how much material needs to be removed, etc.  With that in mind, there are about 3 different shapes of bits that are pretty standard.  Even though the length and width may differ, these 3 different shapes make up a good starter set.

 

#1. Ball or Sphere Bits:

The ball shaped bits are usually the best bits to use when you have quite a bit of depth to remove.  This shape gives you a gouged look and allows you to use any part of the bit head and get a similar texture.  Use a ball bit wherever you need a concaved cut.  You can also stipple a background with a ball bit by making a series of dots on the surface of the project. 

 

#2 Cylinder Bits:

Cylinder bits are dual purposed.  The sides of these bits are straight and will not leave a concaved cut like the ball bits.  If you are shaping a project and you don’t want as many divots then a cylinder may work well.  With the square top you can also use these bits like a V-tool.  Simply tilt the bit so only the top edge or corner is contacting the wood and you can outline parts of your project and even apply V grooved textures (like hair, feathers, and fur).

 

#3 Something with a point

Some parts of your project will require a smaller tipped bit to reach in tight spots and clear material away.  The flame, taper, bud, and football shaped bits are perfect for these areas.  The flame, bud, and football bits have a slight radius to them and are great when you want to clear away a concave area or to soften a ridge on an outlined cut.  The tapers are angled straight to the point and are best used in areas where you need a fine point but do not want to concave the cut.

 

Other Shapes:

There are a few other tips that are a little different than these three basic bit categories but may be useful in many projects. 

Ballnose bits: A combination of a ball and a cylinder.  This multi-purposed bit can be used on the front end to make concave cuts and remove bulk material and then the side of it is flat and can be used when you need to make a flat or convex type cut.

Roto Saws: Great for making trenches and undercutting.

Inverted Cones/Dovetails: These are exaggerated cylinder bits and great when you are making V-shaped groves such as hair, feather, and fur texture. They can also be used for slight undercutting to make shadows around relief carvings.

 

Summary:

Ok, I hope that was at least as clear as mud. Most power carvers usually end up with 20-30 bits in their collection over time.  You will find that some bits are used all the time while a few are used occasionally but are perfect for the texture you need.  If you are still a little uncertain about how to get started and what bits to get, we have put together two bit sets with some of these basic bits included.  You will have a few for roughing out (Stage 1), a few for doing some fine shaping and detailing (Stage 2), and a set of diamond bits that can be used for clean-up and fine textures (Stage 3).  I think this would be a great way to start your bit collection and give you a good jump in this incredible hobby of power carving. 

 

Here are two kits that can help you get started.

Basic Rotary Bit Set

Deluxe Rotary Bit Set

 

0 Comments | Posted By PJ Peery

How to Inlay Crushed Stone

Thursday, March 31, 2016 4:46:07 PM America/Denver

 

Many of you may have seen how beautiful and decorative projects with inlayed crushed stone is.  Most think inlaying stone is an incredibly difficult process.  It’s not!  With a little crushed stone (turquoise, green malachite, etc), glue, and some sandpaper you will be able to complete your project in no time.

 

The video above will walk you through the process in much greater detail, but here are the general steps to inlaying crushed stone.

 

1. Seal the wood around the area where the stone will be inlayed.  This will help prevent the glue from “staining” the area around the inlay.

2. Dry pack the crushed stone into the crack or crevasse.  Work the stone into all the areas and use some of the smaller pieces of stone to fill in the tiny areas and corners.

3. Use the Hot Stuff Original CA (cyanoacrylate) glue and pour over the top of the crushed stone.  After it dries completely some will also use the Hot Stuff Super T CA glue to give the area a sealing coat.

4.Sand the area smooth so it is flush with the wood around it.  

5.Apply your finish.

That’s it!

 

Give it a try and see just how easy it is to add such a decorative touch to your projects.

 

Products used in this video:

                Crushed Turquoise

                Hot Stuff Original Glue

                Hot Stuff Super T Glue

                Cloth Backed Sandpaper

 

Comments | Posted By PJ Peery

Basic Woodburning Pens

Thursday, February 18, 2016 9:29:14 AM America/Denver

Woodburning has become an incredibly popular form of woodworking.  It is one of the quickest ways to embellish an existing project or to make your own woodburning pictures.  So often we are asked which pens would be the best to get started with.  The video explans the 3 basis styles: SkewsWriting, and Shading.

 

Tools used in this video:

Razertip Woodburner

Large Skew

1.5mm Ball Pen

Bent Round Shader

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Comments | Posted By PJ Peery

What kind of wood is best for carving?

Wednesday, February 3, 2016 2:22:17 PM America/Denver

We get this question quite often.  Too many people try carving on a 2x4 they get from a local hardware store and they get so frustrated.  “Pine is soft so it should be easy to carve, right?”  For most projects, this is so not true.  Pine has such strong and prominent grain that it causes hand carvers to fatigue quickly.  Even with power carving (rotary tool or Dremel carving) pine is not easy to work with.

 

So what kind of wood should you use?

 

Basswood:  Basswood is by far the most popular wood for hand carving.  Basswood has a light creamy color and a very subtle grain line.  It is super soft without being “punky”.  It cuts well going with and against the grain.  Basswood also paints and stains very well.  Powercarvers, however, find that basswood has a tendency to be “fuzzy” when carving.  This is usually not a problem during the roughing out stages of a project, but when powercarving the details it may cause some difficulty.   

 

Tupelo:  Tupelo is a power carvers dream!  Tupelo is very light in both weight and color.  Usually you can tell it is a good piece of tupelo by how light it is relative to its size.  The reason powercarvers love tupelo is because it does not “fuzz” when carved.  It cuts incredibly fast and incredibly smooth and paints very well.  Most of the professional decoy, bird, and fish carvings are carved out of tupelo. Hand carvers, however, usually do not prefer tupelo because of how soft it is.  When cutting cross grain tupelo has a tendency to crush before it cuts.  Imagine cutting a sponge with a pair of scissors.  Tupelo grows in swampy areas and one interesting fact about it is the only part of the tupelo tree that is suitable for carving is the part below the waterline.  The water in the swamps will come up to a certain point on the tree and up to that point is great for carving, but beyond that point the wood is just too hard.  All the tupelo wood we sell here at TreelineUSA is from below the waterline. 

 

Now there are many other woods that carvers will us such as butternut, sugar pine, aspen, jelutong, and others, but Basswood and Tupelo are arguably the two best (and most popular) woods for carving.  In summary, if you are a hand carver (using knives and gouges) use basswood.  If you are a power carver use Tupelo.

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Comments | Posted By PJ Peery

Welcome to the New Treeline Website

Tuesday, January 26, 2016 9:37:18 AM America/Denver

Hello Valued Treeline Customers,

 

Welcome to the new website!  We are excited about some of the new features of this site.  We have added an Online Video Tutorial area where we have several product demonstrations, how to videos, and more.  We hope to do many more videos in the future as well.  If you ever have any suggestions on what videos you would like to see please let us know.

 

Also, we are excited to have this new blog.  Here we plan on answering your questions relating to woodcarving.  We hope to be a resource to you to help you enjoy your woodworking interests.  Again, If you have any suggestions on what information would be helpful please let us know and we will be happy to provide as much information as possible.

 

We appreciate your support over the years.  Woodcarving can be an incredibly addictive habit.  If there is anything we can do to support you in this addiction please let us know.

 

Happy Carving!!

 

Comments | Posted By PJ Peery
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