Woodcarving Tools Types: Bent Tools {awesome|amazing|Great|Special}

The bend is seen by looking at the side of the blade: it will curve first one way and then the other. The bend itself can start from one of two places:

– it can start from the shoulder of the woodworking tool, as a long, continuous, snake-like bend: the longbent tool;

– it can start much further away, towards the working edge, after a straight shank. This creates a short, crank-like bend: the shortbent tool.

The short bend, in turn, can bend in opposite directions as you move from the cutting edge towards the handle:

– towards the front first: a frontbent;

– towards the back first: a backbent.

Let us look at these various bent tools in more detail.

Longbent tools

These tools – which are invariably gouges or V-tools, not chisels – have various names: longbent, curved, salmon-bend, sowback or swan-necked gouges. The curvature is long and elegant, and enables the carver to get into a shallow recess without the handle fouling the wood. Some ranges of ‘microtools’ include a longbent chisel, but these are not available in the standard ranges.

Shortbent tools

Again there are various names: shortbent, shallow- bent, frontbent and spoon or spoon-bit gouges. Sometimes the simple term ‘bent gouge’ is used; this usually implies the type with the short bend to the front, but this is not necessarily the case. The term is best avoided and replaced with something a little more precise.

Shortbent tools include fishtail chisels or shew chisels with a long shank, as well as gouges.

The shortbent chisels and flattest gouges are sometimes called grounding tools or grounders, because they are used to work the backgrounds of relief carving. I have always found the flattest shortbent gouges a better option than the chisels; it is much easier to prevent their corners digging in.

A shortbent skew chisel can have the cutting edge skewed to face the left or right; these are usefully bought in pairs. V-tools and macaroni tools can also he had in a shortbent form.

The tight bend allows the carver to get into recesses which are deeper than those accessed by the longbent tools – the crank-like shape keeps the handle even further out of the way. However, the amount of bend that any manufacturer gives to both shortbent and longbent tools varies considerably – not only between manufacturers, but even between batches of tools coming from one manufacturer. Sometimes there seems to be so little curve on the tool that it belies the description ‘bent’, and gives negligible advantage over the straight tools. So you need to be a little wary here, especially if you are ordering unseen tools through the post. Try to examine photographs or drawings of what you hope you are getting, and do not accept a tool with a curve that, in effect, does not do the work it is meant for.

Shortbent gouges with the greatest change of curvature in the bend are referred to as knuckle gouges. These are useful for entering very tight recesses and hollows, such as those found in Gothic carving

Unfortunately they are rarely available, either new or second-hand, but they can be made to special order by a firm such as Henry Taylor.

Sometimes, but fortunately not often, a very awkward job requires such a bend that a special tool has to be made – perhaps with so much of a bend that the edge of the tool is actually facing back towards the handle. This is not too difficult a procedure. It is simplest to start with a tool which already has the sweep and width you want, so you need only alter the lengthwise bend.

Backbent tools

These are similar to shortbent gouges, but the curve is made in the opposite way. The odd-looking tool so produced comes into its own when carving a bead or other convex surface which curves concavely along its length – such as when a reed travels into a hollow or recess.

To put this another way, a convex surface can be formed by turning an ordinary straight gouge upside down. Sometimes, though, when working that shape into a hollow, the handle of this straight gouge can get in the way. Cranking the handle back keeps it clear of the wood: this is the backbent gouge.

It may sound like a very specialized tool, but I find myself using it quite a lot. It is useful for many surfaces which are concave in one direction and convex in the other; such surfaces constantly occur in natural forms.

Generally speaking, all bent gouges can be obtained in the same variety of sweeps as the straight gouges. However, the deepest gouges are not available in the backbent form, as they do not really work upside down. For the same reason, the V-tool is also unavailable in a backbent form. As with the tapered tools, some manufacturers may prefix the sweep number with another to specify the type of bend.

Dogleg tools

The dogleg chisel has two nearly 90° bends in its shank, towards the working end. It is used, like its counterpart the knuckle gouge, to get into very tight recesses, or when undercutting. A foot chisel is a more sharply angled version of the dogleg. A side chisel has an L-shaped shank; again, it can get into odd corners not reached by other shapes.

Source by Ted Willson