12 Top Tips for Using a V-tool archive

Friday 14 May 2010

We asked three of our expert carvers to share their tips on using a V-tool


Top Tips with Peter Benson

1. You will be unable to carve curved lines if your V-tool has a sharp angle at the underneath of the Vee. Any attempt to turn the tool may result in breaking the side. Rounding off this angle, making the underneath of the point like a small gouge, will prevent this and make the tool much more versatile.

2. Using the V-tool for carving hair or fur can be very effective. The basic cut should be an elongated S and rocking the tool from side to side as you carve the S can give some very good results, producing angles on one side and undercuts on the other.

3. A narrow V-tool can make undercutting detail in relief carvings much easier than with any other tool. Keep one side flat to the background for best effect.

4. A 60 degree V-tool is the most versatile and can be invaluable for cleaning angles of all sizes between different parts of your carving, making sure to keep one or other side in contact with the wood to avoid unsightly grooves in the surface.

5. The secret to getting the perfect V-tool for a multitude of uses is to ensure that the bevel of the bottom of the Vee is the same angle as the bevel of the sides. A long Vee cut in a piece of MDF made with the tool gives an accurate groove along which you can drag the edge backwards to hone it. This way the angles will always be the same.

Top Tips with Andrew Thomas

6. By the nature of the Vee angle of the V-tool, when used to any depth it will gradually work the cut away from your original line. To rectify this, angle the tool over onto its side, cut back inwards towards your line again and use the shoulder of the Vee to pare the wood back to its correct position.

7. The V-tool is an ideal choice for 'sketching' around detail to very quickly form an area of depth near the contour that you are working to, before tidying back to the line with a chisel or gouge of the correct curvature.

8. If you plan do any 'incised' relief carving, the V-tool can be used very effectively to sketch around the design before using a straighter tool to model the surrounding area into the Vee cut.

Top Tips with Matthew Platt

9. Never work from long grain into cross grain. The outside edge will want to carry on along the grain and even with the best quality tool in the world, you will end up breaking the wing off. Cross grain into long grain is fine, but if there is an obstruction that stops you from doing that, use a gouge and then follow up with straight chisels to form the Vee.

10. V-tools don't have to be used vertically, they can be canted over to one side or the other to produce a crisp vertical edge and move the edge of the waste material away to define boundaries when roughing out relief work.

11. When using V-tools for a finished edge, try to split your layout lines with one side of the tool or the other rather than trying to centre the tool on the line.

12. Steeper V-tools produce stronger shadows when texturing. Using a 45 degree to create shadow areas, a 60 degree to produce mid-tones, and a 90 degree on highlights will give additional depth and realism.

Woodworkers Institute

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