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Read Thread: My New #0.5 Gouge

My New #0.5 Gouge
Board: Stamp Carving and Mounting
May 14, 2007 6:56pm
Board
This past week I finally got around to making a #0.5 gouge by squeezing down a #1. I used the electric stove to heat the tip while I held it with a needlenose pliers. Once hot enough -- with the stove coil dimly glowing red, it only takes a few seconds -- I put the tip down onto the edge of a filet knife and squeezed it with another needlenose pliers. SWMBO was holding the filet knife still on the counter with the edge up. It actually took two attempts because I fiddled around too much the first time and the tip cooled off, so I had to reheat it.

I ran into two problems. First, with the filet knife on the counter, when I tried to apply the needlenose to squeeze, the tips hit the counter. Shorter pliers woulda worked, but I just had the wife hold the knife hanging off the edge of the counter.

Second, when squeezing, the tips of the pliers clamped down on the heel of the filet knife blade before fully closing up the gouge. I just backed it off and squeezed with the tips, where I didn't have enough leverage. All in all, it would have been better if I had used an X-Acto knife instead of the filet knife.

Anyhow, I eventually succeeded in a good pinch. Note that I was starting with a Speedball #1. As I mentioned here before, the Speedball #1 has a slightly rounded bottom of the V, as compared to the Staedler #1 which has a much crisper V with a sharp crease at the bottom. I used the Speedball for several reasons. First, it's not mounted, so I don't have to worry about a plastic handle melting while I'm heating it. Second, it's cheaper. Third, it's available individually so I can buy a spare so I can have one #1 and one #0.5. Finally, since I'm pinching it anyway, I'm not all that sure which is better to start with, the rounded bottom or the sharp crease.

I managed to pinch this gouge almost to the point where the two sides are parallel. Not quite. As a result, it's now really a very tiny U-shaped gouge. I measured it with a feeler gauge; the sides are about 0.5mm apart at the top, and about 0.4mm apart just above the bottom where you're cutting. IOW, used normally, this gouge will cut a 0.4mm groove -- which is narrower than a fine-point mechanical pencil lead.

I mounted this gouge in a Speedball pen holder. This thing is shaped like a stylus rather than the fat, stubby Speedball linoleum cutter handle. Works nice, and only cost about $1.25 each. In general, my plan is to use these pen holders for the smaller tips and the cutter handle for the big #5. Not having to swap tips around in handles while carving is a nice bonus.

Tonight I used it to carve a stamp. Although a somewhat accomplished razor knife carver, I've been making a few attempts to carve with gouges because it seems to me that being practiced at both styles would be good and would allow me to carve whichever type image I choose. My efforts up to now, using the #1, have been only moderately successful. With one stamp, I actually pitched my first attempt and started over making the stamp 50% larger because I couldn't carve it as small as I was originally trying. I probably could have carved it that small using the razor knife and carving needles, but that would have defeated the purpose of the attempt.

With my new #0.5 gouge, things worked much better. I did a lot more carving with the gouge before resorting to the razor knife; in fact, I carved a few parts of the image I hadn't planned on carving with a gouge. The stamp came out really well, the only downside being that I'm still having a little trouble making straight or gently curved lines looks smooth; they always come out a little wiggly.

After doing the difficult stuff, I picked up a #1 (I have a couple more) and used it for some of the other carving and cleanup. It's not even close; the pinched-down #0.5 is much better for tiny work, by an even larger margin than you'd expect. Of course, you still need a #1 for the same reason you need a #2 and a #5, for those times when you need to make bigger cuts.

For the narrow white line through an inked background, I have always used the razor knife to run down it, turn it around, and run down it again, and the little hair-width strip falls out. Now I can make the same line with a single pass with this narrow gouge. With the gouge, the line comes out a nice, uniform width, but a little wiggly. With the razor knife, the line comes out smooth, but the width usually varies a little.
Re: My New #0.5 Gouge
Board: Stamp Carving and Mounting
Reply to: #92047 by Kirbert
May 15, 2007 5:49am
Board
One of these days I'll get around to making myself a #.5 gouge. Too lazy...

As far as the wiggly-ness of the lines you're getting, are you moving the material when you carve or moving the gouge? I find that for the narrower lines, I get smoother results by sliding the material into the gouge held stationary by my hand than by trying to follow the line with the gouge. With an X-Acto though it's just the opposite.

My experience--others' may vary. :-)

Knit Wit
Re: My New #0.5 Gouge
Board: Stamp Carving and Mounting
Reply to: #92100 by knit wit
May 15, 2007 10:14am
Board
Quote As far as the wiggly-ness of the lines you're getting, are you moving the material when you carve or moving the gouge? I find that for the narrower lines, I get smoother results by sliding the material into the gouge held stationary by my hand than by trying to follow the line with the gouge. With an X-Acto though it's just the opposite.


In general, I do most of the moving by moving the stamp, and all of the turning, when I'm using either the razor knife or the gouge. However, when using the razor knife, I have a clipboard resting on some blocks to hold it just a bit higher than the surface of the stamp. I lay my arm on that while cutting so I don't touch the image and smear the ink. I'm sure that has a lot to do with steady I hold the knife and therefore how smooth the lines come out. The clipboard trick doesn't work at all with the gouge, though, since it's held completely differently. With the razor knife, it's sorta like working with a pen, and I'm watching what I'm doing from alongside. With the gouge, I'm over the tool and looking straight down on it, and cutting not quite directly away from my eye but perhaps more towards the 11 o'clock direction.

I suspect one of two things will need to happen to make my lines less wiggly: Either I just need more practice, or I need to figure out how to rest my arm or hand against something while using the gouge.

BTW, I think I may be giving readers the wrong idea about how wiggly these lines are coming out. They're not bad, not bad at all. I'm probably the only one who would notice the difference; my wife doesn't see what I'm talking about. It's sorta like the difference between a pencil line drawn freehand by Picasso and a pencil line drawn using a ruler or template. They both look good, but you can tell which is which.