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shoulder knife & long chipcarving knife2

9619's picture

Friends,

Sorry my first attempt to post this message didn't work.

Derek, Philip and Mike tweaked my interest in toolmaking. Last year I made a Krenov-type block plane. This year I started chip carving, and further research convinced me that I "need" two knives that are rarely seen today. My research led in two directions.

I posted a message on Knots, and learned about a long handled knife that is still made by Pfeil and is sold in a store named Langevin & Forest in Canada. It is called a "Ciseau d'epaule".

Further research indicated that the German name for this knife is a "Schultermesser", which means shoulder knife. Below is a photo of a 1502 woodcut of a person using a shoulder knife. More info is found at:

http://members.aol.com/ebenistebowman/marquetry/history.html

This turned out to be an interesting diversion. I was looking for a design for a chip carving knife for use on the facades of buildings, and I ended up finding a long-handled knife that was used for cutting marquetry a long time ago.

Continued research led me to a book, written in German, entitled "Das Kerbschnitzen" (Chip Carving). I translated the book and found that it had a chapter on how chip carving was done on the facades of buildings. One of those photos is found below. It also described the knife that is needed and showed how to make one. It did not say anything about how to use it.

So I ended up making a long chip carving knife, as found in Das Kerbschnitzen, and a shoulder knife, as used in the 1500s to make marquetry.

If anyone is interested in either the history or how to make either knife, I would like to exchange some information with you. I want to thank everyone who helped me with my research, my translation of the book, and who got me started in toolmaking.

Have fun, and thank you for wading through all of this archaic stuff.
Mel

Measure your output in smiles per board foot. 

Measure your output in smiles per board foot. 

9619's picture

(post #118124, reply #1 of 21)

Here are two photos that go with my original post.
One is of the Pfeil shoulder knife that is sold at Langevin & Forrest.
The other is of a man doing an chip carving which will go on the facade of a building.

Mel

Measure your output in smiles per board foot. 

Measure your output in smiles per board foot. 

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joinerswork's picture

(post #118124, reply #4 of 21)

Mel,


Pretty tools. Are you satisfied with the way they work?  What kind of woods have you tried them on?  Looks like fun.


Ray

9619's picture

(post #118124, reply #5 of 21)

Ray,
You asked "Are you satisfied with the way they work? What kind of woods have you tried them on?"

Sure I have tried them. Enough to know that learning to use them well will take a little while. If one wants to feel good as a carver, the wood to use is basswood, of course. It makes you feel more competent than you really are. These knives are OVERKILL on basswood.

So I tried them on maple. Maple is more fun to carve if you are using a mallet and gouges. The "Slicing" of maple with a knife is not for the faint of heart. So I tried pine (nothing personal). Pine is pine. It is carve-able, but it humbles you.

One learns quickly that the shoulder knife is very limiting. With it resting on your shoulder, and holding it with two hands, one can really make a powerful downward cut if the cut is straight. Making curved cuts with this beast riding on your shoulder has proved to be a challenge. But then again, as I learned the shoulder knife was developed for marquetry. I have read that in the 1500s, marquetry wasn't done using sheets of veneer bought at Woodcraft. The wood often quite thick. I haven't explored this much yet, but the shoulder knife seems like it would be good for short cuts, straight down.

The "two handed" long outdoor chip carving knife is much easier to control. It allows much more pressure to be applied than the modern chip carving knives that held in one hand. However, I soon learned that I couldn't make long curved sweeping cuts that are deep, because the knife can slip. Even making a cut straight toward yourself, is not easy to stop at a specific point, even if you have used a stop cut. I am wearing a thick leather apron over Kevlar underwear.

SO, I believe that the answer to how to use the long chip carving knife lies in Hasluck's big carving book. He discusses older methods of doing chip carving. The modern chip carving gurus (Wayne Barton, Dennis Moor and Pam Grisham) all use a small hand knife, and all chips are made to full depth with one pass of the knife. They are very shallow. Hasluck and other writers on earlier methods of chip carving show how earlier generations made deep chips by successive slices. I have tried that and it seems to be the answer.

The other thing that I have learned came from the woodcut of the person using the shoulder knife, and the photo of the Swiss guy doing the outdoor chip carving -- they both had one hand on the wood. My brief experience so far is that having one hand on the wood as well as on the knife is the only way to exercise precise control.

I hope I didn't go into more detail than you wanted. As you can tell, I am having a lot of fun with this. Heck I may be the most experienced person in the United States with the long chip-carving knife, and I may be the only person alive who has tried to use a shoulder knife. The Canadian firm that sells the Pfeil version indicated that that tool is not their biggest seller.

I will get more practice with the long knives when I finish restoring a Victorian chest with mirror for my wife. The hints were getting very loud. That mirror is the one that you advised me to clean gently with 80 grit sandpaper.

Have fun,
Mel

Measure your output in smiles per board foot. 

Measure your output in smiles per board foot. 

joinerswork's picture

(post #118124, reply #10 of 21)

Mel,


Sounds like you are having fun.  Try to keep your hand behind the edge of the knife, when you place it on the wood!


Take care,


Ray

WillGeorge's picture

(post #118124, reply #2 of 21)

I translated the German book .. I made the carving knifes.. I make planes.. I build cabinets, even painted ones... I worked for NASA..

Mel.. Is there anything you cannot do? Tells us more about that..

I used something like that long knife once spear fishing but it had a barb on it..

Nice tools...

Have a GREAT day!

Have a great day.. Life is wonderful even if you are having a bad day!

9619's picture

(post #118124, reply #3 of 21)

WG,
You make me feel good. Please write more often. You compliment me for doing a number of different things. On Knots, I feel just the opposite. I look at Samson's latest piece, and I see skills in design and execution that I yearn for. I read the posts of people like Philip, Derek and Mike, who tinker with tools and make them better, and I admire their spirit of adventure. I look at the photos that are posted in the Gallery, and I wonder, at 64, if there is time for me to learn to do some of those things. I'd like to apprentice to you for a while and learn how to make a really nice changing table.
Enjoy,
Mel

Measure your output in smiles per board foot. 

Measure your output in smiles per board foot. 

WillGeorge's picture

(post #118124, reply #8 of 21)

.. I'd like to apprentice to you for a while..

What a complement!

I'm one of those folks that cannot learn from a book (well, from the pictures I learn alot.. LOL). Yes, I can read well but if not for the spell check available to me in here I'd look really stupid!

I was one of the kids that learned things ONLY by 'doing'. It never occurred to me that something that went wrong was a mistake? I always thought of it as.. Well, I blew it again! Let's see what happened!

One of the reasons I never use plans. I think they are GREAT for anybody that like them. We all have our own ways of doing things.

I would rather mess up something and try to figured out a way to correct it and not have to do it all over.

My son-in-law is a Dr. of Education and a REALLY great 'down to earth guy'.. Has to be OK because he picked one of my daughters! He interview me for his Thesis.. Well, he got his Dr. badge and I asked him if I helped. He just said I did not include you... LOL...

I took that as a compliment.. I see that some schools now have classes for children as I was (am now) that only learn by doing.

When I was a kid they just sent us off to a trade school to get rid of us! I was so happy being sent there!

Just me!

Have a great day.. Life is wonderful even if you are having a bad day!

9619's picture

(post #118124, reply #9 of 21)

WG

I loved your last line "Just me."

I feel the same way.

Mel

Measure your output in smiles per board foot. 

Measure your output in smiles per board foot. 

KiddervilleAcres's picture

(post #118124, reply #6 of 21)

philip, Derek, Mike uh I mean Mel,


Yahoo!  Ya made it!


I been dying to see it since you embarked on that journey o yourn.  Now you got me hankerin for one o them Schultermessr thangs. 


Suppose I were to take an ol plane iron and turn it into a blade.  Then carve me a long handle.  Would that work?  What is the angle of the blade?  Did you allow for bevel wear?  Is it balanced to your weight?  What stones do you recommend for sharpening it?  Can I sharpen it on a WorkSharp?  Is it better used with certain woods?  What is the proper finish for the handle?  Can I wax the blade so it donna rust?


Oh, and if it rains today should I stay home and drink coffee?


Gotta love it!


Best Regards,


Bob @ Kidderville Acres


 


A Woodworkers mind should be the sharpest tool in the shop!

Bob @ Kidderville Acres

A Woodworkers mind should be the sharpest tool in the shop!

9619's picture

(post #118124, reply #7 of 21)

Bob,
Brent Beach and Derek Cohen are both doing research on how many bevels the Schultermesser requires. WorkSharp is coming out with a machine that will automatically sharpen the Schultermesser, which cost me $9 for parts. The machine will cost $14,579. However it will be able to do all of the needed bevels.
Mel

Measure your output in smiles per board foot. 

Measure your output in smiles per board foot. 

SARGEgrinder47's picture

(post #118124, reply #11 of 21)

Nice job on the knives, Mel. And I do like that shop apron. I wondered what happened to all those steers that made it through the fence and wandered up on the road.... :>)


Regards...


Sarge..

Sarge..

Woodworkers' Guild of Georgia

9619's picture

(post #118124, reply #13 of 21)

Sarge,
glad you like the leather apron. A friend of mine, who is a carver, suggested it. He gave me the name of a Welders supply house to get it from. This apron is sewed together with Kevlar thread. (no kidding).

Besides safety, if the networks see me wearing that apron, maybe I'll get an offer to do a weekly show on TV. :-)

Have fun.
Mel

Measure your output in smiles per board foot. 

Measure your output in smiles per board foot. 

CarvinChris's picture

(post #118124, reply #12 of 21)

Mel,


You never cease to amaze me, my friend.


You would have way more knowledge of them thar thingamajigs than I do, but, have you tried moving your body to match the sweep of the cut when doing circular cuts?  Just a notion that struck me while looking at the pictures.


If you're not doing anything next weekend, we are having our anual woodcarving and wildlife art show at the community center in East Berlin, PA. There is a fellow in our club that is into chip carving and is a member of several clubs to boot. He is quite good at his craft and may even know someone who uses them chipcarving 'clubs' you got there.


Chris. 

9619's picture

(post #118124, reply #15 of 21)

Chris,
Thanks for the offer for next weekend. On almost any other weekend, I would take you up on it. My wife and I already have plans. But I would like to come up sometime in the future. I will be retiring from my job at NASA at the end of the year, so I will have a good deal of free time. I'd like to meet you and your carving buddies. Make sure to show the photos to your chipcarvin buddy.

I did try to do curved cuts by moving my body. It ain't easy. I am starting to believe that the shoulder knife will not be useful for chip carving. The 15" chip carving knife works better for curved cuts. I believe that the secret is not to try to do the carving to full depth on the first cut. The answer seems to lie in taking successive layers out. I read about that in the Hasluck book.

After I get a number a lot of practice with these beasts, I'll write another post and let you know what I learned.

Let's keep in touch so that I can come up and meet you guys in the new year.

Thank you very much.
Mel

Measure your output in smiles per board foot. 

Measure your output in smiles per board foot. 

mapleman's picture

(post #118124, reply #14 of 21)

Mel,


Great knives! Who's the old guy holding them?


Lee

9619's picture

(post #118124, reply #16 of 21)

Lee,
I don't know the old guy. He scares me. He sort of looks like I will look when I am old. :-) It happens. I keep fighting it but it happens. Luckily my wife still looks like she did when we got married. Actually, I robbed the cradle.

Well Lee, it will be fun to try to tackle some maple with the big knives. Maybe if I hold the knife and have my wife hit the other end of it with a mallet :-)

Have fun.
Mel

Measure your output in smiles per board foot. 

Measure your output in smiles per board foot. 

KiddervilleAcres's picture

(post #118124, reply #17 of 21)

Mel,


Maybe if I hold the knife and have my wife hit the other end of it with a mallet :-)


My you are a courageous fellow!


Regards,


Bob @ Kidderville Acres


 


A Woodworkers mind should be the sharpest tool in the shop!

Bob @ Kidderville Acres

A Woodworkers mind should be the sharpest tool in the shop!

KiddervilleAcres's picture

(post #118124, reply #18 of 21)

Mel,


Oh yes you do know that older fellow in the pic.  He lives just down the road a piece from ya'll.  Does them fancy scuttle legs and all.


Hint:  The pic you have is missing the lower part.  In this missing part is the prototype forn Injun!  It's the bourbon that preserves his age.


Regards,



Bob @ Kidderville Acres


 


A Woodworkers mind should be the sharpest tool in the shop!


Edited 10/20/2007 8:11 am ET by KiddervilleAcres

Bob @ Kidderville Acres

A Woodworkers mind should be the sharpest tool in the shop!

boysie39's picture

(post #118124, reply #19 of 21)

MEL, A caution . Dont tell the wife" when I nod me head you hit it". Have fun, also if your going to continue pulling that knife towards yourself,I'd be inclined to get one of those CHAINMAIL SKIRTS that the Knights of old used wear. Regds. Boysie Slan Leat.

I'm never always right  but i'm always never wrong. Boysie

I'm never always right  but i'm always never wrong. Boysie
WillGeorge's picture

(post #118124, reply #20 of 21)

Marquetry self portrait of Antonia Barili in the year 1502 with the shoulder knife..

Mel that was YOU in a before life. It's sort of like riding a bicycle.. Comes back really fast.

Have a great day.. Life is wonderful even if you are having a bad day!

9619's picture

(post #118124, reply #21 of 21)

WG,
You said: Mel that was YOU in a before life.

I believe you are correct. I remember my Mom telling me that when I was born, I had a callous on my right shoulder. :-)
Mel

Measure your output in smiles per board foot. 

Measure your output in smiles per board foot.