A quick note to try to answer a couple of recent questions that come up while I was away. Regarding carving tools, their size, selection, etc. I regularly use about 6 different tools, and sometimes add to or delete from that group.
here is my main set of carving tools. They are a mixture of new and antique tools. Both work fine.
A reader asked which tools I used for this carving, so below it is a photo of the three principal tools I used to cut it:
About panel sizes, most often the widest panels I get from an oak log are around 10″ or 11″ wide. These require a tree over 2 feet in diameter, once I split off the sapwood and the juvenile wood at the center of the tree. Because the panels are radial splits from a very straight-grained oak, they are quite stable. The shrinkage is minimal, and predictable. I can’t recall having any problems stemming from shrinking panels. They fit about 1/2″ into the grooves in the edges of the stock.
these pieces got split again, into 1/32nds of the original log. The best ones did about 10″ – others less so. The quality of this stock was first-rate, though. After splitting, it’s hewn, then planed. To carve the panels, I secure them to a piece of scrap stock then hold that down to the bench with a pair of holdfasts.