Have you ever considered using carving tools that are interchangeable with a single handle? To tell you the truth, I haven’t, I’ve always considered them to be an inferior product compared to the more traditional carving tools that you see. I’m use to using a firmly fixed blade within a wooden handle such as you get with Ashley Iles, Pfeil and Henry Taylor tools. This notion is due to the fact that these interchangeable blades are relatively thin compared to the fixed blade of the traditional carving tool and my thinking is, they cannot possibly be as sharp as what I am use to. To further solidify this bias I asked the owner and his associates at the local woodworking store if they had used these Flexcut™ travel carving tools and what were their impression, two of the three gentlemen had not used them and the third person injected that they indeed did have very sharp blades.
This was not the reaction I was looking for, I wanted to know from first hand experience if they would stand up to the test of every day carving. My reason for being in the store in the first place was to find something that was more suitable for carrying on a regular basis rather than a full set of palm tools. The palm tools are perfect for the person working in his workshop or garage but to carry them on a day to day basis they can become quite bulky once you have eight to ten various blade configurations.
My work bag consists of basic things that I consider important to me plus my carving tools, just incase I have free time at lunch to carry on with one of my small lovespoon carvings. I’ve noticed the weight of the bag getting heavier over the past few months and thought it’s time to start reducing the weight. The first thing to do was streamline the contents and that started with the carving tools.
My first intention was to go to the Woodcraft® store and purchase the Flexcut™ Carvin’ Jack™, a complete carving set that you carry in your pocket but on seeing that tool in person I had reservations of spending $129.99 on a elaborate pocket knife. No doubt it would do a fine job but it did not have the versatility that I was looking for. On my lovespoon carvings I need more gouge type configurations than the two offered on the knife due to the various types of bowl that I carve.
The next thing that caught my eye was the Flexcut™ carving kit, this was available as a five piece or a eleven piece set. The ideal thing about this set is the fact that the blades are interchangeable, reducing the bulk that you have to carry around and giving a neat little tool roll with all the basic tools that you need.
I decided to settle with the eleven piece kit because it offered a variety of gouge sizes that would fit my needs for the smaller type of carvings that I am presently doing. This kit consisted of ten blades and a single quick connect ABS handle. The blades are;
- 1/8″ No.11 veiner
- 1mm 45° V-parting
- 1.5mm No.9 gouge
- 1/4″ single bevel chisel
- 5/8″ No.5 gouge
- 3/8″ No.6 gouge
- 1/4″ No.11 veiner
- 3/8″ No.3 gouge
- 5/8″ No.3 gouge
- 1/4″ 70° V-parting
These tools are nestled nicely in the ten piece tool roll with room for a one piece quick connect handle. The owners manual explains the various usage of the gouges, V-tools, chisels and skews. Explicit instruction on inserting and removal of the blades together with how to keep your tools sharp using the Flexcut SlipStrop™.
The unfortunate thing is, the slipstrop is a separate item that has to be purchased individually unless you buy the Flexcut™ boxed set. The owners manual also includes instruction on how to carve the leaf pattern block that was included in this starter set, using each of the individual tools supplied. The back of the brochure outlines additional profiles of blades that you may need at a future date which is a handy feature as they appear to be at fullsize.
My first attempt at placing a blade into the handle met with a nick to the finger. It was barely a touch to one of the other blades while removing the chosen blade to fit into the ABS handle but enough to draw blood. This proved to me that the blades were very sharp and caution had to be used when removing from the pouch. The blade is easy to insert but make sure you have a firm grip and don’t get distracted. There is no play in the blade to handle interface which I am pleased about but only time will tell how this will eventually wear.
All in all I’m quite pleased with the purchase and the only thing left is to put the tools to the test. I will start off with a simple carving with enough intricacy to evaluate all the different blades which I will report on shortly.
First impressions, a nice carving set for people on the go.