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What chisels do you need to carve a puppet?

This is very individual. Some puppet makers are able to carve a whole puppet with 3 chisels, others need twenty. Below is a photo of the basic collection of chisels. These chisels are produced in Switzerland by Pfeil Company. They are said to be the best in Europe not only because of the high quality of the steel but also because of their good handles and the shape of metal parts which are comfortable even when held for a long time.

Chisels and numbers

Every chisel has two numbers. One is the number of the chisel - chisels with deeper profiles have higher numbers (from 3 to 11) . The second number tells you how wide the chisel is. For example 3/25 is not deep and can be used for the final stages of carving to round shapes. The basic rule is that for the overall shaping, you should use bigger chisels (first number should be around #5, 6 - i.e. around 12 mm); for the details and deep cuts, the higher numbers (first number is 11, 12 - around 5 mm).

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Other kinds of chisels

There are shorter chisels with little different numbers such as D9/10. Those are good for carving small pieces in hand. Other chisels you may need are flat, stronger chisels for carpenters. Those are good for carving joints or flat straight shapes.

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Here are the numbers of "my" collection.

  • 1S/15
  • 3/15
  • 3/30
  • 5/20
  • 5/25
  • 7/14
  • 8/16
  • 9/3
  • 9/5
  • 9/7
  • 9/13
  • 9/15
  • 9/25
  • D9/10
  • D8/10
  • D7/14
  • D5/12
  • D1S/8

How to make them sharp

If your chisel is damaged you have to take more steel off, taking the damaged front part away. Then you need to go on the grainer. Here you have to hold the chisel at an angle of 30 - 35 degree. Then you have to sharpen the chisel on stones, starting with one with a bigger grains and finishing with the Arkansas, which is the finest stone. Always use oil as a lubricator when sharpening chisels on stones .

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How to keep them sharp

Your chisels need to be sharpened every day of carving with a fine-grained stone called Arkansas (white). Once a week you need to sharpen your chisels on a stone with larger grain (blue, or red).

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chisels chisels
chisels chisels