Woodcarvers love to create; we carve to give our ideas physical form. Along with this love to create comes a need to follow our own path. Unfortunately, the available tools often don't fit our needs, hands, or budget. While there are high-quality custom toolmakers out there, the tools can be expensive. Wouldn't it be great to have a quality tool that fits your hand and carving needs without breaking the bank?

Forging hand-carving tools can be done by anyone with a little practice and time. You don't even need a full blacksmith shop, although it does help. As you begin forging your own tools, you will want to read a bit on blacksmithing and how to temper different steels. There are many well-written books that go more in depth than I am able to in this article, as well as a growing body of information on the Internet, but the following will get you carving with your own tools in no time. It is a good idea to practice the steps on chilled modeling clay, as it moves like hot metal and you can re-form it into a rod to start over if you make a mistake.

Welcome to the second part of my article. In the last article in Carving Magazine I covered mallets, drawknives, bench knives, detail knives, chip carving knives, chisels, firmers, background stamps, and thumb guards. In this issue I will cover lap boards, a chest protector, holding devices, a carver’s arm, strops, handles, and one of my spare time activities — “junkin’."

Jim O'Dea, a carving instructor and a familiar name to members of the carving community, is the coordinator of the annual Lake Placid Woodcarving Experience. Over the years, he has put together a group of well-known instructors with very diverse carving backgrounds. There is (orwill be) a class available for any type of carving—from a full-bust sculpture, to woodburning (pyrography), caricature, historical reproduction, and nearly any subject in between. Classes unrelated to carving are also available to "noncarving" spouses, and after-class activities are available to anyone who attends the event.

Solly Schoultz, from Cape Town, South Africa, asks a question on sharpening. Solly says he's having trouble keeping his tools sharp. He would like general sharpening information and advice about the various angles that need to be considered. Solly adds, “I am currently sharpening on an oilstone and polishing on 1200-grit water paper followed by honing on leather.”

Approaching the magical isle of Bali by air, the traveler is treated to the breathtaking sights of Mount Agung's perfect volcanic cone, a rich green tapestry of paddy fields, and lush wooded hills below, which raise the spirits after the long transpacific haul to Indonesia.