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Tips - Carving and Abrasives

 Hermes RB406 J-Flex

Hermes RB406 J-Flex

Using abrasives on your carving is usually the last step before painting, its generally not a good idea to use your tools on the work again as there may be particles left behind which will ruin your cutting edges.. 

Sometimes however it is necessary to do this, so If you have to then always use cloth backed abrasives. I almost exclusively use Hermes RB406 J-FLex which doesn't clog or drop particles excessivly. It's a little more expensive than some but it lasts a long time before wearing out and you can clean it in water too.

If you do have to add final detail after sanding, give the wood a wipe/rinse with white spirit, this should clear anything that might be left behind. Don't wipe the wood with water if you can avoid it as it will raise the grain.

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Tips - Scrollsaw vs Bandsaw

You can cut your wooden marionette parts by hand if necessary but if you can use a machine it will save you a lot of time and arm ache.

Of course you will be governed by what you have available to you but what are the pro's and cons of a scrollsaw vs a bandsaw

 Cutting puppet parts on the scrollsaw

Cutting puppet parts on the scrollsaw

Pros - Scroll Saws

  • You can cut tighter curves and more detail.
  • You can even cut inside a part.
  • It is a safer tool to use.
  • Blades are cheap

Cons - Scroll Saws

  • Most saws will struggle to cut more than a 50mm (2 inch) thickness.
  • Cutting takes longer.

 cutting marionette parts on the band saw

cutting marionette parts on the band saw

Pros - Bandsaws

  • You can cut thicker timbers -  up to 150mm (6 inches)
  • Cutting is faster
  • Blades last longer

Cons - Bandsaws

  • Difficult to get fine detail
  • Blades are more expensive

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Tips - Cutting out duplicate parts

 Cutting puppet parts on the bandsaw

Cutting puppet parts on the bandsaw

When cutting profiles for body parts that there are two of, eg arms,legs, hands, feet etc, then you can save time by cutting two at once and separating the block with the final cut. You can either cut them front aspect x 2 or side aspect x 2 its up to you or it may be dictated by the size of wood or direction of grain.

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Tips - Carving hands and other small parts

 Carved Limewood hand in progress

Carved Limewood hand in progress

 Carved Limewood hand in progress

Carved Limewood hand in progress

When carving small parts, especially hands, its worth keeping them attached to the block until they are ready to finish/fit. 

This gives you a flat base to work on as well as something to hold on to.

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