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Wax carving and tools


#1

Hi again,

I’m hoping someone can offer me some specific advice on wax carving
and tools.

The wolf tools have been recommended to me, does anyone have any
experience of these particular tools and which set to buy for
jewellery scale modelling? They are SERIOUSLY expensive, so at the
moment, this would constitute a major investment for me - so I’m
trying to ascertain if I need them all and if they will be worth it…
(And if I don’t need them all, which ones seem to serve the most
use?)

My second question to any and all is, what do you need to do to
prepare a casting for enamelling?

And, does anyone know what will smooth and clean up/polish the wax
that I can get here in the UK? (Lighter fluid doesn’t seem to be
working)

And finally, How can one go about getting a “pierced” look in wax -
I have some green wax sheets from rio, but they tend to start going a
bit soft if I try and cut a pattern into them… I had been wanting to
pierce out a sheet of wax and then lay it onto a form… any
suggestions?? I’m trying to achieve a very clean edge/pattern cut…

Many thanks!
Gia.


#2

Hi Gia,

make your own tools, you will find that you use a few most of the
time and most only a little of the time.

Old dental scrapers are useful, I scrape with what amounts to tiny
spoon shapes a lot.

Get a copy of the Lawrence Kallenberg wax modelling book, Alibris
has a couple cheap at the moment.

To do fine detail you need the hard green wax, Walsh or Suttons will
have it, to polish the little felt wheels to go in a flex drive work
well BUT just used by hand, just rub with them, then a nylon stosking
material and rub with that.

Good to see another wax carver in the UK.

kind regards,
Tim Blades.


#3

Hi Gia,

I have the Wolf wax carving tools both sizes and I find I need the
micro tools just as much as the original set. Yes, they are
expensive but they “wicked” sharp and they will make your life so
much easier. As for wax you should try Wolf wax sheets.

Enameling is a different question all together. You will need to
enamel on pure metal so if you’re using silver it needs to be fine
silver if you are casting sterling then you will need to depletion
guild the silver by heating and quenching in pickle until the copper
has been removed from the layer being enameled. Gold… should be
green gold there is no copper in the gold. the easiest to use and
best is 22k green gold.

Hope this helps,
Jennifer friedman


#4

Gia,

Kate Wolfs tools look very nice, I have never used one and don’t
want to discourage her sales.

Talk to your dentist nicely, they tend to have a drawer full of old
picks and probes. A common nail with a dowel handle, wack it with a
hammer, file and sand to shape. Polishing helps too.

Make some tools which solve the current problem, fancy tool steel is
not required, flame hardened bamboo should even work. Then you will
what shapes you like.

For smoothing wax, local grocery store and one of those Orange based
cleaners. Read the ingredients, some have a petroleum base. The non
toxic organic ones work just as well.

Piercing question… if you are using the soft flexible I remember
then you are going to have fun and little satisfaction. Here in
Vermont I suggest working outside in mid winter. Or use a harder
carving wax at room temp, cast it and wack it into shape with a
hammer.

jeffD
Demand Designs
Analog/Digital Modelling & Goldsmithing
http://www.gmavt.net/~jdemand


#5

gia,

as an old timer I can tell you start with the cheapest tools
possible. It’s best to learn but the simplest crudest available. I
knew a woman who used a candle, lump of wax arbitrary dental tool and
made me a copy of the Mickey Mouse profile that was good as the
original. I still have it. Unbelievable. Consider it being like
photography, would you get the most complicated camera first one that
is simpler so you could set your own f-stops and shutter speeds with.
If you’re truly interested in doing this work simply, dig in, spend
the time and sweat a bit.

Rio Grande sells a liquid wax smoother for the purpose you’ve
mentioned. I would also check with their tech department on any other
technical questions you may have – superb company have been with them
for many many years. They’re in New Mexico and maybe people are
happier in New Mexico than most places because they been consistently
pleasant with me and I must admit that been a nuisance at times

good luck zev


#6

Gia,

You ask some really big questions. Regarding the Wolf wax tools,
they are very usefull tools. However, I would add that a good wax
sawblade ( #10) in a jeweler’s frame as well as an assortment of
coarse ( 0 and 00) files from 4 in. to 8 in. long would be very
helpful, too. I like a large cabinet bastard file with handle to do a
lot of rough-out work, and a double-ended tapered 4 in 1 file is
great, too. You’re most likely going to need a rotary tool or
flex-shaft and ball burs to hollow out your waxes, scrapers,
dividers, and the list goes on… It will also depend on what you are
trying to carve, of course.

To try to answer your question about “piercing” a wax, you might
also consider just piercing a sheet of metal. It might just be faster
in the long run, and perhaps easier to clean and polish than casting
a wax model of the same thing. Piercing metal with a saw is about as
clean and fast as you can get, if you have practice with the saw.

Jay Whaley


#7

Yes Wolfe wax tools are an investment. Are they worth it? It depends
on how much wax carving you intend to do, and how you use the tools.

I recently took a 5 day workshop with Kate Wolf, and it was worth
every penny. So are the tools, now that I have learned to use them
more efficiently. I have owned her original set of tools for a few
years, and found them occasionally quite useful, but after working
with Ms Wolf I now find these tools indispensable. I intend to
purchase the smaller set too.

For truly crisp edges of piercing, I would rather work in metal,
directly. Make an original in metal, fully finished, and then make a
mold if I intend to make more than one piece, and caste copies.


#8

Hi Gia,

I have no experience with the Wolf tools or preparing a casting for
enamelling so I can’t help there. I do look forward to what others
say because I have some future projects in mind that will involve the
use of enamel on castings. For cleaning and polishing wax I use an
orange oil based product that is sold in supermarkets for removing
sticky residues. Its active ingredient is D-Limonene. I used to use
mineral turpentine but the orange oil works better and smells much
nicer.

Getting a hard edged pierced look in the usual soft wax sheet you
but is fairly tricky. Sometimes I have managed by using a VERY SHARP
scalpel but on the whole this material works better for a softer and
more organic style. I would suggest you make a sheet out of hard
injection wax by pouring molten wax on warm water and letting it cool
slowly and undisturbed. Then you can work it more like sheet metal
using files, scrapers and of course a jewellers saw with a spiral wax
blade.

Welcome to fascinating world of wax working. It’s a material with
its own idiosyncrasies.

All the best
Jenny


#9

Hi Gia,

Lee Epperson has written a very good paper on carving wax and making
carving tools_. If you contact him, he will e-mail you the paper.

http://leessilver.web.officelive.com/LEESSILVER.aspx

good lucik, andy


#10

Hi there,

Like a few others I’m sure, I’ve always made my own tools. Broken
burs and 3" sections of wooden dowel are the bulk of what I use that
resemble the shapes of the Wolf tools. I had to look them up, they
look great though. Drill a hole big enough to fit a busted bur
tightly in a dowel, stick it in, shape it, sharpen it and your done.
You can even use toothbrush handles or disposable razor handles. I
use old dental tools as well, along with retasked crochet needles. A
set of so called wax needle files that proved worthless 20 years ago
have sharpened ends [ the cut surface really gives a good grip]. Use
your imagination every chance you get! I cant coment on a wax
cleaner, all I use is sandpaper and a soft mounted brush in a
micromotor nice and slow).

Now I have no clue what your trying to make, I only mention it
because that would have bearing on how I would go about it. I’ll
assume it’s a filagree look for a ring. Once the outer shape is done
I seperate the ring into quadrants then draw the design on one
quadrant. I use dividers to measure and mark different reference
points from the design to the other 3 quads. Finish drawing it,
deepen the lines, hollow, then finish the piercing.

But all thats just me, haha, find what works for you and enjoy.

Bil Peebles
www.williamjosephdesigns.com


#11
The wolf tools have been recommended to me, does anyone have any
experience of these particular tools and which set to buy for
jewellery scale modelling? (And if I don't need them all, which
ones seem to serve the most use?) 

I have the set, like it and use it. Do you need it? Probably not,
especially if you have financial constraints. I’ll bet most of us do
most of our carving with the odd graver, etc.

The most used are no’s 15 (rt. angle); 2,10, 11 (safety edge); and
then the rounded scallops, 6, 9,18 & 8, 17.

And, does anyone know what will smooth and clean up/polish the wax
that I can get here in the UK? (Lighter fluid doesn't seem to be
working) 

Lighter fluid along with a nylon stocking is the trick, or a felt
pad - use it with a slight abrasive like that.

Good luck,
Pete


#12
I have the Wolf wax carving tools both sizes and I find I need the
micro tools just as much as the original set. Yes, they are
expensive but they "wicked" sharp and they will make your life so
much easier. As for wax you should try Wolf wax sheets. 

$125 bucks for 18 tools, a container and book… that’s very
reasonable.

I just paid $127 for 12 needle files for silver, and I guess I’ll
have to pay it again when I start to play with gold.

Regards Charles A.


#13

The current Ganoksin raffle features the two Minoru Azama ebooks on
the wax build-up method.

Learn a new technique while you benefit Orchid!

http://tinyurl.com/38npz7t

Lorraine


#14
They're in New Mexico and maybe people are happier in New Mexico
than most places 

Probably so - it’s the chili and sopapillas, I think :slight_smile:

There’s been much good advice, but I think somebody has to say it:
There are two general schools of waxwork that are quite different -
hard wax and soft wax. I pretty much hate soft wax unless there’s
some particular reason, and I use hard wax (file-a-wax) for
everything.

So, you need to decide which wax is best before you even start to
talk about tools. Hard wax uses pretty much the same tools as silver
or gold work does, with a few exceptions. That is, the same TYPE of
tools, maybe not the very same files. Soft wax can use tools ranging
from your fingers to any sorts of pushers and scrapers you like - it
all depends on what sort of work you want to end up with. Sorry to
be vague, and some others have said as much, too, but there’s really
no way to say, “Those are the tools you need” without knowing what
work you want to accomplish in the end. I’d say to take the advice
that’s been given, and do whatever works best for what you want to
do. As with all things, as you progress you’ll get abmuch clearer
picture of what is best for your own needs.


#15

Firstly, thanks so much to everyone who responded - I have got help
from each reply…

From most of the comments I would guess that it would be better to
pierce out metal sheet - but what if it is to be a formed part of
the wax model -

integral? Should I try and construct a model and then have a mould
taken? It is the lack of solder seams that is appealing to me as an
enameller… On the topic of enamelling on cast metal - I know that
castings are porous. The metal is not as dense as sheet and wire,
therefore, before enamelling on anything cast would my best bet be to
burnish the hell out of it?? (So that it does not have a porous
surface) This is what I always thought, but if anyone knows, then it
would be great.

Thanks also to those of you who have given your opinions on the wolf
tools… I admit that I do covet them, but it has been suggested that
I get more competent at this before investing and make my own tools
by a lot of people. I make very good chasing and repousse tools - but
they don’t involve sharpening! This is where I go a bit awry. :slight_smile: I
have picked up a ludicrously cheap enormous set of dental tools from
ebay - they are rough and need refining and in some cases,
sharpening…

That book, modelling in wax, I have ordered (its got lost in the
post! I’m hoping it arrives any day now) Glad to know I made the
right choice in getting this.

Can anyone give me a product name for this orange based cleaner that
can be got from THE UK… (Rio grande and otto frei are both amazing
resources that I use when I can and would strip dry if I won the
lottery - but in the main the shipping costs are too high and a lot
of liquids are considered hazardous to send over - that orange wax
stuff can’t be sent here, or at least not without great expense…)

Thanks again to everyone, Always appreciated. :smiley:


#16

To save some $$$… I use fine wood-working files. You can find them
at the hardware store. The small ones are hard to find, but the
large should be there in plenty. They are so similar to the wax
ones, and a fraction of the cost.

Whatever solvent you use to smooth your waxes, make sure you wash it
off… otherwise you might get some fingerprints and debris in the
wax before it gets cast. Sometimes I use baby oil if I’m in a pinch.
That and a really soft chamois swatch- then a nylon stocking.

Amery Carriere Designs
www.amerycarriere.com


#17

Hi Guys,

Whatever solvent you use to smooth your waxes... 

I was told the other day that Zippo lighter fluid is good for
smoothing waxes, could someone verify that?

Regards Charles A.


#18

I have been carving wax for around 30 years. Mostly I engrave the
wax using modified dental tools. I use ceramic working tools to turn
my wax models.

I find there are all sorts of inexpensive tools that can be used to
carve wax. A little bit of ingenuity and some filing and grinding
with seperating disks mounted in a cable dirven hand piece and there
you have a wax working tool.

I have added “How to modify dental tools for was carving” and
"Carving and engraving wax" papers to the following blog.

If you are interested talk a look.

http://lees-papers.blogspot.com/

Your Orchid Buddy,
Lee Epperson


#19
Thanks also to those of you who have given your opinions on the
wolf tools.. I admit that I do covet them, but it has been
suggested that I get more competent at this before investing and
make my own tools by a lot of people. 

On the other hand, people can often do quality work with quality
tools. It’s funny that the norm on this list is “buy the best tools
you can, never skimp,” and yet here people are saying, “just use old
dental tools.”

A lent a family member my Wolf Wax carving tools and he carved his
first ever wax and made a beautiful ring.

Elaine
http://www.CreativeTextureTools.com


#20

Sharpening tools especially for wax is no big deal. Sanding and
separating disks work fine. A sharpening stone or two are useful
(course and fine)

No brand name for the orange stuff, I buy it once every couple of
years usually only after upending the bottle. It lasts a long time.
Brands change, generally I just wander through the cleaning products
aisle, the stuff always has a label with lots of orange:-) I always
end up with a different brand and have yet to be disappointed, If it
doesn’t work well use it for cleaning and try again. Active
ingredient is d-limosene, local chemical supply places should sell
sell it, but a 45 litre jug of it would last a lifetime for wax work.
Don’t spill any unless you really want an orange scented studio /
house / neighbourhood :slight_smile: I’m not kidding, little bottles from the
supermarket are a better idea. My dad still has 20 litres of the
stuff he used for commercial work, I don’t even want to know where
the barrel is.

jeffD
Demand Designs
Analog/Digital Modelling & Goldsmithing
http://www.gmavt.net/~jdemand