I use a microscope for carving and it is satisfying.
A new low cost stereo scope can be had from
With optics you get what you pay for, and while not as good as
scopes over $3K, these units are close enough to be worthwhile.
I have the Omano OM2300/JW11 - 7x-45x Stereo, Zoom, Boom Microscope.
It cost about $700
Also useful was the.5 Barlow lense to allow more working space for
your tools, a headrest and replacing the Flourescent light ring with
a traditional Fiber optic ring system.
The microscope isn't appropriate for all wax carving tasks however.
Thinning out the piece requires backlight, and sometimes you need to
bring a tool down on the piece directly from above, which means even
if there is space to position the tool, your view will be obstructed.
Also if you use a wax pen and are used to controlling the rate of
solidification by blowing on the wax, you can no longer do this.
Kate Wolf at the Rio Catalog in Motion showed me a tip to accomplish
the same using an aquarium air pump connected to a foot pedal. She
attaches a vinyl tube to the pump and keeps it handy to blow a small
amount of air onto the peice while using the wax pen. Works well.
Some thought on how the microscope mounts to your bench is needed,
especially if you are planning to use the microscope for
I had a workbench custom made around the scope, for just a little
more than the cost of the articulating boom arm from a Meiji scope
system would have cost. In most cases this would be a bit excessive.
Here is a link to some pictures of it.