Today's postings

  1. [Baren 23583] Re: to bevel or not to bevel (David Bull)
  2. [Baren 23584] Re: to bevel or not to bevel (Bette Wappner)
  3. [Baren 23585] Re: to bevel or not to bevel (Charles Morgan)
  4. [Baren 23586] Re: Bevel or not to bevel ("David Stones")
  5. [Baren 23587] Re: carving question (Mike Lyon)
  6. [Baren 23588] Yoshida work (Charles Morgan)
  7. [Baren 23589] Re: carving question (Charles Morgan)
  8. [Baren 23590] Re: to bevel or not to bevel (FurryPressII # aol.com)
  9. [Baren 23591] Re: to bevel or not to bevel (Julio.Rodriguez # walgreens.com)
  10. [Baren 23592] Out of Nagasawa Show ("April Vollmer")
  11. [Baren 23593] Re: to bevel or not to bevel (Mike Lyon)
  12. [Baren 23594] Re: to bevel or not to bevel (Lynita Shimizu)
  13. [Baren 23595] Re: to bevel or not to bevel (pulpfic # sunshinecable.com)
  14. [Baren 23596] Re: to bevel or not to bevel (David Bull)
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Message 1
From: David Bull
Date: Sat, 13 Dec 2003 22:33:52 +0900
Subject: [Baren 23583] Re: to bevel or not to bevel
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> ... surely you jest ...

No jesting, just describing what I know. I'm sorry to disappoint you,
but Mr. Yoshida - at least during the time that I was learning in his
studio - created all his prints using metal key blocks. The only carving
done there was in the creation of plywood blocks for the colour areas.
Hamano-san - his carver in those days - worked in the 'modern' way, with
the point of the blade 'inside', just as described in the Yoshida book.
They simply had no need to work in the method that I describe. For them,
their methods are of course not 'wrong'. I said 'wrong wrong wrong'
because for _me_ - and all the old guys in the old days - it simply
doesn't work to use the bevel side against the line.

> Try this experiment with a flat chisel.
> ...
> You have MUCH greater control with the bevel side toward the wood

This is 'apples and oranges' ... When a chisel pares away wood in the
way you describe, the waste wood is completely free to _move_, so this
question of wood compressed by the bevel is not applicable here. When we
carve a line in a plank, the wood _must_ be compressed by the exact same
amount as the volume of steel that is jammed down into the wood. It's
your choice - you can compress the waste, or you can compress the good
wood that will be retained ...

> But one more time, it looks like a case of "whatever works for you is
> best" ...

Yes of course. I hope none of the onlookers to this discussion are
picking up any 'bad vibes' from the exchange - as I'm sure this is all
in the spirit of exchange of ideas. And one day, you'll all realize that
I'm right! :-)

Dave
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Message 2
From: Bette Wappner
Date: Sat, 13 Dec 2003 10:18:00 -0500
Subject: [Baren 23584] Re: to bevel or not to bevel
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I must say....this is a very interesting subject and discussion. I'm going
to try both ways. But I must say that a very frustrating part for me has
been that the line is very hard for me to see, for a right hander, to cut
with bevel against saved line and handle outward. So because of that, I'm
going to try Dave's way.

I never gave compression much thought in the past. But it makes sense to me
to be compressing the waste. But why is there a bevel at all? Is it
important to bevel waste? Is that why the tool makers put the bevel on the
waste side? If I missed any explanatins to my questions, I apologize if I'm
bringing up the same questions. I finally got the time to sit still long
enough to absorb this fasinating subject.

To me, shaving wood with a chisel isn't the save as cutting; so there's no
comparison? But remember folks....I'm strickly a beginner, green at the
gills, and new to wood tools.

Bette :)



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Message 3
From: Charles Morgan
Date: Sat, 13 Dec 2003 07:39:06 -0800
Subject: [Baren 23585] Re: to bevel or not to bevel
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At 10:33 PM 12/13/03 +0900, you wrote:

>>Try this experiment with a flat chisel.
>>...
>>You have MUCH greater control with the bevel side toward the wood
>
>This is 'apples and oranges' ... When a chisel pares away wood in the way
>you describe, the waste wood is completely free to _move_, so this
>question of wood compressed by the bevel is not applicable here. When we
>carve a line in a plank, the wood _must_ be compressed by the exact same
>amount as the volume of steel that is jammed down into the wood. It's your
>choice - you can compress the waste, or you can compress the good wood
>that will be retained ...

Not quite apples and oranges ... We both agree that the beveled part of the
blade is effectively being pushed away from the cut ... same as with the
chisel. My point had to do with control. It is easier to control the cut by
following with the beveled side toward what you want to keep. Wandering
will tend to be in the direction of the flat of the blade. You are much
less likely to dig in our gouge out a piece of the line you want to keep.

And I reiterate that I find the pressure tends to raise a slight edge on
the side next to the flat of the blade.


>>But one more time, it looks like a case of "whatever works for you is
>>best" ...
>
>Yes of course. I hope none of the onlookers to this discussion are
>picking up any 'bad vibes' from the exchange - as I'm sure this is all in
>the spirit of exchange of ideas. And one day, you'll all realize that I'm
>right! :-)

Gee, I wonder why all those contemporary Japanese carvers have not realized
it yet ???? ;-)}}}

And I absolutely agree there are no bad vibes intended. How else are we to
learn and advance the craft if we do not discuss it and think about
alternatives.

Cheers ....... Charles
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Message 4
From: "David Stones"
Date: Sun, 14 Dec 2003 00:37:30 +0900
Subject: [Baren 23586] Re: Bevel or not to bevel
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Dear All,

This is my first mail since Baren's site has been changed to prevent
addresses being so easily misused - and I must add to Dave B's mail...
"(Then there will be _two_ of us!)". No, there are already two! I have
never mastered the skill, very well, that I was taught - but the
"traditional" way is as Dave B. has said. It's difficult - yet I would
(usually) never dream of suggesting otherwise if asked - even though
I do not do such fine-line work myself.

My own teacher's handbook (Woodblock Printing by Tomikichiro Tokuriki - now
out of print) has this shown on page 23 of the English version (page 23 of
the Japanese version too - still in print, I think?).

Anyway, everyone to his own way, for sure... but the traditional tools,
designed as they were, speak the method to use... in my opinion at least.

As for a flat chisel being used bevel-down, this is FOR a flat chisel and
will give a very nice, thin slice. Used in reverse, it cuts out the larger,
unwanted parts easily. The Kento chisel is an example. Again though... this
depends on your way of working. No necessity to change if what you do gives
what you need...

Dave S (back from the long past).
Okazaki, Japan
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Message 5
From: Mike Lyon
Date: Sat, 13 Dec 2003 10:07:47 -0600
Subject: [Baren 23587] Re: carving question
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David Bull wrote:
>>To the wood, the 'flat' side of the blade and the 'bevel'
>>side of the blade are indistinguishable.
>
>Sorry to disagree Mike, but this is not true. _If_ the blade were bevelled
>on both sides, and _if_ it were moved through the wood while being held
>completely vertically, then yes, the compression on both sides would be
>equal. Neither of those conditions is true in real life.
>
>The pressure that drives the blade down into the wood comes _straight_
>down the haft of the knife, down through the blade - operating in a way
>_parallel_ to the flat side of the blade. Imagine looking head-on at a
>boat plowing through the water - but imagine only _half_ the boat (ignore
>the other half). The centre line of that boat (the flat side of our blade)
>slices straight into the water, driven by the power that...

I don't completely agree, Dave (not that it makes a bit of difference :-).

For ease of illustration (hah! that's a laugh!), lets imagine that the
boat does not have a curved hull but instead has straight sides and it's
quite a bit longer than it is wide (a triangular solid). So when it's
pushed or pulled forward, it will try to go 'straight ahead' that is, it
will follow the vector which bisects the angle of the hull... Isn't that
right?

Then, when we cut the boat in half, we have a new, narrower boat which
still has straight sides and is now even longer compared to its width than
before. But it's the same as before, only narrower (since we are talking
about what the wood 'feels' and not ease of cutting we can forget for the
moment that the hand driving the boat is above the flat side and 20+
degrees away from the beveled side -- we're talking about what the blade
'looks like' to the wood and whether the wood suffers more or less pressure
from the flat or bevelled side) except that the 'boat' no longer follows
that original vector (along which we cut it in half), it now wishes to
follow the vector which bisects the angle of the hull... Same as
before. The water doesn't know that the boat is a cut-in-half boat. And
the hand which pulls it along through the water/wood doesn't either. We
steer it by hand pressure, turning it a bit left to force it left, or a bit
right to force it right. But the 'reason' the wood moves out of the way on
'top' of the boat/blade (because our boat is always heeled way over) is
because there's just a 'little' water above the blade, but the whole ocean
underneath it. So there's no splash below, only above.

I think the boat analogy just got stretched past utility, as the wood
doesn't 'splash' and the water underneath a boat still moves away in waves,
but in wood the wood underneath doesn't move away, it just gets locally
compressed to the extent the wood on the other side of the blade resists
moving out of the way. When we cut at an angle (heeled over) the wood on
top of the blade more easily bends (since there's comparatively little wood
above -- only the surface) and so the wood underneath is less compressed
(the whole slicing requires less energy), and when we take just a thin
sliver, that shaving bends away so easily that there is almost no pressure
on the wood underneath the blade. But whether the shaving is pressed from
the flat side or from the bevelled side (and I'm theorizing a flat surface
on both edges, not a compound bevel) is immaterial. The geometry of the
blade inside the wood is virtually identical (only excepting that the flat
side is usually a bit shorter).

Whether the hand is above the flat side, or above the bevelled side (the
blade is curved) is immaterial (to the wood, not to the hand) -- the blade
follows the natural vector regardless and the wood doesn't know which is
the bevelled side.

Now that's the practical matter where my argument breaks down: When
cutting the 'natural' way, with the flat side of the blade down, the handle
is at a certain angle to the plank. But when cutting 'goofy', the handle
is 20+ degrees more acute -- closer to the board -- in order to make the
same cut. Nonetheless, the stresses on the wood are identical whichever
way the blade goes through.

I think...

Mike


Mike Lyon
http://mlyon.com
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Message 6
From: Charles Morgan
Date: Sat, 13 Dec 2003 08:40:55 -0800
Subject: [Baren 23588] Yoshida work
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Hello Dave,

Just a couple of questions about your comments about the work of Hiroshi
and Toshi Yoshida.

So, are you claiming that Hiroshi and Toshi Yoshida NEVER did their own
carving and were ignorant of "correct" carving technique?

Are you claiming that Hiroshi and Toshi Yoshida never had any training?

Are you claiming that Toshi never received any training from his father,
Hiroshi?

Are you claiming that ALL the fine lines on ALL the work of Hiroshi and
Toshi Yoshida were produced from steel plates, rather that from wood plates?

Just curious ... ;-)}}}

Cheers ..... Charles
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Message 7
From: Charles Morgan
Date: Sat, 13 Dec 2003 09:08:37 -0800
Subject: [Baren 23589] Re: carving question
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I do not think your analysis is quite right, Mike.

The force vector drawing the blade (or your imaginary boat) is generally
parallel to the flat side of the blade. Drawing the blade (or boat) through
the water will, as you suggest, result in a tendency to "equalize" the
pressure on the two sides. But because the force vector is generally
parallel to the non-beveled side of the blade, there is a resulting
pressure toward the flat side of the blade ... the bevel is trying to push
in, to make the force vector become the bisector of the angle, to change
slightly the direction of travel of the point. That is what produces the
pressure on the flat side of the blade and what causes the blade to wander
... and the chisel to dig in if the flat side is toward the wood.

Your analysis is absolutely correct if you were pulling the wedge from the
point and the force vector were free to re-adust. But think of what the
forces would be if you kept pushing parallel to one face of the wedge
shaped boat... the thing would wander like crazy because of the pressure on
the face which was NOT in the direction of the force, but canted off to one
"side", as it were.

Cheers ...... Charles
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Message 8
From: FurryPressII # aol.com
Date: Sat, 13 Dec 2003 14:41:38 EST
Subject: [Baren 23590] Re: to bevel or not to bevel
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I find the knife debate to be amusing as i almost never use one amd when i do
use a knife it is a wood carving one that is beveled on both sides.

I have been known to use a 1mm "v" for 50% of a block. The effect of being
a wood engraver vs a wood cut arts. lots of different ways to skin the cat.

keep up the decesion i love it

john center
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Message 9
From: Julio.Rodriguez # walgreens.com
Date: Sat, 13 Dec 2003 13:59:19 -0600
Subject: [Baren 23591] Re: to bevel or not to bevel
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Dave:
"but hang in there for a seven-year apprenticeship, and then, without a
doubt, you will come over
to my side! (Then there will be _two_ of us!)"

Hey...wait a minute...what about us lefties ? I hold the knive the way you
describe except I hold it on my left hand...flat side against the line,
thumb tilted to the left and point tilted to the right..In my case the
wood compressed is the waste wood...are you saying I am also doing it
wrong cause the tip is on the inside of my left hand ?

Tell me it ain't so !

Julio Rodriguez (Skokie, Illinois)
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Message 10
From: "April Vollmer"
Date: Sat, 13 Dec 2003 15:01:09 -0500
Subject: [Baren 23592] Out of Nagasawa Show
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I just had a wonderful woodblock-oriented week hanging out with the artists
who studied at the Nagasawa woodblock program. Several of them showed up at
55 Mercer Gallery here in New York to attend the show. The director of the
program came too and as brought a videotape of master printers carving, as
luck would have it, with the FLAT side toward the raised area.

I always make a point of having students work with the bevel side toward the
raised area, to exaggerate the bevel of the wood. Beginners don't always
realize how important it is for the raised wood areas to spread out at the
base for strength. As Dave points out, the angle you HOLD the knife makes
more difference. I don't' suppose those of us using mostly soft shina will
notice the difference, but I'll give it a try! I know how much bevel I want
on my block.

Speaking with the artists who studied in Japan, they all told me that they
were continually surprised as they learned from different printers, how each
one taught them a different way to work. There seem to be a lot of
individual variation.

The show looked great, and Daniel Heyman, the curator, took all of us out to
Philadelphia to see the Barnes collection, that was a treat! I put some
photos up on my website at www.aprilvollmer.com/nagasawa and should have
more up soon. Today is a final demonstration, so I want to add that before I
put up www.aprilvollmer.com/nagasawa2 .

best,

April
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Message 11
From: Mike Lyon
Date: Sat, 13 Dec 2003 14:29:13 -0600
Subject: [Baren 23593] Re: to bevel or not to bevel
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At 01:59 PM 12/13/2003 -0600, Julio Rodriguez wrote:
>Hey...wait a minute...what about us lefties ? I hold the knive the way you
>describe except I hold it on my left hand...flat side against the line,
>thumb tilted to the left and point tilted to the right..In my case the
>wood compressed is the waste wood...are you saying I am also doing it
>wrong cause the tip is on the inside of my left hand ?

Depends, Julio -- are you using a left'handed toh, or a right-handed one
(bevel on opposite side)?

-- Mike


Mike Lyon
http://mlyon.com
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Message 12
From: Lynita Shimizu
Date: Sat, 13 Dec 2003 15:46:04 -0500
Subject: [Baren 23594] Re: to bevel or not to bevel
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Julio, do you cut toward the left or toward the right?

Just in from a trip to find this interesting bevel discussion. I'm a
leftie and carve as Dave B and Dave S describe, flat side to the wood,
bevel out. My comment, however, is that as a left-handed carver, my
knife is cut in the opposite direction of that of a right-handed
cutter. I can't use the standard right-handed knife. I think I'm
holding it the way Dave B described, only in reverse, mirror-image?
whatever. The tip of the left-handed knife is on the outside of my
left hand, so I cut in a leftward direction. If I were to use a
right-handed knife, I would have to cut away from me, in the opposite
direction and I just can't do that. My brain is turning inside out
just thinking about it so I doubt if I have described myself
successfully. Anyway, are other lefties able to cut with knives made
for right-handers?

Best wishes,
Lynita
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Message 13
From: pulpfic # sunshinecable.com
Date: Sat, 13 Dec 2003 13:05:04 -0800
Subject: [Baren 23595] Re: to bevel or not to bevel
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Lynita wrote:

Anyway, are other lefties able to cut with knives made
>for right-handers?
>

I used a regular right-handed knife until I found my new one, but it was
awkward, to say the least. I pulled it toward me, but with the bevel facing
the standing line, and making sure that I compensated for this weird angle
with the way I held the knife. Slow going, and I was never completely sure
if I was cutting where I meant to, and with the angle I wanted.

I recently found a "backwards" knife in a cheap set from Lee Valley, and am
living happily ever after 8^, especially since it has a comfortable handle,
as well.

It's quite restful not to have to steer the knife with jaw tension 8^/

Randi
--
* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *
Ms Randi DeLisle
papermaker, bookbinder, publisher, printmaker & gourd artist
pulp fictions & pulp fictions press
Grand Forks BC Canada pulpfic@sunshinecable.com
* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *
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Message 14
From: David Bull
Date: Sun, 14 Dec 2003 08:50:52 +0900
Subject: [Baren 23596] Re: to bevel or not to bevel
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Charles wrote:
> Wandering will tend to be in the direction of the flat of the
> blade. You are much less likely to dig in our gouge out a
> piece of the line you want to keep.

I have no disagreement with this at all ... the traditional carving
method was not designed to be 'easy', but simply the best method to
produce the desired results - razor-sharp, thin lines.

> And I reiterate that I find the pressure tends to raise a slight
> edge on the side next to the flat of the blade.

Yes, of course. Steel passing through wood that has noplace to escape
does have an effect on both sides. Can't be helped. But even this small
raised edge can be eliminated when the carving gets really fine. For
such lines, the order of cutting is slightly altered; the relief cut -
the cut usually used to 'pop out' the unneeded wood _after_ the first
cut is made - is done _first_. Then when the main cut is made, the waste
wood is free to move, and the compression/stress on the good wood is
reduced to almost nothing.


Dave Stones:
> No, there are already two!

Apologies, Dave for that comment about 'Then there will be _two_ of
us!' But you know just as well as I do how 'isolated' one sometimes
feels when doing what we do over here! :-)


Mike wrote about boats:
> I don't completely agree, Dave

I'd like to wrestle with you more about this one, but I don't see how we
can do that without being in a restaurant/bar where we can scribble
sketches and vector diagrams on the back of the menu! So I think that's
one for [Summit II] :-)


Julio brought up a point:
> Hey...wait a minute...what about us lefties ?

I _knew_ you would post this Julio! I was trying to hold off a while in
order not to confuse the discussion. (Hah!).

Left/right handedness makes absolutely no difference to this point about
'flat side against the line'. Imagine that scene that I laid out in the
previous email (this was for a right-hander using a blade designed for a
right-hander):
> The knife was gripped in the fist, blade downwards, thumb
> on top of the short handle. Flat side of the blade was on the
> left, bevel on the right. The hand was then tilted so that the
> thumb moved over to the left, and the point of the blade to
> the right ... tilted far enough so that the point of the blade
> could be seen _outside_ the hand, _not_ inside.

Now, wave your magic wand and make the _hand_ disappear - leave just the
knife sticking there in the wood, leaning over to the left ... Then
left-hander Julio comes along, grabs the knife (with his left hand) in
the _modern_ way. The point is now 'inside', but the flat side is
against the good wood, just as it should be. Carve. Perfection!

So there are two very important twists to this story here:

- if you want to carve the modern way with the point 'inside', you
should get a knife of the 'opposite handed-ness'. That way, the flat
side will stay against the good wood, you don't have to wrestle with the
(at first) awkward traditional method of carving, and everything will be
AOK.

- if you are left-handed, that means just using a stock 'off-the-shelf'
knife for your carving. Don't even think about going out and getting a
special knife for yourself ...

It took me _so many_ years to finally get this stuff into my head -
struggling with left-handed blades because I thought it was the proper
thing to do (I am left-handed). I read 'the books', etc. and was
endlessly confused by what I saw and how it just didn't match what I
felt when the knives cut through the wood ... and by how my fine lines
_always_ expanded once touched by the moisture of the pigment. Once I
switched to the 'flat side against the good wood' method, such problems
evaporated ...


Charles:
> So, are you claiming that Hiroshi and Toshi Yoshida NEVER
> did their own carving and were ignorant of "correct" carving technique?

The Yoshidas (Hiroshi - Toshi - Tsukasa) were (and are) extremely proud
of the way that they created their own way of doing things. They
were/are artists, and were of course not trained as apprentices in the
traditional techniques - they would have laughed at such an idea. They
were self taught, and proud of it.

Most of their keyblocks (I have no idea what percentage - but it is
_very_ high) are metal (not steel, by the way, but 'aen', which I
believe translates as zinc.). They never hid this fact, and indeed there
are photos of a print being pulled from a metal block in the well-known
'Complete Works of Hiroshi Yoshida' book. (They of course still called
their products 'woodblock prints' ... but that's a whole 'nother
discussion!)

Hiroshi-san mentioned in his famous book about working on the carving
himself for some of his blocks because the traditional men couldn't
reproduce what he wanted. These cases were nearly all for colour blocks
that were reproducing reflections or ripples in water, and for this he
'scooped' using small u-gouges, which the traditional carver does not
even _own_! When I reproduced one of his prints:
http://woodblock.com/surimono/2000/2-9/display_print_2-9.html
... I had to go out and buy a 2mm U-gouge just for the purpose of
re-creating his cuts.

Charles, you seem pretty defensive about the Yoshidas in your post, so I
must reiterate: nothing I said was in any way insulting or negative to
them. They did what they wanted, in the way they wanted, because that
was the way to reproduce the results they wanted. They didn't give a
d#*m about the 'right' way to carve in the traditional sense that I used
the word - for them (as it should be for all of us) the 'right' way is
whatever way that gets the results you want.

Dave