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Carving bigleaf maple versus other variety of maple

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Carving bigleaf maple versus other variety of maple

Postby Christ Kacoyannakis » Wed Jun 21, 2017 3:38 pm

I have hand carved two bigleaf maple 17 inch archtops. Carving that bigleaf maple was no joke. I am wondering if carving red maple, or some other variety of maple is easier, or are they are all about as difficult to carve. I have a great source for bigleaf maple, but could always use other sources. I am also looking for sources for red maple or other varieties. I don't need to buy large quantities, rather, I am looking for somebody who can provide really nice sets and has pictures or can provide pictures. Thanks.
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Re: Carving bigleaf maple versus other variety of maple

Postby Alan Carruth » Thu Jun 22, 2017 2:04 pm

In my experience bigleaf is the hardest to carve, although, as with all woods, it varies. With most maples you can plane or scrape across the grain of curly wood to minimize tear out, but broadleaf tends to crush when cut across the grain, so it's harder to deal with. By comparison European maple is a piece of cake, as is American soft maple, so long as your tools are sharp. Rock maple lives up to it's name, but does cut cleanly. Birdseye I don't enjoy, even though it looks great when you get it done.
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Re: Carving bigleaf maple versus other variety of maple

Postby Christ Kacoyannakis » Fri Jun 23, 2017 9:13 am

Thanks, Alan!
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Re: Carving bigleaf maple versus other variety of maple

Postby Brian Evans » Fri Jun 23, 2017 11:40 am

If you haven't tried toothed plane blades yet, I would do so. I have one in my large thumb plane and it makes planing across grain in hardwood a lot less problematic. They virtually eliminate tearout so you can ignore grain when roughing.
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Re: Carving bigleaf maple versus other variety of maple

Postby Barry Daniels » Fri Jun 23, 2017 12:02 pm

And you can convert a plane blade into a toothed blade by simply cutting shallow, parallel grooves into the back of the blade with a dremel cut-off wheel.
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Re: Carving bigleaf maple versus other variety of maple

Postby Alan Carruth » Fri Jun 23, 2017 3:13 pm

I made a toothed iron for the arch plane that I inherited from Carleen Hutchins when I started work on my latest archtop, which has a Bigleaf back. It was the only way to get it to work.
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Re: Carving bigleaf maple versus other variety of maple

Postby Christ Kacoyannakis » Fri Jun 23, 2017 7:12 pm

It is not so much the tearout that I have issues with. It is the difficulty of carving. Seems as though the consensus is that European or German (is that all red spruce) is much easier to carve. Is there a good source for really nice high end curly European maple?
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