Tools and Books

Tools and Books

Ashley Iles Carving Tools - the 'Zoe Gertner'Range
Using a ZG woodcarving tool for fine detail carving
Carefully shaping the heron's beak using a 'Zoe Gertner' carving gouge
Carving one of the hotel door plaques
Carving the Hotel 'Bat bedroom' door sign in Oak using a 'Zoe Gertner' gouge
Tudor rose carved using 7 Zoe Gertner woodcarving tools
This Tudor Rose was carved using seven 'Zoe Gertner' woodcarving tools

In my early days of teaching woodcarving I noticed students having difficulty controlling cuts when using  a standard sized gouge with a mallet when carving ‘in the round’ – modern gouges seemed too long, heavy and difficult to guide around the desired shape of the sculpture. At the more delicate hand carving/detail stage where many tiny accurate cuts are made using the gouge held close to its cutting edge, again the standard tools proved to be too long and heavy for comfort.

Fingers were made sore from gripping firmly, very tiring for frailer students and those with smaller hands.  As an experiment I cut off a short length from the ends of the handles  of a selection of different gouges and we found the reduced length of the tools made them much easier to use. However, the remaining excessive blade weight and length of the smaller tools  still made accurate cuts difficult when  used by hand  to carve fine detail and smaller carvings.

The problem remained in abeyance until the mid 1990’s, when I was demonstrating woodcarving at Yandles Woodworking show and I was able to talk to Barry and Tony Iles about the problems with modern woodcarving tools. They listened, took measurements of some of my personal gouges, and a few weeks later sent  me a sample set of ‘Zoe Gertner Specials‘, including the most commonly used sweeps and sizes, razor sharp and ready to use. My students were impressed with them.

Sales of these specialist woodcarving tools have been consistent since they were introduced, meeting with universal approval because they address all of the aforementioned difficulties, as well as for their appearance, quality and ease of use. These tools were reviewed in the ‘Woodcarving‘ magazine, issue 48. The tools are available direct from Ashley Iles  (Edge Tools) Ltd; if you need advice about selection please contact Zoe.

Woodcarving - A Foundation Course - published by GMC Publications - ISBN 9781861080592

Everything a beginner needs to know is covered in Zoe’s book, ‘Woodcarving – A Foundation Course’ (GMC Publications 1997) which includes a progressive series of woodcarving projects designed to help you develop basic carving skills.  and techniques.

 The text is supported throughout with full colour photographs and detailed line drawings. Part 1 tells you all About Wood and its Structure, About Woodcarving Tools, Materials and Equipment, How to Sharpen and Care for your Tools, How to use your Tools Correctly and Health and Safety.

Part 2 has several logically progressive projects which show you how to Carve in the Round, How to Carve in Relief, Hollowing Techniques, Figures in the Round, Using Contrasts, Deep  Relief and Undercutting, Carving a Composition and Making a Detailed Figure Carving.

Reviewed in ‘Woodcarving’ magazine, issue no  38 and ‘Furniture and Cabinet Making’ magazine, issue 11.