Carving and Other Tools

I'm frequently asked what tool to use for carving.  I  do not sell tools.   Here is a list of the tools and sources that I like to use.  

I'm a nut about having the right tool for the job.  However, 
I suggest that you should own a small jig saw, small power sander, and a rotary carving tool.

Here are sites with free gourd carving tutorials that go into more depth than the classes that I teach.  

Bonnie Gibson: 
Phyllis Sickles: 
Types of carving tools, hand pieces, flex shafts, and tool stands.

Many people successfully use hand held rotary tools to carve on gourds.  But I've noticed those using a hand held tool experience excess tool vibration and operator fatigue that causes the student to be frustrated and to tire quickly.  

I prefer to use a flex shaft attachment or a micro motor.  Here is are examples of the types of rotary tools:
Dremel or Proxxon Rotary Tools
:  Both companies make a broad line of hand held tools.  The larger tools work best with a flex shaft and hand piece.  In order to keep the tool stable a stand is needed.   Below is a picture of a Dremel and a Proxxon Rotary Tool, as well as a Dremel flex shaft and tool stands.  Proxxon also has these accessories.  Home Depot or Lowe's does not carry all of the Dremel attachments or models.

Foredom and Wicher Rotary Tools:
 These brand make small to heavy duty rotary tools.   The Foredom heavy duty tools are shown below.  The rotary motors come with a flex shaft and are made to hang up on a stand or to be used with a weighted mounting block.  I use the table model of Foredom and not the hanging model.  The Foredom is a Horse.  You can't stall it.  It is great for roughing out designs.   If you also plan to carve on wood, you should consider buying this tool. 

If you use the hanging version, it is heavy and MUST be on a secure stand or  weighted base. Below are examples of the safe stands and weighted bases.   

Micro Motors:
 The micro-carver is perfect for carving details.  It is light and quiet. I own a marathone but have seen a lot of other models that work extremely well.   If your hand tires easily, you may want to buy a micro motor.

I own a Foredom (a retirement gift) , a Dremel, and a Marathon Micromotor.  

In the spring and fall, I carve on our back porch using the Dremel and Marathon, as well as my Optima wood burner.  Here is a gourd carving of Snow Leopards before I added color.  I carved the three leopard faces using all three carvers and my wood burner.   Fine details like fur and feathers are added using a skew burning tip. 

I added color to the gourd after the carving and burning was complete.  The pictures don't show the finished gourd, but I want you to think about shading the carving with you wood-burning tips instead of just painting. 

Other tools used in carving

You only need one jig saw and one sander.  When I was starting to carve, I bought every tool shown in Bonnie Gibson's book on carving.

I own three
 jig saws: Proxxon, Microlux, and Dewalt.  I cut open gourds with the Dewalt and Proxon.  I use the Microlux for cutting fine details, because of the weight and right angle configuration, it is easier for me to use .

I own five sanders: Proxxon, Black and Decker detail sander, Microlux mini sander, and a right angle attachment for the Foredom.   I mainly use the Mircolux sander and sanding by hand.

I have a fixed sanding belt for leveling gourd tops and bottoms., but I rarely use it.  I've gotten more selective in the gourds that I buy.
I tend to buy from suppliers who support gourd organizations with their advertising and gourd show support.   Gourd and carving suppliers for many of these tools are:

Arizona Gourds: 

Turtle Feathers: 

Sawdust Connection: 

Mountain Wood Carvers:  

Foredom Site: 

Dremel Site:  

Proxxon Site:  
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