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The “Swiss Army” knife family and their contemporary descendants – the Multi-tools, are a good solution for situations on the go. While these tools can never really be a perfect replacement for single tool ergonomics and efficiency, their compactness and versatility can provide us with reasonable solutions while away from our shop, on the go, or when we can’t afford to buy too. many individual tools.
As I prepare for my online wood carving course coming up on Pocosin School of Fine Arts I have decided to try a multi-tool for carving and see if I feel comfortable recommending it to my students. As part of the class, I intend to talk about the tools of the trade, and while most of my students will definitely use a traditional carving knife, I thought it wise to mention the multi-tool option. This assortment of “Swiss Army” folding pocket knife blades includes a knife and some gouges in a narrow spectrum of widths and sweeps.
The most renowned (but also the most expensive) instrument of this group is the American-made one Carvin ‘Jack Flexcut folding knife. While I’m sure it’s a great tool, the price tag is too high to warrant a purchase from a first-time carver. The other tool to consider is a Flexicut clone which is made in China and has the brand name Old Timer 24OT Splinter Carvin ‘6in Traditional folding cutting knife. At less than $ 20 per tool, I thought I should try it out.
After my knife arrived, I took it straight to my sharpening stones, assuming at this price it was safe to assume it needed some serious honing. I was not wrong, because out of the box the knife blades were dull. My first blade to be sharp and sharp was the straight carving knife. This is the most effective tool for whittling and the one my students will use during our lesson. After a few passes of beveling the blade on the stones, I noticed that one bevel was smoothed near the ends (tip and base) while the opposite bevel was becoming more polished at the center point.
This was an indication that the blade was not straight and a sign of problems with manufacturing and quality control. To solve the problem, I tried to reinforce the blade with a “controlled bend” on the opposite side. I used a pair of pliers and arched it until it straightened. As I did this, I felt that the blade resisted bending, a strong indication that it was made of good, properly heat-treated steel.
Once the blade has been straight I resume sharpening and sharpening using medium and fine sharpening stones, and then finish the job on a strop. So I tried the knife and found it very effective. The next blade I honed was the chisel blade and at the end of this month I’m going to hone most of the other blades.
The Old Timer knife is a very convenient tool. Its construction and materials are pretty good, but you should take into consideration that you may need to work with it before introducing it into your linden blank. If you are not discouraged from fiddling with tools then this is a good buy, but if you like having a tool ready for the job, I guess you should invest in the Flexcut knife.
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