User Tips.....

For the sake of eliminating any liability on myself and the many Copy Carver users that have developed these techniques over the years I am going to just post the information without source names and with a statement "this information is for educational purposes only, how, and what you do with it is at your own risk.  In no way is any of it intended to be instruction, it is just offered to inspire independent development." with that said.  Here are some of the "independent developments" that have crossed my desk over the years.

Totem Master Patterns- With a little forethought prior to carving a master pattern one can greatly increase their production with little or no additional set up time when it comes to the duplication process.

Many duck decoy carvers use the totem method for carving duck bodies and heads.  They use the Copy Carver to carve a few "one-to-one" copies of their master pattern, then the clean up those copies and use them to create a new master pattern, a totem master pattern.  Since most duck decoy carvers carve the head separate of the body this technique lends itself well to high production with the Copy Carver.  They place the duck bodies on a long piece of lumber, generally a 2x4, with the flat bottom of the duck body resting on the 2x4.  Then with a few screws secure the bodies to the board then secure the board to the set up table with a few more screws.  Cut a long piece of wood, cork, foam or whatever you like large enough to accommodate the size of the duck bodies.  Then just as you did the decoys, fasten it also to another matching 2x4 board, placing the screws in the same positions as you did the duck bodies.  This is very important so you don't hit a misplaced screw during the carving process or just as bad....have a decoy fall off the board after it is carved free because that part of the block wasn't fastened down. 

As the Copy Carver moves down the totem master pattern it will replicate each body in the wood blank.  If the lower side of the duck body is slightly undercut simply switch to a 1" round router bit and matching stylus and cut the lower portion of the decoy from above.  The round ball will be enough to sneak under the wings and carve the undercut without rotating the master totem pattern on it's side.

As for the heads, they drill a 3/4 hole through the top of the head and out the center of the neck.  Then they slide the heads onto a piece of 3/4" dowel and glue them in place.  Keep the dowel length short, no longer than 24", otherwise there could be some flexing during the duplicating process.  Using special 360 degree pattern mounts outlined in the plans fasten the master totem pattern and like sized wood block to the set up table, and carve.  By drilling the heads this way, when you are done you will have to separate the heads on the copy stick at the bandsaw leaving a little extra wood on the top of the head to carve away by hand where the dowel shape protrudes.  The stub on the base of the neck can be simply cut flush.

For fish, I like to carve the master pattern with two fish, of any species, similar in shape so I don't waste any wood.   Joined at their tails by a 3 or 4 inch block that will be used as the mounting block.  This method yields two duplicates with one setup and reduces waste wood by eliminating the need for a second mounting block.  Make one pass down the pattern, flip both pieces over and complete the process with a final pass.  Then remove the copy blank from the table and separate the fish at the bandsaw, saving the mounting block to carve pectoral and pelvic fins later.

The size of the mounting block will let you know up front the width and thickness you will need for the copy block of material, measure the length of the master pattern for the length of wood needed.  I find that once I have these measurements I can save time, wood and money by either ordering my wood this size, eliminating paying the board ft price for scrap you don't need.  Or I precut the blocks to size on the table saw prior to carving.  Uniform wood blanks are quick and easy to work with.  And if they are all the same size blanks you can make a simple plywood jig to locate the two holes in the blank that need to drilled for mounting bolts.  Then once you get going you can complete a pair, toss them aside, throw up another blank, bolt it down and carve another pair, and so on.  In no time flat you can be knee deep in fish rough outs or any other thing you are duplicating. No wasted actions is the key.

This same method is used for guitar necks, canoe paddles, and gunstocks just as easy.  As it will for any carving that can be done with two 180 degree passes.  

Should you need to rotate a totem master pattern in 90 degree increment during the carving process simply drill a second set of pattern mount holes in the mounting block on the side centerline so all four sides have mounting holes.  Then you can rotate the master pattern and the copy block in 90 degree increments with the same simplicity as the 180 degree flip demonstrated on this website.  Most gun stock carvers do this since they carve the top of the stock (for the barrel and receiver) and both sides of the gunstock with the Copy Carver.  By drilling mounting holes at 12,6,3,and 9 o'clock positions in the mounting block they can rotate their pattern for all four sides if needed.  Or they can simply make the special 360 degree pattern mounts described only in the plans and use them instead.

How to make a stylus to match your router bit - 

When I first used the original Copy Carver I used short sections of hardwood dowel of the same diameter as the router bit for a stylus.  Example; if I was using a 1/2" carbide cylinder shaped router bit I would then use a section of 1/2" hardwood dowel as my stylus.  What I soon learned is a 1/2" cylinder router bit cuts a path slightly larger than 1/2" because of the run out as the bit rotates.  It was just enough to cause some grief in certain applications.  I thought using a 5/8" hardwood dowel would solve the problem but it didn't, it was too large.  And since they don't offer dowels in 9/16th's I decided to devise an alternate plan.  

I took the router bits I used often and chucked them up in the drill press one at a time.  With each router bit I drilled a hole into a piece of pine wood the depth of the router bits cutting edge.  Then without moving the wood (very important) I raised the drill press up and removed the router bit.  I then inserted a short piece of 1/4" steel rod the approximate length of the router bit into the drill press.  This will be the shaft of the new stylus.  With the drill press off I lowered the 1/4" steel rod into the hole I just drilled.  I then poured in some melted lead (old tire weights) into the cavity surrounding the 1/4 steel rod.  The lead set up instantly to the form of the hole and after a few minutes I simply flipped the board over and the lead slug fell out onto the bench.  The lead isn't hot enough to instantly burn the cavity larger, and by the time it heats the wood enough to burn it away the lead has already set up and taken shape.  The wait afterward is just so the hot lead can burn the wood away and release the lead slug with ease.  Now I had a lead stylus that was an exact match to the cutting diameter of the router bit, a perfect stylus.  With this stylus you are assured 100 % accuracy.

trout.jpg (28720 bytes)Intarsia - I did a few intarsia projects over the years and with the completion of each one came a sigh of relief it was over.  I always had trouble getting all of the pieces to fit once they were cut.  It took hours to get them to work properly.  Then last year a customer called to inform me I should market the machine to intarsia artists because it worked so well.  I couldn't at first picture how he was using it but after he explained how it all made sense.

He too always had trouble getting the pieces to fit.  Now with the Copy Carver he just places the original paper pattern he is using onto apiece of 1/4 masonite hardboard and using carbon paper transfers the image to the hardboard.  He then cuts out each piece on the scroll saw staying as close to his pattern lines as possible......but if he wanders off the line while cutting it doesn't matter since all of the pieces are cut from the same board at the same time so everything fits back in place perfectly.....impossible to make a mistake.  The thin saw blade leaves a tiny saw kerf separating each piece.  

Once all of the pieces are cut out and numbered he drills two 1/8" holes in each piece so they can be screwed to the set up table later on.  He then puts a 1/8" Roto-Zip cutter in his router using a Roto-Zip 1/8" collet.  And for the stylus he uses a 1/8" steel drill bit installed upside down.  He screws the wood cut-out to the table and orients the colored woods he plans to use directly across from the master pattern on the setup table, grain running in the direction he wants.  Using a bench top cam clamp fastened to the setup table he grips the colored wood to the set up table with downward force.  Using the Copy Carver he then follows his hardboard pattern profile with the stylus as the Roto-Zip cutter cuts out his colored wood piece with precision.  He now can leave that same pattern on the table and cut a dozen more to create additional intarsia colored wood murals of the same image.  As most intarsia artist know, it's hard to get paid for the time it takes to do one......but now, with just a little extra time you could have a dozen of the murals to sell with the same effort.  A real time saver.   

Off Table Carving- There may come a time when you need to replicate a relief carving into a larger piece of wood than the table will hold.  For example, you have a detailed relief carving of a woodland scene that you would like to have carved into a bed headboard.  For this you simply need to make a larger work table that can be fastened to the side of the main work table.  use a full length piano hinge for support and two fold down legs on the other side.  Next laminate two pieces of 3/4" plywood to make a plank that you can bolt to the front of your Copy Carver swing box, leaving two cut outs to go around the stylus holder and main router if you plan to leave it in place.  Now bolt your router at the end of the plank.  Add extra weight to the carriage to keep it on track and you are ready to go.  Place the stylus on the center of the master pattern, then place the headboard directly under the router cutter where you want the center of the relief carving to be and secure it to the table with screws from behind as not to damage the finish side.  Be careful where the screws are positioned, make sure they are well out of the way of the router cutting path.

Duplicating jewelry, figurines and other small items - Just reduce the size of the machine accordingly and substitute the router with a hand held Dremel or Roto-Zip tool and you have the Mini version ready to go.  Allot of model railroading hobbyists use this size version to replicate their diorama components

More to come soon.......








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