Steve Adams' sculpting tools

sam

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Here are a couple of photos of Steve Adams' sculpting tools which he uses on hobo nickels and in his die work. Maybe Steve can elaborate on which ones he uses for different applications.

Thanks for the larger photos, Steve! / ~Sam
 

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Steve Adams

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YOU ARE ON TOP OF THINGS SAM. I am fortunate to know you and would be happy to elaborate.
Small tips of converted burs stating at the 12:00 position and going clockwise.
Rounded chisel, flat round, small square chisel, round chisel, small square, small flat square, rounded V, angular, beveled point, medium square flat, small semi flat, large round, small needle, four sided point, small engraver, verysmall flat chisel. Chisel tools have a slightly sharpened edge compared to flats so they can be pushed as well as pulled. Just think of the shape you want to cut or sculpt then grind the tip of the bur to suit your purpose, but don't ruin the temper of high speed steel by grinding too fast. The possibilities are endless. The tools look small, that is until you get under the microscope, then you end up making even smaller ones. So far I have made about 75 of these tools and each one fulfills a different need.
The examples for handles start left to right. Two oak pegs drilled and sanded down at tip. Three Starrett pinvises that hold anything from 1/8 to something the size of a sewing needle. One walnut peg with a mushroom end, it makes a great little graver handle. Five 1/4 aluminum lathe turned handles that have brushed centers for a better grip. Because of their light weight, aluminum tools allow you to really feel what the tip of the tool is doing. One 1/4 walnut dowel and one 3/8 walnut dowel handles. The last is a Starrett scribe holder which holds 1/8 tools.
 
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Okay: I have a bunch of these things laying all over my bench most are used in quick change ends. How can I organize them. I'd love to get some ideas on that. Half the time I will make a new tool because I can't find them. I guess I'm a messy slob. I tried little plastic drawers and they work fine when I clean off my bench (once a year). Then when I use them I don't put them back. Organization tips or pictures of holders or whatever would be nice also.
Mike
 
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Mike, I like using magnets to hold burs...both the foot long thin "tool rack" kind and those little mighty magnets (or whatever they call them -- the little pea sized round ones that are super strong that they use on bulletin boards. I got them at a Storables store.)

I bolted the long toolbar magnet to a block of wood, and put it on the benchtop. I have also heard of people bolting the magnet to the face of a drawer. Just pull the burs out of the drawer that you think you will be using per job, and stick em on the long bar magnet..put them all back in a drawer after the whole job is done. You only clean up once in a while that way. You can also put them in some kind of logical order so you know about where they are on the bar. The long bar magnet keeps them sort of in the same place and you can be kind of sloppy about tossing them at it and they stick there.

I put the little mighty magnets on the front face of my benchmate engraving block shelf. While you are using the burs and switching back and forth between them in your tools, stick the burs you are using most to the mighty magnets on the block shelf. Just be sure to point them such that they dont poke you when you rotate your block.

I think I got the idea from one of those 101 bench tip books or something.
 

Steve Adams

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The magnet organization for tools sounds good, but it should come with a warning for anyone engraving steel. You don't want magnets touching your tools, otherwise little steel chips from engraving ,and steel residue from grinding will forever become a pain sticking to your tools. If you create this problem, you will be sorry. A demag may or may not work as a fix for this, the cheap ones for sure don't work well. For those not engraving steel, nevermind. Anyone else ever run into this problem?
 
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Allan I use magnet strips for my pliers and such that I use for gold work. Like Steve says for gravers used for steel it can drive you nuts when they get magnetized. I use a big electro demagnetizer it takes it right out. Wouldn't want to do it every time all the time though. Thats a good idea to clean off my bench Allan, one big magnet pick up all the steel and send the rest to the refinery:)
Mike
 
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Mike, Steve
AHHH, point taken. And true, I have only worked in non-ferrus metals, and although I love the work you guys do on guns and knives and the like, I dont have the itch to take my work in that direction. At least not yet.

You make a good point though...having all your little chips stuck to your graver points would be one of those things that would make your day horrible...not quite as bad as being burned alive, but right up in there.

There have been days when I wished magnets did work on non-ferrous metals for various reasons, but magnetic graver points would just be "bad".

(shrugging) I have also used wooden bur blocks that I made myself with a drill press. I used 2x2 oak, and made a U shaped trim around the sides and back of my bench...three rows of holes about a half inch apart with holes big enough for standard bur shank sizes, and lately QC holders. I also found myself getting a bit compulsive and made a few "tool racks" for specific tasks. I made one rack that holds all the specific stuff for soldering, another for enamelling, another for engraving, a few for wax carving, etc. I load the tools for the task at hand into them and put the rack within easy reach. I kind of got the idea from the computer programs I work on at my job....like a text tool palette, color tool palette, measurements tool palette, etc...only made out of wood for "real" tools. The magnets were just another way to do that, but if magnets are "bad" then...oak is pretty cool, and even smells nice.
 

Peter E

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To hold all my burs, gravers, etc., I just use pieces of wood. I drill holes in the appropriate diameter in what ever pattern suits how I want to stand the tools. I find cutting boards and trivets work very well and they are plentiful at my local transfer station.

Peter
 

sam

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I'd like to see Steve in action with these tools, and see how he uses them for different applications.
 

Steve Adams

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Hey guys, I'm headed to Pennsylvania at the end of the week. There won't be anyone here. When we make the move to PA, I may consider an open bench for lessons in sculpting, die engraving and coin engraving. Then again, not sure there would be an interest, and if there was, meeting deadlines would suffer. How about an engraving arcade? You walk in the place, stick a quarter in a slot, and watch the engraver through the window. Asking questions costs another quarter, hands on demonstrations are another quarter. Not bad for 75 cents. Seriously though, I've always shown anybody what I do as long as it is for a short period of time on a weekend. Beyond that, extra time is hard to find. Anyone who engraves for a living knows that there is no such thing as a forty hour week or regular hours. I'd better get back to work, there's a die to ship tonight. Does anyone else out ther celebrate after completing a big job and the check comes in? I often do. A new tool or dinner out works good.
 
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Steve Are you moving back to PA? I live close to your first job at August Wendel. I think I read somewhere your from Mechanicsburg is that the one by Harrisburg or the one by Racoon twp. Anyway if your down around Beaver, PA stop in the store I'll buy you lunch.
Mike
 

Steve Adams

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Back to PA, yes! We hope to get our house on the market in the Spring. As soon as it sells we'll move to PA. Looking forward to getting back to Western PA somewhere around Mercer or Grove City. Beaver isn't that far from where we will be. Moving should be fun ( not ) with all my stuff, then I'll have to set up shop again. I might be scouting for an apprentice as well, and have a few bridges to cross. This is going to be a busy year.
 
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Mike

For the longest time my tools where all over the desk. I took a Fed-x box poked a bunch of holes in it and under each tool write what it was, it took me five minutes to fix and clean up something that was bothering for years.

Sam

I'm with you I would love to sit and watch Steve do his thing.

God Bless
Ron Proulx
 
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Ron It's worst than that. I need to go to SA (slobaholics anonymous). I tried that Ron, worked well until I used something. Then about a week or two latter the little holes are all empty. I put all my burs in a tray now I have to root through them to find something but it cleans up the bench top a little. 150 or so burs, and gravers and points sitting on the bench top get to be too much. Those drawers like Sam had posted would be nice with inserts in them to accommodate different things. I'll keep trying. It would be nice if I was a neat freak even just a little. But then I may never get any work done.
Mike
 

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