Operating the Copy Carver
Due to the unique design of the
Copy Carver you can literally
operate it with two fingers! As you guide the stylus over your original
master the Copy Carver effortlessly removes the excess stock from your
Unlike most commercial duplicating
equipment the Copy Carver needs no adjustments while underway.
No thumb screws, table locks or hardware of any sort that need
attention during the carving process. The design of the
carriage and swing box allow the Copy Carver to move forward,
backward, left, right, up and down all in one fluid movement.
By using the carriage and swing box design we have been able to
eliminate the drag and binding that is commonly associated with
other duplication equipment on the market. The other
advantage, being constructed of wood is reduced cutting vibration
while carving. The wood frame and overall mass act as a
vibration dampener. You don't get vibration transmission
through the machine while carving, to your hand or your copy blank.
Unlike the all metal framed machines I have used over the years that
turn your guide hand numb after a few minutes or show signs of frame
chatter on your copy from the cutting vibration. Built per the
instructions in the plans the Copy Carver
is a pleasure to operate all day long.
Pattern set-up is it's other strong point.
No need for complicated rotating mounts. No chain and sprocket rotational devices to fail or wear out, or
complicated shimming to correct for misalignment each time.
Setup of the Copy Carver is quick and easy -
simple by design, resulting in pinpoint accuracy.
As an example I will run you through the process I use
to replicate one of my trout carvings. The same process can be used for
just about anything. And can be adapted to producing two fish at once which I
will cover in the "User Tips" section of
The easiest way to use the
Copy Carver to re-create your originals is to carve originals designed for use with this
machine. In the example shown below I will be recreating a 12 rainbow trout.
This method is by far the easiest way to create perfect duplicates time after
time, however there are times when you need to duplicate a piece from a finished
original. In those instances you will need to make and use pattern mounts, which
are covered in detail in the plans.
When you need to produce many carvings
of the same size and shape this method is quick and easy. To mass produce the 12
rainbow trout used in this example we needed to make a master pattern. A master
pattern in this case is an original carving of wood with a base at one end for
the purpose of mounting it to the pattern table. I carved a 12 rainbow trout
from a piece of basswood 16long x 4 wide x 2 thick. I simply placed a
paper drawing of a fish on the block, traced in the side profile and top profile
pattern lines. Using a bandsaw I cut away the excess wood from the pattern
leaving the tail attached to the remaining block of wood on the end to be
attached to the table. I leave the wood at the base of the tail thick enough to
support the fish during the duplicating process.
I then carve the blank to shape using a
flex shaft power carver. It takes a
couple of hours, but I don't mind. My Copy Carver will
replicate two hours of hand carving in a few minutes, over and over
again when I need to reproduce
this carving later. I generally only carve the basic shape with very little
detail, just an accurate form with emphasis on significant landmarks around the
head and fins. Finish sand the carving and apply two
coats of lacquer sealer to protect the surface.
I place the finished master pattern on an identical sized piece of basswood
as the master was carved from, align the base of the block to the mounting
base of your master tool. Using a pencil trace around the master creating
a slightly larger profile pattern of the fish on the block of wood
Note: Pre cutting a
profile into the blank prior to carving is not necessary. With the
router bits described in the plans you do not need to profile cut
anything, they will take off excess stock quickly and easily. I have
done it both ways, and yes the carving is few minutes faster when the
blank is pre-shaped but those 3 or 4 minutes are easily spent at the
bandsaw instead, so the time savings just isn't there in the end. I
am demonstrating this method because I know many carvers work in a small
shop or a room in their house and if removing wood with a bandsaw helps
reduce the mess left behind from grinding off what could have been sawed
off then it is a valid choice. In most cases I run it all on the
Copy Carver for my work. I refuse to use two machines if one
will do the job, and besides, I am generally doing a few dozen fish
at a time so reducing the mess by 50% is barley noticeable when you
look at the other 50% you will have to sweep up anyway. I
would rather push a broom a few minutes longer than fool around
a bandsaw remove the excess wood from the profile pattern lines. You
should now have two pieces as shown.
I align the mounting bases and draw a centerline through both. On
this line I will drill two holes in each mounting base in the same
positions to be used for securing the carvings to the work table and to
insure when I flip the carvings to duplicate the other side everything
will stay in perfect alignment.
a drill press drill two 1/4 holes in both pieces 2 apart on the
centerline (figure 4). These holes will be used to bolt the master pattern
and the wood blank to the table. Measuring from the end of the mounting
base mark the hole centers at one and three inches from the end on both
pieces. These holes must be in perfect
alignment, otherwise when you flip the pieces over you will loose their
alignment to each other. I like to drill the hole closest to the end of
the mounting base a little larger to allow for adjusting the master
pattern to the blank if necessary.
a pair of 3/16" mounting holes into the set up table pattern board
(outlined in the plans) on the stylus and router center lines, equal
distance from the the edge of the set up table, matching those drilled in
both mounting bases. This will insure perfect alignment of your
master pattern and wood blank once they are bolted to the setup
table. Always mark the holes in the setup table so you know which
master pattern they are for later. As you do different projects it's
hard to recall which master patterns fit what holes. So take a minute
now and ID them with a black Sharpie marker, (ex. 12" Rainbow /
Single / #6.) I number my master patterns and any setup holes in my
pattern set up table.
the master pattern and wood blank to the set up table using four 1/4 lag
bolts, 3 long. Then check several points with the Copy Carver for
proper alignment prior to carving.
the Copy Carver Router turned off, move the
cutter along the wood blank, the stylus should not come in contact
with the master pattern at this time. The blank should be larger in size.
Next guide the stylus over the master pattern and make sure the
router cutter will not come in contact with any of the mounting
bolts or any other mounting hardware used. Do this step each
time before you turn on the machine. You do not want the
cutter to come in contact with anything but excess wood while
With all the necessary alignment
checks done and both pieces securely fastened to the set up table its
time to put on some safety glasses
and begin carving the first side.
holding the handle of the Copy Carver with your left hand guide the
stylus over the master pattern slowly with you right hand index finger and
thumb. (if your left handed flip the position of the router
and stylus while building your Copy Carver) The router can only cut where the
stylus travel allows. Because the stylus is the same size and shape
as the cutter, and they both operate in the same plane neither one can go
anyplace the other cant. The router cutter will remove all excess
wood in its path following your movements. The cutter removes wood
quickly and effortlessly, making quick work of duplicating the original
pattern. Because of the design of the Copy Carver swing box and carriage
any tendency for the router to push or pull during the carving process is
dampened, the cut is clean and steady. As I said before, you can
carve with just two fingers!
Carve one side at a time to a
point just below the centerline of your master pattern.
If you want to duplicate
finer detail then install a smaller cutter and matching stylus and go over
the master again, and again. Each time with a smaller cutter and a
matching stylus. See the "User Tips"
section of the website to learn how to make a matching stylus for any
router cutter you have. I have found it easier to carve the final
detail in by hand using common power carving tools instead of the smaller
cutter method. I prefer to use tools for what they are best suited
for.....saving time. For roughing out if I can eliminate three hours
of tedious carving to a few minutes, that's good use of a
For me carving the detail goes
quickly with a
flex shaft power carver and I enjoy the finish work by hand
so I don't use the successive router bit reduction process with my
Copy Carver. I rough out with the Copy Carver in one pass and complete by hand
Mastercarver, a 1/3 HP 26,000 rpm flex shaft power carver. (Note:
Since I teach power carving I am also a stocking dealer for these systems, so if
you have an interest in a high quality flex shaft system give me a call
989-619-6002 and I can set you up with the equipment you need.)
Once the first side is complete
remove the mounting bolts and flip both pieces over in the same direction
and perform the same steps to opposite side. After the carving is
completed bandsaw off the mounting base and finish the duplicate by
hand. Without any rushing my average time for this master pattern
duplicate from an uncut wood block is under 12 minutes including setup
(after my holes are drilled). As you will see in the User Tips
section I devised a way to double my production and only add 4 minutes to
the entire process. Imagine the same master pattern trout you just
saw, except with two fish this time, both joined at the tail by the
mounting block. Looking like an airplane propeller with fish as
blades. As you pass down one side with the Copy Carver you are now
doing two fish at once, with only one setup. It's just working
smart.... Once you use the machine and understand the set up process
you will develop ways to quickly set up your carvings for
multi-piece mass production, no matter what their shape may be.
Be sure to check out our
Copy Carver burr selection by SABURR