About 18 months ago I read a great article in Woodcarving Magazine, Michael Painter was discussing the design of tracery chisels, they looked interesting and I learnt a lot about their design . Using the principles he described I came up with my swan necked bowl gouges. They are a tool I am especially proud of as they are so different to the bowl gouges that other makers offer. One of the reasons I called them Swan necked is that I find these tools graceful and current alternatives are known as doglegs, which, well, aren’t.
I met Michael at a show earlier in the year and started describing the bowl gouges I had made; he firmly corrected me saying they were chisels not gouges ( my view is that if I made the tool I can call it what I want, but thought it better to bite my tongue. ) he looked skeptical but I produced said tool and he was quite impressed, showing me the original tracery chisel that I had seen in the article he wrote. I took some measurements and we also discussed making some fishtail chisels. I enjoy trying something new and this was the result.
The day I finished this set I had a phone call from a customer that had bought a bowl gouge from me asking if I could make fishtail chisels, he sent an old one down that he had snapped the corners off- not all old tools were made from from perfectly tempered steel obviously.
When it arrived the next day it was interesting to compare it to my new tracery chisel and the greenwood swan neck.
They may look very different but the techniques to make them were identical, shape and scale varied but it showed me how closely related the different branches of carving actually are.
I have been wanting to make a one handed version of my gouges, the same wide blade and sweep but more compact neck and handle. Here is the first attempt, it still needs more testing and tweaking but first impressions are good. But the part that really makes me happy is that I get it name it the Cygnet.