Tools to help advance your Wax Carving techniques to create precision designs at speed
Creating silver jewellery is a magical process. From a few pieces of metal, some wire or tubing you can hand forge some beautiful and creative pieces of jewellery. However, with traditional silversmithing where you cut and form the metal, you can hit on some limitations in terms of realising your designs. Particularly when you want to create something that is more sculpture-like and organic in style. This is where wax carving comes into its own.
With wax carving you essentially carve your designs in wax and then have them cast into metals such as brass, silver, gold or platinum that can then be sanded, polished and finished in the traditional way. So if you have designs in your head that aren’t particularly suited to traditional fabrication methods, it is worth giving wax carving a try to see what you can achieve!
Tools for advanced wax carving…
It is easy and relatively inexpensive to get started with wax carving, and you don’t need too many tools to give it a go. But what happens once you have mastered the basics and you want to further develop your skills? There are a number of tools and techniques that can really help you improve the speed and precision of your designs and we wanted to share some of these with you. Because who doesn’t love a good tool, right? Here is our rundown of tools for the more advanced wax carving enthusiast:
1. Carving Tools
You can buy a basic set of carving tools for under £20, but as you progress you will soon want to use a more precise set of tools. One of the most famous carving sets is the Wolf Precision Wax Carver Complete now available from CooksonGold. This set is not only beautiful, but the tools are super sharp and there is a range of sizes and shapes to help you get the most precise finish to your carvings.The full tool set will set you back approximately £180 including VAT, but you can get small sets and build up your collection over time.
Many wax carvers love using a scalpel to carve into wax (myself included!). An option that can help expand the usability of your scalpel is to purchase a bespoke set of scalpel blades created by UK master wax carvers, Russell Lownsbrough and Danila Tarcinale. These have been modified into Russell and Danila’s most used shapes (£31 per set) and can be bought as a set or in singles (£4.50 each). Again these are super sharp and precise so you have one or two scalpel handles and you can swap the blades over as you need them and open up what you can achieve with the lowly scalpel!
2. Wax Pen/ Electric Wax Carver
When you start wax carving, you will soon start creating pieces that involve joining waxes (or make repairs to broken waxes) and a wax pen is the easiest way to do this. You can get a battery operated version relatively cheaply for approximately £25, but you can only use this for about 15 minutes at a time so it does have its limitations. So if it is a tool you use frequently you will soon want to upgrade to an electric model such as the Foredom Electric Wax Carver which has interchangeable tips that will allow you to carve and join wax; or a basic electric wax carver from the likes of CooksonGold.
3. Wax Shaping Burrs
If you are a silversmith, you may already have a variety of burrs for stone setting. The good news is that you can also use these with wax carving to carve sets for stones or textures in the wax.
There are special larger wax carving burrs that are particularly helpful for carving seats or removing a lot of wax quickly available such as these from Advantage and the Wolf cylinder burrs(for use in a Pendant Motor Handset for speed), but these are typically only available in the USA for the time being.
4. Wax Carving Trimmer
Some of the best wax carving tools are unfortunately still only available in the USA but as long as you are prepared to pay the relevant customs and duties you can import these.The likes of Rio Grande has some amazingly helpful tools that make your life easier.This includes the Wolf Wax Adjustable Wax Trimmer which allows you to quickly and cleanly trim carving waxes using your pendant motor
There is also a manual version that allows you to quickly and accurately slice into wax tubes instead of cutting slices with a saw, also available from Rio Grande which is approximately $60 not including shipping and customs.
5. Speciality Templates
If you plan of creating stone settings in wax then a set of templates for round and speciality shape settings by Matt can be very helpful in getting the most precise designs and settings. These are more widely available in the USA but some UK Suppliers are starting to stock these such as Bellore Rashbel.
Hopefully this list has given you some ideas for tools that will help you push forward your wax carved designs and allow you to try more advanced techniques. As with any tool purchase, we always recommend buying the best quality tool you can afford at the time and take your time to save up if required. The great thing about wax carving is you can get started with minimal tools and you can add some of these extra tools to your toolkit as your skills develop and grow.
And if you want help to develop more advanced wax carving skills we are excited to share our brand new Stone Setting in Wax course > Learn how to carve wax for both faceted and cabochon stones. This is an online course that you can watch as often as you like. You also get access to comprehensive notes and a full tool and equipment list.