Posted by: woodbeecarver   in Knives

reverse skew DRONE BEE

The Drone BEE # 11 of the Wood Bee Carver Signature Series made by Helvie Knives has been redesigned to be a more efficient slicing knife. The Drone BEE is still the wharncliffe blade shape redesigned with the straight cutting edge sloping back and up towards where it comes out of the handle to create a “Reverse Skew” slicing action.

This redesign came about through “Observation Technology” by which this knife carver who emphasizes the “slicing action” observed through trial and error that having the straight cutting edge with a “reverse skew” angle would approach the wood with a slicing action quicker than the regular straight cutting edge.

The design is not original in that the “reverse skew angle” is what the Wayne Barton style of Chip Carving knife allows for clean and crisp slicing cuts. Ralph Long and Ron Wells made some of their knives with a gradual “reverse skew angle” and John Dunkle makes a couple knives with the same concept.

The “skew” blade shape makes an automatic “slicing cut” as it is pushed forward. European carving tradition utilized the “skew chisel” in much the same way we American carvers utilize the carving knife. The guillotine blade is a skew which made it so effective in its slicing action. Old time carpenters who used the hand plane to smooth and shape a flat surface of wood learned quite early that when the plane is skewed it would slice much easier making less work of running the plane all day long. Old time whittlers who would pull long and thin curly shavings down the full length of a stick learned that if they skewed the knife blade in the slicing action they could get a very fine shaving. If on the other hand, when they positioned the cutting edge perpendicular across the stick, they had to use more force as well as the cutting edge dug in or flew out of the wood while using this “wedge cut” rather that the slicing cut when the blade was skewed.


The first photograph above shows a knife illustrating the perpendicular wedge cut which takes more force because it is crushing wood fibers before it cuts the fibers. The next two knife illustrations show the skew-slicing cut which separates wood fibers as the cutting edge moves through the wood with less effort and more control of the slicing cut.

The second photograph above shows various blade shapes with illustrations A and B showing the common and popular carving blade shape with a straight cutting edge. The cutting edge on any knife has microscopic cutting teeth, much like the teeth of a hand saw, which is most efficient when sliced with a skewed angle rather than forced wedge cut. The straight cutting edge of illustrations A and B must be skewed to do the slicing cut. Illustration C has a concave cutting edge in its hooked design which is limited in slicing direction when it reaches the hooked part of the blade.

Illustration D has a convex curved cutting edge which allows for a slicing action in both the push and pull stroke. Illustration E is the “reverse skew” blade and illustration F is the “forward skew” blade.

The photograph below will show a variety of skew angles in various tools. Illustrations A and B are knives with a forward skew shape while illustrations C through H are chisels with various skew angles, some steep and some shallow. Illustration H is a skew chisel made in China with a very shallow angle and yet it is surprising how efficient it is, which should tell us that even with a slight skew angle the slicing action is accelerated. Illustration I, which is a number 11 “U” gouge, has its wings removed which having them sloping back make the “U” gouge be more versatile with its slicing action. In a real sense with the wings of the gouge sloping back it makes each side of the wings into a skew. Illustration J is a Wayne Barton Chip carving knife and Illustration K is a Drone Bee proto type knife, both of which have the “reverse skew” as compared with the other illustrations that all have a “forward skew” angle.

reverse skew

reverse skew Photo at left shows three examples of “reverse skew angle” on three different knives, a Drone BEE # 11, a Hecker Knife (gift to friend Jim Hecker) and a proto type knife, each with a slight variation of blade size to illustrate that Helvie Knives are custom made.  The redesigned Drone BEE Knife may be ordered from HELVIE KNIVES  by calling 765-675-8811.

A final thought is in the form of a disclaimer in that there is not one blade shape that can do all the cuts that are possible or necessary.
The Wood Bee Carver prefers a curved cutting edge because it is more versatile than a straight cutting edge in that it slices in both the push and pull stroke. A straight cutting edge with a “Reverse Skew Angle” slices quicker and with more versatility than a traditional straight cutting edge. The only rule that one should follow is: “The only right way is if it works for you,” with the understanding that one should always be open to experimenting and trying through trial and error to discover what works best to accomplish the most efficient slicing action of whatever tool one chooses to use.

In the end nothing takes the place of practicing how to keep knives sharp, carve as often as possible and give permission to inner creativity to lead the carver to new possibilities of imagination. It helps tremendously if any carver maintains a sharp mind, a sharp knife and a keen interest in carving more because “Would be carvers would be carvers if they would carve wood.”

This entry was posted on Tuesday, September 30th, 2014 at 12:13 pm and is filed under Knives. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. You can leave a response, or trackback from your own site.

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