Review: new Arbortech Precision Carving System
Words: Neil Turner
Photos: Suellen Turner
I’m always on the lookout for carving tools, especially for some that fit the smaller to medium carving range. When asked to trial the new Precision Carving System from Arbortech I was quite excited to see how it performed.
My first impression was the quality of the packaging and the consideration given to the presentation of the tools, specifically the plastic free box that could be used for ongoing storage.
The box contained a main attachment for the angle grinder (with a 14mm thread requirement), two arbors (one with a round cutter similar to the ball gouge and the other a square cutter) as well as a sanding arbor with two sanding drums and two allen keys. One of the pamphlets discussed cutter changing, drum sanding fitting, angle grinder attachment, and the angle and direction the cutters are to be used at when presented to the timber.
In my experience the one thing you can be sure of when you purchase any Arbortech tool is the quality, and these tools are no exception. They are very well designed with a taper where the arbor screws into the drive on the angle grinder. This provides maximum support and stability during the cutting process as well as easy removal when changing arbors; cutter change and removal is simple as is the placing of drums on the sanding arbor.
With safety glasses and earmuffs in place, I started by testing the round cutter on a range of timbers with varying densities: pine, sheoak and curly tuart. I expected a good finish on the first two timbers but was surprised how well it cut the irregular grain direction of the tuart, enabling me to cut grooves, texture, drill and undercut holes whilst achieving a smooth finish.
I noted that the tool allowed me to achieve a varied rate of timber removal which is important when working on smaller projects. The blade on the square cutter protrudes past the bottom of the arbor allowing you to drill, cut trenches and V-grooves. This cutter cut cleanly but was quite aggressive, however with some practice you can regulate how much is removed.
Both the round and square cutters are designed to be used in a pulling motion against rotation. I did test the cutters in a running cut with rotation, and by locking my elbows to my sides and moving the angle grinder with my body achieved the control I wanted in both directions. Like all cutting tools, they work at their best when cutting with the grain and these tools are the same. I noticed some chatter when cutting against endgrain at depth; not excessive but something to be aware of when using the cutters in this situation.
The drum sander is one of the better ones that I have come across. The drum slipped on easily and the tightening system held it securely. I used the drum sander for some fine tuning of the form and general tidy up and it worked very well. Before testing the sander, I had expected some burning, especially on the sheoak, but this was not the case.
In considering opportunities to improve the package I felt it would benefit from the inclusion of a spanner to undo the arbors and a thread adapter for the angle grinder (from 10 to 14mm). There is a very good instructional video on the Arbortech website which is worth a look.
I believe this system would be a great inclusion in any tool kit and would provide many hours of carving pleasure.