Lee Valley Tools    Woodworking Newsletter
   Vol. 4, Issue 3
   January 2010
 
    Ice Carving
 

Tools
After the details have been ironed out in miniature, carvers have to consider their tools to ensure they have the right ones necessary to achieve every detail of the sculpture. A must-have implement for every serious ice carver is a chain saw. In fact, many carvers own more than one. Ice carvers do not use traditional oils for lubrication, as these could stain the ice. Instead, the friction of the saw melts the ice, and the water provides lubrication for the chain.

  Nail board for sanding the ice
  Corby Pearce shows off his nail board, used for sanding the ice.
   
  Assorted ice carving tools
  Carver Michael Tuinstra and his assorted tools, including a clothes iron.
Other ice sculpting tools include die grinders, Dremel® tools, angle grinders and chisels. Ice-specific bits for these tools can be pricey; however, they require less maintenance. "Wood would dull the bits quite quickly, ice doesn't," Mr. Tuinstra said. "The bit will stay sharp for a year."

Some ice sculptors modify tools or make their own for working with ice. A nail board is easy to make and is great for "sanding" an ice block. It's created by driving several screws through a piece of plywood and leaving them to stick out about 1/2" on the other side. With handles attached to the backside, it's one monster of a sander. "It looks like a nail bed," Mr. Hayes said. "You can shape the block of ice by taking out the lumps."

A surprise implement in nearly every ice carver's toolbox is an electric clothes iron. It's one of the best tools for cementing two flat pieces of ice together. Carvers quickly pass the iron over the ice blocks a few times, which flattens and melts them slightly. The residual water fuses the blocks together. Small torches are useful for melting specific parts of an ice block.
 
 
             
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