Here is a small carving that I did very quickly. It is a Sea Otter, in the position most often seen, floating on its back. I will be adding an Abalone on his chest. He is made from Desert Ironwood, and is approximately three inches long. There are many varieties of 'Ironwood', depending on where you are. Typically, it is the local name of the hardest stuff around! It has described Lignum Vitae, and Hornebeam. Desert Ironwood (olneya tesota), is also called Jesota; it is gold to chocolate brown with irregular dark streaks. It has a fine texture and high lustre. Very hard and heavy, this ironwood comes from the southwestern United States and northern Mexico.

Rough-out of the ironwood was done with a few saw cuts, followed by shaping with the help of Microplane® wood "files". The razor-sharp, stainless steel Microplanes® are great for rapid smoothing and shaping of wood. They have extremely sharp teeth for fast, smooth, low-effort cutting. Some blades have handles, and other blades may be hand held like a file, or mounted in a standard 12" hacksaw frame. They are not at all like a rasp... they are totally non-clogging. Tres cool! Microplane Web Site
The otter was detailed with a Paragraphics air turbine tool, called the Paragrave™. It is a lightweight handpiece, about 5 inches long, that holds a variety of small cutting or grinding bits. The bits are available in both tungsten carbide and diamond. The system is air-powered from a compressor through a moisture trap/regulator/oiler, and turns 400,000 RPM. (Not a typo! Four Hundred Thousand!) They are very low torque at the super high speed, and are commonly used for engraving and light carving. The eggshell and crystal carvers like them a lot, and they are very hot with gunstock carvers.

Paragraphics was established 1983. The company provides ultra high speed engraving and micro high pressure sandblasting equipment. Both systems work using an easy-to-use stencil system. Their motto: "If you can trace a line, you can make money providing beautiful custom engravings on virtually any hard surface." Paragraphics provides various levels of training and support.

If you think you might be interested in getting a Paragrave™ tool. . .
The people at Paragraphics will send out a demonstration video, but they want a deposit of $10 to make sure they get it back when you are done with it. Or, I guess, to fund making a replacement! You can vist the Paragrave Website.

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Gary Ilmanen
Saga Research
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