How a Duplicarver Works

Lee Dean asked if I could explain how a duplicarver works so here you go Lee.

Have you ever gone to the hardware store to have a duplicate key made? If you have then you will get the idea as to how a duplicarver works. The key to be copied is placed in a chuck and then an uncut key is placed in a second chuck. A stylus is drawn across the teeth of the original key which causes a cutter to cut the duplicate.
The duplicarver machine works in the same manner. First you must have a solid head in the style which you want to reproduce. This is chucked up to one side of the machine. On the other side of the machine you chuck up your blank piece of wood.
The duplicarver has a stylus , an arm with which you go over the pre carved head, which in turn causes the cutting tool to carve out the likeness from the wood stock. The process is repeated varied amounts of times getting finer bits as you go to get better detail. As fine as you may get once the duplicarving process is finished you must still do hand work.
If you look at the short video we put up on this site about Chuck Jackson you will see him using a duplicarver. His made more than one copy at a time.

Click Here For Chuck Jackson Video

Now even though we all have seen many pictures of Frank Marshall in his shop with mallet and chisel in his hands, he too used duplicarver heads. I have one in my collection, it is pictured in the Marshall section and the Vent Haven Museum has a couple of Franks Duplicarver heads as well. Bob Isaacson who frequented Marshall’s shop more than anyone else I know, over many many years, told me that the duplicarver machinery and the solid heads were not ever where he could see them indicating that Marshall went elsewhere to do the duplication. He did all the finish work in his shop.
I have a duplicarver machine myself and fully intend to try my hand at this but have not done so as of this writing but pretty soon….


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2 Responses to How a Duplicarver Works

  1. Al Stevens says:

    “…indicating that Marshall went elsewhere to do the duplication…”

    Or had it done commercially as Winch did when he made the copy of Jerry that became his main figure.

    I seem to recall reading that Marshall’s workshop was in his home in a residential section of Chicago. If you’ve ever operated a duplicarver you know how loud and messy they are. They generate a high-pitched scream and throw wood shavings and dust all over the place.

    Marshall’s neighbors would not have tolerated the noise, and the mess would have fouled up his workshop. I duplicarve outdoors, and I live in the country where neighbors aren’t close enough to care about the noises I make.

    For those of you who want to try it, wear earplugs and be aware that the fine stylus can seriously scratch up the original model. To protect the original I make a hard cast copy of whatever I want to duplicarve and use the cast as the model.

  2. Joe Lopez says:

    Hey Dan,

    This is the first time I’ve read anything written on a duplicrever. Thanks for keeping the Vent community informed in the different aspects of Vent and
    figure making.



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