Compass/Speed bow question


I don't know if this is the right place, but I need some advice.


I do wood carving (specifically it's called chip carving). this requires a substantial amount of time spent drawing patterns to carve.


I have a very cheezy compass I picked up for around 14 bucks. But I'm in the market for a professional level version, but more importantly I'd like to get a speed bow also because some work requires large circles.

Does anyone have experience with this and would have advice on what to buy?


the main problem i have is finding one that allows clipping in a mechanical pencil. i hate those tiny leads, and they go dull too quickly. i have several very nice Rotring mech pencils. so i'd like to use those. i know some units have clips that allow the use of either the leads, or this type of pencil.

Anyone got suggestions? i looked on Amazon but frankly you can't see the quality of the equipment in photos.



PS the only thing I can find close is this, but i don't believe it allows a mechanical pencil to be used.

Aug 28, 14 11:37 am

The kit in the picture includes a clip by which you can use any pencil or pen with the compasses. It's the little thing in the middle on the far left.

Aug 28, 14 12:49 pm

I have a staedler speed bow with a clamp that works great. You will probably have to cruise ebay or amazon for used drafting tools if you want something durable and high-quality.

Aug 28, 14 6:59 pm

Not sure why you wouldn't just make a tool to do the job. A stick, a pin and a pencil, not exactly rocket science. 

Aug 29, 14 12:24 pm

Are we sure that "speed bow" isn't just an Alvin brand name? I always thought that you had your choice between a bow compass and a beam compass.

I dig old drafting tools - I have a couple of  old German "Birk" brand compasses which I wish that I had a reason to use - so I would be happy to learn more about the terminology if I'm wrong. I bought good compasses because they are beautiful, though. They weren't a practical purchase.

Miles is right, OP, you don't need anything fancy, and the extender arm for a bow compass is pretty clunky. You should be able to rig up something easily. I think that Miles is suggesting a homemade beam compass, but a pin, a string, and a pencil should work well too.

Aren't there carving websites out there with discussion forums?

Aug 29, 14 3:41 pm

Homemade beam compass for the win.

Aug 29, 14 4:39 pm

I second miles and gwharton. if you are a woodworker you should make a good industrial-quality tool that is exactly what you want.


anonitect - I am not sure about "Speed bow" being a brand name or not??

I have a Dietzgen set that was my grandfather's and then my father's (naval architect and journeyman carpenter, respectively) and I am pretty into old drafting tools also. Would love to know if you find out.

My Dietzgen set has a beam-type thing that fastens to the pen-slot of the bow compass for drawing really large circles. I am not sure what the correct technical term for it would be.

Aug 29, 14 7:27 pm

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