Wood carving tools for beginners
You should also think about the material you’re going to be carving. If you don’t already have any wood on hand, you’ll probably want to choose one of the kits that includes a couple of blank blocks to get you started. Also, if you’re purchasing a set to give to a child, it would be a good idea to pick an option that comes with a pair of cut-resistant gloves.
To get started, a wood carving tools beginner set will give you the variety you need at a reasonable cost. As your skill grows, you’ll add more tools to your repertoire, but for now, let’s take a look at the ones you’ll most likely be using and what they can do.
Although it may sound counterintuitive at first, the sharper the blade, the safer it is. Dull knives and wood carving tools will not slice as expected and will require more force during use, but are still sharp enough to cut through skin. For both safety and performance, sharpen your tools regularly using a sharpening stone and a strop.
The types of wood used for carving will have a wide range between soft and hard, which means you will need to practice how to control your cuts. Also, your knives will need to be extremely sharp to ensure the cut you desire.
If you want to begin your wood carving education with whittling, a set of carving knives is all you’ll need. Whittling projects usually have a rougher finish and fewer details. When you are ready to learn other techniques, you will benefit greatly from having a variety of other basic wood carving tools for beginners.
Like with any chisel, the quality of the steel is the most important consideration when buying wood carving tools like carving gouges. You want a carving gouge that will not only get very sharp, but hold the edge as long as possible. Another consideration is the shape and comfort of the handle.
Carving gouges come in a huge variety of sizes, differentiated by different variables: Sweep, Width, Out-canel vs. Incanel, Single bevel vs. Double Bevel, Full size vs. Intermediate size vs. Palm Handled, Straight vs. Skew vs. Bent, etc… It’s enough to make your head spin! For now we’ll just focus on two variables: Size number (width in millimeters) and Sweep (curvature).
And for wood carving purposes, we’ll just be looking at straight, out-canel gouges, where the sharpened bevel is on the bottom of the blade. Bent gouges are specialty tools that allow you to approach the work at a steeper angle, as with bowl carving and other projects that involve carving out a cavity. And In-canel gouges are more used for specialty tasks, such as window sash work.
Which wood carving gouges should you buy first?
Some people opt to buy a whole set of wood carving tools, including a whole set of wood carving gouges / wood carving chisels, but others recommend that you don’t go out and buy a whole set of carving chisels. It may seem like you’re getting a better value if you buy a whole set (which you are, if the sizes are exactly what you want), but you may not find all the sizes useful for what you plan to carve. It may be best to buy one or two carving gouges at a time, based off of what you plan to carve. If you’re taking a live introductory wood carving class or an online wood carving lesson, the instructor will tell you which wood carving chisels you will need for each particular project.
Wood carving mallet
Carving with a joiner’s mallet would be a little aggressive and tiring. Using a metal hammer would destroy your gouges. So we recommend that you use a small carver’s mallet for any carving work that requires tapping.
The mallet can be made from scrap hard wood turned on your own lathe, or can be purchased at flea markets, antique stores, or from online sellers.
Other chisels have a tip that is v-shaped or designed for a specific purpose. For example, a paring chisel will be used for paring, meaning this tool will shave off a thin piece of the wood, rather than remove a large chunk. A chisel with a beveled edge cut at an angle is called a skew chisel, or a corner chisel.