Wood carving tools for beginners

Wood carving tools for beginners
If you`ve decided to start wood carving you have to know the main wood carving tools for beginners you need. And in this blog we want to share about them for you to start your hobby! 

Wood carving tools for beginners

The main factor to take into account when considering what wood carving tools to purchase, is the type of item you plan on carving. If you’re thinking of sticking with classic items like bowls, cups, and spoons, you’re going to want to make sure you have a hook knife included in your kit. This curved tool is absolutely essential for scooping out the inside of your work piece, and you’d have a hard time substituting it for any other tool. If you plan on creating more artistic, or detailed pieces, go with a kit that has smaller, precision blades that can create the intricate designs you’re probably looking for. If you’re not sure, and are just starting out, you should probably go with a more comprehensive kit that has a little bit of everything.

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.

Safety equipment

Wood carving involves razor-sharp blades in motion, as well as the occasional flying chip of wood. Always protect yourself to avoid serious injury. Wear safety goggles to keep stray shavings from landing in your eyes. Also, pay attention to the sharp edge and do not put any body parts in front of the sharp edge. You have the greatest control of the tool with both hands on the tool, and if both of your hands are on the tool, you cannot cut your hands.

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.
Safety equipment wood carving

Carving knives

Carving knives can be one of the best wood carving tools for beginners because they are versatile and come in a range of sizes. Some projects can be completed using only a carving knife. You can use your knife to trace an outline on wood, carve out pieces of many sizes, or add details.

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.
Carving knives

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.


A wood carving gouge is a curved wood chisel, used for wood carving, bowl & spoon carving, etc. Wood carving gouges can be used on both green wood and dry wood. A wood carving gouge is the most basic of wood carving tools.

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).
wood carving gouges

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

Another essential beginner tool is a wood carving mallet. You will use your mallet to hit the end of chisels, gouges, veiners, and similar tools. A mallet will enable you to make deeper cuts or cut through wood that is not soft enough for simply pulling or pushing the carving tool. Additionally, because wood varies in density, using hand pressure can sometimes allow the tool to go out of control if you carve from a dense section into a softer section. With a mallet, each time you strike the tool, the cutting edge will move a predictable amount Look for a shock-absorbent mallet that will create the pressure you need without applying too much force that is difficult to control.
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.


In addition to sharp, high-quality knives, you’ll want a variety of chisels. Chisels have different tips, depending on the size and shape of cut you wish to make. Some chisels look similar to a screwdriver, with a flat, beveled edge, but it is not hard to differentiate between the two.

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.


A V-tool is nearly the same as a veiner. As its name indicates, the tip is in the shape of a V, as opposed to the U-shaped veiner. However, both are used for tiny grooves and detail work. 

Rasps and rifflers

Once you learn to master the tools above, you will most likely be quite skilled at detail work. This means you are ready to smooth out the rough surfaces in the small crevices. For this, you will use a rasp or a riffler. Rasps usually look like a file with coarser teeth. Some are flat and some are half-roudn shaped. A riffler typically has two ends with different tips and is held in the middle. The tips will have varying grooves designed for filing imperfections from small areas that are otherwise hard to reach.