In this article on The Basic Tools Needed For Each Style Of Carving, we’ll discuss what tools you’ll need to get started carving. What tools you’ll need will depend on what kind of carving you want to do.
You must first pick out what style of carving you’re interested in. To help out with that decision try this article on The Basic Styles Of Carving: Which One Suits You? It will show you the many styles of carving and what each one looks like. That article will help you make your decision then you will be able to find the correct style of tools to use in this article.
Let’s get started:
Relief carving is done from a flat surface and carved to raise the images up from the base. This is done with a series of palm v-gouges and u- gouges like the ones below.
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These are a beginner’s palm set of 5 gouges. They are palm tools, meaning you use the force of your palm to push the tool through the wood. Palm tools have large rounded handles with rather thick bases. Get a beginner’s palm set of 5, with a wooden storage box like the picture above. You can also get an 11-piece deluxe set in the 3D carvings area below.
3D – Dimensional carving:
3D carvings are done in the round. They can be attached to a base or not. This 3-D cat is carved from Basswood, then painted.
Three-dimensional carving is done with knives and gouges. You use a knife to do the roughing out of the carving and gouges to define the details. The picture above is of a roughing knife on top and a detail knife on the bottom. Roughing knives have long, thick blades and heavy handles for taking a lot of wood away. Detail knives have small, narrow blades to get into tiny places
This 11 pieces deluxe palm set includes both gouges and v-tools, along with one skew. These come in handy to create details and contours in your carvings. The difference between these tools is gouges have u-shaped blades, v-tools, of course, have v-shaped blades, skews have angled flat blades, and chisels have flat blades. They all have their own purposes in carving and will all be used at one time or the other.
Cottonwood Bark Carving:
Photo from Don Shook (JQR) of Metro carvers club of Michigan in Sterling Heights. Thanks, Don, beautiful house and I miss you.
Cottonwood bark carvings are done with knives, mini chisels, and mini gouges like the ones in the picture below. This 11-piece craft carver kit ranges in size from 9/16″ to 1/4″.
This is a popular kit from Flexcut, I have and use this same kit. It has a nice tool roll to keep the tools in order and clean. It also has a separate ABS handle that is very comfortable in the palm and fits into each blade bit.
I use these Flexcut starter kit knives for my bark carving. They get into small places and do details very well. The top knife is the roughing knife, the bottom is a detail knife and the middle is a chip carving knife.
Photo & carving by Ed Kantola of https://northidahocarver.blogspot.com/ Wonderful carving, thanks Ed for letting me use the picture.
Caricature carvings are done with knives, mini chisels, and mini gouges, like the pictures above in the Cottonwood bark carving area.
Chip carving is the process of making designs in wood using only straight lines and triangles. It’s done with chip knives, like the picture below.
These Flexcut knives can be bought in sets or as single knives. They have longer handles and thick blades. The top knife is called a skew, it has a flat, angled blade to get into tight corners. The bottom two are standard chip knives. They have a rounded top and a very sharp edge. These knives are designed to get straight lines cut into the wood with little to no effort.
Spoon carving is done with a Sloyd knife and a Sloyd hook knife. The hook knife is a specialty knife for this art.
The picture above is a Sloyd knife, it’s thick blade makes it great for roughing out your project. The thin tip allows you to achieve fine details with the same knife, so you don’t have to purchase two knives.
The above picture shows a Single Bevel Sloyd Hook Knife, it is used to carve out the bowl of the spoon. The deeply curved, single-edged blade is sharpened all the way to the pointed tip. This tool is extremely sharp and cuts wood very easily.
Photo and carvings by Greg Manning at Fosterginger@ Pinterest
Stone carving is done with power tools such as a Dremel rotary tool, like the one below. These are handheld tools that use bits and sanding stones to take away material.
Get your Dremel with a carrying case and 50 accessories.
Whittling is done with either a whittling Jackknife or a pocket knife, like the ones below. This first knife is a whittling jack. It has a 2″ roughing blade and a 1 1/2″ detail blade, this is one form of a Jackknife.
This is a Tri-Jack Pro knife it has the same blades as the Whittling jack, except it has an extra mini-cutting blade as well.
The Buck pocket knife has a 3 3/4″ long single blade and comes with a black leather belt sheath.
Whittling is always done with a single knife and with greenwood. Branches or twigs are used to whittle on.
Photo by Citube.com
Power carving is done with either a Dremel tool as in the picture in the stone carving section above or with a Flex-Shaft Precision Rotary Tool, like the one pictured below.
While both tools will get the job done, the Flex-Shaft Precision Rotary Tool is easier to handle and allows much more freedom of movement to get into those tight places.
Flex-shaft is the one I use and it works great.
Chain Saw Carving:
Chain saw carving is of course done with chain saws. A big saw is essential to cut away the large pieces of wood and a smaller saw and grinder are important in doing the detailed work. There are three styles of chain saws to choose from, gas, electric, and battery. Most chain saw artists prefer to use gas.
You need a saw that you can hold easily and that’s not too heavy for you to handle, like this one above. You may want to consider using a saw with triangular guide bars as they allow for more awkward cuts to be made more precisely.
Fruit and Vegetable carving:
Fruit and vegetable carving is done with not only knives but special metal tools designed just for this purpose, like the ones below.
These tools come in sets and have their own carrying case and instructions, they can be bought at most culinary stores, or
In this article on The Basic Tools Needed For Each Style Of Carving, you’ve learned what tools are needed for each style of carving. You’ve seen pictures of each tool and have gotten a quick overview of each one.
I hope you enjoyed this article on carving tools, if you have any questions, would like to leave a comment, or your own personal views on carving, please feel free to do so below.
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