Purchasing Your First Set Of Carving Tools


Carving Tools3Carving tools can be quite expensive addition to your woodworking shop.

It’s important to understand all the features available and how they’ll work best with your first project.

Hand Carving Tools – Gouges

Most serious woodworkers will eventually own a set of carving gouges.

The most economical way to get started with your new gouge collection is to buy a set from the manufacturer. The set will have a range shapes and suitability will depend on what you intend to carve. Let’s breakdown all the features of a gouge.

The first thing we’ll talk about is the blade curvature, called sweep. A flat chisel has a #1 sweep. While a u-shaped tool has a #11 sweep. A narrow #11 gouge is called a Veiner. A broad #11 sweep gouge is called a Fluter. A typical set will come with 6-8 gouges in a range of sweeps and also include a V-tool, which like the name implies, has a v-shaped blade.

Blade hardness is measured on the Rockwell Hardness scale. Most woodworkers agree, that good carving tools should fall between 18 and 21 on the Rockwell scale. The Shank varies in shape, it can be straight, bent or curved, each being a personal preference or more suitable to a certain cut or style of carving.

Straight shanks are most often recommended for new carvers. The next consideration in your gouge purchase will be the shape of the handle. Some are small and round, meant to fit in the palm of your hand. Other handles vary in length and width.

The shape can be round or octagonal. Use common sense here, smaller handles will probably work best with smaller hands. And if you have large hands, give yourself something more substantial to hold onto.

Tool Maintenance

With proper care high quality hand tools will last a lifetime of carving. Proper attention should be given to learning the right way to sharpen your tools. The V-Tool, in particular, is difficult to sharpen.

The manufacturer of your tools set should provide instruction for proper maintenance. Sharp tools make cleaner cuts and result in better work. You also reduce the chance of injury by using well-sharpened tools.

Power Carvers

For the non-traditionalists there are some really exciting options available in power carvers. Again, when looking at your first purchase, a kit can be the most economical way to get started. Power carvers come with surprisingly powerful DC motors that offer excellent speed control.

The power carvers come with comfortable handpieces that allow you to get close to your work. They have flexible shafts that give you freedom of movement. And a kit will come with a variety of bits appropriate for most beginner projects.

When investing in a new set of carving tools look for a high quality set that’s a good fit for your hand and one that’s suited to your project.



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