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Interested in wood carving, but don’t know where to start?
Can’t find any helpful articles that give detailed and thorough explanations to all of your questions?
Then you have come to the right place!
This article will be a guide to all the information you will need right here in Best Wood Carving Tools website.
How to get started
Most of us have varying stories on how we all started carving, but the important thing is that everyone here has the desire to learn and create. But before you can start creating anything, you must first understand the styles of woodcarving.
Choose carving style and tools
Whittling (hand carving): Mainly uses whittling knives and is meant for carving shapes, figures, and utensils. This is the most popular style of woodcarving, mostly because it is significantly easier to learn and cheap to purchase tools. There are specialty tools you can purchase to compliment your primary knife, like hook knives which are used for shaping wooden spoons. However, they are not at all necessary at this point when we are taking baby steps to get started.
Relief Carving: This style utilizes gouges and chisels to carve objects into a piece of wood, typically the end result is a picture. This is a bit more of a methodical style because the techniques are different, tools are different, and it tends to be less forgiving when mistakes are made.
Chip Carving: Another wood carving style is called chip carving. This technique is used to create symmetrical and geometrical designs in wood planks by literally chipping out material.
Wood to carve
I always suggest basswood to anyone who hasn’t had any experience carving other types of wood. It is the best wood to begin with while learning new techniques and carving styles.
Basswood is rather forgiving to those who don’t completely know what they’re doing. Since it is a softwood, it is very easy to cut material of wood from it while not straining your tools too much.
If you were to use hardwood, you would notice right away how much more difficult it is to cut. Not only this but you will need to sharpen your equipment much more frequently as well.
Wood Carving Tools
The necessary equipment will vary on which style you choose, but here are some of our top selling and highest quality wood carving tools!
Best Product Features: The single best trait that is the most useful and separates this knife from the rest is it’s short tip. The 1.9″ laminated steel tip provides maneuverability, accuracy, and supports complicated techniques to achieve any type of cut.
To add, the oiled birch wood handle is very comfortable, even for long period of pressure on the hand. It’s tapered oval shape is crafted for optimal grips in any hand!
If you are looking for a quality, affordable, and long lasting knife for whittling then check out prices for the Mora 120.
The Good and Bad
✔ Quality high carbon steel that lasts
✔ Handle doesn’t cause blisters
✔ Great for detailing and general carving
✔ Razor sharp out-of-the-box
✔ Top quality knife within it’s price range
✘ Becomes dull quickly
✘ Not for wood that’s bigger than 9″ without 106 knife
Not what you wanted?
Best product features:
- The ergonomic beechwood handle feels already broken-in and is very cozy to hold right out of the box. Even when repositioning your grip while carving, it is very natural and comfortable even with decent pressure applied and a firm grip.
- It’s overall size makes it super easy to throw in your pocket and be on your way. Though the handle is round, it does not feel bulky while carrying. Shoot, at only 1.6 oz you may just forget its even there.
- The knife’s Virobloc locking mechanism makes it very simple to lock the blade in place and helps keep the hinge slot clean while working. This is also what makes the knife feel like a fixed blade, which I love. Stability is a big deal when making a deep groove. Also I just like that its not your typical locking mechanism and gives it almost a certain novelty that is very interesting and cool.
- Lastly, its cost effective. Especially, if you are on the market for something different to tryout and don’t want to cough up a significant amount of cash.
Important Qualities: Wayne Barton style chip carving is widely considered the best among the majority of chip carvers. These two knives are the only ones he uses for all of his work, and if you have not seen his work then go check out his work here, it is very impressive.
This knife is extremely durable. Heft and balance are incorporated into the set due to the dense lightweight handle and the blades full tang, meaning the blade runs through the full length of the handle instead of partial tang where it extends partially through it.
The Good and Bad
✔ Sturdy knife
✔ Blade isn’t glued in
✔ Dense Wood
✔ Quality Steel
✔ Good knife for price
✘ Requires honing
Rules of Safety
The reason so many enjoy this craft is because people love the reward of what they are capable of creating with their own hands. It relies heavily on hand movements and it is absolutely necessary to follow certain rules that not only protect hands from accidents, but also makes for a better carver.
A project could be something as simple as making basic cuts to wood to create a defined shape or something that’s as complicated as woodworking. It’s important to become familiar with these basic cuts that fit your style of wood carving, they are essential to laying out the foundation of mastering cutting techniques. You can find these basic cuts by heading over to our Whittling Guide or our Chip Guide.
Once you have learned and practiced the basics, you should take a stab at some of these suggestions and how-to’s:
I recommend basswood, as discussed earlier, until enough familiarity and knowledge is developed with skills and of the wood itself. Once at this point, it is safe to begin dabbling with other woods that interest you.
There are tons of types of wood out there, but most prefer to carve soft wood because it requires less stress on their tools. The harder the wood the more deformation and fracture a blade will encounter, this causes for more frequent sharpening. The best wood for carving is basswood, especially when beginning.
Another way to acquire lumber is by visiting local craft stores or even just by finding a good sized log outside.
Sharpening & Honing
Here’s something not a lot of people will tell you:
You will spend just as much time sharpening your tools, if not more, as you will using them.
Caring for them is just as much of an art as wood carving is. You initially won’t be good at it and won’t even know what you’re doing for that matter, but with time, practice, and education on what to look for the process can become much easier.
Now this pegs the question:
What damages do I look for before sharpening my tools?
There are 3 things to inspect before sharpening or honing:
This is a very common problem among carvers that’s typically caused by too much stress on the blade, or carelessness with it. You can tell if a blade is chipped if it has bits or chunks of metal material missing along the edge. Micro chipping is also a tedious thing to deal with since it isn’t visible to the naked eye, usually it requires a loupe magnifying glass or microscope to see it.
- Twisting the knife while carving
- Thin blades
- Improper Storage
- Unsupported knife tension
- Typically, when chipping occurs, it requires a stone for sharpening. Simply sharpen the edge until there are no more abrasions. Try preventing this from happening in the future by increasing the pressure toward the blade when sharpening as well as addressing all the causes listed.
- Rolled Edge
A blade’s edge is very thin, and when it sees abuse it will either chip or roll. So literally the edge will roll over itself to one side. Any steel is going to deform in some way when it is used often. Generally you’ll hear of one or the other happening, but hardly both, this is usually determined by the steel type and the heat treatment when making the steel.
Bladesmiths have a complicated compromise with heat treatment in regards to toughness and hardness. Hard takes a keen edge, but this means the hard steel will be brittle and susceptible to to fracture before deforming. So this leaves the blacksmith to make the steel “tougher” by tempering higher and making the steel softer to lower brittleness, but unfortunately this results it deformation rather than fracturing.
- Steel type and blade craft
- Continuous cuts with one side of the blade
- Improper sharpneing
- Deformations require a stone for sharpening. You’ll need to give attention to the side that the edge has rolled on to.
Simply put, the edge is not sharp and can not complete cutting tasks necessary for continuing a project.
- Came dull out of packaging
- Poor handling
- Consistent use of tools
- Honing compound is all you really need to gain an edge from a dull blade.
What’s the best sharpening stone for my tools?
People have their preference of stone types and how they go about routine sharpening. There are ceramic, diamond, water, and oil stones which all work just as well as the next, it mainly comes down to personal preference.
Here’s our top recommendations on what to use:
If you wanted to receive some experience from others then think about looking up some work shops in your local area. There are plenty everywhere and they help tremendously for beginners. They cover everything in this article and more.
Learning on your own is a great route to take as well, just make sure to address all our guidelines and helpful tips to get you started wood carving!