The first set of tools that I recommend every carver has and evens every woodworker is a good set of carving knives. We offer a set of three that comes with a straight blade, a skewed blade, and then one with a curved blade. These come in handy for carving styles like whittling, to relief carving, and even general woodworking tasks where you need to clean up little details in your work. The next set of tools I highly recommend that you consider are a set of palm chisels. We offer this eight-piece set that comes in a variety of blade styles and shapes and I use them a lot for detail work like the fur on this mouse and the general shaping of this character. You’ll notice that palm chisels have a large, fat top to the handle but they’re short so they’re designed to fit in the palm of your hand comfortably. These chisels are not really designed to be used with a mallet but they offer great control for detail work. The next set of tools you may want to consider are the full-size tools and these may be more familiar to you. The handles are longer because they give you more control.
You can use them with two hands, but another advantage is that you can use them with a mallet to get in there tight and pull away chips nice and easy. These chisels are great for full-size work and larger carvings and sculptures, relief carvings, like this flower, but they also, because of their long handles, give you more control for detail work. So don’t discount them as detailed tools for your general carving and woodworking purposes. We offer the beginner set from Narex. It includes five tools that includes three gouges a V tool and a skewed knife and I tell you, if you’re looking for the biggest bang for the buck, this is the set to have. Every woodworker should have one and it’s also great for general carving purposes. You’ll notice that the handles are just a little bit shorter than the full-size tools. They’re kind of a compromise between the palm-sized tools and the full-size tools. You can use them with one hand or two hands, but you can also, if you need to, you can tap them with a mallet. Now when you’re shopping for chisels you’ll notice that the cutting edge comes in a variety of shapes but they fall into two general categories. One is a gouge, which has a curved shape, and the other is a V-gouge, or a V-tool (sometimes called a veining tool). I’ve written a blog post that goes into a lot of detail about the different cutting shapes. But, in general, when you’re shopping for gouges, the larger the number of the “sweep,” they call it, the tighter the curve. So we go from smaller sweep through a medium sweep into a larger sweep.
So those are some things you want to keep in mind as you’re shopping for your tools and what kind of cut you want to make. Now when you’re choosing gouges don’t get too caught up in the curvature of the blade. You can use one tool for multiple shapes and if you find you need a specific shape then you can obviously go out and purchase that tool. You’ll also notice here that we have a different style of blades on these tools. These are called spoon gouges and if you look at them from the side, they kind of look like a spoon. Those are meant for scooping cuts for creating textures ore getting into tight areas and shaping convex shapes. So whether you’re just thinking about getting into carving, or just a general woodworker, or if you have been carving for a number of years, I tell you, you can’t go wrong with the Narex carving tools. They’re known for their quality.