Wood Carving 101: Beginner’s Guide to the Essential Tools

Person making wooden art with Wood Carving Tools
source: drillpressview.com

Wood carving is an art form that dates back centuries. From creating large wooden statues to carving your initials or the names you share into a tree, wood carving is a hobby and craft that anyone can take up. However, for many people, the thought of picking up a carving tool for wood and getting started with wood carving can be a bit intimidating. For the simple reason that they are deterred by the assumption of investing in expensive and high-quality wood carving tools.

However, many fail to realize that there are numerous high-quality wood carving tools for beginners that won’t break the bank. You just need to know what you’re looking for, depending on your carving style.

What Do You Need to Start Carving Wood?

A woodcarving toolset is an excellent place to start. They usually include carving knives, gouges, chisels, and hand and power tools you’ll need to carve in various wood species. You might also get an assortment of wood filler and putty knives. These tools will help spark your creativity and help you to work on a variety of surfaces from the finest hardwoods to softer woods like pine and spruce.

Chip Carving Knives

Chip carving knives are the most used woodcarving tool for cutting shapes into wood. Chip carving knives have a special blade that is essentially a straight, sharpened chisel with a handle on one end. Grips on chip carving knives vary from rounded to straight handles and other variations in shape and texture.

The blade of chip carving knives is usually 2″ to 3″ long, while the total length of the knife can be anywhere from 4″ to 10″. Thin blades are preferred because they allow more control over the shape of the cut.

Chip Carving and Engraving Knife
source: toolsforworkingwood.com

Whittling Knives

Whittling knives are a category of knives used for whittling. They are generally small, single-bladed knives designed to be held in hand comfortably and good for carving wood. Whittling is a kind of wood carving that is done using only a knife, where larger areas of waste wood are removed first to form the general shape of an object, and then finer details can be carved out.

The most common type of whittling knife is the slip joint or penknife. It is small enough to be carried anywhere, and its smaller blades are better for fine work such as detailing. A smaller blade also means less material to remove when whittling, so it takes less effort on the part of the carver. Whittling knives generally have a curved tip that makes it easier to create smooth curves and sloping lines in the wood.

Making wooden animal figure with whittling knife
source: bobvila.com

Bench Carving Knives

Bench Carving Knives are single-bevelled knives. They have one long, flat, cutting edge. The other side of the knife has a smooth back that does not cut. The handle and blade are forged from one piece of steel. The blade is sharpened from the tip to the back, creating a long cutting surface that is ideal for working the inside of a carving or trimming small areas where you need to see what you are doing, such as eyes and mouths. The bevel on these knives is relatively narrow, making them easy for beginners to master and control.

Person holding in hand wood carving bench knife
source: beavercrafttools.com

Carving Chisels

The Carving Chisel is a handheld tool that will change how you think about carving. Its unique design allows for a wide range of cuts to be made using just one tool. You can use this tool for roughing out and shaping, thin scraping and chip carving, as well as detail work. The large selection of blades available for this tool makes it possible to carve virtually any type of wood.

This is not a knife but rather a chisel in the shape of a blade to be used safely by both experienced carvers and beginners. The chisel is made from high quality, heat-treated steel and is attached to a handle made from hardwood. The blade’s cutting edge is protected while in storage when not in use by a safety guard.

3 different types of Carving Chisel
source: woodcarvingillustrated.com

Carving Gouges

Carving gouges are a tool that comes from the carving industry. They are used to remove wood quickly and cleanly by removing the wood grain without removing the rest of the wood.

There are two basic types of gouge, the half-round and full-round, both with cutting edges in between two points. The half-round is used for rough work, while the full-round is more versatile and can be used to remove material in a curve as well as straight. There are also several variations on both types; some have different shapes on each side, while others may have different lengths or be made of different materials.

Carving Gouges Wooden Tool Kit
source: woodcarvingillustrated.com

V Carving Tools

A V-carving tool is a 90 degree V-shaped cutting tool that is mostly used for decorative purposes. A V-carving tool can be used to create text on a piece of wood or metal, but it can also be used for more complex designs.

Sharpening wood with V-tool
source: woodcarving.tv

To Sum Up

You don’t need to spend a fortune on tools to get started with wood carving. If you’re a beginner, you’ll have no shortage of choices for quality wood carving tools for beginners. While it’s strongly advised against trying to cheap out on your tools, when it comes down to it, there is no need to spend a ton of money on high-quality wood carving tools for beginners.

Mia Hadson

Mia is a passionate blogger. Her obsession with beauty, health and shopping started young. Her philosophy is based on simple things, regardless of whether it is about applying makeup, decorating a room or cleaning a home. She believes simplicity is the basis of beauty and she implements this ideology in all spheres of her life.