Equipping oneself with the necessary wood carving tools is a must for those who plan to take up this delicate creative pursuit. Here are all the things that you need to have in your arsenal before you begin cutting and carving that block of wood.
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Wood Carving Tools | 7 Essentials for Wood Working Enthusiasts
1. Wood Carving Knife
Wood carving knives are some of the most basic tools woodcarvers begin with. These knives are used in paring, whittling, and cutting wood.
Given that woodcarvers typically work with these tools for hours, most of them have ergonomic designs that comfortably fit the hands of workers. They are often made of durable high carbon steel with a length of about 1 1/2″.
Wood carving knives come in various shapes and sizes. The blade's shape determines what its purpose is, while its size determines how fine the details are going to be.
Chisels are indispensable wood carving tools that consist of sharp cutting edges attached to handles. Similar to knives, chisels also come in various shapes and sizes.
The blade's width paired with the cutting edge's shape determines the chisel's style. These chisel styles have names that describe their specific functions.
- A paring chisel, for instance, is used for paring or shaving wood. It won't be of much help in taking off big chunks of wood in one go.
- A skew chisel‘s blade, on the other hand, is at a 45-degree angle from its leading edge. Skew chisels are also called corner chisels.
- A mortise chisel is used to cut mortise joints that are too sturdy to be taken out by heavy mallets.
Woodcarvers can either strike the chisel with a mallet or push it at the right angles to drive its edge through the wood. Similar to wood carving knives, they have to be sharp for them to work effectively.
In a way, gouges are closely related to chisels. The main difference between the two, however, is the shape of the cutting edge.
Unlike chisels, the cutting edge of gouges is curved or rounded, which makes it look like a scoop. Woodcarvers use these wood carving tools to create both deep and shallow curves and hollows on the wood, particularly for areas that might be hard to reach using a chisel.
Common examples of gouges include the following:
- U-gouge – Has a blade curved into a half-circle perfect for digging into and scooping out wood.
- V-gouge – Has a blade with a V-shaped tip.
- Long-bent tool – Special kind of gouge with an upward bend along the cutting tool's length perfect for relief carving.
- Short-bent tool – Has a straight blade with a deep and curved end useful for shaping recesses and for reaching a wood carving pattern's corners.
- Fishtail – Has a light and thin blade whose cutting edge is wider compared to its shaft.
- Veiners or Veining Tools – These are the smallest straight gouges that often have a deep, U-shaped cutting edge. They are best for grooving or giving that rough outline to those small areas.
- Fluters – A straight gouge that is equipped with a blade that has a wide curvature. Often, woodcarvers use them to carve wide hollows through wood.
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Rifflers are double-ended filing wood carving tools. Often, these are small and curved files whose grip is in the middle of its two filing edges.
Woodcarvers use rifflers to smoothen a carved area's surface. Typically, these are used for those hard-to-reach areas that have odd shapes.
Mallets are also essential in this delicate craft. Woodcarvers use them to strike the ends of gouges and chisels, allowing them to drive the wood carving tools' blades deep into the surface.
Mallets are made of different materials such as maple, lugnum vitae, Beachwood, hickory, etc. For beginners, smaller and lighter mallets may be more ideal.
Eventually, as you move through more detailed projects, you might find that you'll need to have numerous kinds of mallets depending on the type of wood and the complexity of the project you're working on.
6. Coping Saw
Woodcarvers use this small handheld saw to help them cut intricate shapes that the majority of other saws could not manage.
Often, carvers use them to aid in connecting two joints that they find while trimming the wood. Additionally, they can also come in handy when it comes to sculpting and wood carving since, similar to rifflers, they can also fit easily into those tight spaces.
7. Leather Thumb Guard
While not specifically used in wood carving, a leather thumb guard is especially useful for beginners in the craft. It serves as protection and reduces the chances of them getting hurt from the various heavy and often sharp tools they have to use.
What to Consider Before You Buy Wood Carving Tools
Before you begin buying wood carving tools, make sure to consider the following factors:
- Quality – Good quality tools will last you a long time. Make sure to purchase tools that utilize high-quality metal and you won't have chisels and gouges breaking on your first project.
- Versatility – Getting tools with a variety of shapes and sizes gives you the freedom to craft. They allow you to expand your creativity and experiment as much as you want.
- The sharpness of the blades – Having sharp blades should give you smoother results. If you want your projects to have smooth and fine details, avoid getting dull wood carving tools.
- Safety – Aside from the sharpness of the blade, your tools should also have handles with secure grips that prevent them from sliding accidentally.
For beginners, amateur wood carving tools that often have shorter and easier-to-handle shanks are generally recommended.
Now that you have all the wood carving tools you need, check out this video from Stumpy Nubs for the most fundamental rules all woodcarvers should know about:
Wood carving is one of the most delicate and rewarding creative pursuits out there. If you're planning on pursuing the craft, make sure to equip yourself with all the necessary wood carving tools before you begin.
What other wood carving tools do you think are essential for beginning woodcarvers? Share your thoughts with us in the comments section below!
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