Sunday, July 12, 2009


As I mentioned before I use traditional hand tools and carving knives. Throughout my years of carving I have come to realize that there are but a handful of tools which I refer to as the Basic Carving Tools. These are the tools that will do over 90% of your carving needs. I consider all my other tools as specialty tools.

Over time I have acquired several sets of these basic tools. Some are redundant and others are of various sizes, some smaller and one larger.

Here is my personal recommendation for the Basic Carving Set for both the beginner and for anyone who carves with traditional carving tools. I will list them by tool type, size, and sweep for the gouges...
  1. V-Parting Tool - 1/2", 60 degree angle
  2. Gouge - 1" wide, #3 sweep
  3. Gouge - 1/2" wide, #5 sweep
  4. Gouge- 5/8" wide, # 9 sweep
  5. Magic Knife - 1" wide blade
  6. Detail Knife - straight blade
  7. Wood is Good #20 Mallet
There you have it, the six main tools plus the mallet that everyone should start out with.

Here are a few other recommendations for once you have mastered the basics. These are tools which I have found quite useful...
  1. Skew Chisel - 3/4" wide blade
  2. Carvers Chisel - 3/4" wide blade
  3. Fishtail Gouge
  4. Detail Knife - curved blade
  5. Detail Knife - french curved blade
  6. Crock Blade Knife - used by northwest Indian carvers
  7. Scorp
  8. Adz
  9. Draw Knife
There are other tools which you can add to your collection. But remember, that they are just that, part of your collection. Over the past 30 years I have acquired what I would call a fair amount of tools. Some of these tools were required because of doing antique restoration and may have been used on only one project and then left to collect dust. Others were acquired to make some projects easier. Many of the tools I have, have not been put into service in years but when I need them, they are always a welcomed site.

But as I had mentioned, that for most of you, 90% of all the carving work you do will involve the Basic Carving Tools which are mentioned here. Get these tools and learn them well.

Terry R. Wolff
See samples of my carvings