Beginner’s Tool Sets
By Lora S. Irish
I am a real believe in beginner’s carving tool sets for several reasons. Usually we, Mike and I, suggest a basic five or six tool set for around $50 and a bench knife or chip knife as your first investment into carving. So our beginners start with an investment of less than $100.
There are several forms of carving where one or two tools are really all you need to start our hobby as figure carving or whittling with a bench knife or high quality pocket style knife — chip carving where a chip knife and stab knife will do everything you need. But those two tools — the bench knife/chip knife and stab knife — will not let you explore relief carving!
A basic beginner’s set with round gouges, chisels, skews and v-gouges will let a beginner try every style of carving. After you have settled into your favorite style of carving you may end up using just a few of the tools, so some may seem a waste of investment. For some reason I have never gotten comfortable with the skew chisel?!? But having enough tool profiles at the start of your hobby gives you so much more variety in carving styles that I believe they are worth it.
I started with wood spirit walking sticks and a bench knife was all I really had to have. Yet, somehow, I have ended up a relief carver and just a bench knife won’t get me very far into this form of carving.
With an inexpensive (notice I did not say a CHEAP craft store set) beginner’s set you have at hand the basic tools for any carving you might want to try. As you develop you style, discover your favorite variation of carving then add high quality tools specifically for your type of carving. But don’t throw that beginner’s set away as one day something might catch you attention and you will be delighted that you have them on hand.
This basic beginners carving set includes two sizes of round chisels, a skew chisel, a straight chisel, and a v-gouge. Also shown are a long-bladed bench knife and a large chip carving knife for straight-edge cuts.
Sharpening stones, strops and rouge are an important part of any carver’s tool kit. No matter how much a carving tool initially cost, it is no better than its cutting edge. Shown here are a Japanese wet stone, ceramic stones, a profiled honing strop, leather strop, and a synthetic strop. You can also obtain varying grits of emery cloth at your local hardware store for edge sharpening.
Many of the tools that will end up in your carving kit are basic household tools. Scissors, ink pens, pencils, and graphite paper are used to transfer your pattern to the wood. A T-square will help you properly set the pattern to the wood blank. You will need sandpaper is several grits from 150- to 320-grit for preparing your wood and for smoothing out rough areas in the carving. You will also need masking tape, dusting brushes, and an assortment of small riffle files.
For many carvings, whether you do 3-D work or relief carving, will require some means of securing the wood. Shown here is a basic bench hook or bracing board that you can make out of scrap plywood. The front edge of the board drops over the edge of your table. The back corner brace allows you to push the cutting stroke into the corner without the wood moving from the pressure of the tools. (Plans for the bench hook may be found by clicking HERE).
Just my opinion.
Designs Online Since 1997 by Lora S. Irish
Lora S. Irish is a carver and designs projects and tutorials for carving, pyrography and related art. Her line art patterns and drawings site, artdesignsstudio.com features line art designs created exclusively by Lora for craters and artisans. Her blog, at www.lsirish.com, features many of pages of free projects and tutorials.