I love tools!
Their beauty and usefulness, are inspiring to be around, and to be able to learn with and from.
For wood carving, there are so many tools that serve different purposes. I’ve probably bought most of them by now to try them out! And, I definitely have my favorites.
Below are listed the main tools and supplies I use for wood carving, including which brands I recommend.
Some of these links are to the makers themselves. Others, are links to the products on amazon.com. These are affiliate links, meaning if you click from here to buy them, I’ll get a fraction of the purchase price (these and anything else in your cart!). This helps me fund all the buying and trying I do, so that you know which ones to get the first try. Thanks for purchasing through my links!
p.s. Come learn to use these tools with me under the trees at a Wood and Knife class!!
Morakniv Wood Carving Knife
Both are equally good! These are the perfect knives for both beginners and more advanced wood carvers.
Model 120 with 2.4 inch blade
better for smaller hands and projects, more intricate carving too
Model 106 with 3.2 inch blade
better for longer strokes and larger projects
Irwin Tools Dovetail/Detail Pull Saw
Great for thin wood and fine cuts.
Gransfors Brucks is a good brand, offering a wide range of hatchets and axes.
Gransfors Brucks Mini-Hatchet
Super lightweight and portable. For small splitting and roughing out projects.
Gransfors Brucks Hand Hatchet
Super compact with a more robust handle and weight. For small/med splitting and roughing out projects.
Gransfors Brucks Swedish Carving Axe
Heavy and strong. For formidable splitting and roughing out projects.
Stropping early and often is the key to a razor sharp knife! Sharpening of blades can be done using a wide range approaches, from waterstones, to diamond credit cards, to sandpaper wrapped around a block of wood!
Leather Strop – Two-sided Suede with Black & Green Compound
My former strop source is no more. I tried this one, but it’s too wide, and smooth, though it could work for now. The set of three compounds is good. Make your own strop is my suggestion!
DMT Credit Card Sized Sharpener Set – Course, Fine, Extra Fine
Very portable and can use with water or nothing to sharpen and touch up knife and hatchet blades.
BearMoo 2-IN-1 Sharpening Stone 400/1000 Grit Waterstones
Works well once soaked in water, but you need a flattening stone for it once used much.
Assorted WetDray Sandpaper
Wrap it around a solid wood block and you have a great sharpening approach. Start with the lower numbered grits (deepening on how dinged or sharp your knife is) then work your way up to the higher numbered grits.
A soft mallet can be used for splitting wood with a hatchet (or just use some wood as a club), and with gouges in carving bowls and sculptures (even spoon bowls). Gouges, large and small, shallow and deep, straight and bent, are used to gouge out the wood. A range of sizes is needed depending on the use. The numbers run 1 (flat) to 9 (nearly U shaped). I like 3s, 5, and 7s, also 6s and 8s. The second number is the width in mm (e.g. #7/20mm). Narrow are good for carving details, while wide are good for carving bowls. I like bent gouges for making bowls. Also, a V-chisel is good for outlining.
Wood is Good 12oz Mallet
Soft and quiet. There are heavier versions as well.
SCHAAF Full Size Wood Carving Tools, Set of 12
A good starter set with a range of tools of decent quality. BUT, they do not come well sharpened, so you have to be willing to put in some work getting them in shape.
Pfeil Swiss-Made Gouges
These are my favorite, by far. Great quality and strong. I like Pfeil Intermediate Gouges, which are shorter in length, for some of the smaller gouges. A few examples of those I use often: #8 Gouge (7–10mm for small decorative carving or use in making spoons), #7 Bent Gouge (25mm or 35mm for bowls),
SPECIALTY TOOLS & WOOD
Hook knives are useful for carving spoons and small bowls. Chip carving knives are for decorative carving. Japanese carving tools are good for small sculptural carving. Basswood is a very soft hardwood that is great for beginning carvers, and for chip carving.
NorthBayForge.com Bent Knife – Northwest Native Style
Deep Bent or General, regular or mini, these are very sharp!
Robin Wood Spoon knife (in UK)
Get the sheath as well.//wood-tools.co.uk/tools/spoon-knife-right-hand-compound-curve/
Chip Carving Knife
The chip carving Cutting Knife or the Modified Knife.mychipcarving.com/product/diamond-cutting-knife/
Basswood Practice Boards are good for chip carving practice as well as making butter knives. I usually get the 5″ size.mychipcarving.com/product/basswood-boards/
Japanese Skew Knife
Hida Tools in Berkeley, CA (in store or online)
Sandpaper can be used (or not) in finishing wood carvings. It leaves a more flat and hard finish than something only knife finished. Work your way through the grits from the lower to the higher numbered grits. I usually go: 100, 150, 220, and then sometimes 300 and 400. I almost always finish with Flax Oil, whether sanded or not. Take care with any oil-soaked rags, wash out right away or put in water, to avoid spontaneous combustion as they can heat up when drying. I also sometimes use an Oil and Wax combo (but once you do that on a piece, you have to continue using wax, there’s no going back to just oil).
3M Garnet Sandpaper, 9-Inch by 11-Inch, Assorted-Grit, 5-Sheet
Organic Filtered Flax Oil
Tried & True Original (linseed/flax and beeswax)