Your tool kit
From left to right – u-gouge, micro v-gouge, v-gouge, straight chisel, skew chisel, large round gouge, bull nose chisel, wide sweep gouge, bench knife.
A bench knife is the most important tool you can own. Most bench knifes have 1 1/4″ to 1 3/4″ long blades with one sharp cutting surface. The handle shape and thickness varies between brands.
I strongly suggest that you start with a basic beginner’s set of five to six carving tools that will let you make every cut you need while inexpensive enough to keep your intial cost low. A mid-ranged quality set will cost around $50.00
and will last a life time. A beginner’s set of twelve tool tips and interchangeable handle begins around $100. Higher quality tools begin around $25 each and well worth every penny of your investment.
Most basic beginner sets include a 90 degree v-gouge, a straight chisel, a skew chisel, a large 3/8″ round gouge and a 1/4″ medium round gouge. These five tools will let you make any tool cut needed for relief carving.
As your love for relief carving grows you may want to add a few specialty carving tools to your kit. A favorite for me is the bull nose chisel which has a slightly round chisel edge, great for smoothing rough areas and background levels. A wide sweep round gouge has a low, wide curve to the cutting edge and removes large amounts of wood with each cut.
Beginner carving tool sets also are available in micro sizes with small sized cutting edges – 1/8″ straight chisel, 1/8″ v-gouge, and even an extremely small round gouge called a veining gouge or u-gouge.
Learn more about Basic Carving Tools.