The 5 Best Wood Carving Tools [Ranked]
Top5Reviewed is reader-supported. When you buy through links on our site, we may earn an affiliate commission.
In this post, we examine 5 of the best-selling wood carving tools on the market.
Wood carving tools are sharp, bladed instruments with either plastic or wood handles that allow woodcarvers to sculpt and carve wood. Good tool sets give users a variety of blade tips for various woodworking needs (Source).
How do they work?
These tools come in many shapes, but the primary ones are gouges, which have v-shaped blades, and chisels, which have straight edges. Carvers either pound a mallet against the tool’s handle to push the blade through the wood or they can push it with their own hands (Source).
Most people advise buying the best tools you can afford, even if you’re a beginner. The reason is the better the tool, the better the experience you’re going to have (Source).
- How do they work?
- Comparing The Tools
- How Do They Compare?
- Best Wood Carving Tools For 2021
- How to Start Carving
- The 3 Types
Comparing The Tools
|Wood Carving Tools||Our Rating||Price ($)|
|The Xacto X5175 Deluxe Woodcarving Set||4.4||$$|
|The Gimars 12 Set SK5 Carbon Steel Wax & Wood Carving Tool Kit||4.4||$|
|The Power Grip Carving Tools Set||4.4||$|
|The Flexcut Carving Tools Kit||4.8||$$$|
|The Sculpt Pro Professional Wood Carving Chisel Set||3.7||$|
How Do They Compare?
We took a look at 5 budget priced wood whittling sets, all of which are geared toward the beginner.
The first set we looked at was the Sculpt Pro 18 Piece Wood Carving Chisel Set with Carrying Case. This is a nice set and comes with 15 8-inch chisels and 3 files. The variety of tools included should be enough to get you started on any woodworking project. The tools are made of high quality steel, and while users liked the value for the price, some said the tools needed frequent sharpening and that sharpening was difficult, but your mileage may vary.
Next up is the Flexcut Carving Tools Deluxe Palm & Knife Set. This set Includes 4 knives and 5 palm tools, which are very sharp out of the box and most users said they’re easy to sharpen. Among all the tools we looked at, these featured ergonomic and comfortable handles, which will benefit people who work for longer periods of time. Unlike the other sets here, these are American made and are a good set for the beginner or intermediate carver.
The Power Grip 7 Piece Carving Tool set features handles that are 1 1/4” and allow for good, comfortable gripping. Steel blades are laminated and people who bought this set say these tools arrived sharp and ready for use unlike some that needed sharpening out of the box. Made in Japan from high quality steel. Good starter set for light woodworking or printmaking.
Next is the Gimars 12 Set SK5 Carbon Steel Wax & Wood Carving Tools, which is an Ideal set for the beginner. It’s perfect for general woodcarving with enough variety in the tools for a multitude of projects. These tools are smaller size which makes them ideal for detail or cleanup work.
Lastly we looked at the Xacto X5175 Deluxe Woodcarving Set. Xacto is a name most people are familiar with, and unlike the other sets, this one comes with a handle into which you attach the blades. Includes no. 5 knife handle, 6 assorted blades, 5 gouges and 4 routers. While this is a good set for general woodworking and crafting, some users complained the blades came loose from the handle too easily.
Best Wood Carving Tools For 2021
Ease Of Use
The X-Acto Deluxe Wood Carving Set is a good option for a hardcore woodworker. Users love the construction and sturdiness of this product, but some do complain about flimsy plastic pieces and certain design flaws.
This product is a complete set for virtually any woodworking requirement (three-dimensional carving, deep relief carving and whittling). It includes a No. 5 knife handle, 6 assorted blades, 5 gouges and 4 routers and a wooden chest. This item seems like a good choice if you want high-quality woodworking tools.
The general user consensus concerning the X-Acto X5175 Deluxe Wood Carving Set is that it does the job well and seems sturdy. They praise its solid construction and ease-of-use.
However, many buyers complain about a design flaw of the blade holders which requires that the correct blade sits in the bottom tray. As one purchaser explains, it makes the case useless, unless you want to constantly switch/remove blades just to put it away. Other frequent complaints regard the flimsy plastic molds and the plastic trays falling out.
Examining The X-Acto
Ease Of Use
The Gimars Carbon Steel Kit is a good option if you are a discriminating woodworker. Users love the sharpness of the blades, but some do complain about the quality and durability.
This set includes 12 wood whittling tools (deep gouge, medium gouge, shallow gouge, narrow straight chisel, wide straight chisel, rounded chisel, 4 angled knives/chisels, parting tool and pinpoint tool), which are made from high-quality SK5 carbon steel with an electrolytic coating. The wooden handles are well made and sturdy with smooth handing for a comfortable grip. This12-different shape size wood carving set could be a good choice for a beginner to fall in love with wood carving.
In general, users have a favorable opinion of the Gimars Carbon Steel Set. They agree that it is great for lighter finish and detail work, especially for beginners. Plus, they find the blades to be very sharp and of good quality.
However, some buyers complain about a number of the knives having chipped after a couple of uses. One online reviewer says that the quality is what you would expect for this price, meaning that the item will work okay for a while, but won’t last too long. He suggests getting a different set if you’re serious about the art.
Ease Of Use
The Shinwa Power Grip Carving Tools is a good option for those who want unique handtools which are something between conventional palm-handled and full-sized tools. Users love the ergonomics of this product, but do complain about it not being suitable for hardwood.
This product features a handle shape and short blade length that makes the tools perfect “gap fillers” between palm handled and full-sized tools. The set contains a 3mm (1/8″) #9 gouge, 6mm (1/4″) #8 gouge, 7.5mm (5/16″) skew chisel and 7.5mm (5/16″) straight chisel, 4.5mm (3/16″) V-parting tool, 9mm (3/8″) #5 gouge and a 9mm (3/8″) #3 gouge. This 7-piece wood carver set might be a good choice if you want tools that are designed to be held like a pencil for precise control.
In general, users have a favorable opinion of the Shinwa 7-piece whittling set and they agree that the grip helps to keep wrist and hands from fatigue. They add that the tools are very sharp and sturdy. All in all, users conclude that the item is beyond perfect for a beginner.
However, many purchasers complain about the metal being too brittle to hold up to hardwood. They agree that the set is only useful for softwood. One buyer states that the tools are good for small projects, but chip quickly.
Ease Of Use
If you are looking for top-rated wood carving tools, you might want to consider these offered by Flexcut Tool. Users love the quality of this product and so far have only minor complaints regarding the blades that don’t hold an edge long.
This set includes 4 knives (cutting knife, pelican knife, detail knife and mini-detail knife) and 5 palm tools (skew, V tool and 3 gouges in different sizes). All tools are razor-sharp and ready to use right out of the included wood toolbox. This Deluxe Palm and Knife Set could be a good choice for those who are looking for a wide range of capabilities in one economical package.
In general, buyers have a very positive opinion of the Flexcut Deluxe Wood Carvers Palm Tool and Knife Set. They state that it is well made and of good quality. Users add that the blades are sharp and that the handles fit well in the hand, allowing you to carve away for a good long while.
The only complaint so far regards the blades which don’t hold an edge very long. However, one online reviewer shares that with a help of a strop set you can clean them up quickly with a few strokes across the strop.
Ease Of Use
If you are looking for wood whittling tools, you might want to consider the Sculpt Pro Wood Carving Chisel Set. Users like its value/price ratio, but do complain about the quality.
This product includes 15 pieces of 8-inch chisels and 3 files, as well as a convenient carrying case for easy transport and organization. The chisels are made from stainless steel and feature a variety of shapes and sizes, which is great because you can use them for different applications. Still, if you are looking for a high-quality wood chiseling set, this might not be the best option.
In general, users are happy with the Sculpt Pro Wood Carving Set. They like that it works nicely on softwood. They agree that it is a nice starter set and decent for the price.
However, many purchasers complain about the quality. One dissatisfied buyer states that the steel is very poor and that factory sharpen is horrid. Another one says that it is extremely difficult to sharpen the blades, as well as that most of the edges on the chisels are chipped, warped or uneven.
How to Start Carving
People who get into the practice of sculpting wooden pieces of art rarely simply start with just a block of timber. If you are an aspiring wood carver, then you should avoid making your first chiseling venture out of some old and rotted piece of lumber lying around in your garage or from a nearby forest, as it will probably be rotted already and have plenty of grit and dirt in it (Source).
If you intend to properly get started with wood gouging, then you should start with the following types of lumber as they are the easiest to learn wood chiseling with, in the first place.
Buckeye, butternut, basswood or white pine. The most desirable among these 'starter woods is basswood, as it is completely clear of any grain and is smooth and soft enough to allow you to carve with ease even if you are an amateur. It is also just hard enough to let you design sharp and solid edges.
An essential tip to keep in mind is that before you start any kind of etching, you should, first of all, have a clear picture in your mind about what it exactly is that you are going to be engraving. By having a clear image in your mind of what the finished sculpture will look like, you will be able to make the proper cuts with confidence and will be less likely to make small mistakes (Source).
You should start with a 'Cutout' or 'Blank'. This refers to drawing or tracing an outline of the pattern of whatever it is that you want to sculpt, onto a piece of lumber, and then use a saw, such as a bandsaw, to cut out the shape of that pattern from the piece of lumber.
Another method to get started with the art of wood gouging is to use a Roughout. A Roughout is a beginners method to make a wooden sculpture from a model that has already been finished. You will need to use a duplicating machine by first using a stylus over the finished piece of timber and then cutting out the roughout. After that, you will have to perform the simple task of etching out the minor details from the roughout. Because of its beginner level skill requirement, roughouts are typically not allowed in wood-chiseling competitions, except at the very basic level for beginners.
Wood Pattern Options
The majority of carvers use patterns to help them carve out any specific sculpture. You can do the same by using a carbon paper or a tracing paper to move the design or pattern onto the piece of lumber that you intend to work on. You also have the option of using a pattern shifting tool that uses heat to transfer the design onto the piece of lumber (Source).
If you are having trouble coming up with ideas about what to make for your very first sculpture, you can get ideas from children's coloring books. Furthermore, you can use copy machines to easily make any kind of pattern and scale it up or down to whatever size you want. Instead of copying someone's ready-made pattern (that are accessible from any of the numerous pattern books that are available in the market), you can try your hand at making your own unique and original pattern.
This will also help in getting you into the mindset of respecting other people's copyright's as well properly protecting your own intellectual property.
The 3 Types
Basically speaking, there are 3 main types of chiseling. These are: Relief, "In The Round" and Chip.
As the phrase connotes, this is a method of woodcarving in which the carver slowly and gradually chips away at the piece of lumber to remove small 'chip' sized pieces of lumber in order to ensure the maximum amount of accuracy and care to detail in the finished product. This method is best used if the desired product has to have the design of a geometric pattern. There are plenty of reasons justifying why the chip method is both efficient and is also a pleasantly enjoyable activity.
As already mentioned, chip gouging is a great way to add tiny and dazzling details to the model. It is also a method that can be easily learned by anyone as it minimizes the chances of making mistakes and is an easy skill to learn.
Historically, chip chiseling has been a part of culture and society for centuries in countries such as England, Russia, Germany, and Switzerland. Specific designs and patterns are passed down from generation to generation of lumber carvers ancient models can still be seen today as they were on the day they were first completed, all those centuries ago.
Chip etching is a great way to beautify and decorate the interior of your house by adding to the beauty of any decorative objects you have in your house. For example, apart from beautifying household objects, chip gouging can also be used to enhance the beauty of various architectural objects, such as ceilings, wall borders, support beams, etc.
There are two basic types of relief carvings. Namely, high and low. In the high relief method, the sculptor carves the timber in such a way that there is both perspective and depth. On the other hand, in low relief chiseling, the intended pattern or design if first engraved on a flat surface, such as a timber board, and then a saw, such as a bandsaw, is used to cut out everything outside of the design, leaving only the design left once all the cutting is done.
In both low and high types of relief chiseling, the finished product is always intended to be viewed only from the front. More specialized tools and types of lumber are required if you want to carve round shaped corners and shapes, even then, it will be necessary to make small U and V-shaped gouges to properly make those round surfaces.
"In The Round" Carving
In this method, as the name suggests, all sides of the finished product are meant to be viewed. This means that the end product has to be a three-dimensional piece of art, which viewers can look at from all sides and angles. This means that the sculptor has to use a variety of tools as well as special types of lumber to make the perfect three-dimensional carving that is both solid and accurately made. There is no limit to the number of things that can be carved "In The Round", from animals and humans to more abstract types of art pieces, only your imagination is the limit.