My carving tool kit.

My current carving tool kit.

My current carving tools

As I was working on the carving for my tool chest lid, I was struck by how few chisels I actually use and how much I get from them.  I’ve seen photos of carvers who have vast amounts of chisels in their arsenal, and I am always a little jealous of those people.  However, at $35 – $50 a pop for mid range chisels, it’s hard to justify that kind of expenditure for my hobby.

I originally started with six chisels, and have added a few here and there.  My initial purchase decisions were based on Peter Follansbee’s recommendations, and this gave me a very solid and flexible starting set.  To this initial set,  I’ve added a couple of straight chisels that I got in a lot of tools I picked up somewhere.  They were straight sided and with decent steel so I reground them to be flat carving chisels.  I usually only use them for outlining the outside of a pattern, so these aren’t must haves. In fact, I could probably get the same out of my bench chisels.

I also added a small flattish gouge for relieving the background, the 5/8 does a great job of getting into tighter spaces than the 12’s do for some of the patterns.  I also added couple of different curved gouges to fill in some of the gaps, but they are not used as much as my core set.

I’ve also upgraded my V tool from the Pfeil to a Auriou version from the Chris Pye set that Lie Nielsen is selling now.  The V tool is very important, and the Auriou is very comfortable to hold and use.  If you want to get into it you can read a lot of good stuff from Chris Pye and Mary May on the V tool, it’s worth spending the time to understand this tool.  It’s also worth the time to practice A LOT with this tool to build the muscle memory and comfort level, something I’m still working on.

In the style of carving I do, you can get a lot of mileage out of a few curved gouges and it’s really hard to go wrong with Peter’s original suggestion and build from there.   My next purchases will probably something in the 7/12 range to give me a smaller gouge for outlining.


Posted in carving, Tools | 4 Comments

4 Responses to My carving tool kit.

  1. Kelly says:

    What is the difference between a bench chisel and the “carving chisels” you mention in this post?

  2. Badger says:

    The “bench” chisels are your standard bevel edges chisels you can buy for most woodworking (but not carving) uses. A carving chisel has a very thin cross section typically. A bench chisel usually has a lot of metal in the blade. For carving they would be only good setting in a straight line really. Most of your carving tools have some form of a curve on them.

  3. Kelly says:

    I see. So, they are thinner … more like a pairing chisel I guess.

    Thanks for the reply.

  4. Badger says:

    No problem. They are a bit thinner, but they have a “bolster”? where the metal goes into the handle to prevent it from driving into the handle when you tap it with a mallet. I use a round applewood mallet I turned, and a small brass one i bought to apply force.

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