Wood carving (in Sculpture) and wood working (in cabinet and furniture making)are two entirely different fields. Although they are similar in many regards, the tools for each are not quite the same. In woodcarving, the bevels on the different tools will have a thinner cutting edges. The steel grade, 1095C (a high carbon steel, tempered or heat treated to harden the steel so it will maintain a sharp edge), will range approximately .59 to .62 on the Rockwell Black Diamond hardness testing device. The handles on wood carving tools are also shorter in length than those in wood working.
The most popular styles of wood carving tools are: straight chisel, with a straight flat edge; straight gouge, with a curved cutting edge which will range in depth; short bent, with a small spoon-like dip used for quick deep cuts; long bent, which will make a long deep cut; straight skew, with a diagonal cutting edge; parting tool or veiner, which is a furrowing tool with a cutting edge that looks like a “v”; and fish tail which flares out on the left and righttips like the tail of a fish. These tools are available with cutting edges in different sizes ranging from 1/8" to 1".
The sweep of a wood carving tool can be defined as the curvature of its cutting edge and is designated by a number. The higher the number, the deeper its curve. The tool's width, measured from its right tip to its left tip, is designated in inches or millimeters. For example, a gouge no. 7 - 1/8" has a deeper sweep than a gouge no. 3 - 1/8", yet the widths of their respective cutting edges are the same - 1/8 inch. Both the width and the sweep of the tool’s cutting edge are important factors to consider when choosing the right tool for you.
The bevel or slant that the blade will take on the carving surface is normally at a 45° angle; it should be sharpened at this angle,using a figure eight motion, on a bench stone or combination sharpening stone, either wet or dry.
There are three basic parts of a wood carving tool: the blade which is the primary cutting section of the tool; the tang which is inserted into the handle of the tool to hold the blade; and the handle. Handles must be drilled to accommodate the proper size tang or the handle may crack. Handles are attached to the tool blades to complete the carving tool. Most are octagonal in shape so the tool will not turn or twist while carving. Depending on the size of the tool, handles will vary in size and diameter.
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