Picking the right tools can make your carving experience fun and relaxing
The tools that you use will determine what type of carving you can do, and will determine what your finished product will look like.
Power Wood Carving Tools Or Hand Tools?
This will be the first choice you will need to make in deciding what kind of tools to use. Depending on what you want to carve is the major determining factor.
If you are a furniture maker and want to do detailed patterns. Hand chisels would probably be a better choice. Hand chisels are far more accurate than a rotary tool, or a power chisel. No tool works better when doing your final detail work.
With a quality tool that has a sharp edge carving through even some hard woods, is like slicing through butter. With a decent variety of chisels and a little skill you can carve anything that a power tool can. It’s just much slower. So if you’re someone who just wants to enjoy the purity of carving, a good set of chisels is all you need.
Of coarse a mallet and a strop to keep your chisels sharp are helpful also.
As much as I enjoy using my hand chisels, when I want to remove large sections of wood, I’m pulling out a power tool.
Which tool I use depends on how much extra wood there is to remove. The options range from a Dremel type rotary tool to a chain saw.
Leaving chainsaws out, because that’s another post all on its own. Some of the common options that work are a sawsall, a grinder, rotary tools, multi tool, and there are some power tools made specially for wood carving.
If you have been in a tool section of a hardware store recently, and i’m sure you have. There might have been a display of attachments for the sawsall that are more like multitool attachments. I personally have not tried them, but I could see that they might be useful for removing large areas of wood, without breaking out the chainsaw.
The nice thing about a grinder is that they are inexpensive, and most of us probably have one in our garage.
There are a variety of wheels available for carving. Some have a lot of teeth such as the cutsall brand, or rotary rasp style. This type can remove a lot of material, but they create a lot of dust. The finish of the wood after using them is usually a little rough, and would require sanding.
Another type is a rotary planer. By using carbide blades rather than a bunch of teeth, this kind will give you a smoother finished product, and they kick out wood shavings instead of dust. Making a much nicer working environment.
Arbortech is one company that provides rotary planers in a variety of shapes. Find the one that would work best for what you are carving.
One last common wheel that I have seen is the chain saw blade. This one has a chain saw blade sandwiched between two plates. These are good for removing larger amounts of material. they can be used at a 90 degree angle to the wood, and cut like a chain saw. Or they can be used on their edges to smooth out areas. I haven’t personally tried one. I think they’re cheaply made and dangerous for that reason.
The oscillating multi tool is another good option for removing large amounts of wood. Even plunging a cut deep into your piece if needed. If you’re roughing in a larger project, these tools can be used to cut out sections you don’t want. If you are creative I’m sure you could use some of the blades available for the multi tool to do some more detailed carving, but it’s not that accurate of a tool.
Tools Made For Carving Wood
If you want to take your carving to the next level, there are tools made just for guys like us.
This tool has a long neck and on the end of it is a cutting wheel that is about half the size of a regular grinder disk. They generally go at a high RPM, giving you a smoother surface. The long neck on the tool allows you to get into tighter areas.
So if you’re hollowing out a log, or a bowl, this tool would be a good one to use.
The power chisel make carving a breeze. Once you have mastered this tool, it ca be used to remove material fast, but with accuracy. These tools come as a separate unit, or as an attachment for your flex shaft tool.
Many carvers like these tools because you can remove wood quickly, but still retain the chiseled look.
Picking The Right Carving Tool
The type of carving you are doing, and your budget will greatly determine which type of tools are best for you. Grandpa carved with just a pocket knife. If you already have some tools that could adapted start there.
If you prefer to tool up for your wood carving. I suggest that you start with a good set of hand chisels. There are very few projects that I carve that I don’t use these.