You can spend a lot of money on woodcarving chisel set, and there are many from which to choose. If you are a beginner, talk to a veteran woodcarver to find out which tools he or she prefers. Old, high quality woodcarving tools may show up at auctions or estate sales, and often you can pick a good chisel set for less money if you know what to look for.
- Skill level:
- Moderately Easy
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Buy the best quality woodcarving chisels if you are dedicated to the craft of woodcarving. High quality carbon, heat-treated steel and a good tool design are the most important things to look for. Hard steel holds an edge better but takes longer to sharpen than softer steel.
Decide whether you want the palm or large hand chisels. You push palm chisels with the palm of your hand, and you drive long handle chisels with a mallet. Palm chisels aren't as efficient, but are good for small projects. The long handle chisels give you more control and can withstand the constant pounding of a mallet.
Determine whether you need the tang or socket style woodcarving chisels. The socket chisel is better for large sculptures because it will tolerate heavy use and hard blows with a mallet. These chisels are heavy and aren't practical for a lot of handwork. The blade of the socket chisel is replaceable, however, unlike the tang style.
Hold the chisels in your hand and feel the handles. They are available in wood or plastic, but the wooden are available in both the tang and socket type and the plastic handles are only available in the tang type. The tang chisel isn't necessary for delicate work, but if you're using a mallet, consider the wooden-handled tang and ferrule chisel.
Choose an assortment of flat, medium and deep gouges in a range of sweeps and depths, a skew tool and a 60-degree V tool for a beginners woodcarving set.
Tips and warnings
- The tang chisel has a blade that fits into the handle, and the ferrule is an added layer of protection to keep the blade from splitting the handle when you pound it with a mallet repeatedly. The socket type of chisel has a protuberance from the handle that fits into a socket in the blade making it sturdier and longer lasting.
- Protect your chisels from rust by keeping them oiled and wrapped when you aren't using them.
- Wear protective eyewear anytime you are working with woodcarving tools.
- Sharp chisels are less dangerous to use than dull ones. Talk to a woodworking supply professional about sharpening techniques for your chisels.