Wood carving can be a challenging, enjoyable art form if you have the best wood carving knife, and best wood chisel set, plenty of patience, and good wood to work with. But finding the right wood carving tools isn’t always easy. Beginners may have a hard time identifying the perfect knife for a specific project or piece of wood.
Which is why we have created a site that’s dedicated to reviewing the leading wood carving knives and wood carving tool sets. Many of these sets are perfect for beginners because they include several tools that you’ll use on most of your projects.
Additionally, each of the sets we have reviewed is made out of high-quality steel and equipped with thick, well-balanced wooden handles that are designed with user comfort in mind.
But before we dive in and summarize the five leading wood carving tools sets, below you’ll find a comparison chart, which will show you how many pieces are included per set, the price, rating, and blade material used.
Wood Carving Tools Comparison Chart
|Product||Set Pieces||Blade Material||Cost||Rating|
|Flexcut KN250 Set||18||Carbon Steel||$$||5/5|
|Two Cherries Set||11||Steel||$$||4.5/5|
|R Murphy Set||7||Steel||$||4.5/5|
|Flexcut Carving Tools||10||Carbon Steel||$$||4.5/5|
Top-Selling Wood Carving Tool Sets
Below you’ll find summaries of the five leading wood carving tool sets ranging from chisel loaded sets to expert wood carving knife sets that are designed for the seasoned wood carver.
Best Wood Carving Knife Set-Flexcut KN250 Deluxe Knife Set
This Flexcut wood carving knife set includes an impressive eighteen carving knifes, designed for wood carvers of all skill levels. This versatile set is perfect for large projects, whittling, relief carving, and much more. The wide range of choices makes the set a great buy for the woodcarver who enjoys a variety of wood carving applications. Inside you’ll find a basic cutting knife, skew knife, detail knife, knives designed for chipping, fine detail, and much more. Considering the size and low price, it comes as no surprise that this set earned a perfect score.
Best Value-Two Cherries 515-3441 11-piece Carving Tools In Wood Box
This is a versatile wood carving set that comes loaded with chisels, gouges, V-tools, and a carving knife. Each of the eleven pieces in this set is equipped with a well-balanced handle, for improved control and comfort during use. The blades themselves received a higher than average Rockwell scale rating, resulting in blades that are built tough and designed for hard and soft woods.
Considering the lower price, this set is a great option for woodcarvers of all skill levels in need of sturdy, durable wood carving tools that can handle plenty of use and abuse. However, if you’re looking for wood carving tools designed specifically for whittling you may be disappointed with the single carving knife in this set.
Ergonomic Handle Design-R Murphy 7 Piece Complete Shoe Knife Craft Wood Carving Set
This set consists of tough wood carving tools that are designed for heavy use and large projects. This is a seven piece set that includes many tools that the avid whittler will love. Additionally, the balanced curved handles will give you more control during use and can help to prevent user fatigue. The set includes several knives that can be used for whittling, relief carving work, and fine detail projects. The lighter weight of the knives, combined with the ergonomic handle design make this set a great choice for beginners or skilled carvers who struggle with the average style carving knives.
Best Chisel Set-Flexcut Carving Tools, Mallet-Carving Chisels and Gouges
This Flexcut carving tool set is loaded with some great tools for sculpting and chip carving for softwood and hardwood projects. It doesn’t come with traditional wood carving knives, but this ten piece set does include many of the most commonly used chisels and gouges. The tools are also equipped with curved ash wood handles that are well-balanced and comfortable to hold for a longer period of time.
Best Choice for Beginners-PFEIL “Swiss Made” Full-Size Starter Set
This starter set by PFEIL includes many commonly used wood carving tools for sculpting, chipping, and more. The overall quality of the tools also makes this set a good choice for the seasoned sculptor or woodcarver who’s in need of a tool upgrade. This is a ten piece set that comes with four different gouge sizes, single-bevel and double-bevel chisels, a chip carving knife, and a V-tool. The free tool roll allows the woodcarver to keep their tools organized, easily accessible and also makes it easier to store and transport the tools.
Wood Carving Tools Buyer’s Guide
But when you get right down to it, the best knife should be reasonably hard, made out of high-quality steel, and it should take a good edge.
It should also be very narrow from the bottom to the top, allowing the woodcarver to make cuts in concave areas.
The knife shouldn’t have a blade guard or any type of hilt, both of which tend to get in the way and aren’t necessary for wood carving. The blade guard and hilt are normally used to prevent the hand from sliding onto the blade, but both are only needed if you’re going to make a type of stabbing cut.
For most cuts, you’ll need a knife without too much belly and one that features a longer, thinner blade. The knife’s belly refers to the slightly rounded portion of the edge found toward the point on most general purpose knives. While a large belly is perfect for skinning, it’s not ideal for wood carving.
Most beginners tend to opt for shorter blades with the misconception that a shorter blade is safer and easier to use, however, a shorter blade can be very limiting in terms of the cuts you can make. But in order to make longer cuts and to create large flat planes, you’ll need a knife that has a longer blade.
In the end, the right knife for the woodcarver is more of a personal choice. The blade style, handle type, and other characteristics can all affect the overall quality of the workpiece. But what works for one person’s style of wood carving may not necessarily work for the next.
Regardless of what a manufacturer has named their knife, you’ll find that there are a handful of wood carving blades that you’ll use the most often.
Curved cutting edge: A curved cutting edge with a straight top can help to prevent the blade from biting into the wood when the user is making a tighter curve. If you try to make a concave cut with a straight bottom knife you’ll quickly find that the knife tends to jump across the wood, which can be dangerous.
Clipped off point: A wood carving knife with a clipped off point is a knife that has a curved cutting edge with the tip of the blade clipped off. The end of the knife is used for fine, detailed cuts.
Curved top: The most basic, widely used carving knife will have a straight cutting edge and a curved top. The knife’s longer blade can easily and quickly remove a lot of wood. The shorter blade is meant for detailed work.
Rounded end: With this blade, the cutting edge is located on the bottom and end. This type of wood carving knife is designed for deeper cuts.
Tapered blade: The tapered blade is perfect for basic carving tasks, fine detail work, and corners.
Straight cutting: This knife blade is much longer and designed to remove wood faster. It also has a clipped off tip that allows the woodcarver to do a little detail work. The narrowness of the blade is perfect for tight curves.
Spoon blade: Also known as a curved blade, this blade is used for carving out bowls and spoons, providing a much deeper cut compared to other styles of wood carving blades.
Bent: The bent blade is available in a wide variety of style options. Some models have two sharp edges, while others will only have one. This blade is perfect for carving cups, bowls, spoons, and much more.
The hardness of a blade stems from how the blade was heat treated and its carbon content. The Rockwell scale is used to measure a blade’s hardness. Ideally, for wood carving, a blade should have a hardness rating of fifty-eight to sixty-two.
A blade with a higher hardness rating can be more difficult to sharpen, however, it also means that the blade will hold an edge much better than a blade with a lower hardness rating.
Obviously, the hardness rating of a blade determines the blade’s overall strength. However, a harder blade means less flexibility overall. This makes the blade vulnerable to breaking and cracking.
Chromium is often added to a blade in order to make the steel rust-resistant. However, the addition of chromium can hinder edge quality. On average, stainless steel features a content of twelve percent of chromium. Added chromium can have a negative impact on the quality of the blade’s edge because stainless steel is much softer compared to high carbon steel.
With proper care and maintenance, it’s still possible to prevent your knives from rusting, even if they aren’t marketed as stainless steel corrosion resistant knives. Often, manufacturer’s market their wood carving knives as rust-resistant in order to hike the price, but you can enjoy a knife with a better, sharper edge, one that’s superior to a basic stainless steel model, as long as you regularly apply a light application of oil to prevent damage to the blade.
When you’re shopping for a new wood carving knife, look for a model that has a carbon content of one to one and a half percent. These knives often maintain the best edge and a stronger blade.
Does Blade Length Really Matter?
Just like with blade hardness, the length of the blade is usually a matter of personal preference, although it can also depend on the type of material you’re working with and the project itself. However, it’s always good to have a variety of lengths to choose from. This will ensure that you have the right blade on hand to remove certain types of material more efficiently.
A carving knife handle comes in a variety of shapes and sizes. When you’re in the middle of a project, you may end up spending several hours holding a knife, which can become very uncomfortable with the wrong handle. Make sure you choose a carving knife that’s equipped with a handle grip with a reputation for comfort in order to prevent discomfort and minimize fatigue and cramping.
If you end up with a handle that’s not very comfortable, you can always add some tape in order to improve the grip and provide some much-needed cushioning.
The tang design will vary from model to model and refers to how the handle of the knife is attached. Typically, you’ll find knives with a full or partial tang. Beginners should choose models with a full tang, for safety purposes. A wood carving knife with a full tang will have steel material that goes all the way through the handle of the knife. This ensures that the blade will not come out of the handle, which can happen if you have a wood carving knife with a partial tang.
Knives with a reputation for excellent edge retention means that the knives stay sharper for a longer period of time, so you won’t have to worry about sharpening the blade very often. But even the toughest knives with the best edge retention rating may need to be sharpened more often, depending on the type of wood you’re working with.
Wood Carving Tools: Chisels, Gouges, and V-Tools
Wood carving knives are utilized for a wide range of applications including carving in the round and whittling, but chisels, gouges, and V-tools are important tools for relief carving, chipping, and sculpting.
Gouges: Gouges are available in a variety of sizes and are often used for cutting edges. The amount of curvature in a gouge is referred to as the sweep. There are many styles of gouges to choose from including back bent, spoon, and standard bent. Bent and spoon gouges are considered specialty gouges and they’re typically used to access hard to reach spots that a standard gouge cannot.
Chisels: This type of tool is available with a flat edge or a single or double-bevel design. The flat chisels aren’t often used for sculpting because the flat edge can dig too deeply into the wood, damaging a project. For sculpting purposes, you’re better off with a single or double-bevel style chisel.
Mallets: The mallet handles most of the workload if you’re using a chisel and gouge set for sculpting or carving a large piece. Most mallets are made out of dense hardwood, however, some mallets designed for wood carving are made out of rubber.
What’s the Difference Between Whittling and Wood Carving?
Wood carving involves creating structures, designs, and shapes in three dimensions out of wood. It’s considered both a hobby and an art form and can include making large structures such as totem poles, or wooden bookmarks, ashtrays, and much more. Many believe that a pocket knife is the ultimate wood carving tool, however, this can depend on the woodcarver’s style, the size of the piece, and the woodcarver’s skill level.
Whittling is all about shaping a piece of wood by removing very thin slices of wood in order to reduce the piece of wood gradually to a new form. Whittling can be just as complex as wood carving and can require just as much skill and patience, not to mention the right type of knife, to get the job done. But whittling is often done more so with a traditional pocket knife and doesn’t often require the different blade styles and lengths like a wood carving project can and often does.
Fixed or Folding Wood Carving Knives?
The folding knife is highly portable, more compact than a fixed wood carving knife and easier to carry around. You can’t easily fit a large fixed blade in your pocket. Because of this, the folding knife tends to be more convenient for the woodcarver who needs to transport their tools, especially considering the folding knife can easily fit in a pocket.
For these reasons, most causal carvers tend to opt for the folding knife, however, this type of knife does come with some drawbacks. Because the knife has a point of folding, it also has a weak spot. The folding portion of the knife features a break in the metal that you won’t find on a traditional, fixed wood carving knife. Additionally, if the user applies too much pressure, it’s possible to damage both the locking and folding mechanism, especially if it’s a smaller blade. These knives can also be more difficult to clean since dirt, wood shavings, and other debris can get trapped in models in which the blade folds directly into the handle.
With fixed-blade carving knives, you can’t easily stash one in your pocket, instead, you’ll have to purchase covers and a dedicated bag to transport all of your gear including knives of varying blade lengths and thickness levels. But because these fixed knives lack a folding mechanism, the blades are often much stronger. Additionally, since the blades of fixed knives don’t fold into the handle of the knife, the blades also tend to be much longer, which is ideal for faster, more detailed wood carving work.
How to Carefully Choose Wood for Your Next Project
If you’re totally new to the art of wood carving then you may not even have a type of wood you prefer to work with or know which types of wood are best suited for wood carving projects. If you’d like to learn about the best woods for wood carving, click here to read our detailed article that will give you an in-depth look at how to choose the right type of wood, wood thickness, and top quality wood carving tools for your next project.
The Newbie Wood Carver
Wood carving can be an exciting, challenging, and relaxing hobby, but if you’re not familiar with the tools you need, the techniques to use, or even what project to begin with, then this hobby can quickly become overwhelming. To learn how to start your new wood carving hobby and what projects are more beginner-friendly, click here to read our article on wood carving for beginners.
As you can see, choosing a new wood carving tool set for your next project can be complex, but we’re confident that you’ll find the perfect knife or chisel set in our top five product list. Our buyer’s guide should also give you a better idea of the features to look for and the specs to consider before you hit that buy now button. The guide can also prepare you for what to expect in terms of cutting efficiency and capability, based on blade style and size.
The best wood carving knives for your next project should be tough, retain a sharp edge for a longer period of time, and feature a handle that’s easy to grip and comfortable to hold. Both the knives and chisel sets we reviewed are available in a variety of styles, so narrowing your choice down to just one set can be difficult, especially if you enjoy trying new wood carving techniques or project types. It’s important to do your research before you add a new knife or chisel set to your collection or purchase your first wood carving knife. Remember, the tools you choose should be based on the type of wood carving you prefer to do and the type of wood you enjoy working with. Both of these factors can have a major impact on the type of wood carving tools that will work the best for you, your budget, and your next big project.