Purchasing first high quality carving tools

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Forum topic by 2x4xDoug posted 01-19-2014 05:55 PM 1166 views 0 times favorited 6 replies Add to Favorites Watch
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57 posts in 2170 days

01-19-2014 05:55 PM

Topic tags/keywords: carving tool carving question

I have been carving reliefs and in the round for about 3 years now. I starting with an old pocket knife, then picked up a flexcut mini pelican, and then the flexcut carving multi tool. I started messing with the gouge on the multi tool and found that I really enjoyed relief carving so I picked up a cheap set of harbor freight carving tools. I expected these to be of low quality and was not surprised when it took me a week to tune them up only to have the edge last for a few cuts.

I have decided to pick up some better chisels, gouges, etc., but I am having a tough time deciding what to buy. I only have about $100 to spend. So should I buy 4 middle of the road chisels or two really high quality tools. Would I, as a beginner, even be able to appreciate the difference between high end and mediocre tools?

Also, if you could have only a handful of chisels to start, what would they be? Thank you much for your input!!

6 replies so far

View tinacnc's profile


7 posts in 1551 days

#1 posted 01-20-2014 06:08 AM

u can tell me some details of the relief such as the thickness and carved thickness of the materials ,so i can recommend u some high quality carving tool

View tinacnc's profile


7 posts in 1551 days

#2 posted 01-20-2014 06:19 AM

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2796 posts in 3005 days

#3 posted 01-20-2014 08:39 AM

I’m not a carver hands and shoulders won’t allow it. I would get the best you can afford, even if that means only getting a couple right now and a couple later on.
As far as type I am sure someone on here will tweet in a little later today. There is a lot of good info already posted on here if you do some searching.

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7 posts in 1551 days

#4 posted 01-20-2014 08:43 AM

pl add my skype is tinaskype2001

View Loren's profile


10244 posts in 3611 days

#5 posted 01-20-2014 11:53 AM

Flexcuts are pretty nice. I don’t carve a lot so I like the
versatility of the Flexcut since it lets you get out of a
cut you started with it more often than standard
carving tools. Whether the edge maintenance on
Flexcut tool is an issue if you carve a lot I do not know.

I like the full sized Flexcuts with the octagonal handles
the best but they are also the most pricey. I had a
carving job to do and my tools were in another state
so I bought a 21 piece Flexcut set once that included
2 handles, 21 cutters, etc. I think it’s a great value
but switching handles is a drag.

In terms of value:

You can get these unhandled pro gouge set from China super
cheap on ebay. They take a lot of finishing but they
are laminated like Japanese chisels. I have some Chinese
laminated scissors and while the handles are uncomfortable
the blades are dazzling quality for the money. Planeman
mentioned to me he was doing a whole 60-odd piece
set of them. Smaller sets are available too.

View Planeman40's profile


1150 posts in 2724 days

#6 posted 01-20-2014 02:26 PM

Yeah, I am polishing and sharpening 62 Chinese-made rough carving tool forgings. I’m about 2/3 finished with the polishing and sharpening. I hope my fingers hold out :). I am polishing all the way up to the handle so there will be no sign of a rough forging anywhere. A lot of work, but they are coming out very nice. Turning the handles comes next.

One of the Lumberjock carvers pointed out to me that he was VERY satisfied with some chisels and gouges he bought from Wood Carver’s Supply ( Upon close inspection of the photos, I am pretty sure these are the same Chinese-made tools I have but with handles and are pre-sharpened.

The source I bought from says: “The southern Chinese city of Donyang has been one of the major centers of wood carving in China since the Tang Dynasty (618 – 907AD). Our cutting tools come from the best blacksmith in Donyang. He still uses the centuries old traditional methods with these tools. The larger carving gauges have conical tangs to keep the handle from splitting when struck with the traditional iron mallet(socket chisel). The cutting edges are remarkably durable. The smaller detail carving tools are made of a single layer of carbon steel (C60) with the harness of (RC 58). The large carving gauges are made of double layered steel and have a cutting edge whose harness is over (RC 60). As with Chines tradition, the blade is only coarsely finished by the blacksmith. Those willing to take the time to hone it to perfection, will be rewarded with extraordinary life-time carving tool at an unbeatable price.” I looked up Donyang, China on the Internet and what is said above appears to be correct.

The place I bought from is a luthier’s supply located in China. Here is his eBay ad: He also has smaller sets of finished carving tools with handles that appear to be very nice if you search his eBay store.


-- Always remember: It is a mathematical certainty that half the people in this country are below average in intelligence!

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