How To Get Started In Woodcarving
Woodcarving is a wonderful activity that can be very beneficial to one soul. It has been around
through the ages, the carver takes a piece of raw wood and transforms it into something useful
and, or beautiful! With the fast pace of living today it is nice to have an activity where you can
slow down and use your hands and mind to create something of value, and carving fits the bill.
Tips to get you started:
To get started in carving you do not have to have a bunch of tools.
You can buy a simple starter set to try out carving and see if you are going to like it. I started out with
a set of five Ramelson tools, a palm style set and they served me well for many years. I still use
them today for my smaller carvings. A lot of people have started out with just a pocket knife, or a carving
bench knife. But if you want to do advanced work you are better off using gouges and handled
carving tools, most of the time.
Here are two links where you can purchase starter sets: Little Shavers Beginners carving set and
Smokey Mountain Woodcarvers Beginner set
It is best after purchasing a beginners set to buy tools individually and not in sets.
You will find out as you go along that you end up using the same tools over and over. If you buy
them in sets you will find that you will have a bunch of tools you almost never use. But if you have
the money, go for it.
Buy the best tools you can afford.
There are many good makers of tools out there, some are relatively inexpensive some are very
expensive. The quality will vary with the price of tools you buy. A set of Ramelson palm tools (6 Tools)
, like I have will cost you about $40.00, where as a comparable set of Swiss Made Palm tools will
cost you $120.00 and a similar set of Stubai palm tools will run you about $180.00. The Quality of
the Ramelson is ok and the quality of the Swiss Made tools is very good, they come ready to carve (sharp!).
Where as the Ramelson’s will need to be honed and sometimes reshaped.
The kind of tool you buy will be determined by what you want to carve.
If you are going to carve smaller carvings, a palm set will work very well. If you are going to carve
larger carving then you will need larger tools and if you are going to be carving very hard woods,
like Oak, Walnut, and the like you will probably need to think about setting some Full size tools and
also tools made to be used with a Mallet. These tools are more expensive that the palm tools, so
you will need to see what you budget allows.
Start out carving a soft / Hard wood.
Most carvers start out and stay with carving “Basswood” or something like “Butternut”. Both of
those woods are fairly soft easy to carve and holds detail well. Look for Basswood that comes
from the Northern states, it is much superior to Southern Basswood. Butternut is kin to Walnut
and is called “White Walnut” sometimes. It has a beautiful Grain to is and is attractive when
finished natural. Basswood has less grain, and a lot of people paint or stain it.
Join a Carving club near you!
The best way I know to shorten the time involved in learning how to carve is have someone show
you the ropes. As a beginner you need to learn about grain, how to sharpen your tools and the
carving cuts with a knife. Each type of woodcarving has its own techniques to learn. A carving club
offers friendship with others that have the same goals as you do, to learn to carve and to improve
our carving skills. Also you can get a lot of information and tutorials on the web, just google
One more thing, you can get your questions answered here on this site. Also I encourage
any carver to join the Forum at Woodcarving Illustrated. There are many experienced carvers that
hang out there and some good tutorials, check it out. One more place to look is Youtube. I
recommend that you look at several channels there. One is Carvers Woodshop, another is Whittler
057. Arleen and Gene have a ton of simple projects shown on Videos at Youtube.
These are just a few of things you need to know about starting out Woodcarving, I will go into more
in part 2 of this series, very soon! please leave some comment about this article and my blog if you