Tips on choosing the right woodcarving chisels
|Choosing the right tool for the job is hugely important. Read the guide below and get in the know.
Buy the best you can afford
|The temptation (especially for a novice) to buy cheap tools is one we can all understand, but it is often better to have a few top quality tools than a large set of cheap ones.
|High quality woodcarving chisels will retain their edges longer, make your workload easier, and, if well looked after, can last you a lifetime. The investment is well worth it.
|Buying a set of woodcarving chisels for the first time can be a daunting task if you don’t know what you’re looking for. Below is a guide to some of the most common terminology and what it means.
When someone talks about the “sweep” of a chisel or gouge, they are referring to the curvature of its cutting edge.
|The sweep of a tool’s cutting edge is expressed as a number e.g. #6. For a point of reference, a chisel’s straight cutting edge is expressed as #1. Gouges with a #2 or #3 sweep have only a slight curve to their cutting edges. As the number increases so does the the curvature of the cutting edge. Low numbers are shallow, high numbers are deep.
|Some chisel manufacturers put the sweep number on their chisels so that you can tell at a glance which chisel is which.
|Note: Just to make things extra hard for you, the numerical scale of chisel sweeps differs slightly with tools made on the continent compared to those made in the UK. So check before you buy!
A veiner is the name given to narrow #11 gouges. These deeply curved gouges have a U-shaped cutting edge and are used to cut out “veins” of wood from a workpiece. A veiner is also called a “U” gouge. (Not to be confused with a “V” tool).
A fluter is the name given to wide #11 gouges. These gouges also have a U-shaped cutting edge but are much wider than their narrow counterparts. They are used to carve deep channels and grooves into a workpiece.
|Veiners and fluters are essentially the same type of tool. The names simply refer to the width of the cutting edge: veiners are thin, fluters are wide.
Rockwell is the scale that indicates the hardness of a particular steel. A Rockwell hardness of between 58 and 61 is considered optimum hardness for woodcarving chisels.