March 04, 2022 / by Danny Mavis

We see art everywhere. You don’t need to visit a museum to be able to witness art. From the gorgeous skyscrapers and many other architectural designs to the beautiful art sculptures and paintings that were produced in the past and today. Art is essential to the human spirit. Humans have been using different forms of art to express themselves differently throughout the ages.

One of the oldest forms of art is wood carving. Paleolithic and Mesolithic cultures are full of masterpiece carvings that are representative of this form of art. The best-known examples of the Paleolithic culture are the Venus figurines that were carved from a variety of materials such as ivory, animal bone, and rock. The Shigir idol sculpture which was produced during the Mesolithic time is one of the oldest pieces of art carved out of wood. If you are interested in this, you may be wondering what type of art is carving.

Collection of four ancient venus figurines on black background

Wood carving is a specific art technique that involves manually shaping forms out of wood by using a variety of woodcarving tools. This range from simple whittling to ornately crafting objects that can blow the mind of the average observer. However, this level of mastery requires special skills that take time to develop and master. After all shaping wood in the desired shape takes time and determination. However, you cannot achieve any of that without supplying yourself first with the essential woodcraft tools.

What Tools Should I Buy for Wood Carving?


Woodcarvers use a variety of tools for manipulating the material with ease. Out of the many different woodcarving tools, knives take a special place. You can often find them in different forms and sizes to suit the project the artist is working on. They are generally divided into three categories including whittling knives, chip carving knives, and hook knives. Whittling knives are woodcarvers’ most basic tools that feature short blades that allow carvers to chip away small bits of wood.

Carbon steel blades are the most common type of whittling knife blade. They keep a sharp edge with minimal sharpening which is ideal when working with wood. They are also durable enough to cut through hardwood and are good for general woodworking, from adding details to smoothing edges.

Set of 12 different types of wood carving knives

Chip carving knives on the other hand are used to make triangular shaped cuts to create intricate designs in wood. They are best suited when working with softwood such as basswood or butternut but they can be also used when working on particular projects that involve hardwood. If you never tried wood carving before you can start by using simple carving knives. Gradually you can explore different cuts and shapes until you become comfortable using each one of them for a specific purpose and woodcarving project.


Besides knives, another indispensable woodcarving tool that comes in a variety of shapes and sizes is the chisel. This tool typically consists of a sharp cutting edge that comes attached to a handle. The shape of the cutting edge of the chisel and the width of the blade determine the particular style of the chisel. There are many styles of chisels to choose from including beveled edge bench chisels, mortise chisels, and paring chisels.

Seven different types of chisels in wooden box

A gouge is a specific type of chisel that has its cutting edge bent into a curve. Gouges are specially made to carve grooves and remove excess wood quickly from a flat wood surface. Chisels today are usually made of steel, in various sizes, shapes, and degrees of hardness, depending on their use.


Now that we covered the most basic ones knives and chisels, it’s time to get you introduced to another carving tool, the rifler. Rifles are small, double-ended files that feature a gripping area between the cutting edges. These tools are used for getting into small and hard-to-reach areas and for smoothing the edges. Rifflers come in a variety of shapes and sizes, including oval, triangular, square, round, and half-round.

Set of three larger sized hand cut riffler


Mallets are special kinds of wood tools for carving that are mostly used in carpentry to knock wooden pieces together, or for hitting chisels and gouges to create detail in your woodcraft. There are several different types of wood carving mallets, each with its own unique characteristics and use, including carver’s mallet, joiner’s mallet, rubber mallet, journeyman’s mallet, etc.

Four different types of mallets on a wooden table

The carver’s mallet design has a cylindrical head and is sometimes made from a single piece of wood. This type of mallet also features a comfortable handle for easy use and a urethane head that directs the force into the chisel or gouge and not into your hand, giving you better control. Compared to it, the journeyman’s mallet features a small brass head and is great for getting into small places where precision and extra force is usually required.

Protective Tape

Finally, protection comes in the first place as working with sharp objects can be dangerous. For this reason, wearing a protective tape around your finger is essential when it comes to working with these kinds of tools, especially if you are a beginner. Therefore you need to supply yourself with specially made self-adherent tape that will provide comfort and security during your work. You just need to wrap your fingers before starting to work to reduce the chances of getting injured in your workplace.

Hands in focus wearing blue protective tape around fingers while carving a wood