Wood Carving Tools
Wood carving tools are the most important part when you consider the hobby of carving wood to create beautiful objects. The hobby is significantly dependent on these tools and unlike most other hobbies, you will not be able to get the exact effect you are looking for, without the right equipment. You can find substitutes in stores and around the home even, but if you are looking to pursue the hobby for all its capable of delivering, then wood carving tools are an absolute must in your hobby kit.
Evolution of Wood Carving Tools
Ever since human beings have indulged in the hobby of cutting or chipping wood to create shapes, whether for decoration or practical usage, tools have been used for the job. The earliest wood carving tools were made of stone and these stones, themselves, were shaped to work on wood as well as stone. There was little differentiation at the time because there was little specialization. There wasn't a great amount of detail in the finished products but that was mainly because the tools, themselves, weren't that fine.
Over time, humans found that instead of using these stone tools to carve wood, they could be better used to carve out other tools that were more capable of getting finer detail. That is when bone and shells, from the sea, became a part of the average wood carving tool kit. Bones were cut into shape and tied onto wooden sticks to create axes, while sharp clam and oyster shells were also quite commonly used, where available. These sharper edges were ideal when giving greater definition to the designs and were perfect to carve out intricate designs or even canoes.
Ever since metal made an appearance on the scene, with the Egyptians using them to make chisels and wedges, wood carving tools have managed to reach a never-before height in terms of their ability to make precise incisions and cuts on wood. Metals can be made sharper than bone or shells while their sharpness can be maintained or renewed over time, which makes them ideal for every hobbyist. Today, almost every hobby store that provides wood carving tools will have metal-based tools for you to use. The most recent variation of these is the use of power tools which is nothing but using electric power to run these metal tools and, therefore, a further simplification of your job.
Classification of Wood Carving Tools
The first and most commonly used tools, in your kit, will be the cutting tools. These tools, as the name suggests, are used for cutting or chipping away at the wood and depending on the size of the project and the kind of cut you need to make, their weight, thickness and shape will vary. You have carving knives that allow you to cut through wood or chip it off while chisels are used, usually with a mallet, to make straight-line cuts. Finally, you have gouges that are like melon-ballers for wood, which allow you to gouge out wood in a curved shape.
All these tools need to be sharpened so if you have all these, then you will need to sharpen them to maintain their edge over time. Without sharpening, not only will these tools ruin your project's look, they might even injure you in the process. You will need to exert more when using blunt wood carving tools so a strop or sharpening stone is a necessity. You might need to oil or lubricate your sharpening stone with water so make sure you know the kind of stone you are getting and what you need to do to use it. Stones grind the sharpened edge while strops fine-tune them for that sharp finish - so you'll probably need both!
A mallet is also an essential tool although they will only be used if you are carving out bigger shapes. For small or minute carvings, you are unlikely to use a chisel, which is what the mallet is used to guide. The handle of the mallet is usually wooden while the head is made of rubber, allowing you to add calculated force to the chisel and giving you greater control over the way the chisel cuts through.
Finally, if you are looking to work on big projects, then you will need power tools to quicken the process. Handling these power tools is very different from handling the traditional forms of wood carving tools although with enough practice, you will get it right. However, it is advisable to have prior experience with wood carving tools as well as with power tools, before you can get into the world of wood carving power tools. You will find chain saws, rotary carvers, grinders & sanders, drills and more, to help you in your wood carving projects.
When you are carving wood, you are working with tools and a material that can cause damage to you. There are splinters of wood that fly off while the tools are generally quite sharp. You need protective gear when handling these tools and your safety equipment must include safety gloves, usually the Kevlar or stainless steel variety, while thumb guards allow you to do finer work with sufficient protection, as compared to safety gloves. You will need eye-goggles to prevent splinters from flying into your eye and that should be enough for you to start carving wood!
For you to take up any hobby or profession, the right tools are important. Sure, the quality of work lies in the skill of the craftsman but if the tools are not right, there's not much you can do. Wood carving is a fantastic hobby and with the right kind of wood carving tools, you will enjoy it even more!