Best Wood Chisels for Woodcarving and Woodworking: 2020 Buyer’s Guide with Best-Selling Sets

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Set of wood

You simply can’t make a piece of fine furniture or a delicate carving, without using the best wood chisels. Wood chisels are used for different carving techniques and woodworking projects and are often an essential tool for so many different steps in the carving process and when it comes to making joints. Because there are so many chisels to choose from, it can be easy to spend too much money on the wrong models, the ones that you won’t rely on often. But there are great sets of affordable chisels out there if you know what features to look for and how to determine a quality set from one that won’t last more than a few months.

I’ve reviewed many of the top-selling sets on the market and found six must-have sets that carvers and woodworkers can’t live without. I’ve also created an extensive buyer’s guide that lists all of the important features to look for and which style of chisel you’ll find yourself relying on often. Below, you’ll find a comparison chart of the leading sets, what important features they have to offer, and how they rated.

Wood Chisels Comparison Chart

ProductPiecesOther Wood
Carving Tools
Handle
Material
Rating
SCHAAF Wood Carving Set
12YesAsh
IMOTECHOM Chisel Set
12NoWalnut
Amazon Basics Set
8NoPlastic
Lulu Home Tools Set
16YesOak
Professional Wood Carving Set
18NoBirch

SCHAAF Full Size Wood Carving Tools Set


Our Rating: (5/5)

This is a set of high-quality chisels that are made out of chromium-vanadium steel, with a Rockwell rating of C60. This means that the blades are designed to hold an edge for a longer period of time. The handles feature an octagonal style that will prevent them from rolling. This model includes straight, skew chisels, and several gouge sizes, so it’s a perfect set for beginners or experienced carvers who want to upgrade their tools. The set also comes with one V parting tool and a canvas carrying bag that allows you to keep all of your tools neat, organized, and highly accessible.

Pros

  • Includes V-parting tool
  • Canvas carry bag
  • High Rockwell rating
  • Comfortable wood grip

Cons

  • Handles may loosen over time

Conclusion

This set has everything the beginner needs to get started, features a higher than average Rockwell rating, has low maintenance needs, and comes equipped with a thick grip that promotes comfort and longer use. This set scored well in many areas, is reasonably priced, and will be the perfect addition to any home workshop.

IMOTECHOM Wood Carving Chisel Set


Our Rating: (4.5/5)

This set of sharpened chisels features sixty chrome vanadium blades that are designed to hold an edge longer, which means less sharpening for you. In fact, these blades are said to be tougher than high carbon steel, which is nothing short of impressive. This twelve-piece set can be stored in the included wooden box which features double-layer panels, a thick hinge, and dedicated spaces for each chisel, so you can keep your tools neatly organized. These are the perfect woodworking tools for the beginner since it comes with all the basics. Additionally, the chisels are equipped with thick walnut handles that are lightweight and will feel good in your hands.

Pros

  • Walnut handles
  • Included wooden carry case
  • Sixty chrome vanadium blades
  • Low price

Cons

  • Does not include any accessories

Conclusion

This package comes with both standard chisels and gouges, for a complete set of tools that you’ll find yourself using often for a wide range of carving projects, styles and techniques. Considering the quality of both the blades and the handles, this set is a bargain for the price.

Amazon Basics Wood Carving Chisel Set


Our Rating: (4.5/5)

This is an eight-piece carving set designed for both the amateur and the pro, and it’s a great choice for small DIY woodworking projects. Aside from the chisels, it comes with a sharpening stone and a honing guide. The chisels themselves feature blades that are made out of chrome vanadium and steel alloy. The blades have been heat-treated, for added durability. The included storage case will keep your tools neatly stored and highly accessible. The handles are made out of durable ABS plastic and feature a rubberized coating for an improved grip. The handles are contoured and comfortable to hold for long periods of time. The contoured design will help to improve carving accuracy while reducing hand strain.

Pros

  • Includes honing guide
  • Sharpening stone
  • Blades are made out of steel alloy and chrome vanadium
  • Carrying case
  • Covered by a one-year warranty

Cons

  • Handles are made out of plastic
  • Blades require frequent sharpening

Conclusion

This is a great set for the beginner in need of basic chisels that are commonly used for a variety of wood carving techniques. The handles are made out of plastic, which may be a drawback for some buyers, especially those that are used to chisel handles that are made out of a thick hardwood. The blades themselves will require frequent sharpening, which can make this set of a poor choice for the beginner with no prior sharpening experience.

Lulu Home Wood Carving Tools


Our Rating: (4.5/5)

This set consists of seven gouges and standard chisels, and five palm wood knives, a couple of files, a mallet, and a grinding stone. The handles are made out of oak and feature a rounded design that makes them comfortable to hold. It also includes a canvas bag with dedicated slots for each of the tools and accessories. The tools themselves are durable and sharp, although the blades do not hold an edge for long, so the included grinding stone will come in handy for fast and easy sharpening.

Pros

  • Includes extra wood carving tools
  • Carry case
  • Durable handles
  • Low price

Cons

  • Blades require frequent sharpening

Conclusion

This is a very basic set of wood carving tools, but it includes many of the basic knives, chisels, and gouges that you can use for different carving techniques including whittling, chipping, relief carving and more. The low price makes this set a great choice for the woodcarver on a budget or the beginner interested in this exciting and challenging hobby.

Professional Wood Carving Tools Starter Set


Our Rating: (4/5)

This set includes chisels with stainless steel blades and birch handles. This is the perfect starter set for beginners or experienced carvers who are looking to upgrade their tools. These eight-inch chisels are perfect for beginners since the longer length will protect their hands in the event the chisel slips off the material. The set includes three sharpening files and a total of fifteen chisels in various sizes.

Pros

  • Carrying case
  • Fifteen chisels
  • Includes sharpening stones
  • Longer length provides protection for the hands

Cons

  • Longer length is a tradeoff for control and carving accuracy

Conclusion

This versatile toolset includes many of the premium chisels you’ll need whether you’re relief carving or whittling. However, the longer length of the chisels does take away from control and carving accuracy, so this set may be a bad choice for the beginner with no prior carving experience.  The blades also require frequent sharpening.

Wood Chisels Buyer’s Guide

As I mentioned, there are so many chisels, it can be difficult to determine which ones you’ll need to use regularly, and the ones that are a better choice for certain specialty projects, such as advanced and basic DIY wood projects. This buyer’s guide will go over the different styles of chisels available, which ones you can rely on for heavy-duty, daily use, and what features to look for in your next set. Remember, you may not even need to purchase a huge set. Instead, you can buy a model that includes only the essentials, which can be a better option for the carver or woodworker on a budget.

Whether you want to try your hand at wood carving or you want to take on a fun woodworking project, you need a good set of chisels to get the job done. Chisels are a tool that has been used for thousands of years. In the past, they were made out of bronze, silver, or copper. These days, you’ll more commonly find them made out of stainless steel with various levels of hardness. A chisel is a good hand tool for many reasons. They’re very affordable, and with proper care and maintenance, can last for decades. They also provide an easier way to start a woodworking project, allow you to achieve the finest detail on a wood carving project, and are generally considered beginner-friendly tools. If you don’t have much experience with power tools, then chisels are a good choice. Even older children can use them, under adult supervision.

What is Wood Carving?

Wood carving can be a creative and fun hobby that doesn’t require a lot of fancy equipment or hand tools. All you need is a good piece of wood and the right standard chisels and gouges. Of course, the type of carving tools and the wood you pick will have an impact on the quality, safety, and difficulty of your project.

While wood carving may sound like a pretty straightforward discipline, there are actually many different types of techniques involved. Below, you’ll find the main carving styles. This will help you to determine which style suits your skill level and carving goals, so you can choose a set of chisels and supplies that will work for the type of projects you want to try. If you’re planning on teaching a child how to carve, then you may want to opt for a safer hobby until they’re old enough to handle sharp chisels and gouges on their own. Beginning a carving career by carving soap and clay using a spoon is an excellent alternative and can get them excited to learn more about the fine art of carving in the future.

Whittling

This is considered the oldest form of wood carving. Whittling is known for it’s distinct textured, sharper cuts that leave visible knife strokes. Sculptures that are made with this technique often have a very angular appearance. This type of whittling is usually done with a carving or whittling knife.

Relief

Relief carving involves the process of carving figures into wood instead of carving full sculptures. You’ll begin with a flat piece of wood and carve figures into in while leaving the background flat.

Carving in the Round

This technique involves a finished product that features rounded angles that are smooth on every side, unlike whittling or relief carving.

Wood Carving Tools

Carpenter

Each tool in a wood carving set will consist of a couple of main parts: the blade and the handle. The curved or straight edge beginning from the cutting edge of the blade is called the sweep. The point of the blade can be beveled on one side only or both sides. If the bevel is located on the inside of the curve it’s classified as in-cannel. If the bevel is placed on the outside of the curve, it’s called out-cannel. The blade will begin to taper close to the handle and reaches the narrowest point at the neck.

The blade will flare out from the neck toward the handle in order to form the bolster. Rods will extend out from a bolster and into the handle. The tang of the tool will provide additional support to the blade. The handles of chisels are often made solely out of wood. Slow growing and straight-grained hardwoods including hornbeam, beech, and ash are the best choices for the handle. This is because these types of wood are strong, feature a straight grain that’s not prone to splitting, and these woods are much denser.

Sizes

When you purchase a set of chisels, it may also include a number of other wood carving tools. Of course, for many carvers, the chisel is the most important, whether it’s a standard chisel or a gouge. These chisels will come in a few main sizes: full, mid, and palm-size. The palm-sized variety is designed for use on smaller carvings, such as those that are small enough to hold in your hand. A mid-size chisel and the full-sized variety are best suited for medium to large-sized carvings. They’re designed to be pushed using one or both of your hands and can also be used with a mallet.

The tools are numbered based on the curvature of the blade and by their size. The sweep or curvature of the blade is defined by numbers that range from one to eleven. The other number you’ll come across when you’re shopping for chisels will refer to its length or the size of the blade.

Chisels for Woodworking- Know the Difference

If you’re interested in learning more about woodworking, then a set of bevel edge chisels is a great choice. You can easily find a starter set that contains six to twelve chisels, which will give you an excellent start, allowing you to practice a variety of techniques, without investing too much money. The most common type of chisel used for woodworking is the bench chisel, since it’s so versatile and can be used for a variety of tasks. This type of chisel can also be used for more complex jobs, thanks to its beveled edge that allows it to easily fit into joints. As you can see, chisels for woodworking are often used to create joints or to remove large portions of wood for hard to access areas.

Standard Chisels for Wood Carving

The chisels used for wood carving are used for more than just gouging out large pieces of wood. Many chisels used in wood carving feature a very delicate design that allows you to achieve a finer level of detail. However, they’re commonly used in woodworking as well, for the experienced user who wants to add some embellishments to their work.

The new woodcarver will usually purchase a set of carving tools that feature a wide variety of tools they probably won’t use or ever need. However, there are some basic tools, in addition to chisels, that come in one of these carving kits, that you should keep an eye out for. However, if you’re looking for specialty chisels, it’s also a good idea to purchase these chisels separately and create a kit of your own, based on the tools you know you’ll use often.

There are basically two categories of chisels to choose from for your carving needs; chisels and gouges. The difference between the gouge and chisel is that a gouge has a curved cutting edge, while the standard chisel will have a straight cutting edge. The curvature of the chisel’s or gouge’s blade is referred to as the sweep.

Gouge

While referred to as a gouge, this tool is essentially a chisel that comes with a cutting edge that’s been bent into a curve. This hand tool is designed specifically to carve grooves, without the corners of the tool digging into and damaging the wood. The gouge has a few purposes. It can quickly remove any excess wood, especially when it comes to a flat surface where a standard chisel would end up digging in and getting stuck. Gouges will also allow the carve to stop-cut around oddly shaped pieces of material. Last of all, they will allow you to carve precise trenches and grooves. With a gouge, a higher sweep number equals a greater curve. Manufacturers will refer to the size of a gouge by the sweep. In order to determine a gouge’s size, you will measure across the widest part. Typically, a gouge is not measured in inches and is instead measured in metric units.

U Gouge

This is the most commonly used gouge in wood carving. This tool has a cutting edge that’s U-shaped and it comes in varying degrees of depth. These gouges are able to remove bigger pieces of wood and are commonly relied on to rough out a basic shape of the wood before a smaller chisel is used for detail work.

Curve Gouge

This tool works in the same manner as its straight counterpart, with the exception of the fact that its curved shaft will allow it to cut into recesses such as bowls or curves. This gouge is used for general roughing out tasks or to make deeper cuts.

Spoon Gouge

There are many different types of spoon gouges to choose from. This tool is a great choice for scooping out wood from a confined or tight curved space. It’s designed specifically to get into areas that are not accessible to the standard chisel or gouge. Spoon gouges usually have a smaller blade and a longer shank. This will give the tool better control in a tighter space. Its cutting edge will come in a variety of sweeps such as straight-edged.

Left Corner Spoon Gouge

This gouge features a cutting edge that’s angled and skewed to the left, allowing it to reach tight left-handed spaces while providing the user with better control and cutting precision.

Right Corner Gouge

This tool has a cutting edge that’s angled and goes to the right, instead of the left. It’s designed to scoop out wood in hard to reach right-hand corners.

Front Bent and Back Bent Spoon Gouges

The front gouge is used to remove wood from tight or awkward spaces, concave surfaces, curves, and tight corners. The back bent gouge comes equipped with a reversed curve that’s used to remove wood from convex surfaces, tight corners, and awkward places.

Fishtail Gouge

Similar to the popular fishtail chisel, this tool has a blade that features a curved sweep. This gouge is used to remove wood from surfaces that are curved and it’s a great tool when you’re working in a tight space.

V Gouge

This gouge is referred to as a parting tool. The cutting edge is V-shaped, which makes it a perfect choice for carving grooves, letter work, and outlining. Many manufacturers offer different sizes ranging from low to high angles.

Straight Chisel

The straight chisel is a tool that you’ll find yourself relying on often. It’s used to pare, smooth,

or flatten a workpiece. This type of chisel is also used to detail straight edges. A chisel does not have a curve or sweep like a gouge does, instead, it has a straight cutting edge, however, they are categorized on the standard sweep chart as having a number one sweep.

Skew Chisel

This type of chisel is basically the same as the straight chisel, however, it does have a cutting edge that’s slightly skewed to one side, usually at a forty-five-degree angle.

Fishtail Chisel

This chisel features a very thin shaft that will taper out, gradually widening to the cutting edge. The design resembles the tail of a fish, hence the name. This tool is regularly used for its thin shank, which will not interfere when the user is cutting into deeper recesses. The tool also comes in handy for tight spaces and works to improve visibility.

Dog Leg Chisel

This chisel features a straight shank that comes with an offset blade that allows it to be used in tight corners and awkward spaces.

Other Wood Carving Tools

You can purchase a standard set of chisels or a basic wood carving kit. In a kit, you’ll get several basic chisels and gouges, in addition to V-tools and carving knives. The knife is usually considered the most important tool since it can be used for a variety of tasks and you’ll find yourself using it often for detailing, chip carving, and whittling. There are many different blade shapes to choose from, which can make it difficult to pick the right knife that’s suitable for whittling. But choosing a good knife is similar to choosing the right chisels. Consider what the knife will be used for and then choose the shape of the blade that will work for the type of project you want to work on.

The V-tool gets its name for the shape of its blade. It produces a V-shaped cut that features a bottom with a crisp angle. It’s often used for adding decoration and for detail work. This tool is also available in a variety of different angles, however, when you purchase a chisel kit, it will most like contain either a thirty-degree or a forty-five degree V-tool.

Wood Carving Tips

In order to get the most out of your skillset and your next project, the following tips will ensure you get started right, especially if you’re a beginner and you’re learning the basics of this fine art form.

Handling a Knife

The way you handle a carving knife is the most important aspect when working with wood. The knife you use will need to be appropriate for the type of material you’re working on and should be comfortable to hold. For some projects, you may find yourself using the knife for several hours at a time, which is why you should choose a set that includes knives that feature a comfortable grip and earned a high rating for user comfort. The knives will have a grip that’s similar to the standard chisels and gouges that come in a set.

Gloves

Most beginners start out without using carving gloves, which can prove to be a big mistake. Since you’ll be working with sharp chisels, gouges, and knives, this can be a very dangerous hobby. Always make sure you wear carving gloves that are designed to protect your hands, wrists, and forearms from sharp edges.

Following the Grain

When wood carving, you can follow multiple routes. Yet, the easiest way you can carve wood is by following the grain. This will be important when you’re working with tough hardwoods such as oak. If you’re working with butternut, which is a much softer wood, then you can choose to carve in either direction.

Draw it Out

In order to make your first project easier, I recommend drawing out what you want your project to look like. This will allow you to remain on point, with your vision in mind. You’ll find that you carve with more precision and end up with pro results. The most difficult thing about carving is the fact that you’re stuck with the results, meaning if you make a mistake, there’s really no way to fix it. Because, of this, it’s very important that you take the time to draw out what you want your final results to look like.

Final Thoughts

The best wood chisels can take your wood carving projects to the next level. The chisels I’ve included here are some of the most durable and reliable tools you can have in your workshop. Additionally, this buyer’s guide will help beginners to choose a set based on their skill level, project goals, and can help them find a set that contains all of the essential standard chisels and gouges that they will find themselves using for almost every project. I hope this guide has helped you find the perfect set, one that you can use in your workshop, or on the job, and chisels that you can make use of for years to come.