Recommended Books for Beginning Carvers
As someone who learned to carve without a teacher, books have played an important part in my learning process. I began carving using books by Master Carver Chris Pye as my guide. This one book in particular (shown on the right) was instrumental in getting me started.
Here are links to a selection of books by Chris Pye that I recommend as a good starting point for the beginning carver. Learn the basics of carving, information about tools and techniques, how to carve letters, and projects to get you started:
- Relief Carving In Wood: A Practical Introduction
- Chris Pye’s Woodcarving Course & Reference Manual: A Beginner’s Guide to Traditional Techniques
- Woodcarving Tools, Materials & Equipment
- Lettercarving in Wood: A Practical Course
- Wood Carving: Projects and Techniques
- Elements of Woodcarving
Also consider Chris Pye’s online Woodcarving Workshops video tutorials – well worth the subscription price!
Recommended Carving Tools
I use Pfeil carving tools almost exclusively, but there are many high quality brands of tools available. Chris Pye has worked with Auriou to develop a very fine line of professional carving tools as well. Henry Taylor and Two Cherries are also an excellent choice.
Some examples of starter sets available on Amazon:
- PFEIL “Swiss Made” Intermediate Set of 6 Tools (B)
- PFEIL “Swiss Made” Palm Set A, 6 Pieces
- PFEIL “Swiss Made” Palm Set B, 8 Pieces
- Chris Pye – Auriou 7 Pc Carving Tool Set
- Chris Pye – Auriou 4 pc Add-on Carving Tool Set
- Chris Pye – Auriou Lettering Gouges and Fistails – Set of 7
I have a written a blog post on selecting carving tools that provides more specifics, read it HERE.
Sharpening Skills and Tools:
Any carving tool is only as good as your sharpening skills. The following book has helped me understand the fundamentals of the important skill of sharpening:
Here are a few tools that will help for honing and sharpening:
Tandy Leather Leather Strop w/Wood Handle 3325-00 – a good, inexpensive two-sided strop
Tormek Honing Compound – oil the leather on the rough side of the strop above and then work in this honing compound. I have tried many but this is by far the best!
Flexcut SlipStrop – Flexcut makes a nice strop for the inside of smaller tool profiles that can be loaded with their compound or the Tormek compound above.
You can also make similar honing strops using scrap leather attached to various diameter hardwood dowels. You can purchase honing film in several grades, much like superfine sandpaper, and attach these to dowels as well for quick and easy touch up of tool edges. Lee Valley and Woodcraft carry these, and you can find similar sanding films at auto parts stores.
I often use sloyd style knives with carving projects – they are a very handy addition to the carving tool collection and aren’t just for whittling! Here are three staples carving knives I use often:
- Morakniv Wood Carving 120 Knife with Laminated Steel Blade, 1.9-Inch
- Morakniv Wood Carving 106 Knife with Laminated Steel Blade, 3.2-Inch
- Morakniv Wood Carving 122 Knife with Laminated Steel Blade (2.4-Inch)
Abegglen Detail Knives
- PFEIL “Swiss Made” Abegglen Detail Knife, Small
- PFEIL “Swiss Made” Abegglen Detail Knife, Medium
- PFEIL “Swiss Made” Abegglen Detail Knife, Large
Pencils for Woodcarving
These are some of the best pencils and erasers I have found to use in the woodcarving workflow:
- TOMBOW Mono Smart Eraser
- Prismacolor 14420 Ebony Graphite Drawing Pencils
- Uni Hi-Uni Wooden Pencil Art Set
Many tools and supplies for wood carving can be purchased online from these websites:
- Woodcraft: Offer a wide selection of Pfiel tools and other carving resources.
- Lee Valley: Where you can find the Veritas line carving vise, among other great tools.
- Rockler: Offers a wide range of tools and woodworking materials.
Purchases made on Amazon.com from these links provide a small commission in support of this website.