A Beginners Guide to Finding Wood Carving Knives & Tools

Wood carving is more than just a hobby-

It’s a form of creative expression. It can even relieve stress. The great thing about wood carving is that just about anyone can get started in the craft. All it takes is the right touch, the right type of wood, the right wood carving tools, and you can get started in learning a skill that you can take pride in.


One of the biggest challenges people face when getting into the hobby is finding the best wood carving tools for beginners. Given the wide selection of carving tools for wood that are available, it can be easy to get lost and overwhelmed. Beginners need tools that are durable, easy to handle and maneuver, and that won’t break the bank. Luckily, Ramelson is here to help. Since 1937, Ramelson has handcrafted high-quality wood carving tools, many of which are great for beginners. In this handy guide, our experts will share some of the best wood carving tools for beginners, perfect for getting started in the craft.

What Are the Best Wood Carving Tools for Beginners?

If you’re a beginner, the best way to get started with wood carving is to purchase a wood carving tool set. These sets will include the essential tools that you will need at a reasonable cost. Using the tools that come in these sets will help you get a feel for the craft, and as your skills and experience grow, you can add more wood carving tools to your repertoire. But for now, let’s focus on the tools that you’ll most likely be using and what they can do.

Artboard 3

Chip Carving Knives

Chip carving is a wood carving method that is great for beginners! While there are a number of ways this particular carving style may be executed, chip carving is the quickest, easiest and most pleasurable to learn. Chip carving knives, of course, are designed for this method of carving — these knives have an elongated blade that typically measures 1-½ inches and has an elongated handle. 


A chip carving knife is used to make precise cuts or incisions in wood to remove specific shapes or chips. Chip carving tools work best with soft wood, such as basswood or butternut. However, depending on the project you want to accomplish, chip carving knives can be used with different types of hardwood.

Artboard 4

Whittling Knives

Whittling is a popular style of wood carving that has been around for ages. Whittling doesn’t require numerous tools, nor does it require a lot of space to execute the style of carving. It simply involves taking a piece of wood and using a specially designed carving knife to achieve a particular design. The simplicity of this wood carving style allows just about anyone to start whittling with little to no experience. 


The best whittling knives have a curve to the blade and a handle that can sit comfortably in your hand while small slivers or pieces of wood are removed. Whittling knives are best used with a softwood, as it is much easier to shape and work with in general.

Artboard 5

Bench Carving Knives

Bench carving knives are a little different from your typical carving knives in both appearance and purpose. They typically have a large handle with a smaller blade. This tool is designed to carve out smaller pieces and intricate details. Bench knives can also be used to dig into the wood to remove larger pieces in detail work.


While bench carving requires some skill to accurately achieve desired detail work, having the right tool along with a quality piece of softwood will help beginning wood carvers catch on quickly.

Artboard 6

Carving Chisels

In addition to carving knives, beginners will want to have a variety of chisels to work with. Chisels are very sharp wood carving tools that are typically used with a hammer or mallet to chip or rough material away. There are a wide variety of wood carving chisels to choose from. Some have an edge on the left or right side. Others have edges on both sides.


While your standard wood carving chisels are used for roughing and removing large amounts of wood, micro wood chisels are the top choice for projects that require fine details. For beginners, it is best to start with larger chisels before working with mini chisels meant for small detail work.

Artboard 7

Carving Gouges

Wood carving gouges are very similar to chisels; however, they have a curved cutting edge rather than a flat one. Unlike chisels, gouges are designed to carve grooves without the corners of the tool digging into the wood. They remove excess wood quickly, especially from a flat surface, where the corners of a flat chisel would dig in. 


For projects that require precise grooves and trenches, carving gouges are the way to go. These tools also allow you to stop-cut around round objects. Both long-bent gouges and short-bent gouges are great tools for those looking to get into relief carving, which is where a figure is carved into a flat piece of wood but does not protrude far beyond the flat surface.

Artboard 8

V Carving Tools

Similar to gouges, V wood carving tools are designed to carve grooves. As the name suggests, however, these tools have a V-shaped cutting edge. When hit or pushed through the wood, the cutting edge creates a thin groove in the wood. It’s great for lines and small details in the design of a wood carving project. 


V carving tools, as well as the closely related veiner tools, allow for cuts that have more depth compared to your standard carving gouge. These tools are commonly used for different styles of relief carving. With V tools, beginners can improve their fine detailing skills and expand their scope of potential projects.

Qualities that the Best Beginner Carving Tools Have

With so many different options available on the market, both from domestic and foreign manufactures, beginners may have difficulty choosing one tool from another. It’s important that beginners opt for carving tools that are of higher quality rather than ones that are poorly made — nothing can crush a beginner's wood carving inspiration quite like investing in tools only to have them break soon after. 

There are several factors that are synonymous with good quality wood carving tools. Ramelson carving tools check all of the boxes in terms of quality so that beginners can purchase tools and start building their collection with confidence. Below are some of the main factors beginners should keep an eye out for when shopping for the best wood carving tools.

Blade Material 

Those who aren’t experienced in wood carving need tools with high-quality, durable blade material. The blade material should not only be able to hold up to softwoods, but hardwoods as well. Ideally, beginners will want to look for wood carving tools that have blades made of quality tool steel, which will last a while with routine honing and sharpening.


Many carving tools manufactured by Ramelson feature durable W-1 tool steel with a 60-62 HRC.

Edge Retention

Wood carving tools, such as chip carving knives, whittling knives, and chisels need to have good edge retention in order to be able to make precise cuts. Therefore, it is important to look for tools that have good edge retention. Carving tools should be able to be sharpened without causing any harm to the cutting edge. 


Ramelson carving tools are renowned for their edge retention. Not only are they shipped sharpened and ready for use, but they also can be resharpened with ease when the cutting edge becomes dull.


Carving tools that have a handle also have what is referred to in the industry as tang. The tang of a wood carving tool refers to the way the tool is attached to the handle. There’s both partial tang and full tang tools available, but for a beginners sake, it's best to go with tools that have full tang to ensure safety and quality assurance. 


Many of the carving tools that Ramelson offers are full tang, meaning the high-quality steel material goes all the way through the handle to decrease the risk of hazards.


As you can imagine, carving tools with handles that don’t have good grip are not fun to work with. If you want to be able to enjoy wood carving without hand cramping or pain, it’s important to look for tools with handles that are designed with the user in mind. Handles that are awkwardly shaped or that don’t allow for a secure grip can ruin a beginner’s experience. 


Ramelson carving tools are manufactured with ergonomic handles that are easy and comfortable to grip. The unique design of tools allow for hours of carving!


Versatile wood carving tools will not only help beginners get used to the basics of the craft, but they can also help them expand their talents and take their projects to the next level. Versatile tools are the ones with which a lot more in wood carving can be done.


Many of the Ramelson carving tools that are great for beginners can be utilized for various projects. With versatile tools in your repertoire, you’ll have the chance to explore more project possibilities.

Ramelson Has Wood Carving Tools for All Skill Levels

The best wood carving tools for beginners are ones that can be used safely and creatively. The best way to get into the realm of wood carving is to experiment with different tools, find and follow tutorials, read expert tips and advice, and continue to build upon basic skill. 

If you’re looking to get started with wood carving, Ramelson has all the beginner carving tools that you’ll need as well as tools that will come in handy as your skill set increases. With over eight decades of experience manufacturing high-quality tools, beginners can feel confident in their purchase. Not to mention, Ramelson is one of the only USA-based wood carving tool manufacturers that offers fast shipping, satisfaction guarantees, and unparalleled customer service — a carver’s dream come true!



Hand Handcrafted

Blending age-old traditions with advanced technologies, our wood carving tools are made of the finest carbon tool steel, are hand forged, heat treated, and tempered by our own expert craftsmen.


Satisfaction Guaranteed

We stand behind our selection of high-quality handcrafted wood carving knives and tools. If you are not completely satisfied with your purchase, we’ll be sure to make things right.

Made in the USA badge


All Ramelson wood carving knives and tools are made from the high-quality tool steel right here in the United States of America. Buying American-made wood carving knives has never been easier.

Fast Shipping Badge

Fast Shipping

All orders are quickly shipped to you within 48 hours of the purchase receipt. We use the best carriers to ensure that your wood carving tools get to you as quickly and securely as possible.

Order the Carving Knives and Tools That You Need

Whatever type or style of wood carving knives it is that you’re looking for, trust Ramelson for exactly what you need for your woodworking projects. Browse our extensive selection of wood carving tools and knives and place your order. We offer free, fast shipping on all US orders!