For the Beginner

What do I need as a new carver?

It can be overwhelming to a new carver looking at all the different tools available today on where to start.  What are the essentials??   What knife should I buy first??  What is required for a beginning carver??  How do I sharpen??  So many questions with different answers from everyone. The range of answers vary due to the many different styles within the woodcarving community and the types of carving projects they work on.  A chip carver will use different knives versus a caricature carver, etc.

            At Helvie, we answer these questions daily and hope that by putting this page up, it will serve as a resource to those wanting to get started.

KNIVES - Wood carving knives are used for stop cuts, v cuts, sweep/slicing cuts, etc. Good quality knives are essential as you begin your woodcarving journey. For basic caricature carving we recommend a couple of knives to start with. Our blades are beveled for carving in softer woods, such as basswood.  Carving harder woods will dull your blades quicker and can become damaged.

  • 1 ¾” Roughout Knife – A roughout knife is typically made of thicker steel and is used for removing the bulk wood from a carving.
  • 1 ¼” Detail Knife – The Detail knife is used for finer and more delicate work as you carve in the details into a piece. The detail knife is made from thinner material and can be damaged if used improperly.

**Your wood carving knife should not be used for digging or flicking wood chips out of the cuts you have made. Doing this will lead to blade damage.

KEEP THEM SHARP- The most important rule in carving is to keep your tools sharp.  Your Helvie’s will come to you ready to carve, but after carving for a bit, your knife will begin losing its sharpness.  It is important to stop carving and strop your knife. Strop your knife when you notice white drag marks or it's not cutting like it was.

            Helvie Strop and Compound

            ** Check out this Video of Rich discussing stropping


Additionally, breaking a tip is not the end of the world.  It is an easy fix that you can repair on your own.  Some of the most seasoned wood carvers can accidentally break a tip. 

          ** Sharpening & Repairing a Broken Tip Video