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There is no right answer to what tool is best, other than what works best for you. I thought it would be interesting for the new carver or some one thinking about getting into carving to hear what people thoughts were on these tools. I have a good set of mallett tools that I started carving with but for carving toppers, handles and shanks I am a big fan of palm chisels. I would say I do about 95% of my work with palm tools. I do use a Foredom rotary tool for much of the rough out work. I find that with the palm chisels I have more control and flexibility. over the years I have tried a number of brands of these tools. The two brands I like best is Flexcut and Drake. I was give a 5 chisel set of Flexcut. That was my first introduction to using the palm tool and while they worked well. A few years later I was introduced to Drake tools made by Drake knives in Washington state USA. They are now my tool of choice. Thanks to birthdays, Christmas and having four kids I have quite a nice set to these tools now. But I really use about 8 of them and 3 different size carving knives for most of my work on canes and walking sticks.carving..If you are new You can do a great deal of work with just a few tools. I hope there is a large enough response to this to offer a good overview to those looking to start.
 

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You did say tool, singular. So, the first order is to find a knife. One that fits your hand nicely. One that is made of good steel that will take and hold an edge. I have a lot of knives, most carvers are constantly looking for the magic knife that will hold a laser edge forever. Most often I use a Denny knife, sometimes a Norwegian laminated blade.
 

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I don think its all about the tools. the min reason why flexicut is popular I think its because the amount of money the company spends on advertisement is what made them so well known .Open a carving magazine you will always find there adverts Its the marketing people that that makes them expensive .

I think you can get equal or better tools if you discard all the advertisements blurb and look at alternatives think a lot of people would be surprised with what's out there and save them self s a few pounds/dollars

Admittedly the not bad tools if your not concerned with the price. but I use carvings knives less than a quarter of there price and think there very good. A good set of cherry carving knives are less than half flexi tool price. For a good carving tools don't think you can beat the Japanese ask yourself what would it cost to make them they have always been well known for there blades. .

I use administer chisels very pleased with them and Sheffield made carving knifes they may be very reasonable in price but I wouldn't say there expensive but happy with the quality

just a thought ? After all most carving tools are overpriced and the suppliers and retail outlets know it.
 

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Actually Cobalt, stateside I have found Flexcut is one of the most reasonable priced brands of carving tools on the market. They are more expensive in the U.K. Might be the shipping costs to Europe that makes Flexcut a bit salty, they look to be 35% higher in price for the same tools on some of your U.K. websites

As far as what tool or tools I use, the venerable detail knife gets used the most, followed by these palm tools a #11) 3 mm, #11) 7 mm & #8) 10 mm gouge. A 6 mm & 9 mm 70* V tool. A #2) 8 mm skew and a #1) 9 mm flat chisel. I have other palm tools but these 7 get the bulk of the work for carving walking sticks and toppers. They are mostly Flexcut tools with a few OCC tools sprinkled in. I use 4 different detail knives depending on the work, a standard Flexcut, a modified Flexcut (I ground it into a sheep foot after I broke the tip), a standard Helvie and a mini OCC.

I also use a dremel with sanding drums & various burrs as well as a mini rotary detailer.

I have added on to my tool collection as I have progressed with my hobby but I actually started with a a lock back Case pocket knife, and two small wood chisels. Point is it doesn't take a big investment to start carving.

That 5 piece palm set that CV3 talks about and a good detail knife, with some shopping around, can be had for under $100.
 

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i dont think it matters that much what tools you use if you can work with them then its the tool for you. I also think that we can never really evaluate a tool until you have used them all , and there are so many you cant them you cant try them all .So its a educated guess and word of mouth.

But I use tools to reach my objective like most of us here and like most of you I have bought tools I probably will only use very few times . So its this that fills up the workshop ,but reluctant to get rid of it in case you want it..The scrap wood box usually needs getting rid off/emptying long before your forced to do it . one of my grips is I have empty cases of tools I use just taking up space I will never put the tools back in the case as I use then so a good 6 or more empty cases sit there taking up space in the cramped workshop

but what ever your taste likes and dislikes just open the pressy on Christmas day and hopefully its that tool you want just make space for it , But above all keep safe and have a good Christmas
 

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After a few years of in hand carving with knives "old Arthur" in my holding hand thumb is showing his displeasure so have migrated to power carving, Dremmel, Axminster Rotary and the smaller integral motor hand sets with a decent selection of all types of burr, and have just purchased the power chisel hand piece and a set of Flexcut power chisels and gouges for in vice carving.
 

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Bought a Dremel and a flexible cable attachment and can't attach the damned thing.

Finally, I'm getting the hang of sharpening a knife as well as I could at the age of ten. Then I could easily shave the hair off my arm. Why at 70, do I seem challenged with this? I'll refrain from profanities.

In any case, I'm re-learning.
 

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Discussion Starter · #9 ·
I agree. If you do not know what tools you need and how you will use them sets can be a real waste of money. You should decide what your carving goals are before you start shopping. . If you can visit a carving club or group, they are almost always a good group of people and will be very helpful. Most good how to books will list the tools they used to complete a project. This can be a guide to what tools you may want to start with. As I said above I do most of my hand carving work on shanks and toppers with about 11 tools. But four years worked with 4 palm chisels and 2 carving knives.
 

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Discussion Starter · #12 ·
I'm looking into some hook knives.
Woodcraft sell Swiss Made Spoon knifes. with a variety of sizes. Treeline USA has the Mora Hook Carving Knife in right hand cut ,Left hand cut and the double bevel blade. Both are good kives
 

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I use Kirschen and Henry Taylor palm gouges/chisels for the most part then I have a few home made knives chisels and gouges for specific tasks. My home made tools are crafted from old chisels and files and sometimes heavy hacksaw blades, using stick offcuts and other odd ends in fabricating handles. I find a rotary tool the best for cutting eye sockets.

Oh yes, I use a Mora 120 or 106 (knife) for rough cutting and some bark removal.
 
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