Help: What starter tools to abstract sculpture?

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Forum topic by TortoiseAvenger posted 12-08-2015 10:42 PM 1055 views 0 times favorited 6 replies Add to Favorites Watch
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2 posts in 1460 days

12-08-2015 10:42 PM

Hello y’all…

Wondering what tools I should start with for small (8” cubed) to medium (18” cubed) abstract wood sculpture. I attached a few pictures of examples of the type of thing I eventually want to advance to.

I might also want to do (human) figurative sculpture, but for now I’m interested bringing out the peculiarities and oddities of each piece of wood through my carving. I imagine no hard edges… does this mean I should limit my selection of straight and V-gouges? I plan on buying Pfeil tools… unsure of which handles I should get for this size work. Specific recommendations would be wonderful!

Thanks in advance for your help!

6 replies so far

View David Taylor's profile

David Taylor

326 posts in 1646 days

#1 posted 12-09-2015 12:52 AM

That’s a hard one, really. One can make a sphere with a bench chisel, or a flat surface with a spoon gouge – it’s all in the application of the tool

I will reiterate Chris Pye suggestion for a starter kit – a flat gouge, sweep #3 or 4, a medium gouge, sweep # 5-7, and a quick gouge, sweep # 8 or 9, in the sizes you think will make the shapes you are thinking of.

Don’t discount the use of a v-tool or a flat chisel along the way, the v-tool is great for lining out work, the flat chisel can do both flat and convex shapes.

The examples you show are beautiful, good luck in your endeavor, and show us your work when you have completed some.

-- Learn Relentlessly

View ClaudeF's profile


1016 posts in 2266 days

#2 posted 12-09-2015 01:50 AM

View jerryminer's profile


960 posts in 2001 days

#3 posted 12-09-2015 04:49 AM

I am not a pro carver, but if you want to create stuff like the pictures, I think you need to look into power carving equipment. There is too much wood to be removed for a hand-tool project, IMHO.

-- Jerry, making sawdust professionally since 1976

View mpounders's profile


940 posts in 3454 days

#4 posted 12-17-2015 02:50 PM

Straight and skew gouges are useful for undercutting and for rounding convex shapes, but a v-tool does only make v shapes. They can be useful for making your pattern on wood though. Jerryminer has a good point, in that a lot of the pictures you provided were probably power carved, using a rotary flex shaft tool or die grinders with carbide burrs, sanding drums, and things such as that. Sanding gives the flowing curves and shapes, the smoothness of finish. Buy Pfeil full size tools for the size carvings you are talking about.

-- Mike P., Arkansas,

View torpidihummer's profile


65 posts in 2412 days

#5 posted 12-17-2015 03:58 PM

About five or six years ago I purchased I purchased the Pfeil Full Size carving set
and never have been sorry. The type of carving you intend to do is extremely
difficult and ‘tons’ of patience is required. The use of power tools on this type
of carving you intend to use is the easier way out but very much expensive than
a full set of Pfeil Tools, the bottom line is purchase the best you can and just enjoy
what ever you decide to carve, however the use of power tools expends your

-- Torpidhummer

View dhazelton's profile


2839 posts in 2856 days

#6 posted 12-17-2015 04:45 PM

Yo can get a ‘blade’ for a grinder that incorporates the teeth of a chainsaw chain (Excalibur I think). Make sure you wear protective gear. Bailey’s also has a lot of what you may be looking for. Also look at Packard Woodworks.

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