Not too long ago I decided to branch out into wood carving. It seemed like a natural progression in terms of adding decoration to my pieces as well as just continuing in the use of hand tools and visualizing an end product.
One thing I noticed right away was that you could find either super cheap tools, or super expensive ones. In the long run I know I’ll want the better, more expensive, tools, but while I’m experimenting with it to see if I like it and would want to continue long term, I see no point in spending a few hundred on a quality set of carving tools.
I knew I had some criteria, one being that I needed (wanted) the hook carving knife. Another was that the blades needed to be fixed, otherwise why wouldn’t I just use a pocket knife? In the end I settled on the nine piece carving set by Elemental Tools. It had the basics I was looking for, as well as a pair of cut resistant gloves and box to store it all in. And it was nicely under my self-imposed $50 limit at $35.
Right out of the box the tools were nice. They fit nicely in my hand and were already sharp. Sure, any serious wood worker will immediately resharpen any new tool they get, but I’m not that picky (yet). These were sharp enough to get going right away without feeling like I was going to injure myself from a dull blade. The gloves are a nice, lightweight, and have an A5 cut resistance rating (which I’ll admit I’ve already “tested” a few times). The box is big enough to hold a set of six carving gouges I have as well as the tools and gloves. I’ll admit that I haven’t used the included spoon blank yet as I wanted to practice before I used the practice blank. I also haven’t used the polishing compound or sandpaper yet, and may not as I have other sharpening tools for when the time comes.
It’s been great to carry on our road trips, and I’ve been able to carve a few odd little spoons from wood I picked up during those trips. Even when on vacation I’m still trying to create.
Alas, there’s a few downfalls to the kit as well. Some of it I’m sure it user error, but the hook carving knife just does not want to cut one harder woods. Maybe it’s a sharpness issue, and maybe it’s just me being overly cautious around my fingers even with the gloves on, but I cannot get it to “scoop” the bowl of a spoon the way I would expect it to. Another issue, again user related, is that the tip on the larger Sloyd knife has broken off. I’m guessing that I dropped it just right and broke it off, so definitely user error here, but I would have hoped that it would have just bent and not broken off. It doesn’t affect the knife’s usability, but it’s still just annoying.
All in all it’s a solid set of tools, and it’s a great introductory box set for someone looking to try their hand at spoons and other wood carving. When the time comes for me to upgrade some of my carving knives I’ll still keep this set for road trips and other bits of travel.