carving tools & panels

A quick note to try to answer a couple of recent questions that come up while I was away. Regarding carving tools, their size, selection, etc. I regularly use about 6 different tools, and sometimes add to or delete from that group.

here is my main set of carving tools. They are a mixture of new and antique tools. Both work fine.

carving tools' profiles
carving tools' profiles

A reader asked which tools I used for this carving, so below it is a photo of the three principal tools I used to cut it:

PF carving



About panel sizes, most often the widest panels I get from an oak log are around 10″ or 11″ wide. These require a tree over 2 feet in diameter, once I split off the sapwood and the juvenile wood at the center of the tree.  Because the panels are radial splits from a very straight-grained oak, they are quite stable. The shrinkage is minimal, and predictable. I can’t recall having any problems stemming from shrinking panels. They fit about 1/2″ into the grooves in the edges of the stock.

sixteenths red oak
sixteenths red oak

these pieces got split again, into 1/32nds of the original log. The best ones did about 10″ – others less so. The quality of this stock was first-rate, though. After splitting, it’s hewn, then planed. To carve the panels, I secure them to a piece of scrap stock then hold that down to the bench with a pair of holdfasts.

hewing panel stock, prior to planing
hewing panel stock, prior to planing
panel nailed down for carving
panel nailed down for carving
And finally, here is why I nail them down – a panel from a seventeenth-century New England chest with nail holes showing around its edges. I attribute these holes to nails that fastened the panel steady for carving…they are found often enough…not always, but not unusual.
nail holes in panel
nail holes in panel

2 thoughts on “carving tools & panels

  1. Peter: Good to see you arrived home safely. Though you have touched on moisture content and optimal growth ring size for carving, it might be helpful to discuss these matters in detail in a comment here. What do you do when the wood has dried too much? When carving do you prefer white or red oak?

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