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Spoon carving tools – axes
When you start out on any new trade or hobby there is always the question of what tools do I need? Which spoon carving tools are the best, or which tools are right for me?
I thought it would be useful to have a blog post series on the various spoon carving tools I’ve used. So lets start at the beginning and dive in with axes.
Gransfors Brux – If you have heard of one axe maker it is likely to be Gransfors Brux. Based in Sweden and making axes for over 100 years. The quality is fantastic. Each axe is stamped with the initials of the person who made it, which I think shows the amount of pride they have in them. The axe I have is the Large Carving Axe. It comes with three options:
- Double-sided grind – this has equal bevels so can be used by either a left or right hander and is a very versatile grind.
- Left or right-sided grind – I have the right-sided grind. It can only be used by right handers (the left-sided can only be used by left handers). I love it as it bites into the wood aggresively. If I was to choose again though, knowing what I know now, I would go for the double-sided grind for a bit more versatility.
These axes are not cheap, coming in £167.95 at the time of writing (20th October 2023). You will though be able to pass it onto your children, and them onto theirs.
If you are just starting out you might want to look at the cheaper but very capable option of a Robin Wood carving axe. I have several of these for teaching spoon carving. They are £49 (+£17.50 if you want a sheath – highly recommended). These are very good axes for the price. I don’t think the steel quality is as good as the Gransfors but it holds an edge well. For a third of the price, it’s a great tool. I’m going to cover the knives in another blog post but Robin Wood does a Spoon Carving Set for £114. This includes a straight knife, a hook knife and an axe. I recommend this set to all my spoon carving students.
Spoon carving tools – Wish List
Every wood worker has a wish list of tools and if one day I decide to buy another axe I would go for the Kalthoff Small Carving Axe. I’ve never used one but I’ve spoken to a couple of spoon carvers who have and they reccomend it. I also listened to a great podcast with the maker Julia Kalthoff. In it she describes her process in designing the axe and her attention to detail is impressive. You can find the podcast at Cut the Craft with Julia Kalthoff.
No discussion on tools would be complete without a mention of refurbishing old tools. You can find old carving axes in antique stores and at specialist shops such as Bristol Design Tools (total tool heaven!). With a bit of time and know how you can turn an old axe with good steel into a real beauty of a carving axe. At somepoint I will do a blog on the topic but there’s too much to dive into now.
Where to buy tools
There are absolutely loads of shops selling tools online. I almost always go to the Woodsmith Experience. Maurice is a mine of experience and information. The shop stocks some of the best quality tools around. They also have bricks and mortar shop which I plan to visit one day (it will be guaranteed to be an expensive trip!) For the Robin Wood axes and knives I would go straight to the Wood Tools website.
Well that’s it for now – thanks for reading. As I mentioned I will follow this with a blog on knives. In the meantime – if you would like to read more about why I love hand tools you can do so here.