I have not done any carving before and would like to get the tools on your tool list but was hoping you could give me some advice on tools and brands that are good but not crazy expensive.
This has been an ongoing challenge for me, as cost, quality, and availability of my preferred tool sizes has been difficult to standardize. Usually any European brand gouges are good quality.
Pfeil - You should be able to find most of the tools in the Pfeil brand (Swiss Made) from Chipping Away in Kitchener, Ontario Canada. They seem to be the ones that have the best and most abundant supplies, and they are good, professional quality tools.
Stubai - Another brand that is good quality are Stubai gouges (http://www.stubaiusa.com). However the full length 10” fishtail gouges are limited in their sizes (only available in #4, #6, and #8 and 4mm, 10mm and 16mm). I wouldn’t recommend the 9” fishtail series, as they are thinner and not as strong as the 10” style gouges. These are also limited in that they do not have 14mm gouges, which are often my favorite.
Auriou - Lie-Nielsen has a limited supply of Auriou gouges. If you order through them, you will most likely need to purchase another brand to fill in the gaps. However, by fall, 2015 they are planning on supplying an 8 tool set of fishtail gouges – in my favorite sizes! Yeah! I can’t wait!
Dastra - High quality professional gouges in many varieties of sizes. These are the ones I started out with. They are sometimes difficult to get tools in stock, and you will definitely need to sharpen them before carving.
Mastercarver - I always suggest very high quality tools that are life-time investments. Yet, I know that they can be quite costly. If you are just getting into this art and can’t afford to spend a lot, here’s a suggestion. I recently tested out the Mastercarver brand of tools from Wood Carvers Supply. They carve well. They are hand wrought tools made in China. I was impressed with how well they held an edge. However, they are a bulkier than I like, and are not finished to the high polish of other brands, having a varnish finish over much of their length. You will probably have to spend some time sharpening them also. But with prices about a third of the more expensive brands, they are an economical way to try out the art of woodcarving.
Others...The following brands have a good reputation for good quality, professional gouges, but I have not had enough experience to really rate these – Hirsch, Ashley Isles, Two Cherries, Henry Taylor
Are there differences in the brands of tools that have better metals which can hold an edge longer or do most loose their edge with similar usage?
There is definitely a difference between brands, but generally if you choose the following brands you can trust that their metal is good – Dastra (German), Stubai (Austrian), Pfeil (Swiss), Hirsch (German), Auriou (French), Ashley Iles (English), Two Cherries (German). So, as you can see, any tools that are European you can usually rely on as being good quality.
I was wondering if you’ve ever heard of Two Cherries brand tools and what your thoughts are about them?
I am familiar with Two Cherries tools, but I do not have many. When I have had a chance to use them (students bring them to class on occasion), they seemed like good quality tools, and have not heard anything negative. Yet, they appear to be a bit heavier than the tools I prefer.
I just purchased some older chisels on eBay, and I cannot find any information about them. Any clues where I can look?
I would start by googling the name and see what comes up. You can sometimes learn about old tools by joining the Old Tools Mailing List at swingly.dev and asking there. Start at: http://swingleydev.com/archive/faqs
Are you close to obtaining Auriou gouges? If so can we preorder?
I really don’t have any idea how long it is going to take – several months or more? They have not given me a time-line yet. I wouldn’t feel right about taking pre-orders, but just keep watching my blog and I’ll also be putting into my newsletter and facebook page when the tools are ready.
Where can I buy the brands you have mentioned?
Following is a list of North American distributors I know of. It is NOT a complete list. You will find other distributors if you search more. Yet, this list is of distributors I know to be reliable. I do not have a financial interest in any of these suppliers.