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First fishtail recommendation

Hi All,  I have no fishtails  🙁   and am wondering which size and sweep would be the most useful/versatile, since it may be my only  one for a while.   I'm a woodworker and want to carve some simple designs and features on the things I make.  I've dabbled a bit with carving tools and have a basic set of  about 10, but no fishtails.  Thanks for any thoughts.  Barb

Hi Barb,

Mary has a list of basic starter tools under the Getting Starting section of the web site. She has a strong preference for fishtails so I would assume that profiles available in the fishtail configuration would be preferable. She has also stated that if you can't find the exact profile/size that a close sweep/width would suffice.

Basic Starter Set: 5 or 6mm v-chisel, #3, 6mm , #3, 14mm,  #5, 14mm,  #7, 6mm,  #7, 14mm.

Have fun.

Thanks, Michael.  I've seen Mary's list and my set is pretty close to hers.  I want to buy just one fishtail, for now, but want the sweep and size  that will be most useful .  Don't  know  if that would be larger or smaller, flatter or deeper.  Maybe that's an impossible question.



Ask ten different carvers this and you will probably get ten different answers. For most carving (IMHO) fishtails are more useful in the flatter sweeps. I would go with the #3 or #5  14mm, or the 6mm if your carvings are small. In case you are interested and/or are on a tight tool budget, the folks at Schaaf Tools (Amazon) have announced that they intend to offer a small set of fishtails soon (not sure how long we have to wait though). I have some of their tools that I bought some months ago and if the tools I have are any indication of the quality and price of their future offerings I would definitely pick some of those up when they become available. I have a BUNCH of tools from different manufacturers and these are definitely some of the best I own. Have fun.

I have a few fishtails but the one I use constantly is a 6mm 3 sweep. It's great for detail work and cleaning out hard to reach areas. For removing larger areas of wood I will often use a 14mm 3 sweep.

Hi Barb, Welcome to the wonderful world of fishtails!!

I second Michael's and Jim's suggestion that flatter fishtails are recommended more than the more curved ones. So #3's and #5's are preferred. As they go past #7 sweeps, fishtails vs straight don't make a huge amount of difference. My #3, 6mm is my favorite, and then the #3, 14mm. Next would be a #5, 14mm, and then a #5, 6mm (as you realize how wonderful they are and you need to keep adding to your collection 🙂

Thanks, everyone.  Like everybody who works wood, I can't resist tools, so I just took the plunge and bought Mary's basic set of Pfeil tools from Chipping Away.  I'm hooked on fishtails and on Pfeil tools!  All of the tools I had until now were Ashley Iles.   They feel too thick and heavy compared to the Pfeils.  Just found out they're intended more for oak and other heavy hardwoods. As I now live in New Mexico,  I'm working mainly with Ponderosa pine.  May try to sell them and replace with Pfeils.

Mary, your videos are fantastic!  Thank you so much!

I have mostly Pfeil tools but I've got two Ashley Isles fishtails, a 3 sweep and a 5 sweep both about 12-14mm. They are certainly heavy duty but I really like them.  To each his own I guess.