A woodwork Artisan never stands still. They always look for new ways to express themselves through their craft in many ways as possible. So, a woodworker could spend their entire lives turning wood, but then suddenly decide to try their hand at carving wood instead.

This is a widespread phenomenon, and you’re likely one of them if you looked this article up. However, many people who try to make this transition want to know if they can use their old tools in a new way. So, that’s the question. Can you use woodturning tools to carve wood?

The short answer is that we can’t recommend it. Carving and turning are vastly different even if they’re concerned with the same materials. If you want optimal results, you’re better off buying carving tools. Why? Well, let’s find out.

Turning Tools

If you’re trying to transition from turning tools to carving, then you should already be familiar with what makes these tools so unique. They are much thicker and more rounded than their carving counterparts. The design centres around minimizing how much of the tool cuts into the wood. This is ideal for turning wood, but not carving them.

You’ll notice that these tools are more rounded in general. They need to dissipate a lot of heat while turning. Each aspect of its design needs to be able to withstand downward pressure on the edge. They are also made of highspeed steel to make them capable of such feats.

These tools prevent catches from ruining your work. However, these precautions make them more massive and cumbersome. While this added weight is excellent for a when you’re turning, it’s not for carving. They also come with two-handed handles which is also superb for turning.

Why are they not Suitable for Carving?

Everything that makes turning tools great for turning makes them less than ideal for carving. The added weight hinders the required precision needed for carving. They aren’t as sharp as carving tools need to be to shape the wood.

Carving tools are usually one-handed. It gives your open arm the option to support your body as you make precision cuts. Unfortunately, the two-handed feature of turning tools means that they aren’t as efficient. Yes, you can use them with one hand, but the extended handle increases its weight to hinder your progress effectiveness.

The thick gouges do a poor job at cutting through wood like you’d need carve wood. In every way, these tools obstruct your progress and make the process harder than it should be.

It’s only natural; they aren’t built for work like this. The fingernail style grind, the signature style of turning tools, is also inefficient when it comes to carving. So, turning tools aren’t useful for carving.

Carving Tools

These tools are vastly different in terms of purpose and style. You’ll notice that the heads are more squared rather than rounded. This is because the shape is simply better for carving. The edges are also sharper to cut the wood more accurately and precisely.

The handles are suited for just one hand. This reduces the weight of the tools and makes them more capable of precision. You’re more likely to make accurate cuts if you aren’t held back by weight. Every tool for carving possesses this characteristic to make the process smoother and faster.

To reduce even more weight, the tools are also smaller in size. It grants you more control, but that’s not all. The small sizes also give you more precision when it comes to making intricate designs. However, much like how the turning tools aren’t suited for carving, these tools aren’t suited for turning.

The flat shaped heads aren’t good for making round shapes. At the same time, they are too sharp. This means that you are likely to make mistakes and end up with catches, ruining the entire process. You will also have to turn slower and with a lot more care.

That’s because everything about the carving tools was meant to give you the best carving experience. Each gouge is perfect for carving. You’ll also get a dedicated carving knife for precision cuts.

Why Are They Suited?

They’re suited for everything mentioned in the above segment. Every aspect of its design is expertly crafted to carve wood. The general sharpness, the inclusion of a knife and the flat-headed edges are vital for woodcarving.

The tools make the whole process a lot easier as well. Their weight gives you more control over how you maneuver the tools. Control is paramount to the quality of your carvings.

This is how they are so different from woodturning tools. As such, we can’t recommend you use them for carving. Simply get a carving tool set instead.


Trying out carving is a great way to experience woodwork in a new way; especially if you’ve only been woodturning. However, there is no denying just how important it is that you get yourself a carving tools kit.

You can use your woodturning tools, but it’ll end up frustrating you and making you give up carving in general. Sure, it will cost some extra money, but we guarantee that you won’t regret the new set. Happy carving!