You'll need to sharpen your wood carving knives often so you can carve efficiently and safely. Dull tools can cause serious injuries and destroy a beautiful woodworking project in a flash. Make sure you take proper care of your knives; you'll be glad you did. You can use sharpening stones of various grits, or you can use a power grinder to sharpen your wood carving tools, and you always want to finish with a leather strop.
Sharpening Stones: If you use stones, make sure you use oil on the harder stones and water on the softer stones, and then draw the blade of the knife across the stone such that the blade is sharpened. You will need to do this repeatedly, until the blade is very sharp.
Power Grinders: If you use a power grinder, you can use either a grit wheel or a felt buffing wheel. Whichever wheel you choose to use, be sure to wear safety goggles, and always sharpen the blades of your carving knives with the wheel turning away from you, never into the knife. If you can, learn how to use a power grinder from an experienced wood carver. This is not something to try on your own without demonstration from an expert.
Leather Strops: You may wonder how a tool made from leather can sharpen a metal knife or chisel, but a leather strop actually has micro-fine abrasives that will sharpen the edge of your knife into a fine blade.
Store your knives in a way that does not compromise the blade. You want to keep carving knives away from heat, cold and moisture. Invest in a tool case designed for the storage of carving knives; it should allow the knives to rest such that they do not come in contact with each other or with any hard surfaces.
If you can't afford a case, make your own knife holder from a piece of wood with notches cut from it. The knives will lay against the wood, and the only pressure on the knives will be on the handles, not on the blades. Keep the knives in a cool, dark place, free from disturbance.
If you want a set of the best wood carving tools, you need to get to know what the different tools are before you start buying tools you may never use. This list of must-haves can get you started.
You can find many wood carving designs on the Web, in craft stores and in magazines. However, not all those designs are appropriate for the beginner level. The best patterns for new carvers include Christmas ornaments and walking sticks.