There are many different substances that can be carved, and one thing most of them have in common is the type of tools used. Whether the artist creates with wood or marble, they will need sharp edged tools to remove the excess material to bring out their creation. A variety of gouges and chisels are used in this work, and their effectiveness depends upon being sharp and correctly shaped. Of course, the abilities of the artist are also a factor.
Gouges come in several varieties, and they are mainly named for the type of imprint they make on the material being carved. A v-shaped gouge creates a cut in the material in the shape of the letter v. This tool is often used to create outlines or dig into areas where depth is necessary, but precision is also an important facet. They slice out a small piece of material with each pass, and the artist usually makes one or two passes at a time.
U-shaped gouges are much the same as the v-shapes, but they are rounded rather than pointed. They are often used as a shallow carving tool when a large area needs to be cleared from the surface. While an artist may make several passes with this tool, a shallow cut is generally done with only one swipe of the blade. Carving artists generally have a collection of these gouges, and they use the one that will remove as much material as necessary to complete the area being worked.
Chisels are another tool wood and marble carving have in common, and they perform the same function. Each one is used to dig into the material, and they are often used to slice out large areas. A hammer or mallet is used to tap the blunt end of the chisel while the artist digs with the sharp end as a large gouge.