When you start doing some more precision work in pottery, you’ll find that you have a wider interest in various clay sculpting tools. If you’ve read my post on pottery tools, you’ll know that trimming and sculpting tools are the first sets that I think are worth splurging on if you’re a beginner.
Most basic tools are available to borrow in most studios… but if you’re advancing in your clay abilities, or want to upgrade your current set of clay sculpting tools, you’ll find this information helpful. Whether you’re seeking an all-in-one variety set, or a few individual tools that will give you a lot of versatility with projects, we’ve got you covered.
Browse below, and you’re sure to find the sculpting tool set that will meet your needs (and budget)!
My #1 Recommended Tool Set For Carving:
This Xiem Sculpting Set Is Also A Nice Option For Versatility + Carving / Detailed Trimming Options
This tool set includes many different shapes and sizes, so you’re sure to have just what you need for any detailed carving you have in mind.
Alternative Dual-Sided Clay Carving Tool Set
This Xiem Scuplting Tool Set Offers 6 Different Stainless Steel Carving Heads On 3 Handles.
These are an incredible value, given the versatility of the 6 different tool head shapes, the price point, and the quality that comes with the Xiem name! These are very sharp, and will double as ribbon trimming tools on the wheel, for precision/detail work… though, check out this post on tools for some specific trimming tool recommendations!
My #1 Recommended Clay Sculpting Tool Set For Modeling/Sculpting:
This Xiem Modeling Tool Set Offers A Massive Value For The Cost – With 9 Double Ended Tools, For 18 Total Heads.
You’ll be able to find a tool to meet every need you have, when it comes to sculpting and modeling clay, with this set by Xiem! I love this set for attaching handles to wheel thrown forms, modeling tiny formed objects in hand building, and also for carving into slabs or wheel thrown forms to add detail and texture.
This set offers a great bang for your buck, with 18 unique heads at an affordable price. The quality is excellent, as well, and you can count on these tools to stay sharp for a long time!
There are so many precision tools available in pottery, that it can be overwhelming to decide where to spend your money. In general, I find trimming and clay sculpting tools are worth splurging on. In my experience, it’s better to invest in a quality set, so your tools will grow along with your skills, vs. realizing that you want to upgrade in a short amount of time, and having to purchase again.
Best Budget Clay Sculpting Tool Set
If you’d rather start with a less expensive set that covers all of the bases, this is probably about the best value to be found. Keep in mind, that while these tools will last a while (depending on care), this is a set you’re likely to want to upgrade as your skills advance. If you’re good with that going in – and you just need a decent set to cover all the bases for the short term, then this next set it a great alternative.
Top Alternative (Budget!) Clay Sculpting Tools Set:
This Basic Sculpting + Modeling Tool Set Is A Budget Version For Those Who Are Not Yet Ready To Invest In A Quality Set Of Clay Sculpting Tools.
With 6 double-ended tools, you’ll have a dozen unique tool heads, for a price that is hard to beat. Again, while this set offers an incredible value – don’t expect it to last the long haul. You’ll be able to extend the life of these tools with careful care, but you should expect to upgrade them in time.
Top 3 Considerations When Choosing A Set Of Clay Sculpting Tools:
Tool Head Material (and Quality)
Stainless Steel heads are generally what to look for in a quality pottery sculpting or carving tool. Stainless Steel will withstand sharpening, thus making it a quality material for this purpose, to last the long haul.
You will typically see tools made with either wooden or plastic handles. Wood feels great in the hand, but can be susceptible to moisture damage if you don’t routinely clean and dry your tools with each use (guilty!) While I have the best intentions, I often toss tools back into my bag and forget to circle back to ensure they are dry. For potters like me, a plastic handle is a better bet.
You can also choose your pottery tool bag wisely, to allow airflow to your tools, which will help them dry out faster and prevent extended wear from being wet.
Double vs. Single Headed Tools
Finally, you’ll want to consider the way you use and store your tools to determine if a single headed set or a double headed set is practical. For example, if you tend to keep your tools in a container (like a canister), a double-headed tool might be less practical. Only being able to see one side at a time will make this style of tool fussier to use.
If you tend to use a pottery bag, on the other hand, where you can readily see your tools (because they are laying flat, inside your bag), then a double ended style is a great option.