A Few of My Favorite Tools

When I teach sculpture, I only allow a mallet, a small block of wood, and the artist’s hands in the beginning. Tools are an extension of our own hands, but we always begin with what we already have. Nonetheless, here are a few favorite tools.



Every sculptor should have a pair of calipers, better yet several at different sizes! The Compleat Sculptor has a nice selection.

Single Wire End Wooden Modeling Tool

Wire Loop Tools

I love these single wire end wooden modeling tools from Sculpture Depot. I have them in all sizes! I simply call them a “rake” because they leave tooth marks on the clay.

Kemper Wire Tool

Kemper Tools

These Kemper tools have proven to be an old faithful, especially if you modify them with a Dremel tool to give them teeth like the “rake” above. You can buy these at Sculpture Depot, The Compleat Sculptor, or Dick Blick.

Kemper Hard Fettling Knife

Fettling Knife

I always have a few Kemper fettling knives around. They are great for marking your sculpture to keep things in alignment, finding the center, and taking measurements. These are easy to find online or at your local pottery shop.

Little Detail Tool

Little Detail Tools

This is a little wire loop tool from Kemper that I ordered from Dick Blick. They are only used for details such as the eyes and ears on a portrait or details of a smaller figure.

About My Tiniest Tools

These are a few of my favorite tiny tools. Unfortunately, these are ones that are harder to find. The far left is a tiny ruler both for scale and as a neat little tool for tiny measurements or straight lights. Next to it is a tiny rake tool that I got from another artist, who got it in Italy. Then there are two small wire loop tools, at least one came from a sculpture supply shop in Pietrasanta.

The ebony tool in the center is one that I made from a wooden blank, but you can get similar ones from The Compleat Sculptor and modify them to fit your needs. Use a Dremel, a grinder, and sandpaper.

Next to that one is a little metal tool that I picked up in Loveland, Colorado at the Sculpture Depot while I was working at the foundry across the street. They have a great selection of wooden tools, casting materials, armatures, and clay as well.

On the far right is a wooden tool that has a flattened surface on one end and a little ball on the other. I call this one “the artist’s little finger” because it can get into spaces too small for an actual finger. I have had this one so long that I do not even remember where I bought it, but you can get tools like this at the Compleat Sculptor.

10 centimeter ruler for scale

These are just a few of my favorite tools. As you can see, I have a number of different types of wooden tools, wire loop tools, knives, clay movers, paintbrushes, and blocks of wood that I’ve collected over the years.

Sculpture tools at Hempel Studios

Do you have a favorite tool? Have you ever thought to make your own?

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A figurative sculptor for over 20 years, Sarah tells monumental stories in clay, bronze, and stone.

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