Dan Faia replies: There is such a variety of work under the category of woodcarving. Just the sheer size/scale of a project can vary the tool requirements. Most often, woodworkers interested in pursuing woodcarving are looking for small projects such as decorative objects, furniture embellishment, frames, boxes, etc.
Woodcarving tools are not inexpensive, so it would seem to make sense to purchase a factory set. However, most of these sets will have included tools that will not be very useful. They add to the size and overall value of the set, but aren’t really a good deal.
I would consider making your own set with a variety of tools that will cover many processes a woodcarver will encounter. This is a list to consider (tool numbers are Pfeil Swiss Made brand)—#5/20 mm gouge, #7/14 mm gouge, #8/13 mm gouge, #5f/8 mm fishtail gouge, #1s/8 double bevel skew, #12/8 mm 60-degree v-tool.
This set includes a variety of gouge sweeps and widths for shaping and grounding work, a fishtail for delicate cuts, a skew for detail and shaping work, and a v-tool for layout/defining and detailing work.
There are many quality brands of woodcarving tools on the market, so take some time to research what is available and will fit your budget.