As I'm sure you can guess, there are many brands and types of carving tools out there. I have two little bits of advice.
1. Find a local woodworking club, look at the work from some of their carvers. Ask the ones that make items you like and would like to style your carving after, what brand tools they use. Hopefully there will be more than one. Go the your local wood tool supplier and get the heft of them,if possible try them out and buy the ones that are comfortable for you to use.
2. Quality is important to a point, but what good is it if I tell you that "Sorby" is tha best out there, you spend a fortune for a set and find out that they don't fit you hand in a way that is comfortable? None, you won't use them.
Didn't really directly answer your question, but I still hope it helps.
Thanks Travr7, I should have mentioned I will be carving rock maple, which as you know is mighty hard stuff. I just didn't want to get into it and find that the job would have been easier if I had "asked" someone a simple question ahead of time, to get me off in the right direction.
Thanks for your help, I will follow your suggestion.
Ouch 8O , you sure like to take on the tough stuff. I haven't worked with Rock Maple since I decided to refinish a rocker when I was about 15 years old. That was enough to almost swear off it for life. You will definitely be wantin' tools with plenty of hackbone.
Yeah, I know ... I have been working with rock maple and you are right, they don't call it "ROCK" for nothing. Now you are making me wonder if I could pick another type of wood that is not quite so hard, but that would still do the job I need (it is for the back of a banjo .. something they call the resonator, it's used to reflect sound forward so needs to be hard).
Any thoughts on another species of wood that would be easier to carve but still pretty hard :?: