Over the last two weekends, I've taken some time to practice carving wood to make my Rune staves. I've figured out the basic process for making the space in which to carve the Runes. The challenge is to keep the bark from peeling off.
When I began this process, I had no idea what I would use for the carving, but I found a nice set of tools especially for such delicate work. I got mine at Home Depot, though I checked out some art supply stores too. The set I bought was sturdier and felt more durable than the ones from the art stores. I paid $40 Canadian for a six-piece set, but it will probably be cheaper in the US. (I can't speak to the cost in other countries; sorry.)
After playing with all the tools in the set for a couple of hours, I came up with a three-tool process that works for me. First, I etch a rectangle on the wood with the skew bevel. Next, I use the bent chisel. This makes a nice flat surface on the wood by removing very thin layers. As I shave the wood, it curls up toward the edge, so I use the straight edge to "chop" it off. Once I begin making the actual Runes, I'll put up some pictures of the process. For now, here is a picture of the three tools I'm using.
The top tool is the bent chisel. I placed it sideways in the shot to accentuate the bend. It may seem silly, but having the bend in the tool makes it easier to shave the wood. The middle tool is the straight edge. It's essentially the same as the bent chisel without the bend. I tried this one to make the flat surface and it worked okay, but I found it harder to maneuver. However, the straight edge worked great to remove the shavings created by the bent chisel. At the bottom of the picture is the skew bevel. Its blade is angled and the point worked well for marking the lines which form the space for the Rune. A word of caution though. If you're going to get cut, this is most likely when it will happen, so be careful. Watch out for peeling bark too.
Over the next couple of weeks, I will refine this process and attempt to etch in some Runes. When I'm comfortable enough with the carving process, I'll use the rain water I gathered earlier this spring to cleanse the tools before I before the tools touch the fruit-bearing wood.
If you have made your own Runes using wood or some other material, please feel free to share your experience with us. Likewise, if you're considering making a set and have questions, ask away. I'm happy to help as best as I can.