Wood Carving For Beginners


        In man's history, wood carving might be one of the oldest developed skills of all the art forms available to craft man. Carved design features in our household furnitures such as shelves, chairs, and much more. But do you know it takes some techniques, style, and tools for you to make beautiful and decorative sculptures or furniture?


        Of course, the first few steps to becoming a new or beginner wood carver might be overwhelming. You might begin to ask some few questions: where can I start from? What are the best tools to use? What type of wood should I start with? And many other questions like that.

        You need to worry less because this article is created mainly to answer most of the basic questions bothering you as a wood carving beginner. Read on!
If you are a new wood carver, you can start with whittling. It is an art and style of wood carving done by using carving knives.


        The type of wood you are going to use depends on your choice. There are two categories of wood: the hardwoods and softwoods. Of course, you can carve both, but for a new carver, the perfect wood for you is the softwood. In short, woods with finer grains. There are many common choices of wood you can go for. Some of them are:

        Basswood: It is the most popular wood used by carvers. It is also called LINDEN or LIN. It is the best because it does not have much grain and it is also soft. It has a creamy tint and easy to carve. It is light brown or white in color. It features a clearly close grain pattern.

        You can get it in most of the local craft shops. They are offered at a reasonable price. Most times the northern base wood is preferable to the southern base wood because they are whiter and softer.

Image: Base wood.

        Pine: it is very soft and cuts easily. But it is coarser in grain compared to the basswood. It could be slightly yellow or very white in color.

        Balsa: It features a fine grain which is good for carving. It is soft and inexpensive. You can get it in a hobby lobby or a local craft shop.

Image: The perfect wood for you is the softwood.

        Butternut: this wood type is also called white Walnut. It is soft making it easy for you to work on it with hand tools. It features a beige sapwood and dark brown Heartwood. The grain pattern of butternut is beautiful. This makes it look awesome with a clear finish.

        However, it is the most difficult wood for beginners to work with. The grain is coarser which means you might find it hard to avoid chipping during the carving process. Despite this, it will still give you the most distinct piece of the four kinds of wood mentioned.

        Additionally, you can make use of random branches and twigs. Some of the other woods you can use to carve are Tupelo (black gum), cedar, catalpa, jelutong, cottonwood back, and much more.


A Knife

        You can either use a purpose built knife for carving or a pocket knife. The choice depends on you even though each has their own advantages. For example, a pocket knife is said to be portable, so it makes an excellent choice. Also, it is believed to be a good option because it offers different sizes of knife. You can easily switch to any blade that seems fit for the work you are doing.

        But on the other hand, the carving knife is a bit sturdier because you would not have to fold it every time. It most of the time fits comfortably in your hands because of the curved handle it features. Also, the handle ensures that you experience little or no fatigue during a long carving session.
        There are different carving knives on the market. However, it is advisable you have a set of carving knife so you can use it interchangeably with your pocket knife. 

A sharpening Stone

        For safety and joy, sharpening is necessary. You can't rule out the fact that the knife blade can get dull while carving with it. To keep the carving process going, you would ensure that the blade of the carving or pocket knife is sharp.


        They are also known as a chisel. They are straight or flat and also bent. The lower the number of gouges the smaller amount of wood you will be able to remove anytime you make a cut or sweep. There are various types of gouges: the straight gouges, skewed gouges, and mallet gouge.

Image: Gouges or chisel.

        Some Additional tools you might need are v-tool, wood filler, sandpaper, paint and brush, super glue, pencil, and much more.
Now that you know the common woods and basic tools for carving, you need to know the basic steps involved in wood carving.


  • Find a comfortable place to sit and relax
  • Plan your carving. Know what you want your sculpture to look like. This will be a pathway to making a great carving.
  • Wear a thumb guard and a glove on your hand. Ensure you don't carve towards a skin that is open
  • Ensure your tools are sharp especially your knife blade. If necessary strop the blade. You can test it sharpness by using a scrap piece of wood.
  • Draw center lines on the wood you want to carve and also draw in the features for your carving
  • Look for any sharp corner and cut them off. This will ensure you hold the wood comfortably
  • Begin to shape the piece by removing the excess woods. When doing this, leave details to the last, block out and add details again.
  • Every cut you make must have a purpose
  • If you make a cut and the chip does not fall out, don't use your knife to dig it out. Just cut again. If you dig the chip out, it might result in fuzzies. However, in case you encounter some fuzzies don't be discouraged. As time goes on, your experience will help you carve a clean piece.
  • Avoid digging holes in your carving. You know what you want to carve out so you should not remove more than the necessary wood.
  • Key your cut straight and smooth
  • Ensure your carving is not square
  • Keep your tools dry and keep them safe 


        No doubt, safety is important when it comes to carving woods. There are some few safety tips you should consider and take seriously. Some are:

        Ensure your knife is sharp - there is a high probability that you cut yourself when the blade is dull compared to when it is sharp. Also, you would find cutting through the wood easier with a sharp knife. So it is important you keep the knife sharp.

        Wear a glove - as a beginner; it is advisable to wear gloves, preferably gloves made of leather. You might not find it comfortable at first, but you would adapt to it in no time. You can also wear a thumb pad.

        No need to rush - carving is supposed to be meditative and relaxing. You don't need to rush. Slow down and control every cut. If you rush, you can make mistakes.

        Ensure you cut with the wood grain - most times the direction of the wood grain can be difficult to determine. To know the perfect way to go, start making some shallow cuts in your wood. If you notice a resistance and eventual split, then you are cutting against the grain. But if you notice that the cut is peeling away smoothly, then you are in the right direction.


        Now that you know the basic information about woodcarving for beginners, you shouldn’t find it difficult to start carving. Get yourself a sharp carving knife and any wood of your choice, probably from the ones mentioned above. Begin with a simple project that does not have a complex shape.
        We would love to hear about how your first project turns out as a beginner wood carver. You can make use of our comment box.

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Jessica Grace

Hey there! I am Jessica Grace - Main editor of XHomePlus.com. I'm a writer about home improvement, kitchen, and bathroom, and hope to share with everybody. I have a passion for exploring and listening to music during my free time. Thanks for stopping by and I hope you found what you were looking for!

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