How To Start Wood Carving (All Concerns Cleared)

If woodworking has a common space among us all, wood carving comes first! It’s quite inexpensive, fun-making that asks you for a few tools. 

But as exciting as wood carving seems to us, many get stumbled upon how to take off.

So, how to start wood carving as a beginner?

You may find wood carving intimidating in the first place. But wood carving is very easy to start. All you need is a checklist. Preparing the carving table, getting the right carving tools and wood are the first things to do. After that, everything starts to fall into place. 

Worry not, all confusions that you may have, are prepared to spell out! So, put our handyman hat on, and let’s dig in!

Types of Wood Carving

There are several niches you may find in this wood carving world! Well, woodworkers carve for serving daily needs, regular items. 

Meanwhile, artists find carving an artistic way. That’s just a short snippet of the variation for carve niche. Before knowing how to start wood carving, let’s jump to the main varieties first.


This method is largely operated to deliver a broad variety of designs. As it is the most geriatric niche, whittling asks you simply for a sharper knife. 

For better handling, picking a foldable satchel knife is useful here. Meanwhile, you may explore three major strokes available for whittling. 

Straightaway Rugged Cut

This whittling type is capable of delivering prolonged, wide cuts. You can have it in terms of revealing the basic form of the wood.

Pulling Stroke

It gets closer to you while pulling it. You will get short but controlled strokes here. Pull strokes are considered the most common whittling.

Pushing Stroke

It includes your push to the blade with the left thumb. Meanwhile, the right thumb gets to guide the blade.

Relief Carving

You will get enough comfort by doing it by hand. However, using power tools is also possible. 

Meanwhile, this special wood carving demands more advanced skills for better carving. Finalizing the project into a flattened wood panel will be requiring different approaches. 

However, it serves products consisting of three dimensions. But you will find the back remaining flat. 

Wanna make busts out of carving? Then, relief carving gets you covered! Including, it builds decorative statuettes, travesties, or faces too.

Round Carving

Carving in the round can help you build 3D sculptures. It’s a form of clay sculpture for wood cutting. 

As a result, you will find objects much smoother as well as the angles much rounded. 

Using chisels, gouges, other hand tools, etc., helps you get smoother surfaces. Along with that, natural lines are visible while making the finish. 

Chip Carving

Similar to the relief carving, the backs stay flat here too. For creating 3D figures, this process keeps wood chipping away slowly. 

It also generates intricate patterns in wooden planks. However, looking for a geometrical shape to portray? This filigree process of wood carving can reach you there. 

Enough of carving types? Let’s show you a brief method regarding wood carving, shall we?

Steps Showing How To Start Wood Carving

Won’t keep you waiting anymore! Let’s spill the beans on the wood carving process stepwise:

Step 1: Preparing Carving Table

Mostly, woodworkers find this step trivial. However, having a basic light set up along with workbenches is vital. 

You can’t have a smoother work experience without these. Bright lights, lamps, or even integrated magnifying glasses; each tool serves many benefits. 

Meanwhile, you will get enough protection from having any sort of injury. So, try to avoid skimping to acquire this step comfortably. 

Let’s dig deeper into the wood types now!

Step 2: Choosing Wood Type

Thinking if any type of wooden materials can do the job comfortably? Then, you’re absolutely in the wrong direction! 

Acknowledging wood varieties, specific types that suit well, etc., seal importance here. From the broader aspect, two types of wood you can get. Softwoods and hardwoods. 

However, softwoods are the ideal pick for starting woodworking out. Apart from this cut from an evergreen tree, we have another one- hardwood. 

It ranges from very popular Maple to even Oak, Hickory, etc. You can also check whether wood pairs fit well red Oak.

Choose which has got rough and clean logs. Exclusive from too many knots is ideal. Meanwhile, having knots keeps the difficulty level higher to carve. 

In overall, using linden wood can be your best choice for carving. Relevantly, it’s easier to proceed and keeps a fine texture all over. 

Along with that, Cherry trees also come with textured wood. It carries moisture so that the carving process gets easier.

Now, take a closer look at the variety of woods and their characteristics:

Woods For Carving Nature
Linden Wood Zero knots

Comparatively more elastic and durable

Maple Solid and robust

Used for carving and turning

Oak Highly robust

Take a long time to get dried

White Pine Quite soft

Coming with a creamy color

Easy carving

Birch Wood Carrying sleek

Can be broken easily

Swiss Stone Pine Grows within 1400 to even 2600 meters above from the sea level

Providing an incredible process

Cherry Pink Brown color

Wavy pattern carrying a fine grain

Poplar Wood  A thicker wood carrying a wet core

Incredibly lightweight


Best for indoor usage 

You can explore whether Aspen is a good firewood. Got broader aspects in the variation? Let’s move on to the next!

Step 3: Picking Carve Tools

You have already got workbench ideas previously. But that’s not all! Chisels or gouges that are flat and round appear in the list too. 

Also, don’t forget to carry tiny things like sponges, wet brushes, etc. Wood carving may make your blades dull. Meanwhile, whetstones, and sandpapers work like magic during that process. 

Ceramic whetstones sharpen carving tools with much ease. Bet you can retrieve dull tools by keeping blades at 10 to 20 degrees here. So, maintaining angles and trajectories is vital to sharpen tools.

Let’s have a look at these tools and their usage of them.

Carving Tools Used For
Gouges Contouring, crevices, channels
Chisels Producing straight cuts and shapes
Rasps Excellent finishing, smoother carved
Saw Cutting bit chunks of wood

Now, let’s focus on the wood to get prepared!

Step 4: Getting The Wood Ready

Well, maintaining woods before craving is also your main job! Check whether the wood piece is dried or not. 

Having it dry keeps the overall process easier and simpler. Picking woods from your courtyard? 

Keep an eye out if all the woods are fresh and dry there. If these are not available, showing some patience is a must. 

Usually, tinder green woods come fresh but specifically softer. The softer and greener the wood, the more moisture the wood gets. So, getting high-quality carving woods out of these may take time. 

But there’s always an alternative available to you. Get yourself to the market and pick the best one. 

By the way, starting to carve wood initially may put you into struggling. To overcome hardship and barriers, start carving smaller woods. 

Also, try to pick soft ones so that you get a shape quickly. And avoid carving ambitious figures that can bring you confidence initially.

It’s time to explore more on safety precautions!

Step 5: Taking Safety Precautions

All done with your woods? It’s time to carve. Not really! Allowing yourself to take precautions is a wise decision before carving.

  • Using leather gloves is a must. If not, handling the gouges is a bit difficult. 
  • Jumping out of chips is a common scenario. Try to wear safety goggles.
  • Dust mask is also vital.
  • Prepare a carving table. Meanwhile, the table surface should not be higher than the cutting belt.

Step 6: Starting To Carve

First of all, get your design ready! And, try to portray the sculpture by pencil on the wood piece.

Having your gouge ready? Then, start digging the contours deeper through it. It’s good practice if you can carve thinner parts of the wood with narrow blades. 

Done with all contouring? Now, give an in-depth shape through a flat blade gouge. 

As soon as the wood gets a well outline, you may use a round-shaped gouge. Along with that, make sure to clean the whole wood. 

It controls the sawdust, scraps from being reinserted into the furrows formed by the cleft. Keep a damp sponge or soft brush to proceed the cleaning operation. 

Now, it’s time to paint the notches by a simple black or colored ink. Finally, sanding the whole wood piece. And here you go!

Here’s your bonus tip:

Always cut down the wood pieces in the grain’s direction. But why? Well, this direction comes with a very little resistance. 

Also, it prevents wood from tearing or getting splintered. Along with that, it’s a good practice clamping woods to something while carving.

Step 7: Getting The Finishing Touch

See carefully if the wood has left any drafts or irregularities! Found anything? Then, a round-shaped gouge is always there for you. 

Keep drafts away by using it. Also, it will eliminate and flatten the wood. Also, getting it sand so that all impurities get removed away.

You can explore the ways to fix uneven wood cuts!


How Can I Carve Woods Without Tools?

Though wood carving keeps processes simple, starting without any tools is problematic. However, modifying some tools like the swiss knife, razor, butter knife, etc., can work like whittling tools. Initially, these may handle your actions for carving. But trying culinary knives is discouraged.

What Are The Simplest Wood Carving Projects For Beginners?

Projects such as carving spoons are the simplest ever! Besides, whittling a bunny, owl, or even abstract design is worthwhile for the short period of projects. However, you can add Santa Claus or others in your 5-minute wizards. And yes, it will take only 5 to 30 minutes maximum.

Can I Carve Pine Wood?

As pine woods come in a large variety, you need to follow a few things. White pines are mostly doable for wood carving. Meanwhile, other varieties are barely flexible for wood projects. So, you will find clean white pines much more suitable. Along with that, it’s quite cheaper and easy to go.

Can I Utilize A Dremel Tool For Wood Carving?

Yes, you can! Rotary tool kits such as Dremel tools provide switchable bits. As a result, cutting and carving wooden items becomes easily possible. So, start choosing your design. Then, let Dremel make intricate lines. Lastly, you need sand as a final touch. Dremel works great with short strokes.

How Long Does A Wood Carving Endure?

As we talk about wooden items, a decade to your entire lifetime is the limit. However, the places where you store these keep significance. Out-of-direct sun rays along with regular cleaning will make woods long-lasting. So, placing these on dry and cool spots like cabinets, and bookshelves are good.

Final Words

Hopefully, you got the path of how to start wood carving

Don’t get lost in the varieties. Keeping simple things like safety precautions, etc., can keep your working activities faster, and simpler. 

And pick the suitable wood that fits your carving purpose. We bet you won’t regret it!
Happy woodworking!

Kevin Smith

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