Monday, July 2, 2018

Woodcarving Tips for Beginners

From a cute little bear carving for the kid's room to something more functional for the kitchen, wood carving is a popular pastime. It can almost be therapeutic to watch something emerge from a block of wood or a stick. You can take it up as a hobby or become good enough to make a nice little crafting business with practice.

What Wood Would You Use?

The type of wood is more than just a personal preference. You wouldn't use something very soft like balsa for a chainsaw carving, nor would you use a chisel with a tough, fibrous wood. You should also consider grain when choosing a type of wood. A board that has a lot of knots or flaws might be unattractive and hard to work.
Seasoning is important, too. Fresh wood will have a high moisture content, making it difficult to detail. Drying the wood artificially could make it too brittle. It's best to allow it to air dry until much of it's natural sap has dissipated, about like good fire wood.

What to Carve?

This is one area that is more about personal preference than materials, although some materials are better for one purpose than another. Wood lends itself mostly to objects like walking sticks or sculpture. Driftwood needs to be worked the least, as each piece has a unique shape of it's own. It's often used as an accessory object for groupings or as abstract sculpture. Michaleangelo once said that he doesn't force an object to be what he wants; he waited until it 'told' him what it was. Because it has such unique markings or patterns, you may 'see' what a piece wants to be and help it achieve its destiny.

Finishes for Wood Sculpture

Soft woods like basswood and balsa usually will need to be painted. They don't take to stain well, nor do they have attractive enough patterning for natural, unfinished pieces. Richly colored and marked varieties like cherry, mahogany and ebony are the best to leave natural, and they grow more beautiful with age. Close-grained hardwoods like walnut or oak take stain, paint and natural finishes equally well.

Using these guidelines and some experimentation, you can see what works best for you.


  1. A lot more goes into in than I thought. I'd still suck though. Probably lope off a thumb lol

  2. I am so impressed with those who have a talent for wood carving. I couldn't do it myself, but I did buy a wood burning kit that I want to try my hand at soon.

  3. That's fun!

    My husband's high school art teacher just passed away. We weren't able to go to the funeral, but did go to a dinner on her behalf. We learned that she had that stomach band surgery, and didn't take her prescribed meds after it. She took over the counter ones. Well because she didn't take them, it robbed her body of proper things she needed. She kind of had something like Dementia because of it. So sad!

    My husband was given her fake knees to make a sculpture out of. The her husband said to Travis, "We still have your bear sculpture that was made of soap. It's in our bathroom. You were one of her favorite students." That's why the long comment. The bear sculpture. It was made in 93, so it's pretty old.

  4. I'm sorry to hear about your husband's art teacher. :( Who would think OTC would hurt? That's a mistake any of us could possibly make!


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