Tips On Choosing Wood For Your Woodcarving Work

Wood comes in many types and as such, it is essential to know the type of wood you need for your specific woodwork. When it comes to woodcarving, knowing the characteristics of the wood you wish to use will go a long way in helping you realize the best artwork. Each wood type comes with a different texture, color and weight, so you need to understand the purpose for which it will be used before making your choice.

Choosing Between Softwoods


If you are a hand carver the most common wood you will find is the basswood and this is so because of various reasons. The Basswood is comparatively soft and since it is closely grained, it is capable of holding details very nicely. In addition, it is non-toxic, so you do not have to worry about your health when working with it. The wood is generally white although you will find some brown streaks in it. You will not realize any major differences between the sapwood and the heartwood.

This wood is often painted since it does not have natural grain pattern, which makes it appear bland. However, you can bring out its grain by applying a mixture of mineral spirits and boiled linseed oil to the finish. This process will help seal all the curving and make it look bright and grained.

Basswood is closely associated with lime since they have similar features. The most popular carving basswood comes from the northern states, including Minnesota and Wisconsin. They can be found in small blocks or custom cutouts. If you are a beginner carver, this type of wood would be a good bet for your woodwork save for its relatively high price.


The Northern white pine is yet another appropriate choice for your woodcarving. It has similar features to basswood. It is awesomely soft, making it easy to curve. It also comes with a reasonable price. If you cannot find this type, sugar pine will be a good alternative.


Cottonwood comes as white soft carving wood and is common for carving wooden spirits as well as whimsical houses. Its bark is fairly soft and easy for hand carvers. What’s more, it does not suffer from split not to mention that it has an attractive finish even when it is not painted.


Although not commonly available, especially for large- scale projects, it remains one of the most popular carving wood given its beautiful color and attractive grain. It resembles walnut only that it is a bit lighter in color and easier to carve. However, the downside of butternut is that it is vulnerable to insect problems. A majority of this wood will feature wormholes but may be considered a blessing in disguise since these holes give it a natural character.

A Look at Hardwoods

Walnut is arguably a popular hardwood, a feature that makes it difficult to carve using hand tools. You will need extremely sharp tools and a mallet to obtain the best results. If you are working with a power carver, this wood would be a good option. It is rich in color and grain, qualities that make walnut popular among many workshops. Its beauty can be accelerated by applying a clear sealer.


Mahogany is one of the most popular reddish colored woods that are known to produce the best hardy and attractive furniture. However, it is not easy for someone to tell the characteristics of this wood. As a strong lightweight wood, mahogany has a straight grain and can easily be carved using both hand and power tools. However, you need to know that it has the tendency to split so a lot of care is needed when working with it. If you cannot find mahogany, other hardwoods such as maple, rosewood, fruit trees and teak would be the best alternative. However, these types of wood require power tools to be carved.

Final Thoughts

The type of wood you choose for your carving work will significantly affect the outcome. Hand carvers will prefer different woods from those used by power carvers because of the ease with which they can be carved. As for power carvers, all types of woods can easily be carved and get great detail while this may prove extremely challenging for hand carvers. If you are beginner carver, you will need to pick on the most convenient types of wood. You need to choose your wood carefully to avoid picking on an extremely hard piece of wood that gives you a hard task without many results or too soft that the piece ends up crushing under your hand tools instead of giving you the intended cut. For more information about woodworking, contact Ted’s Woodworking today.

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