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Is Walnut Wood Good for Carving?


carving walnut wooden block

When it comes to wood carving, selecting the right wood blanks by BeaverCraft is crucial for achieving outstanding results. One such wood that has gained popularity among woodcarvers is walnut wood. With its rich tones and beautiful grain, it offers a variety of options for carving enthusiasts. In this article, we will delve into walnut wood carving, explore different types of walnut wood, discuss its pros and cons for carving, and highlight various walnut wood projects where this wood truly shines.

Best Walnut for Carving

walnut wooden blocks

If you've already read our article about the best carving wood for beginners and have chosen walnut for your carving project, it's important to note that there are several types of walnut wood, each with unique characteristics and aesthetic appeal. Let's take a closer look at some of the most notable walnut wood varieties used for carving and explore the walnut wood properties:

English Walnut Wood

Also known as Circassian walnut, European walnut, or French walnut, this type of walnut wood is sought after for its lighter, golden-brown hues and distinct grain patterns. Carvers often favor this type of walnut due to its excellent workability and ability to hold intricate details.

Black Walnut Wood

Black walnut wood, native to North America, boasts rich, dark brown hues, making it a popular choice for carving. Its deep color and lustrous finish contribute to the striking beauty of the finished carvings. Black walnut wood for carving is prized for its durability, making it an excellent choice for a wide range of projects.

Claro Walnut Wood

Also known as California black walnut, Claro walnut wood exhibits stunning color variations, ranging from light to dark browns with occasional red, purple, or black streaks. Its captivating figure and distinctive grain make it a favorite among woodcarvers seeking unique, eye-catching designs.

White Walnut Wood

White walnut wood, commonly known as butternut, offers a softer and more delicate appearance than other walnut varieties (If you're a fan of carving with soft wood, don't miss out on our review of the softest woods perfect for your craft). It is lightweight, easy to work with, and displays a light brown color. Although less dense and durable than other walnut wood types, its affordability and dimensional stability make it suitable for wood carving.

Bastogne Walnut

Bastogne walnut is a hybrid wood created by crossing the English walnut and Claro walnut. This walnut wood exhibits exceptional strength and resilience, making it a popular choice for larger carving projects or items requiring durability.

Peruvian Walnut Wood

Peruvian walnut wood stands out with its darker color and coarser grain compared to other walnut varieties. It boasts a rich, dark chocolate color perfect for high-end woodworking projects.

Each type possesses distinct walnut wood properties, ensuring a diverse range of options for woodcarvers to choose from based on their preferences and project requirements.

Is Walnut Hard to Carve?

While walnut wood offers numerous advantages for carving, it's essential to address the question of its workability. Walnut wood carving can be a delightful experience due to its moderate hardness, making it relatively easy to shape and carve. But let's explore the pros and cons of walnut wood to understand its overall suitability for different projects.

wood carved elephant with walnut blocks

Advantages of Walnut Wood for Carving

Walnut wood offers several advantages that make it a preferred choice for woodcarvers:

  • Beautiful Grain. Walnut wood has a captivating grain pattern, ranging from straight and consistent to more intricate and unique patterns like burls and curls. This distinctive grain adds visual interest and depth to your carved projects. If you want to preserve and enhance the natural beauty of wood grain in your carving endeavors read our article «How to maintain wood grain?».
  • Medium Density. With its moderate density, walnut wood strikes a balance that allows easy carving while providing substantial strength and durability to your finished pieces.
  • Stability. Walnut wood possesses excellent dimensional stability, reducing the risk of warping or cracking. It ensures that your carved projects retain their form and beauty for years.
  • Finishing Qualities. Walnut wood responds exceptionally well to various finishes, including oils, stains, and lacquers, allowing you to enhance its natural beauty and achieve the desired aesthetic for your carvings.
  • Durability. Known for its durability, walnut wood can withstand the test of time. Its inherent strength makes it suitable for functional carved items such as kitchen utensils, walking sticks, and canes, ensuring they remain resilient even with regular use.

walnut wood

Downsides of Walnut Wood for Carving

Walnut wood offers numerous advantages for carving, but it's essential to consider the potential downsides:

  • Splintering. Due to the nature of its grain, walnut wood can be prone to splintering, especially when carving across the grain. Proper carving techniques and sharp tools can help minimize this issue. Follow our guide to stop wood from splitting while wood carving.
  • Density Variations. Walnut wood may exhibit variations in density, leading to slight variations in carving difficulty and the potential for uneven cuts.
  • Allergic Reactions. Some individuals may experience allergic reactions when working with walnut wood. Taking appropriate safety precautions, such as wearing masks and gloves, is essential.
  • Limited Availability. While walnut wood is popular among carvers, its availability may be limited in certain regions, resulting in higher prices or difficulties in sourcing specific varieties.

Green Walnut Wood vs. Dry Walnut Wood

When considering walnut wood carving, you may come across the terms «green» and «dry» wood. Green walnut wood refers to freshly cut wood with higher moisture content, while dry wood has been seasoned to reduce its moisture content. Both green and dry wood can be used for carving, but dry walnut wood is generally better as it is less prone to warping and cracking. By allowing the wood to dry properly, either through air-drying or kiln-drying, carvers can ensure better results and minimize the risk of damage to their projects. If you are interested in the topic of dry and wet wood, you can read about it and much more in the article «Types of Wood for Wood Carving».

walnut wooden block

Is Walnut Good for Whittling?

Without a doubt, walnut blocks wood carving offers a versatile and reliable material for creating intricate and stunning whittling projects. Its beautiful grain patterns, medium density, and excellent workability make it an ideal choice for this traditional carving technique. The ability of walnut wood to hold fine details and maintain its structural integrity even in complex whittling projects makes it a favorite among whittlers worldwide. So, if you're interested in honing your whittling skills or trying your hand at this time-honored craft, walnut wood is a reliable option.

carved elephant on walnut wooden blocks

Walnut Carving Projects

Walnut wood lends itself well to a wide range of carving projects. Here are just a few exciting ideas to get your creative juices flowing:

Decorative Bowls

Carving elegant bowls out of walnut wood allows you to showcase its beautiful grain and stunning color, creating functional yet attractive pieces of art.


The medium density and workability of walnut wood make it an excellent choice for sculpting intricate and expressive figurines or larger sculptural works.

Relief Carvings

Walnut wood's stability and dimensional accuracy make it a popular option for relief carving, where designs are carved into a flat surface, creating a three-dimensional effect.

Walking Sticks or Canes

Walnut wood's strength and durability make it an ideal choice for crafting walking sticks or canes that are practical and aesthetically pleasing.

Carved Spoons

Carving spoons from walnut wood allows you to explore both functionality and artistic expression, resulting in unique and tactile kitchen utensils.

wooden spoons

With all the walnut wood properties like versatility and aesthetic appeal, the possibilities for carving projects are truly limitless. Whether you're a seasoned woodcarver or just starting your carving journey, experimenting with walnut wood can open up a world of creative possibilities. So, grab your tools, find the perfect walnut block, and let your carving skills shine!



Roman Law

Wood carving guru

From a childhood enchanted by nature, my passion for wood carving guided me on a path of creativity. With a pocket knife, I uncovered the transformative power of my hands, breathing life into driftwood and forging a lifelong connection with the medium.

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