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Into Wood Carving 101: Beginner Level

by Roman Law 17 Jun 2024 0 Comments

into wood carving

So, you're thinking about picking up wood carving as a hobby? Great idea! Carving wood is a super fun and relaxing activity that lets you unwind, express your creativity, and create all sorts of cool stuff.

Understanding how to do wood carving involves not just the technique but also getting familiar with the right tools and materials. From choosing the perfect wood to selecting the best carving knives and chisels, there's a lot to learn, but don't worry—we've got you covered.

This beginner's guide will show you the ropes and get you started on your wood carving journey. We'll walk you through the basics, from the history of wood carving to essential safety practices and even some easy projects to try out.

What is Wood Carving?

Wood carving, at its core, is about sculpting wood into various shapes and forms using specialized tools. It's been around for ages, with different cultures putting their spin on it. From intricate totems to functional kitchenware, wood carving is a craft that spans generations, mixing old-school vibes with new-school creativity.

Some carvings are pure art, while others are super practical—like that favorite spoon you use every morning. But hey, anything made by hand is worth a thumbs-up, right? And let's be real, working with wood, a material that's been around forever and is so full of character, is always worth celebrating.

wooden bird

History of Wood Carving

Wood carving traces its roots back to ancient civilizations, with early humans using primitive tools to carve symbols, figures, and other stuff from wood. Over time, this rudimentary practice evolved into a sophisticated art form, with different cultures developing unique carving techniques and styles.

In Egypt, wood was carved for furniture and sarcophagi. Asia used wood carvings for spiritual purposes, as seen in temples and shrines. In Europe, intricate carvings adorned churches during the Middle Ages. In the Americas, indigenous cultures used wood carving for art and storytelling. Today, wood carving blends tradition with modernity, offering a timeless creative outlet.

Benefits of Wood Carving as a Hobby

Looking for a hobby that offers a perfect mix of relaxation and creativity? It's wood carving! It allows you to escape the stresses of daily life and immerse yourself in a calming, meditative activity. It's a fantastic way to express your artistic side and create unique, personalized gifts, utensils, and decor. Moreover, wood carving hones your focus and patience, teaching you to work meticulously and appreciate the beauty of slow, deliberate craftsmanship.

So, whether you're looking to unwind after a long day at work, seeking a creative outlet to express yourself, or simply eager to learn a new skill, carving wood is the ultimate hobby for getting crafty and feeling awesome about it.

wooden cat

And you might be wondering now, «How to start wood carving?» Well, just keep reading!

Basic Wood Carving Tools

If you're wondering how to get into wood carving, the first thing you should do is get to know the basic tools. These tools are super important for beginners who want to start carving. Each serves a specific purpose and is used in various techniques to achieve different effects in your carvings.

Carving and Whittling Knives

First, there are carving and whittling knives. These are your go-to tools for shaping and detailing your wood crafts. They come in all shapes and sizes, helping you achieve the desired depth and precision in your carvings. Perfect for getting those fine details just right.

wood carving knives


Chisels are like the heavy lifters of wood carving. They're great for removing bigger bits of wood and creating those sharp edges and clean lines. With different types like straight, skew, and more, you'll have the right tool for any carving job.

wood carving chisel


Gouges are essential for creating depth and texture in your carvings. These versatile, curved tools are perfect for hollowing out wood and creating smooth, rounded shapes. Whether carving concave surfaces or adding intricate details, gouges add some serious dimension to your projects.

wood carving gouges

Don't forget to read out our beginners guide «Best Wood Carving Tools For Beginners».

Types of Wood for Carving

Just as it's crucial to grasp the essence of what is wood carving, it's equally important to understand what wood is good for carving. The type of wood you choose can significantly impact your carving experience and the final outcome of your project. Different woods possess distinct characteristics that affect their workability, durability, and appearance. Knowing these things will help you pick the right wood for your carving projects.

carving wooden block

Don't miss our guide about «Best Wood For Wood Carving».

Softwood for Carving

Softwoods like basswood, pine, and cedar are perfect for beginners. They're easy to carve and budget-friendly. These woods are forgiving for mistakes, making them ideal for learning and experimenting.

Hardwood for Carving

Hardwoods such as oak, maple, and cherry offer durability and intricate grain patterns. Though harder to carve, they yield stunning results with skill and technique. They're great for advanced carvers seeking a challenge. Interested which one is better for you? Check out our detailed guide «Hardwood Vs. Softwood».

Basic Carving Techniques

While the world of wood carving is vast and diverse, there are some common techniques that every beginner carver should know. These foundational techniques form the building blocks of wood carving, giving you a strong start for your artistic journey. Whether you're drawn to the simplicity of whittling or the complexity of relief carving, there's a carving style that's perfect for you.

Relief Carving

Relief carving involves carving designs into the surface of wood, creating a raised pattern or image. It's like drawing in 3D, adding depth and dimension to your work. Start with a flat piece of wood and carve away the background to make your design stand out. Find more about relief carving here.

wood carved eagle

Wood Whittling

Whittling is all about shaping wood with just one tool—a whittling knife—to create small figurines, utensils, and decorative objects. It's a relaxing and portable form of carving, perfect for beginners. All you need is a sharp knife and a piece of wood to get started.

wood whittling

Look for more information on «How To Whittle Wood» from BeaverCraft.

Chip Carving

Chip carving is a technique where you remove small chips of wood to create intricate geometric patterns and designs. It requires a bit of patience and precision but can create stunning results. Chip carving is often used to decorate furniture, boxes, and other wooden objects. In case you haven't noticed, we also have an article «What Is Chip Carving?».

chip carved wood

Safety Practices for Wood Carving

When it comes to wood carving, it's all fun and games until someone gets a splinter. That's why safety is key! Ensure your tools are not only appropriate but also sharp to minimize the risk of slips and mishaps. Don't forget your safety gloves or

Simple Spoon Carving

Spoon carving is a great beginner project. It’s functional, requires minimal tools, and gives you a lot of freedom to add personal touches.

wood carved spoon

Simple Animal Figures

Animal figures are another fun project. They can be as simple or as detailed as you like, making them a great way to practice your skills.

wooden sculpture

Check out our «How To Carve» blog category and find the perfect wood carving project for you!

DIY Kits' Projects

Don’t foget about DIYcarving kits; they are a great option for beginners. They come with everything you need for a specific project, including a pre-cut blank for easier carving.

wooden sculptures

Tips to Improve Wood Carving Skills

Getting better at wood carving is all about practice and patience. Don't jump into complex projects right away—begin with simple shapes and gradually tackle more detailed designs. Always keep your tools sharp; it makes a huge difference in the quality of your work and your safety. Experiment with different types of wood to see what feels best for you.

Watch tutorials and read up on various techniques to expand your skill set. Joining a community of fellow carvers, whether online or in-person, can provide valuable insights and feedback. Most importantly, carve regularly. The more you practice, the more you'll improve.

wooden sculpture with carving tools



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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BeaverCraft Company guarantees that:

Each tool is tested and undergoes strict quality control. Our tools are professionally-sharpened and come razor-sharp ready to use right out of the box. Every instrument has a sturdy construction, and its blade is securely glued and firmly attached to the handle. The tool blade is made of hardenable carbon steel and hardened to 56+ HRC. Our tools will not break if appropriately used (only for wood carving jobs).

The warranty does not cover the following cases:

Normal wear and tear of the product. Each customer should independently maintain the sharpness of the purchased tool. Loss of sharpness during operation is not a reason for the repair or replacement of the tool manufactured by BeaverCraft. Misuse or abuse. BeaverCraft tools are designed for hand carving only. Lack of maintenance and cleaning (learn about tool care). Defects resulting from incorrect tool storage are not reasons for replacement. Self-repair, modification, disassembly, and other human behavior that causes damage. Tool loss.

Return/Replacement Policy

Please contact our customer service team if any BeaverCraft tool has failed due to manufacturing defects or doesn't match the listing description. Let us know what happened; attach a picture of the instrument that clearly shows the problem, and describe how you used the tool. We also require further information, such as your contact details which include the following: your name, phone number, address, and email address that you can send to We will replace the tool with a new one at our own expense and pay all the shipping costs.

Awareness Statement

The ten years guarantee applies only to wood carving tools from BeaverCraft. Always pay extreme attention when unpacking, using, or sharpening any of our tools. BeaverCraft tools are not designed as weapons and should never be used as such. Injuries occurring during the careless use or improper maintenance of BeaverCraft tools are a risk that our customers are aware of. You should never forget safety precautions and follow the correct procedure for using wood carving tools. Children should not use BeaverCraft tools without adult supervision.

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