Wood Carving

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Chipping Away for Beginners

Wood carving is an absorbing and challenging hobby for people who like to work with their hands. With basic tools, some practice and a large dose of patience, wood carving can grow into a deeply rewarding activity.

Choosing a Project

Wood carving projects vary in type and levels of complexity from furniture making to toy carving and jewellery crafting. You could start with a fun holiday project, carving ornaments for your Christmas tree, like stars or snowmen, and progress to more difficult projects.


Begin with basic wood carving tools: a carving knife, a small saw, chisel, gouge, mallet and tool sharpening equipment. Select only tools needed for your project and add to these as you gain expertise.

There are varied styles and methods of wood carving you can try out:

Chip carving involves using a chisel or knife to chip off small pieces from flat wood to create a design.

Relief carving is an ancient method which involves carving out images from a flat panel of wood, so that they project out slightly from the background.

Whittling can be done with a sharp pocket knife. It involves cutting and shaping wood into the object of one’s choice by gradually eliminating portions of wood in and around the desired shape.

Choosing the Right Kind of Wood

There are many aspects to consider while selecting the right wood for your new hobby. Soft woods are suited to chip carving; harder woods will require the use of a chisel and a mallet. Soft basswood is a good option for a first project as it is easily carved and can later be painted. Butternut is another wood that can be easily carved, soft wood with a natural finish. Walnut and mahogany are denser woods and therefore relatively harder to carve. Their deep colour and beautiful grain however, make them a popular choice for wood carving enthusiasts.

Getting Started

Choose a small wood carving project that can be quickly completed, a kitchen spoon or a simple walking stick, for instance. Also, it’s safer, as you are less likely to grow frustrated and develop poor or risky techniques.  Choose a location that’s free of distraction and ensure that you have plenty of time to work on your wood carving.

Safety First

Keep a first aid kit handy before you begin wood carving. Think over each cut before you work on the wood. This will develop your concentration, enable better control over your tools and keep you safe from injuries. Are your tools always sharp? Dull edged tools will make you exert more force, compromising your safety and the final outcome of the wood carving. So there you have it! Get going with your wood carving and have fun with your hobby.

So there you have it! Get going with your wood carving and have fun with your hobby.

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