September 13, 2021

How to Start a Wood Carving Hobby

So you want to start a wood carving hobby, eh? Are you sure you want to? I mean, you could always stop and go back to your old hobbies (such as starting a blog, making a nerdy costume, or eating pizza) and make a living. Or you could keep your nose to the grindstone and become a professional woodcarver. The decision is yours. 

Wood carving is one of the oldest hobbies that humankind has ever developed, and many people have practiced it for generations. There is a lot of work that goes into mastering the craft of wood carving. Before you start carving, it is essential to know what tools to use. Clean your tools, sharpen your tools, and prepare your workspace.

Essential Tools To Get Started (You Don’t Need To have them all)

  • Chisels
  • Mallet
  • Plane
  • Sandpaper
  • Workbench
  • Work stool
  • Work light
  • Work gloves (cut resistant)

Finding the right tools requires you to understand the carving you need, so you need to research and see the most common tools needed for the type of work you want to start.

Ask professionals or take a short course for you to get acquainted with the knowledge of carving. Listen to Youtube videos about wood carving and go and observe what other carvers do when working. Showing interest is a good start.

Find a place or a workspace big enough for carving. If it’s home, you will need to prepare a place where you will be working. Design the place and make it ready for work, whether in the garage, basement, or a stand-alone building.

Make sure you need a secure place for your tools to avoid the risk of misplacing and stopping work while you are trying to find the tools. Have at least one table, several clamps, essential, for example, wood glue, hammers, tape measure, speed squares, sandpapers, or sharpening stones in the working area.

If you have a room, you will need to keep it well ventilated and make sure that it is secure enough for you to leave your work drying overnight and come back.

Selecting the right wood for carving

The type of wood to use depends on the work, and there is a lot to consider when choosing wood. It includes the type of finish you will be using etc.

Remember to take one step at a time. Warm up by moving slowly at first; that is, start small. Once you have set up your workspace and your tools are ready, it is vital to reign in your ambition, so try to do projects that will motivate you to go ahead. Start with small or set for yourself SMART goals.

Choose simple and easy tasks as you learn by following instructions and learning how to handle tools safely. Starting small will help you to get the basics of workshop safety down. Just like learning to drive, you will need to start by taking all precautions, follow all the procedures, every single detail until you know everything.

Consider taking a small course or do on-job training with professionals in wood carving. Also, you can access the internet or YouTube videos for tutorials on how to wood carve. These videos on YouTube will help your work become easy because you will need to copy just as you will do with a Dremel tool that acts as a stencil.

Start by whittling wood to create statues and even centerpieces. Whittling can be done using a mere knife or V tools. Identify whittled wood pieces by looking for carvings with visible knife marks. Do not use sandpaper.

Identify and procure the tools and softwood to start with. Cheap tools will be the best because they will make starting inexpensive for you.

Sharpen your tools to prolong the lifespan of the tool. Before anything, one needs to familiarize with the tools and types of wood, at least try to understand how each tool works, and find out what can be made using a particular wood type.

You may need to purchase a CNC machine that will help you cut wood and draw or formulate designs. The machines are easy to use, and they will help you cut wood the exact way you want.

All the types of wood carving are interesting and beautiful in their different form, and the wood carving types available to choose for your hobby are as below:


This is the oldest form of wood carving, distinct for its sharp textured cuts that leave knife strokes. Whittling usually makes angular sculptures, and you will have to use a cutting knife for whittling wood.

Relief Carving

This is a process of carving figures into the wood. You start with a flat wood panel and carve figures into it, leaving the back flat.

Chip Carving

Chip carving involves using a knife, a chisel, and a mallet. The process consists in chipping away at a piece of wood. You can create intricate patterns on wooden plates and boards. This essential wood carving tool consists of a blade about an inch and a half long, with a long handle designed for comfort so it does not hurt your hand. This is available for about $20.

Learn how to handle a wood carving knife

Always strive to understand and learn how to handle the tools you are using to reduce the risk of injuring yourself. The other best idea is to make sure you wear protective clothing when using very sharp tools. Constantly nurse or service your tools to make your work easier. Master every technique needed to make your job comfortable

Carve along the grain

Determine the direction where the grain is moving by carving a piece of wood out of a corner, take note of the long dark streaks running through the wood. This will help you to work the wood with minimum risk of breaking.

Sketch out the woodcuts

Always draw or sketch up your plan on a piece of paper, and this will help you minimize the risk of getting your work wrong. Use a ruler and pencil to sketch. As a beginner, start with 2d projects, for example, engraving letters. Always practice doing the basics in wood carving, and practice makes work perfect. Affordable material will get you started well.

Practice with scrap wood

Practice with scrap wood so that you familiarise yourself with the type of wood and tools—cutaways from your body to reduce the risk of cutting yourself. Use sharp tools to make your work perfect.

Hold the tools correctly

  1. When using a knife, grasp the wood with your weaker hand, keep the hand behind the tool’s blade, and carefully press your thumb against the blunt side of the tool to help control it.
  2. When using a gouge, hold the handle in the palm of your dominant hand while steadying the shaft by pinching it between the thumb and index finger of your strong hand.
  3. Control the direction of the carving tool with your wrist and not your elbow

Carve along the grain

Make your cuts along the grain instead of working against it. Examine the wood and find the long, parallel lines running through it. The lines may run parallel or not but to the sides of the board. Carve in a downward direction onto the grains or diagonally.

 Wood Carving For Beginners: Essential Tips on How to Get Started | Udemy Blog

Investing more time in wood carving is the other best idea to make it a hobby. Take time to go for seminars and competitions of woodcarvers. Go for exhibition trips and gatherings where you can show your work to the world and try to affiliate with a group of people who are also into wood carving. You may also benefit from knowing How to Remove Stickers from Wood. Finally, planning makes all the difference. We recommend checking out Our Favourite Wood Project Planner.

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