May 5, 2021

Wood Carving Ideas for Beginners: An Exhaustive Guide

Wood Carving Ideas for Beginners

This liberation is essential for many people worldwide, but the biggest challenge is getting into it. Wood carving is a widespread skill to learn. It creates a sense of harmony and peace, making it a therapeutic experience for your creative side.

You will find that 90% of a problem is just getting started. However, sometimes things seem very difficult. This article will teach you what you need to know as a beginner woodcarver. By creating, I mean you have never heard of or seen it before – a complete beginner.

We will start by reviewing the tools you’ll need as a beginner and briefly indicate how best to maintain them. We will also discuss some of the best projects beginners often tackle early in their journey. These are great options for someone who wants to get a feel for the hobby.

Let us begin.

Carving Styles

Even though it might look like It, carving wood does not just involve getting a knife and hacking at a piece of wood. Instead, it is a well-decorated profession that carries many subsections regarding the carving methods you can begin to undertake.

These methods vary depending on the tools you use and the product you expect to achieve. These two are the top ones to consider as a beginner.


This is by far a beginner’s choice. It is the closest thing you could get to the idea you have in your head about wood carving. You perform this method with a tiny piece of wood and shave off wood shards. You continue to do this until you see a shape coming out, then you can smooth it out.

See our whittling for beginners guide.

This is one of the main all-purpose wood carving methods. It is the best option if you do not have much space. It is also great if you only have one tool, which is very common among beginners because they have not yet invested.

Relief Carving

This option is for all of us, the inner artist. When looking at relief carving, you must get a wooden panel of pretty much any size you like and then begin carving patterns along the top part of this board. If, for example, you are an artist who enjoys drawing or painting, this might suit you well. This is because you will be taking a knife and drawing on the surface of this wooden board to achieve an artistic item of sorts.

This also does not require many complex and professional tools to complete the job. Another good advantage of this style is that you can do it with any size of wood. Therefore, you do not need a large amount of space.

Maintaining your tools

Depending on the professionalism you want to express in your art, the tools you have become relevant. As with every craft worldwide, you must maintain your devices to succeed.

Whichever tool you use to begin your woodcarving ensures it is not dull. This will only damage the type of wood you are using and frustrate you to the point that you might entirely drop the hobby.

If you have some extra money, it is a good idea to buy yourself a wood carving set online. This will greatly improve your enjoyment of this activity and enhance your therapeutic experience.

The collection of knives that you buy should come with a knife sharpener. This will be important to maintain the quality of your fork and the art projects you can pull out.

Sharpening your tools

Let us assume you have decided to get a bit more serious about this and invest in a wood carving set. Now, those tools are rusting. How do you go about cleaning them?

See How To Sharpen Chisels on a Bench Grinder

One of the best ways to clean those tools is with a water-dampened towel or cloth. However, we recommend using warm water and a small amount of soap for the job—never use hot water when working with wood because it can damage the tool.

Choosing which project to start

Now that your tools are ready, a beginner may wonder which projects to start with.

Many begin by chopping up little pieces of wood and observing what happens when they are cut. Let us say that you want to carve a little object. You should use the whittling method to start and then gradually make it bigger over time.

Carving the wood

Now that you have your first project, what is the best way to maintain it?

While you continue to work on this project, now and then, look at how your knife has been holding up.

You must note that you need a light hand when knifing your wood. You do not want to press on the wood too hard because this can damage the knife blade.

How to use a knife

You must learn to use a knife properly and sharpen it afterwards.

You can do this by using a whetstone and then cutting on your stone until the blade is sharp enough. This is an essential skill because if your blade becomes dull constantly, you will lose the ability to carve wood effectively.

Tips for beginners

Tools should always be kept in good condition and prepared for their next session. As this hobby grows in popularity, more and more equipment comes to market, but the essential tools are easy to locate.

Carvers use a knife with a metal blade to create a design for the wood. Depending on the knife, the blade can be as long as 6″ (150mm), each with a specific purpose.

Loose parts of the carving are secured with glue or other adhesives to create solid sculptures, such as heads or hands.

How to use a chisel

The chisel is another tool for carving wood. Carvers use it in the secondary stages of carving, creating outlines with a sharp blade. The shape of the chisel tip can vary depending on the work undertaken.

The bow rasp is a highly versatile tool for making curved cuts and deep grooves in wood and other soft materials.

When making deep scores or cuts in stone or wood, a sculptor or carver uses a mallet to hammer the chisel into place.

Wood Carving Safety

Many things must be considered when using carving knives or any tools. Safety is necessary for all carvers and the material they are working on.

Wood is very sharp and must be handled carefully, especially while carving. Carving knives should be kept in a safety case and not left out or used carelessly where they can injure anyone. A dust mask and goggles are other vital equipment that should always be available for every workspace.

Wood carving patterns for beginners

There are many patterns for wood carving from which a carver can choose. A person may carve an intricate design with a deep symbolism or meaning. One of the most common woodcarving patterns is a simple heart shape, which usually means love in English.

The signature of each work can be stamped or engraved into the wood and used as a signature for the artist.

Wood carving tools

Wood carving tools are very similar to those used for metalworking and sculpting. Chisels make a deep cut or a shallow groove in the wood or stone. Sculptors often use mallets, hammers, and knives to put deep grooves into wood or stone.

This is another way to carve wood. You cut out the carving shape on a piece of cardboard or plastic and then use the pattern to make it into the wood.

Beginner carving projects to try

Mythical Creatures

If you want to create something quite artistic that you can preserve and keep somewhere on display in your house as a souvenir for your efforts, then little mythical figures such as gnomes, wizards, and dragons are always a fabulous way to start.

It will not require too much strength or tools to get going. This is because they can often be made small enough to allow you the perfect experience with wood carving. If you have the right tools, you will also focus on the level of detail you want to achieve, which is good practice.


Suppose you want to build something you can be proud of using daily. Then why not try making a couple of utensils as a starting point for your new hobby? This is a great and practical idea for beginners since you do not need a large amount of wood, and you will feel inspired by using something you make daily when you eat your cereal.

Carving out a spoon often does not take much time, and it can be easily smoothed out and hollowed out. Therefore, it is quite simple to carve out and preserve.


A simple wooden sign could be a great way to get you started. This would require a flat wooden board that you could quickly carve with a knife. Many beginners have started with this and made beautiful signs for the front of their homes.

Comforting and motivational wooden posters provide a natural and calm aesthetic to homes. Consider this if you are looking for something simple and easy to do to get a hobby.


To conclude this article, you must first be well prepared for any craft you want to do. Ensure you have the right tools when you get started to give you something close enough to the experience.

This will give you a lot of motivation and information about whether you want to continue this hobby. It would help to be careful not to bite off more than you can chew. Start with something simple that is easy to design, like a sign or small utensil. If you start with something difficult, it may be too difficult and put you off woodcarving altogether.

References and Further Reading

Rivett, P. (2006). Wood Carving Today: A Hands-on Guide to History, Tools, and Techniques. New York: Sterling Publishing Co., Inc.

Letras en el Arte. (2016). Letras en el arte | Es una herramienta profesional para el aprendizaje de las letras y ortografía [Online]. Available at: [Accessed 2 Jan. 2017].

Shah, D. (2011). The Art of Carving Signs: Decorative Techniques for Carving Wood Signs. Available here.

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