How to choose wood for carving?

How to choose wood for carving? This is one of the most important questions in wood carving. You need to have good tools, but also to have a good wood for your work. And in this blog we want to share with you about different types of wood.

How to choose wood for carving?

Wood carving is not an easy art, to begin with there are a lot of things you can do to make the learning and carving process easier for you. One of the most fundamental game-changer of the learning experience is your choice of wood. If you choose the wood that is easy to work on, you’ll find that learning to carve wood will become a reasonably easy process.
When it comes to wood, each and every type has its very own aesthetic beauty, personality and physical attributes. This means that some species are naturally more suited to some tasks than others.

In relation to carving, factors such as wood texture, quality and workability are absolutely crucial in determining what the end product will look like.

Wood carving is a wonderful skill and pastime that has been around ever since we were able to use pointed hand tools and employ the use of intricate techniques to add shape, nuance and character to a specific timber project.

But if you're just starting out in your carving endeavors, which woods are best? And how do you go about choosing the right material?
What is the best wood for carving? Best wood for carvingTo make things easy if you’re a beginner, carving timber can be classified into two categories- softwood and hardwood. Between these two, softwood often tends to be more expensive and harder to obtain. Both have their unique properties, but hardwood is universally preferred due to its functionality.
Hardwood such as bass is the best medium for carving as opposed to softwood. The dense grain structure of hardwood timber allows it to absorb more moisture than softwood, making it easy to carve. This is why furniture makers prefer hardwood over softwood as wooden products made out of them tend to last longer.
For novice wood carvers lime, alder, willow, poplar and birch are the best options for practice. Other hardwood timber ideal for carving includes sycamore, cherry, beech and rowan and other fruit woods. Experimentation is the key here, you need to practice on different types of timber to find out which one works best for you.

The easiest woods to carve


The butternut is a rare softwood timber that is actually beginner friendly and easy to work on. You need a certain degree of practice before starting to work on softwood timber. The color of the heartwood of butternut has a light brown color. The wood is coarse with straight large grains. This makes butternut ideal for wood carving artwork. You will have an easy time working on this with a whittling knife.

White pine

It is the best softwood which is popular among newcomers and experienced wood carvers alike. It shares certain physical characteristics with basswood such as the cream-colored heartwood and thick grain while being easy to whittle with a knife. This timber is especially useful in carving projects that require curvature in design.

Yellow cedar

Yellow cedar or cypress is a personal favorite of many wood carvers. The wood has a nice grain density and is easy to paint on. You can experiment with the effect of the hue since the timber matures with age, generally taking a uniform medium to fine texture. It’s easy to work on with both hands and machinery, making it an ideal choice for beginner and advanced carving projects.


An ideal for larger projects. A classic carving choice that has been popular among craftsmen since time immemorial. Oaks are very easy to work on using hands and carving tools. The grain density is much higher than basswood, but that’s not a bad thing since it allows you to work on large pieces with intricate designs easily. The strength, sturdiness, and versatility all work together in its favor, making oak the universal choice for large projects such as making interior or exterior furniture.


Aspen comes in third in terms of ease of carving in this list. It gives off a nice glossy appearance when oiled, making it ideal for both furniture and show pieces. Despite have a dark greenish bark, the timber itself has a light brown texture. The timber is light and durable and can be obtained easily from most timber suppliers.

Black walnut

While not as widely used as the previous mentions in this list, black walnut is highly coveted among wood carvers. Mainly used for luxury carving, black walnut has a gorgeous appearance. The timber has a rich dark chocolate-brown color. It has a dense grain pattern that gives it a strong lustrous look. As to be expected, black walnut has a high price tag, but if you want to make your carvings look splendid and opulent, then there’s no better candidate.

American cherry

American cherry is another excellent timber that is easy to carve on. The heartwood texture of American cherry varies from light pink to a rich red-brown texture, making it highly coveted by experienced wood carvers and furniture makers around the world. The sapwood of the American cherry is cream colored and has straight grain. It’s a bit more difficult to work on compared to the previous mentions in the list, but the effect of the final project is worth the effort.

American white ash

The American white ash is not as widely used for carving, but nevertheless, has a subtle effect that makes it suitable for certain types of carving projects. The texture of the heartwood of the American white ranges from faded brown to a crisp light brown. The sapwood has a white texture. It has a optimal grain density that has a straight grain with a coarse uniform texture.

There are various types of American white ash owing to the fact that the physical properties of the timber varies according to different regions.