An Introduction to Woodcarving

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Woodcarving is a wonderful hobby. Not only can it be an excellent way to relieve stress, but it also allows you to create wonderful and unique crafts that can be sold for profit or used as gifts for friends and family. There are lots of different types of woodcarving, and each type uses different tools. Depending on the types of tools used, there are also unique safety precautions to consider.

In this article, we will review a few different methods of woodcarving to provide you with a quick overview to get you started on your woodcarving journey.


A pair of hands whittling a piece of wood.

Whittling is perhaps the most basic type of woodcarving there is. However, that is not to say that it's easy. When you whittle, you're taking a piece of wood, usually a softwood, and cutting small slices of it off a little at a time to make an object, such as a spoon or a figure.

What You Will Need

Since whittling is so basic, you will only need a few tools.

  • Sharp Knife – There are specialized knives designed specifically with whittling, called whittling knives. Most purists agree that a pocket knife is the best knife since it has multiple blades and is easily portable.
  • Block of Soft Wood – Softwoods such as basswood, pine, or balsa are perfect for whittling.

Safety Precautions

  • Use a sharp knife that won’t get caught in the wood and then spring loose unexpectedly towards your fingers.
  • Always make sure to cut away from your hand.
  • Go slow and have a plan for your cuts.

Chip Carving

Much like whittling, chip carving is a great starting point for beginners because it's usually used to make designs rather than figures and words. It only requires a few basic cuts, but can make some beautiful designs

What You Will Need

Chip carving is a wonderful way to start out on you woodcarving journey since it only requires a few tools.

  • Cutting Knife – The more utilized of the two knives, the cutting knife is used to cut down into and remove chips of wood.
  • Stab Knife – This tool doesn't remove any wood, but is used to cut down into the wood, spreading the fibers apart to create designs.
  • Wood – Any wood may be utilized for chip carving, but a softer hardwood, such as from a Linden tree, is the most common type that master carvers use.

Safety Precautions

  • Keep your tools sharp.
  • If you are just beginning, make sure you use softer woods for easier cuts.
  • Always cut away from your hands and body.
  • Take your time and go slow.

Relief Carving

A pair of hands working on a relief carving.

Relief carving is a more advanced type of carving which may be difficult for a beginner. In a relief carving, you cut and carve away at a flat panel of wood. It's usually used to depict different people, places, animals, and activities. Relief carving relies on perspective to make it look like the carving is three-dimensional. A genuinely talented relief carver's work will look much like a painting.

What You Will Need

To be able to make unique and precise carvings, you need some specialized tools.

  • Chisels – The best wood chisels are used for straight or slightly angled cuts into wood.
  • Gouges – Gouges are used for curved cuts.
  • Mallet – When working with harder wood types, a mallet might be used to make deeper cuts.
  • Wood – You can use any wood for relief carving, but softwoods are best if you are just starting out.

Safety Precautions

  • Keep your tools sharp.
  • If you are just beginning, make sure you use softer woods to make easier cuts.
  • Always cut away from your hands and body.
  • Take your time and go slow.


Just like its name would suggest, pyrography is the art of wood burning. Utilizing the best pyrography kit, you burn words, a design, or a picture of wood to make a beautiful and unique piece of art.

What You Will Need

  • Wood Burning Pen – This specialized tool will plug into an electrical outlet and heat to a few hundred degrees. With various tips, you use it to make your burns.
  • Wet Towel – The wood fibers may build up on your pen tip during a pyrography session after you use it for a while. You can use a wet towel to wipe off these fibers. This will protect your hands and remove the wood quickly.
  • Wood – You may burn on any wood. Just be sure not to burn on finished or reclaimed wood, as the chemicals may be hazardous to your health.

Safety Precautions

  • Pyrography uses a tool to burn wood. Be aware of where the pen tip is at all times. Keep it away from your skin and flammable materials.
  • Do not burn on plastics, finished wood, or reclaimed wood. The toxins released from burning these materials are hazardous to your health.

Hopefully, these quick tips on some of the different types of woodcarving will be helpful to you as you begin your carving journey! For more information visit Best Wood Carving Tool.