What is the Best Wood For Carving?

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If you’re an aspiring woodcarver who has yet to experiment with this beautiful art form, you’ll likely be unsure where to start. Of course, getting the right tools is critical.

But so is choosing the right wood. In this article, We will explain what type of wood is the best for carving and go through the best eight kinds of wood for carving. Let’s begin.

What Type of Wood is Best for Carving?

The best wood for carving for one person might not be the best for another. This might seem an unsatisfactory answer to the question, but it’s true.

Depending on your skill level, style of carving, and desired results, you’ll want to choose a different kind of wood.

For example, a carver who wishes to create small figurines will prefer a wood that is only mildly grained so that the object isn’t dominated by the wood’s grain.

A carver who wants to create a large object will want the grain to be distinctive and robust as it can enhance the large object’s looks and become something of a feature.

Beginners will want to choose a wood that’s got a grain that’s straight as it will be easier for a novice to shape.

What Kind of Wood is the Worst for Carving?

It might be hard to state simply the very best wood for all carvers, but it is relatively easy to assert what woods should be avoided when it comes to wood carving.

No carver will want to work with a piece of wood that’s full of flaws. Study the piece of timber before purchasing it. Make sure that you can’t find any loose knots in it.

Large knots should also be avoided. And if the wood is warped, then you’ll also want to leave it well alone.

It’s a good idea to invest your money in buying a high-quality timber piece for wood carving.

If you use discarded or low-quality woods, you’ll also run the timber’s risk being diseased or stained, which will result in a less aesthetically pleasing object in the end.

Eight of the Best Woods for Carving.


Basswood is a popular choice for many woodcarvers. It’s a dream to work with. Few timbers are as easy to carve as basswood.

One of the reasons why basswood is such a pliable wood that’s easy to work with is down to it having a straight grain. But basswood isn’t just popular with woodcarvers because of its easy-to-carve structure.

It’s also one of the few types of wood that doesn’t warp or deteriorate once treated and seasoned. Basswood is a very reasonably priced wood too.

For woodcarvers who intend on carving both large and small objects, then basswood is a great choice.


Wood that’s harvested from fruit trees is popular amongst woodcarvers because they tend to have a gorgeous appearance once they’ve been worked with.

Cherry is one of the most popular of the fruit trees when it comes to carving wood.

Cherry is a difficult material to work with, though, so you should only use it if you have the right carving wood tools.


Oak is another great choice that’s often used by power carvers. It’s an extremely durable wood, so it tends to be used for large projects, such as for making furniture.

For many, it is the distinctive, strong grain that’s common on Oak that makes it an attractive choice for carvers.

White Pine.

For many carvers, the idea of working with pine is their worst nightmare. But white pine is different.

It can be easily used for carving, especially for larger projects, like creating cabinets or other furniture items.

If you’re a power carver who loves to work with a chainsaw, then white pine the ideal wood for you. White pine also has an excellent reputation when it comes to keeping its shape too.


Lime isn’t found in North America in significant quantities, but it is common in other parts of the world. It’s an excellent wood for carving that’s quite similar to basswood in its advantages.

Just like basswood, lime can be used by beginner carvers who don’t want to be fiddling around with an extremely hard timber.

Perhaps the most significant advantage for a beginner is how forgiving it is to work with. There’s no need to focus too hard on trying not to make mistakes with lime as errors won’t completely ruin the object and can be corrected.


This lightweight wood is the best choice for whittlers. The grain is open on balsa wood, and it’s also an incredible softwood to use.

Actually, balsa is generally recognized as the softest wood in the world.

Once again, this wood is often used by beginners, so if you are thinking of trying your hand at some carving or whittling, then balsa a good option to start to carve with.

White Walnut.

Often referred to as butternut, white walnut is a lightweight wood that’s commonly used for carving.

The grain on the white walnut is straight, so it isn’t hard to carve. For beginners, butternut is an excellent choice because of how simple it is to carve.

Black Walnut.

Black walnut is quite similar to butternut as it also has a straight grain. It is a hard, heavy wood that is quite easy to use for carving, especially when using hand tools.

Few kinds of wood can compare with black walnut in the looks department, and even though it can cost a little extra, it’s worth it because of those great looks.

Choosing the Right Wood for your Style of Carving is Important.

For hand carvers who are new to carving, then wood with a straight, open grain is a good idea.

Butternut and basswood are two of the most popular choices for beginners because they feature these two essential qualities.

Power carvers will want a completely different wood style, especially if they want to create furniture or large objects.

For work like this, the grain can also be a feature, and it won’t matter how hard the wood is. Oak and cherry are two types of wood that are often used by power carvers.

Regardless of your purposes or style of carving, it’s essential always to invest a quality piece of timber that’s not full of loose or large knots, nor warped or infected with the disease.

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