One of the most pressing concerns for beginning woodcarvers is finding the right wood. Does the perfect wood exist? What is the best wood for wood carving? Most of the success in woodcarving is in using the right wood. And we’ll look into some popular choices until we come up with the best wood for carving.
The 3 Best Types of Wood For Wood Carving
Woodcarvers generally agree with a few factors when it comes to wood carving:
- The type of wood
- The tools
- Wood carving techniques
Wood makes it to the top of the list. Deciding what is the best wood for woodcarving will depend on these other important factors:
- Wood best suited for function – hardwood or softwood?
- Wood that does not dull or damage your woodcarving tools
- Wood grain direction – grain that will give you excellent results whether you carve along or across it
- Wood that does not cause allergies or dermatitis
- Wood with low to no odor
- Wood without defects
Let’s get to our top 3 types of wood for woodcarving.
You may have heard this several times. Basswood is the woodcarver’s choice for wood. Here’s why:
- Basswood has longer edge retention for your carving tools. You won’t need to keep sharpening your devices while you carve.
- Basswood has fine texture, which makes it easier to carve along and across.
- Basswood is suitable for woodcarving techniques, like whittling and chipping.
Basswood easily stains, which isn’t the case for other types of wood.
- Basswood does not have allergens.
- Basswood has zero smell and doesn’t leave a trace of scents like other wood.
If you’re planning to carve kitchen utensils, woodcarvers recommend the traditional black walnut. Here’s why:
- Staining walnut is not necessary because of its beautiful color.
- Walnut, as a type of hardwood, is shock resistant. And its stability makes it suitable for rifle stocks.
- Walnut veneer is popular as furniture accents.
Things to watch out for:
- Walnut dust is problematic. Be sure to don a mask when sanding walnut wood.
Butternut is also a favorite among woodcarvers. If this wood is stained, it looks like black walnut, which makes it a viable option for furniture as well as sculptures. We’re getting closer to the verdict, but before we find out what is the best wood for wood carving, here’s our look at our final contender:
- Butternut’s softness makes it ideal for sculptures and relief carving.
- Butternut is a soft hardwood, which makes it generally flexible with wood carving techniques.
- Butternut works well with hand and power tools.
- Butternut accepts all types of stains.
- Butternut glues easily because of its coarse texture.
Things to watch out for:
- Be careful when you make deep cuts along its grain to avoid popping and tearing.
Now that we’ve read about all three contenders, what is the best wood for wood carving? The carver’s choice and the beginner’s best option for wood carving is Basswood. This fine-grained and featureless piece of wood was a favorite of Native Americans. And it’s no surprise – it will soon be yours, too. Find out more about wood carving here!