Woods for Carving

Retriever Carved in Wood

What makes a piece of wood a good candidate for a specific carving, and what makes it a piece of scrap wood? Know what piece of wood will be good for any specific type or style of carving. And which wood to not even bother.  The wood medium limits a carvers work to the structure of the wood piece. Wood is layer and grained differently in every direction and become part of the design of the finished object. 


What is Diamond Willow?

Diamond willow is not a species of willow, but rather it is apparently the result of attack by one (Valsa sordida) or possibly more types of fungus on several species of willow (Lutz). I have used the word "apparently" because, although this is the accepted explanation, Mr. Lutz is careful in his wording since he relied on evidence for this from another source (see below). From my own search of the scientific literature, I have not found a second reference to confirm or refute the fungal explanation.


Carving Woods


This list is by no means a complete list of possible woods to use in your carving hobby, it is simply a listing of the woods that I have used and with which I have had experience. With patience and determination any wood can be used in carving.

Carving Wood Selection

This area is strictly your choice, anybody that already carves has their favorites. Cherry and walnut are often my choices for natural finish pieces, Tupelo, Jelutong and basswood are generally my woods of choice for fish carvings that are to be painted since they have a boring cream color with little if any visible grain pattern.

For sculptures of natural wood finish, mahogany, walnut, cherry, and butternut provide color with an attractive grain pattern. Butternut is soft and the easy to carve using hand tools. Walnut, mahogany, and cherry are rich in color, moderately difficult to carve with their dense grain, but can take finished well. Gouges and a mallets are often  used with these woods.


Tips on How to Identify the Best Wood for Carving

There are many objects which we can use for carving, and one of them is wood. But we need to know a correct type of wood or what kind of wood which we can use for the wood carving. In this article we will get some tips on how to choose a good wood for the wood carving. A tree can be said to have three component parts: the root, the trunk, and the crown. The roots absorb water and chemical substances from the soil which are carried by the sapwood to the leaves and branches of the tree. The bark of the tree is for protection and insulation. The growth and thickness of the trunk is brought about by cambiumnial cells situated just under the bark of the tree.


Best Woods to Use for Carving

Wood carving is a hobby that various people enjoy, whether they are intricately carving beautiful pieces that are bought by others or they are spending afternoons whittling away for the sheer relaxation and joy of it. There is a great deal of creativity and personal expression that is involved in carving wood. Different varieties of wood can be used successfully for carving and the type that is best will largely depend on the type of carving that a person is attempting. The following are several of the more popular types of wood that are used for carving, along with a description of the carving projects that are undertaken commonly with each.

Choosing the appropriate wood for carving can depend on many factors. Is the wood soft enough to cut easily with a chip-carving knife, or do you need a chisel and mallet? Will it have a natural finish that shows the grain, or will it be painted?

Choosing wood for carvings


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