Tap to Read ➤

Wood Carving Techniques

Pragya T Mar 2, 2020
Carving of wood is mostly done to create handmade figurines. Read on, to learn about the different wood carving techniques, and the types of wood and tools used for carving.
Wood carving is an art form, where one works on a specific type of wood using special cutting tools, which can be small hand-held tools or large power tools to create wooden figures.
It is similar to sculpture except that, instead of a piece of rock or clay, one is working on a block of wood to create ornamental sculptures. Many fine wood-carved figures and figurine can be observed from the Middle Ages in countries like France and Italy.
Today, carving wood is a popular hobby for which one needs to be able to select the right kind of wood, know at least basic carving techniques, and have the necessary tools required for the job. An eye for detail also helps to create a better finished wooden figure.

Selection of Wood

Whenever working on any piece of wood, it is wise to arrange more delicate parts of a design along the grain, instead across the grain. Also, while woodworking remember the more slender stalks or leaf pints should not be too much separated from their adjacent surroundings.
Direction in which the wood is strongest is called grain, which can be straight, interlocked fiddle back, or wavy in pattern. Most common types of hardwoods used for carving are basswood and tupelo.
These are relatively easy to work on. Mahogany, chestnut and American walnut are also good to work on. Wood parts which are painted for a decorative purpose should not be very delicate in nature, and should be made using pine wood.


For making wooden handicrafts you will need tools. A basic wood carving tool set contains a carving knife, gouge, chisel, V-tool, veiner, and wood sharpening equipment. You can purchase these tools separately, or buy a good-quality kit.
Carving knife is a specialized knife used to cut, pare, and smooth the wood.
Gouge is a tool used for carving hollows, sweeping curves, and rounds. V-tool is used for parting and sometimes for emphasizing lines. Veiner is a type of specialized gouge. A wood lathe is another tool used to create cylindrical shapes and for giving a smooth finish to your carved artifact.

Techniques for Beginners and Serious Hobbyists

There are four basic techniques when it comes to wood carving.
Whittling is the most primitive technique for carving wood. You will need a good carving knife and some disposable blades and pieces of basswood or butternut wood. With the help of knife carve away the unwanted pieces of wood, and can make simple wooden objects like walking sticks or wooden toys.
Other technique called chip carving is done by chipping out triangular-shaped pieces of wood from a larger block of wood, so that a pattern is left in the block of the wood. With this, you can make wooden jewelry or a picture. This is a more rougher and abstract-looking method of wood carving.
Another method used for carving is known as carving in the round, which gives a three dimensional sculpture, which can be observed from all angles. For this technique all mentioned tools are used.
Relief carving involves chiseling away from one side of a flat wooden board piece, so that you have a raised picture on a flat background. This gives a three dimensional effect. One needs to work using different kinds of gouges, while using this technique.