How to Carve Wood

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Carving wood is a great way to add decoration to plain wood. Wood carving is also a craft that can be a great past time as well as help you show your creativity by making items and furnishings you can use for your home. Some wood carvers even make bigger projects such as carving the wooden door, ceiling moldings or even cabinets and bookcases.

Things You'll Need

  • Wood (example: basswood, aspen, butternut)
  • Carving tools (utility knife, x-acto knife, pick, chisel)
  • Pick
  • Wood Chisel
  • Pencil
  • Graphite paper
  • Hammer
  • Sand paper
  • Wood Stain
  • Tack cloth
  • Shop vacuum
  • Books
  • Instructional Videos
  • Get a piece of wood. For starter you may want to choose soft types of wood like basswood, aspen or butternut.

  • Assemble a carving toolset. Start with a knife, like a utility knife, pick and wood chisel. make sure that your tools are sharp and not dull.

  • Create a design. You can draw it directly on the wood using a pencil or use a graphite paper to transfer the pattern. If you are just starting out, make the design as simple as possible. Even if this is just a simple shape of a four leaf clover, so you can practice the carving of straight and curved lines.

  • Start carving. You can start from the tip of the design using a small knife. An x-acto knife would be ideal for starters. Then Use a bigger utility knife, gradually upgrading to a more sophisticated carving knife. Use a wood chisel to carve out deeper. Going with the grain would be an easier way to carve out designs.

  • Use a hammer to strike the top of the chisel to get deeper. Push the chisel slowly as you hit it with hammer bit by bit making sure you stay along the lines of the pattern. Use caution so as not to injure yourself. Use protective gloves and eye goggles.

  • Blow off or vacuum off the debris and then examine the carvings. Wipe out smaller lints with a tack cloth. Continue improving the carvings or details until you are satisfied. Use sand paper to remove the splinters or sharp edges.

  • Add stain to protect your final piece.

Tips & Warnings

  • You can get illustrated books for woodcarvers or educational videos to learn basic wood carving techniques.
  • Use caution so as not to injure or cut yourself. Use protective gloves and eye goggles.

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