How to Carve Cedar Wood

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Things You'll Need

  • Piece of cedar

  • Sharp wood knife or saw

  • Pencil

  • Carving shave

  • Chisel

  • Sandpaper

  • Paintbrushes

  • Degreasing wood cleanser

  • Sealing finish

Cedar is a strong, fragrant wood that can be carved with a carving shave, a sharp wood knife, chisel and saws. White cedar doesn't crack or shrink in water, making it a favorite medium for carving duck decoys. Red cedar is often used for outdoor carvings because it ages well and has the strength needed to survive years of exposure to the elements. No mater what you choose to carve from cedar, you follow the same basic principles for a long lasting cedar carving.


Step 1

Remove all of the bark from the piece of cedar wood by scraping a sharp wood knife between the bark and the wood.

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Step 2

Transfer the sculpture design to the wood, applying pressure with a dull pencil.


Step 3

Using a sharp wood knife or saw, carve away the large portions of wood that needs to be removed.

Step 4

Use a carving shave to shave the smaller, more detailed areas of the cedar.

Step 5

Chisel any areas that require deep relief and further detailing.


Step 6

Sand the entire carving with fine sandpaper.

Step 7

Brush off the sanding dust with a dry paintbrush.

Step 8

Clean the surface of your cedar sculpture with a wood cleaner. Rinse the cleaner off and allow the piece to dry completely.

Step 9

Seal your sculpture by applying three coats of sealing wood finish, allowing each coat to dry between applications.


Slow, steady strokes with even pressure works best for carving. Carve with the grain when possible. Allow the tool to help you carve cedar wood. Reverse carve when the tool does not move smoothly through the wood.


Always protect your eyes with safety goggles when carving and chiseling any wood.


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