Woodcarving: A Beginners Guide to the Art of Woodcarving

Woodcarving is an ancient art form that has been around for centuries. It is a form of sculpture where the artist uses various tools to carve wood into different shapes and designs.

Woodcarving can be used to create functional objects like bowls and spoons, or purely decorative pieces like masks and sculptures. In this blog post, we will take a look at the history of woodcarving, the basics of how it is done, and some of the most popular carving projects for beginners.

By the end of this guide, you should have a good understanding of what woodcarving is and how you can get started with this fascinating art form.

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What is Woodcarving?

The History of Woodcarving

The history of woodcarving has been around since the beginning of time. Early man carved wood for weapons, tools, and shelter. As time progressed, wood carving became an art form. The first carvings were of animals and birds. Then came religious carvings and eventually, portraits and landscapes.

Wood carving is still popular today. It is a relaxing hobby that can be enjoyed by people of all ages. It can be done indoors or outdoors. And it doesn’t require a lot of expensive equipment or materials. All you need is a piece of wood, a few basic tools, and some patience!

The Basics of Woodcarving

Woodcarving is the act of shaping wood using hand tools or power tools. It is a form of sculpting. The type of wood you use will depend on the project you are working on and the look you are going for. Hardwoods are good for carving because they are strong and durable. But they can be more difficult to work with than softwoods. So if you are just starting out, it might be best to stick with a softer wood like cedar or basswood.

There are two main types of woodcarving: relief carving and in-the-round carving.

Relief carving is when you carve an image into a piece of wood that is attached to another surface (usually flat).

In-the-round carving is when you carve a three-dimensional object like a bowl or a statue from one piece of wood .

Both relief carving and in-the-round carving require different techniques and tools . So before you start your project, it’s important to do some research and choose the right method for what you want to make .

The Tools of Woodcarving


A woodcarving knife is a special type of knife that is used to carve wood. The blade of a woodcarving knife is usually very sharp and has a point that is slightly curved. There are many different types of woodcarving knives available, but the most common type is the straight blade carving knife.

A straight blade carving knife has a blade that is about four inches long and is made from high carbon steel. The blade is attached to a handle that is made from hardwood or plastic. The handle should be comfortable to hold and should not slip in your hand when you are carving.

Another type of woodcarving knife is the hook blade carving knife. This type of carving knife has a blade that is only two inches long and has a hook shaped tip. The hook blade carving knife is used for carving small details into the wood.


chisel used for woodcarving
chisel used for woodcarving

A chisel is a tool that has a metal blade with a sharp edge that is used for cutting or shaping wood. Chisels are available in many different sizes and shapes, but the most common chisel used for woodcarving is the flat chisel.

The flat chisel has a wide, flat blade that tapers to a sharp edge. The flat chisel can be used for cutting large pieces of wood or for shaping the edges of wooden boards.

Another type of chisel that is commonly used for woodcarving is the V-shaped chisel. This type of chisel has a V-shaped blade with two sharp edges. The V-shaped chisel can be used for cutting grooves or decorative patterns into the wood surface.



A gouge is a tool that has a curved, U-shaped blade that is used for shaping or carving concave surfaces in the wood. Gouges are available in many different sizes, but the most common gouge used for woodcarving is the #5 sweep gouge.

The #5 sweep gouge has a blade that measures five inches long and has a medium curve . The #5 sweep gouge can be used for cutting large curves or shaping concave surfaces in the wooden board .

The Techniques of Woodcarving

Carving in the Round

Carving in the round is a technique where the woodcarver creates a sculpture that is three-dimensional. The carving can be free-standing, like a statue, or it can be attached to a background support, like a relief carving.

When carving in the round, the woodcarver starts with a block of wood that is larger than the finished carving will be. The excess wood is then removed until the desired shape is achieved.

One of the challenges of carving in the round is creating smooth, even surfaces. This can be accomplished by using different types of chisels and gouges to create different textures and patterns.

Carving in Relief

Relief carving is a technique where the image is carved into a flat surface. The image can be either raised above the surface or recessed below the surface.

Relief carving is often used for decorative purposes, such as on door panels or fireplace mantels. It can also be used for functional purposes, such as on signboards or maps.

The main difference between relief carving and carving in the round is that relief carving starts with a flat surface, while carving in the round starts with a block of wood.

Another difference is that relief carving usually has more defined lines and shapes, while carved in the round tends to have more organic forms.

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The Projects of Woodcarving

Carving a Spoon

Carved Spoon
Carving a Spoon

One of the simplest woodcarving projects is carving a spoon. All you need is a piece of wood and a few basic carving tools. You can find lots of tutorials online or in books about how to carve a spoon.

Carving a Bowl

Carving a Bowl
carved bowl

Another simple project is carving a bowl. Again, all you need is a piece of wood and some basic carving tools. There are many different ways to carve a bowl, so do some research to find the method that works best for you.

Carving a Mask

Carved Mask

Masks are more complex than spoons and bowls, but they can be very rewarding to make. You can find lots of resources online or in books about how to carve masks. Start with a simple design, and work your way up to more complex masks as you get more experience.

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Woodcarving is a centuries-old art form that can be enjoyed by people of all ages. It’s a great way to express your creativity, and it’s also a great way to relax and de-stress. If you’re thinking about giving woodcarving a try, then this beginners guide is for you.

We’ll cover the basics of woodcarving, from the history of the art form to the different tools and techniques that are used. We’ll also provide some project ideas to get you started. So what are you waiting for? Grab some wood and start carving!

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