Types of wood for woodcarving

Are you going to carve, but are you lost in the wide selection of wood for carving, or just don't know where to start? After reading, you will know where to start and how to proceed when choosing wood. Carving requires the right material as not every wood is suitable for working with hand carving tools. Also, not every wood is suitable for a beginner carver, and in this article we will discuss which wood to choose first and describe the basic European wood for carving. At the end of the article, you will find a guide on how to pick the right wood for your carving project.

When choosing wood, you should remember these 3 properties:

Difficulty of processing – wood carving and wood carving is manual work that costs time, so it is important to evaluate your options and skills. Soft wood such as linden is often the most used for its pattern and ease of processing. So you can focus more on the enjoyment of carving and its result.

Freshness - Wood has the highest moisture content when it is fresh, when it is the easiest to carve. Do not forget to protect the carved objects from rain and direct sunlight. Otherwise, it may bend, crack or start to decompose.

Structure - When you carve wood, you are working with fibers. So the process is much more pleasant when the fibers are not broken by knots or other damage to the wood. For this purpose, it is important to work with straight branches or trunks without knots. But carvers often look for wood that is not perfect precisely because of its uniqueness. We recommend starting with non-perishable wood, the material is more accessible for carving.

 Wood carving first steps-2

Types of wood for carving

The most common and easiest way to divide wood is according to the type of wood, i.e. conifer or deciduous tree and its hardness, into hard wood and soft wood.

Conifer wood VS hardwood wood:

Advantages of coniferous wood

  • Easy processing
  • Rapid growth
  • Price tends to be lower (rising quickly)
  • Pest resistant

Disadvantages of coniferous wood

  • Lower density
  • It burns better
  • Faster decomposition
  • More demanding maintenance

Advantages of wood from deciduous trees

  • Density - wood grain is pleasant to look at
  • More resistant to fire
  • More resistant to decay
  • Easy care

Disadvantages of hardwoods

  • The price is usually higher
  • Slow growth (that's why it's more expensive)
  • It is more difficult to process

The most commonly used wood for carving:

Available and commonly used woods for carving include domestic plants:

Deciduous trees:

 Lipa unmodified_1Linden wood (recommended for the beginning) 

  • Easier processing than conifers, so low hardness.
  • The most common choice in carving.
  • Finely visible drawing.
  • White, slightly yellow color.
  • Without color and fragrance, therefore suitable for contact with food or surface treatment.

CherryCherry wood

  • Medium hard wood.
  • It is well pickled and surface treated.
  • Toys, musical instruments, decorations.
  • Favorite wood of more experienced carvers.

BirchBirch wood

  • Medium hard, flexible, smooth and light wood.
  • Bland drawing.
  • It is well pickled and surface treated.
  • Cream color.

AshAsh wood

  • Bright in white, the core is rather light brown to brown.
  • Nice drawing of tree rings.
  • Strong, hard and flexible wood.
  • It is used to make bent furniture.

PearPear wood

  • Dense and tough wood.
  • Gray-brown or pinkish color changing to red.
  • Less durable wood.
  • Seam well.

OrechWalnut wood

  • Hard and flexible wood at the same time.
  • More valuable wood.
  • Unique drawing - popular material in carving and decoration.
  • Prone to pests and weather conditions.

DubOak wood

  • Also known as premium wood.
  • very hard - difficult to process in carving.
  • Light brown color.
  • Resistant to pests, mold and weather conditions.
  • It requires proper and long drying - it can then be processed better.

AppleApple tree

  • Hard, strong and flexible.
  • Color according to variety - from vanilla to shades of pink.
  • Little used.
  • It does not wear out - it has high resistance and lifetime.


Spruce wood

  • Yellow-brown, yellowish, very light.
  • Flexible light and soft.
  • Seam well.

JedľaFir wood

  • Flexible light and soft.
  • Yellow-brown with a hint of gray-reddish to blue-brown.
  • High occurrence of spasms and nodules.
  • Little used in carving

Red SpruceRed Spruce

  • Soft wood.
  • Greenish color, can have shades of yellow-orange to deep red-burgundy color.
  • Rarely used due to lower occurrence and higher price.
  • Can leak resin even after years of use.

PorovicaPine wood

  • Flexible light and soft.
  • Red-brown core.


Recommendations as a conclusion

Conclusion: test the wood gradually according to hardness

Carving is a fun but challenging hobby. In order to make it more enjoyable and easier, we recommend starting with linden wood, which is good for learning and at the same time it is possible to carve real works of art. Due to its softness, you can try creating details and thanks to the light color you can adapt it to your imagination.

 Wood carving first steps-5

Gradually, with increasing experience, switch to cherry and birch, where you will try working with harder wood + the basics of staining and surface treatments.

When you try carving in these woods, switch to oak wood and feel free to try exotic pieces as well. Do not forget about perfect drying, patience and skill when working with these hardwoods.

We recommend the Beavercraft basswood set. On this link you will find the category of carving wood.

A wider selection of wood, in smaller sizes, can be found in category wood for making knife handles. Think carefully how big a piece wood you need for your project.