The Ultimate Guide To Woodcarving: Techniques And Tips

Woodcarving is a unique form of art that can be enjoyed by anyone. It has been around for centuries and still remains popular today. Woodcarving is the practice of using tools to shape wood into different designs or objects. 

The wood you choose is completely up to you; what type depends on what you’re making and how experienced you are as a carver.

Ultimate Wood Carving Guides for Beginners
– Woodcarving requires skill, patience, and the right tools to master.
– The beginner’s guide to woodworking is a great starting point for those new to the craft.
– Having an essential kit of woodworking tools is crucial for any project.
– Woodturning is an intricate but rewarding craft that requires precision and a combination of skills and tools.
– Choosing the right wood for your woodworking project is crucial.
– Tips and tricks help you become a master of wood carving.
– Resources such as guides and tutorials can be helpful when learning wood carving and woodworking in general.

Woodworking 101 – Preparing The Wood

Before you start carving, you need to prep the wood. Sanding is a necessary step because it removes any splinters or rough spots that could cause damage to your tool or yourself. 

You can use a belt sander for this purpose, but doing so can leave marks on your piece that look like dents in a car’s fender after going through an automated car wash once too many times (you know what I’m talking about). A block plane will save you time and effort while giving you smooth results as well.

Another important thing to remember is not over-sand! If you go too far with the sandpaper, it’ll be impossible to carve delicate details into your work due to how hard it becomes when there aren’t any bumps left in its surface anymore. 

In general though – don’t worry about sanding everything down perfectly smooth before beginning with carving; instead focus on removing any large pieces of debris or rough edges from where they might impede progress later down the line (or just leave them alone if they won’t be visible).

Whether you’re looking to pick up woodworking as a hobby or start a new career, the most important thing is to start with the basics. Check out our comprehensive guide on The Beginner’s Guide to Woodworking to get started.

Pick Your Wood And Your Tools

The first step is to choose the right wood. Woodcarvers tend to divide the world of carving into two categories: softwoods and hardwoods. 

Softwood trees, such as cedar and pine trees, have a high resin content that makes them ideal for carving because they are easier to carve than hardwoods. 

Hardwood trees are more challenging because their grain patterns can cause splinters when you’re working with them (and sometimes even when you’re just looking at them).

If you’ve picked out a piece of wood from your pile and it looks like it will work well for your project, don’t stop there! If you’re having trouble making progress on your carving or if it feels too difficult for whatever reason (too much force required), try switching out tools until something feels right in your hands. 

Do some research online; ask people at local woodworking stores; or read reviews from other carvers before buying any new tool or blade sets online so that they arrive already prepped with everything needed in order properly tune up their function without having first learned why they didn’t work properly in the first place as opposed trying different kinds until finding one which works better than all others tested thus far–that way there won’t be any wasted time spent trying things out only not being happy with results because each time something fails we’ll always think “Oh well maybe next time I’ll get something else instead.”

When To Use A Thicker Blade

While you can use a thin blade for most projects, it’s important to know when a thicker blade is best. When you need to cut through more than 1/4 inch of wood:

Use a thick blade for cutting curves. The greater surface area will work with the grain to give you clean cuts even on deep curves, so long as you use slow strokes and plenty of pressure.

When cutting small details like eyes or mouths: A thinner blade would be too delicate for these areas; however, if there are large areas that need detail work, then a thinner blade would be fine to use here too because it will be easier for you to control its smaller size in these situations.

When cutting large areas on flat stock (such as making sign letters): Make sure that your carver has plenty of muscle behind their strokes before attempting this type of project—it requires not only strength but also skillful maneuvering through tough-to-manipulate materials like hardwoods or dense softwoods such as balsa wood.”

Every woodworker needs a set of essential tools to get started on their projects. But what tools do you really need, and where do you start? Look no further than our comprehensive guide on The Ultimate Woodworking Tool Kit to find out.

How To Make More Chips

Here’s how to make more chips, in a nutshell:

Use a lighter touch. This goes hand-in-hand with the previous tip. If you’re too aggressive with your carving tool, you’ll end up just making deep grooves instead of chips. 

And that’s not where the fun is at (unless maybe you like pain). It can take some time for it to sink in, but once it does, it will help tremendously!

Be patient. It’s tempting to want everything done right away—and who doesn’t love instant gratification? But if you rush through the process without taking care and patience into account, your woodcarving project won’t be nearly as successful as it could be (assuming your goal is actually woodcarving). Instead of rushing things along like this little bear here did when he was learning how to carve…

Sharp Carving ToolsA sharp tool is essential when it comes to wood carving. Dull blades require more force and cause frustration, leading to less chip carving. Using high-quality sharpening systems such as the Work Sharp Knife and Tool Sharpener or the Tormek T-8 Professional Sharpener can help ensure your tools stay razor-sharp.
Proper Grip TechniqueThe way you grip the carving tool can impact the number of chips you produce. Gripping too tightly can increase fatigue and reduce productivity, while gripping too lightly can lead to loss of control and inconsistent cuts. The best way is to use a relaxed grip that allows you to maintain control while reducing fatigue. Brands such as Flexcut and Pfeil Swiss Made make ergonomic carving tools that help with comfort and proper grip.
Chip-Carving KnifeA chip-carving knife is designed to cut through the grain of the wood to create precise chips. Brands such as FlexcutPfeil Swiss Made, and Mora make high-quality chip-carving knives that provide excellent control and precision.
Stop Cutting TechniqueThe stop cutting technique involves making a small incision or cut with a chip-carving knife before starting the main cut. This helps to define the edge of the cut, making it easier to control and giving your work a clean finish. This technique is particularly useful when creating decorative designs with a chip-carving knife.

Making more chips can be achieved by having sharp tools such as the Work Sharp Knife and Tool Sharpener or the Tormek T-8 Professional Sharpener, using the proper grip technique with tools from brands such as Flexcut or Pfeil Swiss Made, and using a chip-carving knife that provides excellent control and precision such as those from Mora and Pfeil Swiss Made.

Using stop cutting techniques to define the edge of your cut will make it easier to control and add a clean finish to your work.

Mastering The Strokes

The first step to mastering the strokes is to choose the right tool for the job. It can be tempting to grab whatever tool you have lying around, but it’s always better to use a tool that is suited for your project. For example, if you are carving a big project like a chair or table then it would be counterproductive to use an extremely sharp chisel in order to make clean cuts because this may lead to splinters rather than smooth edges.

Also, don’t use tools that are too small as they won’t give enough support and will break easily; likewise don’t use tools that are too big such as kitchen knives because they make hard work out of small carving jobs and could cause injury if used incorrectly (as well as possible damage).

The Relief Cut Is Your Friend

The relief cut has been used for centuries to create a flat surface, contour and beveled edge. Nowadays we use it to create a carved edge by carving below the surface of the wood. 

It’s very important to keep your gouge sharp as you will be cutting into the end grain of your block. To do this you need a special tool called a scraper which removes any unnecessary shavings left behind after you’ve completed your relief cut.

Carving Curves, Sharp Corners And Edges

Carving curves and sharp corners can be difficult for beginners. You may have to make several cuts in one area, working at an angle to create the shape you desire. This can be done with a gouge, parting tool or skew chisel.

Woodturning is an intricate craft that requires a combination of skill, precision, and the right tools. Not sure where to start with your woodturning journey? Check out our guide on The Secret to Mastering Woodturning with Essential Tools and Techniques.

Go Slowly, And Smoothly

Once you lay down the line you want, go slowly. Take your time and don’t rush it. If you can, try to slow down even more than usual. 

Let your hand tell the tool where to go instead of forcing it into the wood. If there are any sudden movements, stop immediately! This is when accidents happen and mistakes get made, so be careful!

When carving in close proximity to other lines or areas that have already been carved out (such as around eyes), use as little pressure as possible while still being able to keep control over your carving tool. When starting out with a new project or figure, take things slow until things feel comfortable before trying out any new techniques on them!

Slow and Smooth CarvingThe technique of going slowly and smoothly while carving allows you to have better control and precision over your cuts. It is especially essential when creating fine details. Popular tools used for this technique include the Flexcut Tri-Jack ProPfeil Swiss Made Gouges, and Henry Taylor Carving Tools.
Stop Cut TechniqueThe stop cut technique involves making a small incision or cut before starting your main cut. This helps to define the edge of the cut, making it easier to control and giving your work a clean finish. This technique is particularly useful when carving determined shapes. Some popular tools used for this technique include the Flexcut Chip Carving KnifePfeil Swiss Made Detail Knife, and Mora Wood Carving 106 163 Double-Edged Hook Knife.
Roughing Out」Roughing out involves removing large areas of wood quickly to create the desired shape of the final product. This technique is especially useful when working with denser woods. Popular tools for roughing out include the Flexcut Roughing KnifePfeil Swiss Made Full Size Wood Carving Tools, and Henry Taylor Woodcarving Chisels.

Going slowly and smoothly is a crucial technique for wood carving. It allows the carver to have more control over their cuts and avoid any slip-ups or mistakes. Ensure that you have the proper carving tools such as the Flexcut Tri-Jack ProPfeil Swiss Made Gouges, or Henry Taylor Carving Tools to create the perfect cuts.

How To Use Your Tools… Like A Pro

In this section, we’ll talk about how to use your tools in order to get the best results.

The parting tool is a small hook-like tool that you can use on smaller details and tight spaces. It’s also great for removing excess material when making a relief carving. 

The V-gouge is another useful tool that creates curved lines and sharp corners, as well as long flat surfaces. It works especially well for hollowing out an area of wood or making a smooth transition from one area of your project to another. Finally, there’s the gouge (also known as a spoon gouge). 

This type of chisel has an angled blade with straight sides; it allows you to scrape away large amounts of wood quickly without damaging the surface too much (or at all).

You don’t need these exact tools; any chisels will do but remember: if in doubt buy cheap!

Choosing the right wood for your woodworking project can make all the difference in the success of your project. Not sure where to start? Our guide on The Top 10 Most Popular Woods for Woodworking Projects will give you a comprehensive overview of the best woods to use for your next project.

Using A V-Gouge

A V-gouge is essentially a chisel with its face shaped like a V. This tool is used for carving intricate details in wood and can be used to make fine cuts or deep cuts depending on the angle at which it is held. 

The angle of the V determines how large of a cut you can make, while the length determines the depth, and therefore both are important factors to consider when choosing your gouge.

For example, if you use your gouge with its long side touching the surface of your piece along one edge of its handle (which would look like an L), then as long as part of that edge remains on top during use then this will result in shallow cutting action since any movement will cut away only what lies directly beneath it rather than any substantial amount underneath that point.

Use The Parting Tool For Small Details And Tight Spaces

The parting tool is a very useful tool for carving out fine details, such as eyelashes and veins. It can also be used to carve tight spaces between two areas of wood, like the mouth and nose on a face. 

This is useful for large pieces where you want small details to look well defined but not too sharp or jagged looking.

Parting ToolsDescription
Flexcut Parting Micro Tool SetIncludes four micro-sized parting tools for delicate and intricate carving projects.
Pfeil Swiss Made Narrow Parting ToolIdeal for creating small details and precise cuts in tight spaces.
Henry Taylor Micro Parting ToolPerfect for fine detail work and creating fine lines in your carving.
Mora Wood Carving 120 Straight ToolA versatile parting tool that is well-suited for both rough and detail work.
Ashley Iles Small Parting ToolsAvailable in different sizes, these tools are perfect for carving in tight spaces and creating fine details.

These parting tools are highly recommended for wood carving, particularly for small details and tight spaces. The Flexcut Parting Micro Tool Set offers a selection of micro-sized parting tools for delicate and intricate carving projects. The Pfeil Swiss Made Narrow Parting Tool is ideal for creating small details and precise cuts in tight spaces.

The Henry Taylor Micro Parting Tool is perfect for fine detail work and creating fine lines in your carving. The Mora Wood Carving 120 Straight Tool is a versatile parting tool that is well-suited for both rough and detail work. Last but not least, Ashley Iles Small Parting Tools are excellent for carving in tight spaces and creating fine details.

Pointed Tool? Use It Like An Eraser

When you use the pointed tool, it will feel like you’re using an eraser. You can use it to clean up your work and remove any small scratches that get in the way of your carving. You can also use it to make small details and clean up your work after you’ve used a gouge.

We recommend starting with the pointed tool at first because it’s easier to control than a gouge, but don’t forget that they are both valuable tools in woodcarving!

Woodcarving is a beautiful and intricate art form that requires skill and patience to master. But where do you start, and how do you improve your technique? Our guide on Mastering the Art of Woodcarving is packed with Tips and Tricks to help you become a master of your craft.


We hope the tips in this article have made wood carving seem a little less intimidating and a lot more fun. Remember, anyone can carve! So start with some scrap wood and get to work. You’ll be amazed at your skills before you know it.

Further Reading

Looking for more information and resources on wood carving? Check out these helpful links:

Beginner’s Guide to Wood Carving: A comprehensive guide with tips, tricks, and techniques for beginners.

Advanced Wood Carving Techniques: Take your wood carving skills to the next level with these advanced techniques and tips.

Wood Carving Techniques for Beginners: Learn the basics of wood carving with this helpful guide for beginners.


What are the basic tools needed for wood carving?

The basic tools needed for wood carving are a carving knife, a gouge, and a chisel. Other tools such as a mallet and a sharpening stone may also be necessary.

What types of wood are best for wood carving?

Softwoods such as pine, basswood, and cedar are best for beginners as they are easy to shape and carve. Hardwoods like maple, walnut, and oak are better for more experienced carvers.

How do you sharpen wood carving tools?

Sharpening your wood carving tools involves using a sharpening stone or strop to hone the edge of the blade to a fine point.

What are some common wood carving techniques?

There are several common wood carving techniques including chip carving, relief carving, and carving in the round.

How do you finish a wood carving?

Finishing a wood carving involves sanding the surface of the carving, applying a wood finish such as varnish or oil, and buffing it to a high shine.