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Which Wood Is Best For Carving?

01 January 0001 min read

When it comes to wood, each and every type has its very own aesthetic beauty, personality and physical attributes. This means that some species are naturally more suited to some tasks than others.

In relation to carving, factors such as wood texture, quality and workability are absolutely crucial in determining what the end product will look like.

Wood carving is a wonderful skill and pastime that has been around ever since we were able to use pointed hand tools and employ the use of intricate techniques to add shape, nuance and character to a specific timber project.

But if you're just starting out in your carving endeavours, which woods are best? And how do you go about choosing the right material?

Woodshop will guide you through #4 of our favourite timbers for sculpting.


Planed All Round Lime Timber

Whether you're a complete novice or a total carving expert, lime's ultra fine and even texture makes it a brilliant choice for all detailed carving or sculpting work with sharp precision tools.

Classic English sculptor Grinling Gibbons was a huge fan of limewood, using it to create stunning work in Wren Library in Cambridge, Petworth House in West Sussex and even St Paul's Cathedral.


Planed All Round European Oak Timber

If you want to take a step up from lime, your best bet is European oak.

The advantage of using this widely used hardwood is that it can be used for more practical carving work on furniture due to its tough and stable composition.

Interestingly, the oldest carving ever discovered happened to be a 6000-year-old oak carving, uncovered in Rhondda Valley, Mid Wales.

Bear in mind that you may have more success using a power carving tool rather than going for a traditional hand carver which may prove more complicated if you're interested in more detailed artistry.


Planed All Round American Black Walnut Timber

If aesthetic appeal is what you're looking for with your next carving project, black walnut timber is a smart and rich choice with an attractive grain to suit a wide range of different projects. Perfect for more experienced crafters, we suggest you use robust, high-end carving tools, along with a mallet to get the very best out of your work.


Planed All Round American Cherry Timber

Brown with a pink tint, dense and hard in composition: cherry timber is a very versatile choice for chip carving - or kerbschnitt as it's known in German - which literally means notch cut. This carving discipline requires knives and chisels to create distinctive patterns that rely on light and shadow to accentuate the detail, therefore cherry would suit smaller scale projects, such as trinket boxes, coasters and more.


Planed All Round Jelutong Timber

Originating from Malaysia and other areas in Southeast Asia, Jelutong timber is one of the world's finest carving materials. Yellow-brown in colour with a fine texture, superior softness and low density, this timber choice is perfect for creating extremely detailed, smooth and intricate carving projects. Brilliant with all hand and machine tools, although gum buildup can happen on certain cutting tools.