What Are Good Woods for Carving?

Updated March 23, 2017

Wood carving is a relaxing hobby that many carving enthusiasts engage in on a regular basis, both for pleasure and for profit. Just about any type of wood can be used to carve crafts, but some woods are better for carving than others. The wood you choose for a project may depend on what you're carving and the type of finished project effect you're after, or you may want to choose a wood simply because it's easier to work with than others. Learn which woods are good for carving and why.


Balsa wood is one of the lightest and softest woods available. This wood is ideal for beginners because it is relatively cheap and easy to work with.


Tilia, more commonly called basswood, is a very soft white wood. It's lightweight and has even grain. Basswood is great for detail woodworking.


Butternut, or white walnut, is excellent for carving. It's lighter than traditional walnut, and takes varnish nicely. The grain of this wood is straight and easy to work with.


Mahogany is a rich wood with even grain. This is a good wood for elegant projects. It's strong and lightweight. Mahogany is especially great to sculpt with a chisel.


Walnut is a sturdy wood that's excellent for furniture projects. Most walnut carving is done with a chisel, though smaller projects can be done with a knife.


Pine is a good semi-hard wood for carving. Be careful to avoid pine with knots in it, though, as these are difficult to get through and hard to shape.

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About the Author

Carl Hose is the author of the anthology "Dead Horizon" and the the zombie novella "Dead Rising." His work has appeared in "Cold Storage," "Butcher Knives and Body Counts," "Writer's Journal," and "Lighthouse Digest.". He is editor of the "Dark Light" anthology to benefit Ronald McDonald House Charities.