Simple Wood Carving: 11 Projects for Beginners

And the thing about wood carving is that as it is a skill, anyone can learn to do it! It just takes some practice, the right technique and tools, and a lot of patience until you manage to get it right. 

Wood carving can also be very therapeutic and calming, as well as bringing out your artistic side. You can take a piece of wood, and turn it into a beautiful figurine, full of artsy details. So it takes time and effort, but it’s incredibly worth it, and many people get into wood carving as a hobby. 

If you are a beginner, then you won’t have the advanced skills to carve out anything too impressive from wood. However, this doesn’t mean that you can’t do anything.

There are plenty of simple and small wood carving projects that can be completed with the basic skills, and that is pretty achievable even for those that are complete beginners. Sure, some will end up looking better than others, but the fact is that they are doable! 

Wood carving for beginners:

When you first start out with wood carving, you will likely feel a little lost as to how to go about it, and how to get your skills to be good enough to actually be able to carve some pretty items. 

The first thing is to get the right tools, and there are plenty of packs for beginners that come with basic tools that are easy to use, along with some easy-to-follow instructions.

You also need to have wood, as that is what you carve, so you will need to figure out which type of wood to use, depending on what result you want. 

Once you have the tools and the wood, then it’s all about learning the basics of how to carve. There are a few different types of wood carving, which involve different techniques or methods. So learning the basics of these can help you choose the right one for you. 

The main types of wood carving:

  • Whittling:

Whittling is the technique of carefully shaving off small pieces of wood from the workpiece. You make use of a whittling tool, and it’s the most common and basic of all wood carving methods. 

  • Chip carving:

Chip carving is a style of wood carving that makes use of the traditional chisel and hammer. This involved chipping away at the wood repeatedly until you have carved out the figurine or design of your choosing. 

  • Carving in the round:

Carving in the round is a more advanced type of wood carving, suited to those with higher levels of skill. It is all about detailed and true-to-life carvings, with three-dimensional sculptures. 

  • Relief carving:

Relief carving is a wood carving method that is all about carving out raised patterns, along the flat surface of a wooden panel. So it’s like drawing in 3D on top of a flat wooden surface. 

Which wood carving type is best for beginners?

Whittling is the most recommended type of wood carving for beginners, as it is all-purpose and very simple to master.

Plus, you only need one tool! However, relief carving can also be a great way to get into wood carving, and it’s also fairly easy. 

What is the easiest wood for carving?

Choosing the right wood is far more important than most people actually believe, and it can completely affect how easy or hard it is to finish the carving project, as well as the end result.

The type of wood that you choose depends on your own preference in style and appearance, and on what you are able to use. 

However, it also massively depends on the type of wood carving technique that you are using, as certain types of wood are better suited to certain methods of carving. 

Here are the easiest wood for carving that we would recommend for the different main types of wood carving:

  • Relief carving: 

For this, you need tough and strong wood, able to withstand a lot of punishment and alteration. The best for this is European Oak. 

  • Whittling:

For whittling, it is best to have softer wood, so that it is easy to remove chunks of wood and carve out the figurine, without too much effort. Especially as whittling only uses a single tool. The best for this is White Pine, or alternatively, Basswood. 

  • Chip carving:

For chip carving, you need tough wood that is sturdy and chunky. After all, as you’ll be going at it with the help of a hammer you have to make sure the wood can handle the pressure, or else you won’t be able to get to the smaller details.

The best for this is Sugar Maple, Cherry wood, or Black Walnut. 

  • Carving in the round:

There are many different types of wood that are good for this, but texture and appearance play a very important part in the end result. The most recommended wood type for this method of carving is European Lime. 

11 Simple Wood Carving projects for beginners: 

A Celtic weave:

This is especially great for beginners in relief carving, and it’s a great way to decorate a wooden surface without needing too advanced skills. 

A letter opener:

A wooden letter opener is super easy to carve, as it’s an easy long shape with a sharpened end. However, you can add all sorts of decorations to it, so you can begin to experiment with your style and skills. 

A rope border:

A rope border is simple enough, but it helps develop your coordination and your eye for detail, so by the end, you will be a more advanced beginner! 

A simple sphere:

Carving a sphere out of wood is actually trickier than it seems, so it’s for slightly more advanced beginners. Nevertheless, it can be a simple project that develops your skills to a whole new level.

A wooden sign:

A wooden sign is not only useful but also very hard to do wrong. This makes it one of the best wood carving projects for absolute beginners. 

A wooden spoon:

A wooden spoon is one of the most basic of items when it comes to wood carving. It’s simple, great for developing initial skills, and it’s also useful! 

Geometric patterns on wood:

Geometric patterns are ideal for beginners, as there are plenty of tutorials, and there’s no need to focus as much on artistry. Plus, they’re great for honing your skills! 

Wizard spirit:

Wizard spirit carvings are incredibly popular and traditional and have a lot of significance. On top of this, they are far easier than most people expect and can be a great way to start out. 

Wooden flower:

A wooden flower takes a lot of repetition, but the skills required are pretty simple, and therefore it’s a great way to practice your beginner wood carving talent! 

Wooden Gnome:

A wooden gnome is easy and simple, as it can be pretty rough in its shape, and you just need to get some of the major details right. Plus, you can then leave it in your garden as decoration! 

Wooden owl figurine:

An owl, or any other simple animal, can be a simple figurine to start out with. It might look a bit rough around the edges at first, but they are easy to work with, and are very cute as a keepsake! 

In Conclusion

Wood carving can be a lot of fun, and if you develop and hone your skills enough, you can end up creating some beautiful artistic items and figurines, perfect as decorations, useful tools, or even gifts. 

You just have to make sure to use the right tools and the right type of wood, to choose the right technique for your desired end result, and to pick an easy-enough project in order to get started!