Is Wood Carving Hard? Learning Time & 5 Tips Start

By Kevin Kessinger •  Updated: 10/11/23 • 

Wood carving is one of the popular hobbies that has been around for several centuries. Carving wood involves shaping it to create different designs and patterns using various tools such as knives, chisels, gouges, and many others.

The question about whether wood carving is hard to learn is one most beginners commonly ask. In this article, I’ll explore this question, how long it might take to learn wood carving, and some tips to make your wood carving journey easy.

Is Wood Carving Hard to Learn?

Whether wood carving is easy or hard to learn will depend on an individual’s level of skill, determination, and dedication to this craft. Like many other crafts out there, like sewing, wood turning, etc., it takes some time to learn wood carving. However, you’ll find wood carving very easy to learn and practice.

To start wood carving, it is important to begin with easy projects. With that, you’ll practice basic wood carving cuts and build your own skills as you practice. With wood carving, nothing is more satisfying than shaping wood into an end product.

How Long Does it Take to Learn Wood Carving?

The time it takes to learn wood carving will depend on an individual’s skills, level of dedication, and the wood carving technique you choose to learn.

Depending on an individual’s skills, if you have natural talent, it will take a few days or weeks to start carving simple projects. If you’re new to wood carving, it might require some time and dedication to hone your skills, especially for advanced wood carving techniques like relief carving or carving on the round.

Depending on the wood carving technique, it can take a week up to several years to master it. For beginners, whittling is the most popular wood carving technique to start learning, and it’s also the easiest. It also does not require advanced tools and accessories, and you can just start with a simple pocket knife and a block of wood.

A Simple Whittled Bunny

A Simple Whittled Bunny

If you’re interested in creating advanced and intricate designs, you’ll have to invest more time, dedication, and also get a set of wood carving tools. Like any other craft, you’ll master wood carving when you practice and dedicate your time to learning and improving.

Ultimately, the time it takes to learn wood carving will depend on your goals, dedication, time, and the effort you put into it. Below are some of my tips to make wood carving easy for you as a beginner looking to get started.

Tips to Make Wood Carving Easy

Although wood carving is an easy craft to learn, you can make it easier and more enjoyable. After years of wood carving, these are some I’ve learned to make my wood carving journey easier.

1. Use Sharp Tools

It goes without saying sharp wood carving tools make it easier to work the wood. Using a dull wood carving knife not only makes it harder to shape the wood, but it’s also dangerous. Because you’ll apply more force to a dull tool, it can accidentally fly off, causing an accident.

Sharpening Wood Carving Tools

If you want to easily and safely carve wood, make sure you learn how to sharpen your wood carving tools. For a beginner, a leather strop and a sharpening compound are all you need to keep your wood carving tools sharp. As you advance, learn to use sharpening stones and power tools to sharpen your wood carving tools.

2. Use Softer Woods as a Beginner

In wood carving, the different types of wood differ in color, grain, and hardness. When starting as a beginner, picking up a random piece of wood and beginning to carve is not the way to go. Instead, you should start by choosing softer woods that are easier to carve or shape without a lot of effort.

Some of the softer woods to choose as a beginner include basswood, butternut, aspen, and white pine. Basswood is the most popular choice I recommend to every beginner start out. Whether you’re whittling or chip carving, you cannot go wrong with basswood.

3. Have the Right Tools for the Job

Having the right wood carving tools for each wood carving technique is very important. If you’re whittling, a pocket knife or whittling knife is the only tool you’ll need. However, if you’re spoon carving, you’ll need different tools, such as an axe for shaping your blank, a roughing-out knife, a hook knife for hollowing, and a detail knife to perfect your carved spoon.

Wood Carving tools

If you’re into relief or carving on the round, you’ll require more than knives. Chisels, gouges, and sometimes power tools should be part of your tool arsenal. The good thing is there are different wood carving kits for each wood carving technique. We’ve compiled the best wood carving sets for beginners, best whittling kits, best chip carving knife sets, and best wood carving chisel sets. Those kits include everything you’ll require to start as a beginner.

> Recommend Reading: Best Tools for Spoon Carving

4. Find Easy Projects to Practice

One of the mistakes most beginners make when they get into wood carving is going for complex projects. Going that route not only requires advanced tools but you’ll get demotivated when you fail to achieve your desired goal. For new wood carvers, I always recommend going with easy wood carving projects that you can easy do.

Wood spoons are one of the easiest to carve and can hone your skills in wood carving. You’ll need a roughing knife, a hook knife, and a good piece of wood. Other easy projects to carve include whittling a fox or other smaller animals, carving a simple flower in relief, or smaller objects like gnomes and wood spirits.

5. Power Tools Can Make it Easier

Power tools make it easier to carve wood by simplifying the preparation process. For example, instead of using an axe to rough out wood, you can use a jig saw for a cleaner and faster process. Apart from that, wood carving power tools can also help rough out wood to remove more material in a shorter time with little effort.

Wood Carving Rabbit Blanks Created Using Power Tools

Wood Carving Rabbit Blanks Created Using Power Tools

Rotary tools, like dremels, can make it very easy for a beginner to carve even through harder pieces of wood with ease. If you’re looking to try out electric wood carving tools, check out our best power carving tools or best dremels for wood carving.

I hope with all those tips, you can see wood carving is an easy craft you can start today. All it takes is your dedication, time, and effort. Practicing regularly should help you get on top of the game in no time.

Kevin Kessinger

Kev is the founder of Pro Wood Carving and has been carving spoons, small pieces, and whittling since his teenage years. He has continued to level up his wood carving skills and wanted to share his journey and knowledge with other wood carvers. He launched Pro Wood Carving in 2021 to make wood carving more approachable for everyone looking to improve their skills.