4 Best Wood Carving Books for Beginners

By Kevin Kessinger •  Updated: 09/21/23 • 

If you’re looking to start wood carving, different sources can help you learn. There are youtube videos, Facebook groups, online forums, and books that can help you learn and improve your wood carving skills. Parked with insightful content and step-by-step guides, books offer one of the best resources to learn wood carving.

We know how disappointing it is when you spend money on a book that does not live up to its hype. So, if you’re looking for the best wood carving books, we’ve got you. We’ve also categorized the different books into their wood carving technique. Enjoy.

The Best Wood Carving Books

Best Wood Carving Books

Chris Pye’s Woodcarving Course

Best Woodcarving Book
Chris Pye's Woodcarving Course & Reference Manual

Chris Pye is an amazing craftsman and artist. In this book, he gives good foundational information about the different carving tools, types of wood, and carving methods. There are also patterns and projects to help you get started. I recommend this book to anyone interested in learning about wood carving. 

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Chris Pye is one of the best-known teachers in the modern woodcarving world, and in this book, he shows you how to do it. The book is excellent for a person looking to take their first step into the wood carving world. Chris Pye’s wood carving course is packed with a lot of information and good-quality photo illustrations that explain the topic at hand.

The book is great for a beginner and will take you through the different tools, the complexity of different mediums, and design development to become a successful wood carver. Although the book is packed with great information, some woods are uncommon here in the US. In addition, Chris Pye’s style relies on chisels compared to the American style, which relies on chisels and knives for wood carving. All-in-all, this is an excellent book for a beginner to learn the art of wood carving.

> Recommended Reading: Wood Carving Guide for Beginners

In this book, Chris Pye also refers to sections of his other books he has written for detailed instructions and descriptions. His other books include Letter carving in wood, Relief carving in wood, Woodcarving: Tools, Materials & Equipment, and much more. He also has a website and youtube channel where you can check him out too.

Complete Starter Guide to Whittling

Best Whittling Book
Complete Starter Guide to Whittling

If you're looking for a great beginner book to start whittling, this is it. It is easy to follow with step-by-step fun and easy projects to get you started.

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If you’re looking for the best whittling book for a beginner, look no further than the Complete Starter Guide to Whittling. The book has everything you need to get started, down to some quick and easy projects you can practice. Unlike other whittling books, the Complete Starter Guide to Whittling starts you off by choosing your first whittling knife. Also, it offers some recommendations for different pocket knives based on different budgets.

> Recommended Reading: Whittling Guide for Beginners

You also learn basic knife cuts and how to sharpen your tools. The bulk of the book is a list of different easy whittling projects by different artists. The projects have easy-to-follow instructions and use very simple language. If you’re looking for a hands-on book without too much fluff, this is it.

The Complete Guide to Chip Carving

Best Chip Carving Book
The Complete Guide to Chip Carving

In this book, Wayne Barton discusses chip carving and introduces a beginner to this craft in a simple way. It is well-written and detailed, with pictures and designs to help beginners and advanced chip carvers learn. Everything from tools, sharpening, and wood selection is also discussed in the book.

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Unlike other methods of wood carving, Chip carving is a decorative style applied to a piece of wood that has already been finished or shaped. Like whittling, chip carving is a friendly method a beginner can start. The Complete Guide to Chip Carving by Wayne Burton is one of the best books to get you started. Wayne is the leading icon in chip carving and has had a significant role in promoting the craft here in the USA.

With the book, you can learn the basic techniques in chip carving, types of chip carving knives, and sharpening your chip carving knives. You’ll also learn how to choose your chip carving wood, with some great examples in the USA. The book also has many ideas to try out, with clear tips and illustrations that are easy to understand.

> Recommended Reading: Chip carving Guide for Beginners

Apart from this book, Wayne has authored other chip carving books that you can check out. Joy of Chip Carving, Chip Carving Patterns, Chip Carving: Design & Pattern Sourcebook, Chip Carving: Techniques & Patterns, and New & Traditional Styles of Chip Carving are all great books to help you grow your chip carving skills to another level.

Power Carving Manual

Best Power Carving Book
Power Carving Manual

The power carving manual is an excellent start if you're looking to go into power carving. The book shows you the different power carving tools, how to choose a burr, and different basic power carving techniques. You also get step-by-step carving projects to get you started.

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Power carving involves using motorized equipment with a cutting bur to carve wood. Most power carvers will use flexible shaft machines and micro motors to carve wood. The Power carving manual is your go-to book to learn about power carving. They touch on everything from safety, a guide to power carving tools, choosing the right power carving bits, and other accessories.

> Recommended Reading: Power Wood Carving Guide for Beginners

The book also shows you different power carving techniques and 16 projects categorized into beginner, intermediate, and advanced learners. The projects have large bright photos and easy-to-comprehend instructions. Overall, this book is great for those looking to venture into the wood power carving world.

Guide to Buying a Wood Carving Book

Which Wood Carving Technique to Learn?

You can learn different types of wood carving methods as a beginner. Your chosen method will determine the tools you get and how you advance in this craft. The simplest form and easiest to start for beginners is whittling.

Complete Starter Guide to Whittling Book

Complete Starter Guide to Whittling Book

Whittling involves shaving off wood with a knife to carve out an object. One of the best things about whittling is you can do it anywhere. As a beginner, you’ll get to practice whittling until you get it right. Only a knife is needed to whittle, making it easier for beginners to start. Pocket knives make the best knives for whittling because they are portable. It is easy to carry them anywhere, and you can slip the knife safely into your pockets. Check out our best whittling pocket knives.

Apart from whittling, there is also chip carving, relief carving, spoon carving, and carving on the round. Chip carving involves removing chips of wood using a knife to decorate wood. Relief carving involves carving objects on a flat piece of wood. Spoon carving is the carving of spoons and other kitchen utensils. Carving on the round is more complex and involves carving free-standing objects that can be viewed from all sides.

If you’re starting, whittling is easier and will teach you all the basics to help you advance to other methods of wood carving. Chip and spoon carving are also beginner-friendly options you can try.

Other Learning Resources for Beginners

Wood carving books contain a lot of valuable information. However, other learning resources can be utilized to learn and grow in wood carving. Videos are another alternative you can try, and Youtube makes up the largest video collection you can find. Doug Linker has many educative videos on wood carving, sharpening, and finishing. BeaverCraft also has many free tutorials you can check out that can help you grow your skills.

Apart from those two, you can also check out Chris Pye’s woodcarvingworkshop1, Carving Fusion by Jordy Johnson, and Cornelius Creations by Matt. These are just some channels you can check out, but there are more out there that can help you improve your wood carving skills.

Apart from videos, there are online forums and Facebook wood carving groups where you can ask questions and get suggestions or answers from fellow wood carvers. Some forums to check out include Woodcarving illustrated, Woodworking Talk, and the Patriotic Woodworker. For Facebook groups, check out Wood carving, Whittling and wood carving, and Wood Carving for First Timers and Beginners.

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.