Learning to Carve Wood – What Tools Do You Need?


To answer the question: What “tools” do you need to carve something out of wood that can require both thought and experience. What follows is a rather unconventional list of the carving “tools” you will need to get started carving as either a hobby or as a part-time business. 

Tool #1: An ability to carefully see, that is, observe all of the details of the bird or animal you intend to make into a woodcarving. 

Tool #2: The willingness to do the necessary research to learn as many details, such as habitat, about the item you want to carve. 

Tool # 3: The patience to follow-through and complete the carving project until it is done to your satisfaction. 

Tool #4: Actual handheld tools you will use should include some or all of the following: a book or two about “how to carve.” A set of wood carving knives and chisels. An electric rotary carving tool with a wide variety of carving bits (Foredom or Dremel tool ) . A small electric band saw and a tool for drilling holes (table mounted electric drill press or small electric hand drill) — a set of acrylic paints and paintbrushes. A shop vacuum to remove carving dust.  

When I started carving a few years ago, I began with a knife and gradually moved from carving everything by hand to the much faster and better way of carving called: electric rotary carving. 

In order to become a better woodcarver, I subscribed to a couple of wood carving magazines. Those magazines became very much like another tool for me because the articles in them actually helped to teach me how and what to carve. They were also a rich source of reference for patterns, raw wood, carving books, and other equipment needed for successful carving. 

As you do more and more carving, the better your carvings will become because you will find that each new carving project presents you with a new set of learning challenges. There could be an unnoticed knot or blemish in the wood that you have to learn to workaround. You have to think about how to place the bird’s eyes and feet, so they look balanced and as natural as possible.