Learning how to carve wood can be a little tricky. Especially since there are so many types of wood you can use and different techniques to master.
That is why you probably want to start off with some simple wood carving projects for beginners that are almost guaranteed to succeed.
Today we will share our list easy wood carving projects that are doable even if you are just starting out.
What you need to know before starting
Wood carving is one of the oldest crafts you can find and involves cutting away of wood to create a figure or a pattern.
Different types of wood for carving have different characteristics. As a beginner, you probably want to start with a variety of softwood. They are easy to work with and allow you to practice some easy wood carving patterns for beginners. Working with hardwoods is more difficult but can be rewarding if you have the right skill set.
To make your life easy you want to carve with the grain of the wood and use some high-quality carving tools at all times. There are some pieces of equipment for heavy duty wood carving such as drills and shavers. But the average hobbyist only needs a few good knives and chisels.
Basic wood carving tips
- Cut with the grain of the wood to minimize the amount of resistance from the wood and avoid tearing. You can quickly identify the grain by finding the darker streaks in the wood.
- Use sharp carving knives. Not only are dull knives more difficult to use, they are also more dangerous because they slip easily.
- It can help to trace your pattern on the wood before you start. You can use any light pencil for this.
List of easy wood carving ideas
The projects below are not listed based on their difficulty. So just find one that you like the most and start carving!
If you want more detailed instructions, you can always sign up for an online woodcarving course that will show you the process step-by-step.
Many instruments are made out of wood and as a beginner you can make one too! Admittedly it won’t be as amazing as a guitar or violin. But making whistles is a good whittling idea for beginners. Carving a whistle involves using most of the basic cutting techniques.
2 Kitchen Utensils
You probably own a wooden spoon or ladle at home that you use for cooking. Did you ever think about making one yourself? Carving spoons, forks or chopsticks are easy and quick projects you can do. And best of all, you the items you carve will have a practical use as well when you are done!
3 Letter Openers
We don’t receive a lot of post or handwritten letters anymore nowadays. So when you do, you better open it in style with your own handmade letter openers! By just using a few basic and simple wood carving patterns you will be able to make a functional tool.
4 Animal Figures
Dogs, cats, owls, snails and other animals are popular objects to carve for both beginners and more experienced carvers. As a beginner, you probably want to go with an easy wood sculpture idea. Start with just simple animal outlines and figures. If you are becoming more confident in your carving skills you can add eyes, ears, and other smaller features.
5 Chess Pieces
Learning how to master the game of chess will take you hours of practice and a fair chunk of talent as well. Thankfully, mastering the art of carving chess pieces is much easier! You can easily create these out of small blocks of wood and add as much character to them as you want to make a truly unique chess set.
Even beginners can make stunning coasters for your glasses, mocks and cups to stand on. You can make these in a small amount of time using either using whittling or chip carving techniques. In the video below they created a nice difference in color by using two types of wood. But you could also create a similar effect by using a single type of wood and a wood burner to darken certain areas.
Books with more step by step wood carving patterns
If you are looking for even more beginner wood carving projects, you might be interested in buying one of the following three books.
In this book by Celina Muire you will find 12 easy wood carving ideas for beginners.
These projects include carving an egg holder, salad bowl, spoons, picture holders, trays, etc.
Every project comes with clear templates that even absolute beginners can follow.
The book also deals with some wood carving basics like choosing the right type of wood and carving tools.
In this book published by Woodcarving Illustrated you will find the 37 most popular projects and patterns from this magazine’s archives.
Each project is easy to follow with step-by-step instructions. And since there are projects suitable for both beginners and intermediate carvers, there is always something suitable for your level.
This book is a must-buy if you are interested in relief carving.
This book is great if you are into carving faces. The author, Harold Enlow, if well known for being one of the founders of “Caricature Carvers of America” and has many tips and techniques to teach.
The first half of the book focuses on how to carve particular facial features such as the nose, eyes and lips. In the second half you get to test your skills by a variety of projects such as carving a cowboy face, wood spirit, Santa, etc.
Since each small step is illustrated it’s easy to follow along, even if you have no experience carving faces.