Woodcarving is a rewarding hobby and career. Basswood, aspen, butternut, black walnut, and oak are popular woods for carving. Basswood is the best choice for beginners due to its softness and affordability.
Woodcarving can be an incredibly rewarding and positive hobby, and can even eventually become a career. It is one of the oldest crafts in the world and is both functional and artistically beautiful. Nearly any wood on earth can be used for carving, which gives the craft an enormous abundance to choose from, and at times, it can be overwhelming. Some types are particularly popular, however, particularly among beginners. These woods are usually chosen for their softness and beauty, as well as their relative affordability.
Basswood is probably the most popular wood of choice for beginners. It is of the genus Tilia and is often known as linden in North America. This is a white wood that grows throughout Europe and the Americas, and has been used in woodworking for centuries. Basswood has almost no grain and is very soft, making it ideal for new woodworkers, and is often seen used for small model parts. It is also popular in cheaper musical instruments, which make up the bodies of some woodwinds, electric basses and guitars. Basswood blanks can be found in most hobe supply stores are a great wood to start learning about carving, as it is malleable and cheap.
Aspen is another white wood that is very popular with woodworkers. It is stronger than basswood but still quite soft so it is easy enough to use for carving. Aspen trees grow widely and easily, so wood is common and fairly inexpensive. All kinds of low-end products, from matches to packing material, are made from aspen, and cheap blanks can be found in most hobby supply stores.
Butternut is another good wood for beginner wood carving. It is browner than both linden and aspen, so for those who don’t want to work in white, it can be a good option. This wood is also sometimes called white walnut, because it is still much lighter than the deep shade of black walnut. Like black walnut, butternut polishes quite well, so it’s a good choice for furniture. It is also quite resistant to most rots and is light in weight compared to black walnut. At the same time, it is a much softer wood, so beginners will find it much easier to work with.
Black walnut itself is a very popular choice, even though it is much more expensive than the other three woods mentioned. It’s easy enough to carve, but it’s very sturdy and quite heavy, though not as heavy as oak. Walnut is used in all sorts of things, from furniture to gun stocks to coffins, and because of the trees’ relative rarity, it can be extremely expensive.
Oak is probably one of the most popular woods for carving, with a number of characteristics that make it nearly ideal. It is an incredibly strong and sturdy wood, and is nearly impervious to most rots and insects. The grain of oak is considered to be very beautiful, and it is a favorite wood for making furniture.