Picking the right wood is crucial for any woodworking project, especially woodcarving. Every type of wood comes with unique characteristics and each of them can affect the final result of your project. Know them well and they’ll serve your needs.

Types of Wood

There are 2 types of woods commonly used for a woodworking project: soft and hard woods.

Soft woods

When it comes to carving intricate details, many carvers prefer soft woods for their projects, instead of hard woods. While hard woods provide more solid structure, soft woods allow carver to put more detailed carvings onto them. Simply said, it gives us more space to carve our wildest imaginations onto the surface. That’s why we love it.

Now, depending on your design, you might need different types of soft woods.


As wood carver’s most favorite soft wood, you have so many reasons to use this wood for your next woodcarving project. It has soft texture and well grained. It is non-toxic and able to hold details very well. The wood comes white, with occasional brown streaks on the surface.


Basswoods are available widely today. You can get it at your nearby hobby shops in cutouts or small blocks. Their characteristics make them perfect not only for woodcarving in specific, but also any woodworking projects.


Cottonwood can be easily distinguished thanks to its white color. Its bark is pretty rare, which makes it very popular for carving whimsical houses and wooden spirits. Ah, and don’t forget about the look. It is very attractive even if you don’t apply the finish. However, while the bark is very easy to carve and tends to be soft, it has high tendency to split.


A perfect carving requires not only a perfect design, but also perfect wood. Today, there are only a few woods that can hold this title. Butternut is one of them. This wood has beautiful grain and color, but just like any other perfect woods, they are becoming more and more difficult to find nowadays

Its light, walnut-like color will give a nice look to your design. Its soft texture allows you to bring everything you have in your mind onto it.

Hard woods

Soft woods may be easier to carve, but whenever you seek for a solid, elegant medium to carve your ideas, hard woods are your best pick.

There are many different types of hard woods you can pick, including:

  1. Walnut
    If you want your design to have elegant and classic look, you should try using walnut for your woodworking project. It may be more difficult to carve than a soft wood, but once you have a mallet and sharp tools at your hand, things will get Walnut woodmore exciting and easier than you could have imagined.
    You can use a walnut for any woodworking project. You can turn it to an elegant furniture or elegant carving. The only limit is your creativity.
  2. Mahogany Comes with a reddish color, mahogany is very popular among wood carver thanks to its relatively straight grain. This wood is also both very solid and lightweight, making it a perfect solution for any wood carver. Mahogany is usually worked with power tools or hands, but it has tendency to split.

Wood is and will always be a perfect medium to express your imagination and make your design comes true. There is no limit to something you can or can’t create with wood. In fact, there are many other woods out there you can use for your woodworking project. Each comes with its own characteristics. However, it would be wise if you begin with this list for your initial woodworking project. Learn to know them and how they can meet your needs. Once you are quite familiar with them, you can proceed with other woods.

Another important thing to remember is your design. Different ideas may require different woods to deliver a perfect result. Soft woods or hard woods, they all depend on your ideas and what you want them to look like once they’re done.

So, grab your tools, get the wood you want, and start carving your ideas.