There are all kinds of wood, each with its individual characteristics which may suit wood carving or may not. With differences in color and texture, it is useful to know at the outset which is the best wood for carving.
Types of carving wood: Here are some types of softwood and hardwood that you can choose from:
Basswood: This is perhaps the best wood for carving for beginners. Possibly all novice carvers would want to work with basswood since it is malleable and affordable. This is ideal wood for carving because it is soft and has no grain. It is recognized as white wood with brown streaks. There is hardly any difference between its sapwood and heartwood. It is non-toxic, and widely used to make low cost musical instruments, such as woodwinds, guitars and electric basses.
Pine: This is also a good choice and in some ways is similar to basswood. It is also soft and lends itself easily to carving, besides being widely available at a reasonable price.
Cottonwood: This wood is white in color and has a bark that’s normally used to carve wooden spirits and quirky houses. However, being easy to carve and soft, the bark can also split.
Aspen: Yet another white wood, it is popular among woodcarvers for its strength and ease of working for wood carving. It is also easy to find and reasonably priced. Wood carvers can create a range of low end items from this wood, such as matches, packaging material and inexpensive blanks.
Butternut: Not as easy to find as pine, basswood and butternut, this one is popular for its superb coloring and grain. It belongs to the nut family and is therefore akin to the walnut tree, though lighter in color and better for carving. However, it is vulnerable to insects and often has wormholes. When polished, butternut looks very nice and is overall a good furniture choice. Being softer than other woods, it is good for beginners.
Oak: Oak is by far the most popular of all carving woods, due to its unique features that lend itself to wood carving. It is very strong and robust and can withstand insects and rot. The grain of oak is considered very beautiful, and it is one of the favorite woods used for making furniture. Hobbyists and professionals love this wood, not only for its well-defined grain but also because it can be used to make all kinds of furniture.
Walnut: Among hardwoods, walnut is extremely sought-after. Being a hardwood, it is difficult to hand carve it, so tools like a mallet and power tools are required. Its rich grain and color are arresting and have made it a popular choice for furniture carving.
Mahogany: Known for its deep red color, it is lightweight and has a distinct and straight grain. Woodcarvers may use power or hand tools but care must be taken to see it doesn’t split.
For beginners, these are the best types of wood for carving to go with. After they meet with success with these, they may wish to try others. Some other types of wood beginners can try are beech, MDF and poplar.