Where Can I Buy Wood for Carving?
Wood carving is a skill that artists of all ages can acquire, as long you are willing to put in the practice and exercise a little patience. To get started, you just need a few tools (or a set), such as a knife, a few chisels, and a mallet. You also need a few good blocks of soft carving wood. Learn more below about choosing the right wood, as well as where to buy wood for carving.
Which Wood is Best for Beginner Carvers?
As your skills progress, you may find that you enjoy using hard types of wood, but as a beginner, it is best to start with something that is a little easier to work with. As you contemplate where to get wood for carving, you may be considering rounding up stray branches around your neighborhood. In some cases, this can be a great source of carving wood, but you need to know exactly what to look for.
While you are just starting out with wood carving, it is most likely best to buy a few blocks of wood. This will help you become familiar with the types and sizes of wood you need, as well as help you learn to use your tools correctly.
Basswood is a very light brown, almost an off-white or cream color. It has an even texture and straight grain that is great for carving, even when including small details. It also rarely warps after being treated, so your project is unlikely to crack or change its appearance. You can usually find basswood for carving that is smooth, without knots, cracks, or dents. Try starting with a basswood carving blocks kit to try out different sizes and create multiple projects. From there, you can work your way up to a large basswood carving block and create a sizable masterpiece.
Walnut comes in a variety of colors, but they all have similar grain patterns. The lighter-colored walnut is softer, lighter, and easier to work with as a beginner. Darker colors, like black walnut, are heavy, hard, and stiff, but also shock-resistant when using chisels, gouges, and mallets. Every shade of walnut looks incredible when carved and works well for carving detailed pieces. Try out a large walnut carving block when you are comfortable with your tools, and see for yourself how beautiful it looks when it’s finished.
Cherry wood is moderately difficult to work with and is more expensive, but has a beautiful, rich, reddish-brown color. It will shrink quite a bit during the drying process, but once it is ready to be used, it is very stable. Hand carving tools are recommended when working with cherry wood, because power tools can leave burn marks. It holds detail well when carving and continues to look beautiful with age.
Aspen is stronger than basswood and softer than cherry. It is easy to work with and is a very light, almost white color. It is also pretty easy to find when looking to get wood for carving.
This is where it gets tricky. If you really want to go out and find your own wood, there are a few characteristics you need to look for. You want to find wood with a close grain and consistent density. More porous woods will be inconsistent, with softer sections and harder sections, increasing the possibility of injury or a ruined project. The surface of your carvings may also have a rougher texture or be more likely to become brittle. You will also want to look for chunks of wood that are free from knots and cracks that might interfere with your carving.