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Best Wood for Carving

Expert Reviews & Buying Guide

quadcopter reviewsBest Wood for Carving

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How to Choose Wood for Carving

If you’re new to woodworking, finding the best wood for carving can be an overwhelming and potentially expensive journey. There are so many different types of wood to choose from, depending on your skill level and budget! We did the research for you, and found several options that are both budget friendly and high-quality pieces to get you started! Before we get into the carving wood reviews, here are a few things to consider when choosing a wood for carving.

Best Wood for Carving

Wood Type: The type of wood you choose depends on your project. Balsa is very soft and perfect for modeling. Basswood is the most common because it’s softer and less expensive, which is perfect for beginners. We also found a few other fun options to try!

Best Wood for Carving

Pieces: We found some great individual slabs and blocks for large projects, or to cut down to size. There are also some great sets that come with blocks in a variety of sizes, so you can experiment with new carving skills!

How to Choose Wood for Carving

Stainable: Whether you want to change the wood color, or just preserve your hard work, look for a wood that’s stainable. Softer woods like balsa are better for painting, while harder woods like oak work well with both painting and staining.

Best Wood for Carving

Made in: The country your wood is sourced from depends on where it grows best. Most woods we reviewed are grown and processed in the United States. However, some woods grow best in different places like Brazil, Ukraine, or even New Zealand!

Best Wood for Carving

Size: Make note of the block size – especially if you are working on a specific project with a template! You can always glue smaller blocks together if you need to, but having the right size can make things much easier.

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Weight: The weight of the wood will differ depending on the wood type. Heavier wood is best for detailed carving but isn’t easy to carry. Lighter woods are great for taking with you to work on anywhere you want to go.

Top 10 Products

Now that you know what carving wood you’re looking for, let’s get into the reviews! We found 10 great options for beginner or advanced carvers alike. They are all easy to use, budget-friendly, and come in a variety of sizes to suit your needs. Some are even made by small, family-owned businesses that use sustainable practices, too! If you’re short on time, no problem – check out our Top Pick and Budget Pick, then come back when you have more time!

JoePaul’s Crafts Carving Blocks Kit

Top Pick
Our favorite for the best wood carving set comes from JoePaul’s, who made a great set of basswood blocks for both beginners and experienced carvers alike! This set comes with 6 popular sizes of basswood, which are perfect for beginner projects or other small whittling and carving tasks. We like that these blocks are super easy to use and decorate! They cut easily, without any pesky knots to get in the way of your smooth carving. We also like that they are easy to cut to size, or you can glue them together to make larger projects if you want. They are also easy to paint, stain, or seal when you’re done! We think this would make a great gift for a Boy Scout or Girl Scout in your family since they are small and easy to start out on. More experienced carving enthusiasts will like the smaller size for working on small carving projects while they’re out and about!
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Walnut Hollow Carving Blocks

Budget Pick
Now, let’s take a look at our pick for the best cheap wood for carving! This value set of 10 blocks comes in a variety of sizes to suit any small project you want to tackle. Each piece is made of soft, knot-free basswood that has been kiln dried and sanded smooth to make them easy to use. Much like the wood in our Top Pick, these blocks can easily be cut or glued together to create the perfect size for your project. They also paint and stain easily to customize your carvings when you’re done! We also like that this is a family-owned company that’s based in Wisconsin, where basswood grows naturally. The company uses environmentally safe practices that focus on creating a quality product while committing to conservation and safety for their employees. If you want to support a family-owned business and save money at the same time, we highly recommend checking out more products by Walnut Hollow!
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Midwest Products Basswood Block

If you prefer cutting wood down to a specific size, we suggest checking out this large basswood block from Midwest Products! Made with some of the best basswood for carving and whittling, this is a great option for your large or oddly sized projects. It’s smooth, soft, and knot-free, making it incredibly easy to do carving, whittling, reliefs, and other crafts. We also like this large block because you can cut it down to the size you need, instead of gluing together blocks to fit the project! This block is also easy to stain to look like any kind of wood, giving your carving a gorgeous finish that will last for years to come. We think this would make a great gift for an experienced carver for custom objects. It’s also a great idea for teachers because you can buy a lot of wood for an inexpensive price, then cut it down to the size your students will need!
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Walnut Hollow Basswood Plank

Looking for a plank to do flat projects? Definitely check out this basswood plank from Walnut Hollow, the same company that makes our Budget Pick! This plank is perfect for flat wood projects, like painting, relief portraits, wood burning designs, chalkboards, photo frames, and whatever else you can dream up! It’s easy to paint, stain, carve, and seal this plank, keeping your designs in great condition for years to come! We also like that this plank has the bark kept on the long sides, adding a bit of a rustic touch to your project. The slight imperfections from the bark and small knots are charming and add a nice homemade touch to whatever you’re working on. We also like the price for the size – you can buy a few of these and make gifts for friends or family! If you enjoy crafts with a natural, rustic feel to them, we think this plank will give you the look you’re after!
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BeaverCraft Wood Carving Spoon

For beginners to carving, it can be difficult to know where to start when making specific objects like spoons and bowls. Thankfully, BeaverCraft has created a wood carving spoon blank to get you started! Instead of trying to cut out your own template, this blank gives you a rough idea of what size and shape you’ll need to create the perfect spoon. It’s made of soft basswood, making it easy to carve a spoon (or set of spoons) quickly. We also like that it’s stainable, so you can match it to other projects or to your existing spoons! The solid wood construction is a must for making food-grade spoons – no harsh glues here! This would make a great gift for a beginner wood carver since they can easily churn out a spoon in no time. It’s also a great idea for people looking to make gifts for friends and family – it cuts out that pesky extra step of cutting your own template!
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Sustainable Things Hardwood Blocks

Now that we’ve covered several basswood options, let’s look at our pick for the best hardwood blocks for more heavy-duty carving projects! Hardwood is best for whittling and highly detailed carving projects. This set of 6 blocks from Sustainable Things is made of eco-friendly hardwood and is most likely a combo of oak and pine blocks. Some of the hardwood pieces are glued, and some are not – giving you options to create different looks if you want! We also really like the size – each block is 2”x2” square and 5.25” long. They are perfect for whittling pieces with more detail, which require a harder wood to effectively carve out. You could also easily slice these down to smaller sizes if you need to as well! They are also easy to stain whatever color you’d like, paint, or keep natural with a sealant. For your more advanced carvers and whittlers, we think these are a great set to keep them busy!
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Midwest Products Co. Balsa Block

In addition to basswood and hardwood, we also went in search of the best balsa wood for carving. This block is a great option for beginner carving enthusiasts since balsa is lightweight, soft, and easy to carve. It’s best for modeling projects like making airplanes, cars, boats, and other toy-sized miniatures that don’t require a lot of intricate detail. The size of it is perfect for beginner modeling projects, and will easily cut down to whatever size you need. It also paints and stains easily, so you can paint flames on the side of your model race car, or add some realistic details on your carved boat! We also like that it’s lightweight, which is great for getting kids involved – no lugging around heavy blocks! We think this is a great, inexpensive block to buy for your next Boy Scout or Girl Scout troop meeting to do a short carving project like a whistle or small, carved animal to take home!
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Tosnail Wood Carving Blocks

If you are really looking to get some bang for your buck, or need a lot of small blocks for a class or scouts meeting, this 30-piece set is a great idea! These blocks are made of pine from New Zealand, and are a great wood to use with beginners. It’s a soft wood that’s easy to carve, and the smaller blocks are great for small projects you can do in an afternoon. We like that these don’t have knots, which are common in pine and make carving more difficult. When you’re done with your new carving, you can easily stain or paint these to look however you want, or keep them plain – they will look great either way! If you want to turn this into a larger project, you totally can – they glue together well to create large, elaborate scenes or objects! For the price, you get plenty of blocks to try out new skills or teach others!
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Woodchucks Carving Blocks

The next review is our pick the best carving wood for sale if you’re planning to use a lathe. The basswood block is perfect for learning how to lathe, as it’s lightweight and easy to shape. It also stains and paints well, so you can make it look like a more expensive wood with just a couple coats of stain! The size is also perfect for use on a lathe – at only 2” square, you can make smaller projects or practice your skills on a smaller scale before trying on a larger, more expensive piece of wood. We also like that the company, Woodchuck’s Wood, is located in an Amish community in Wisconsin. They use horses to find and haul wood, which is easier on the environment and prevents larger machines running over new saplings they’ve planted. If you’re looking for a sustainable, inexpensive way to practice your lathe skills, we highly recommend checking out other products from Woodchuck’s Wood!
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Butternut Lumber Carving Blocks

The final wood block set in our carving wood buying guide comes to use from Illinois woodworking shop Lone Forest Design. This set of 4 carving blocks are each 2”x2”x8”, making them the perfect size for small carving or lathe projects. Butternut wood, also known as white walnut, is slightly denser than basswood, making it a good step-up for beginner and intermediate hand carvers. It also has a more distinct grain pattern than most soft woods, so it looks beautiful when carved. You can certainly stain or paint butternut, but using an oil or varnish work best to keep the beautiful look of the grain patterns. We like that this comes in a pack of 4 blocks – and at a great price, since butternut can be expensive. If you are getting better at hand carving, or want to try out some new lathe skills, this is a great product to try out before moving up to harder, more costly wood!
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