The Best Timber for Carving

The Best Timber for Carving

Published on Thursday, November 09, 2017

You’re spoiled for choice. Truly.

That is to say, with so many timber species available, it’s hard to be certain which timber you should choose for your next project. Each type of wood has different textures and qualities - some are suitable more for beginners wanting to try their hand at woodworking, whereas others require a practiced skill set.

Limewood, also known as basswood, is perhaps the most popular choice of timber to carve with, though it doesn’t take stain well. It is most commonly used for detailed carvings as it works well with hand tools.

Due to its coarse grain, the variations of oak carve well for larger pieces rather than intricate work. Woods with a closer grain structure are more suitable for finer carving as they are less likely to break away from the edges, resulting in a much smoother finish.

Oak is generally incredibly durable, making it ideal for outdoor use or furniture. Other woods suitable for outdoor use include some variations of mahogany, as well as teak and its lesser expensive alternative, Iroko.

For carving furniture, perhaps you want durability as well as fine detail? There are plenty of strong woods that can also be intricately carved; these include ash, maple, cherry, beech and walnut.

It’s undoubted that limewood and oak are the traditional choices, given their suitable features and aesthetic qualities. However, depending on your final vision, it’s important to consider how you want the finished project to look. Do you have a certain colour or grain in mind, for example? Do you require a wood that is durable yet relatively easy to carve in finer detail? Perhaps you are planning to stain or paint your finished piece, in which case bear in mind the effect finishing may have on the timber.

Our experts are always happy and willing to help answer any questions you may have. Stop by the world’s largest Joinery & Woodworking centre to see the range of wood we have on offer.