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Big and small, old and young - the hobby of creating small works of art or useful accessories and everyday objects from wooden blanks connects all generations. To start successfully in the fascinating world of carving, we have put together some tips and information for you.

Create something unique with your own hands, hold your own ideas in a fascinating natural material for eternity, and take yourself out of the hectic everyday life for a few hours through concentrated manual work - these are just some of the many factors that make carving with wood make it so fascinating.

What do I need to be able to carve wood myself?

In addition to time, leisure and enthusiasm for working with wood, the right tools are crucial in order to have fun and success while carving. The most important elements in a carver's toolbox are of course the carving knives, also known as carving tools by experts. And even as a beginner you should get several different ones. Because the knives of different widths and with different types of cutting edges produce different results and are required for the individual carving operations.

To use a bit of technical jargon: The shape of the cutting edge, which differs between the individual carving knives, is called "stitch". There are round, flat, and u-shaped and v-shaped stitches. Cutters with a round or U-shape help to remove the material and to carve furrows in the wood, flat irons are needed to work on straight surfaces, and the iron with a V-shaped edge is used to create sharp edges in the piece of wood.

In general, it is advisable to use branded products for carving tools, because cheap mass-produced goods can often make life difficult for a passionate carver due to too soft metal and a lack of sharpness.

What you need in addition to carving knives: vice or workbench for clamping and processing larger wooden objects as well as small figure screws in order to be able to process wooden figures filigree. You should also have a whetstone or sanding leather as well as polishing paste ready to keep the carving knives sharp at all times.

What types of wood are suitable for carving?

In general, all types of wood can be carved. However, there are some that are particularly suitable. These include maple, linden and Swiss stone pine. Linden and Swiss stone pine are particularly recommended for beginners because they are very soft woods.
Advanced carvers also like to work with oak, a very robust hardwood. Olive wood is also popular with professionals and can be carved well by hand. Alder and ash are also considered good wood carvings. Spruce, on the other hand, is ruled out for carving because it is too knotty for that.

The following applies to all wood carvings: The wood should be well dried before carving. Freshly felled wood, the so-called green wood, is particularly soft, but still contains too much moisture to create high-quality, long-lasting carvings. In a certain sense, the carving is a test of patience. But don't worry: you only need to wait if you want to use wood from your own felling. Well-dried wooden blanks are always available in a wide variety in the relevant trade.

What is the best way to start your hobby wood carving?

To get started with carving, experts recommend starting with experiments on small pieces of soft wood. The first project shouldn't be an ambitious carved figure, but a shapeless blank for testing the techniques and tools. Only when you have developed a feeling for the use of force, which tool and which cutting angle can achieve which results, should you dare to embark on a “real” project. And this should have a rather simple design with few details.

Important when carving wood: Always cut away from your body - regardless of whether you are holding the workpiece in your hand while carving or have clamped it in a vice.

Experienced carvers recommend, for example, making a butter knife as an entry-level project. All you need is a suitable piece of thin wood on which the knife shape is sketched so that the wood grain runs along the length of the knife.
When carving, it is important to cut in the direction of the grain - that is, along the fibers. It's a lot easier than working against the grain. In addition, the wood can then not split or crack as quickly.

Also important: Always cut away from your body - regardless of whether you are holding the workpiece in your hand while carving or have clamped it in a vice.

What care do the Schnitz creations need?

When decorative figures or everyday objects made of wood are finally finished after lengthy carving work, they should of course last as long as possible. It is therefore advisable to treat the wooden objects with high-quality wood oil or wood stains after carving. Even those who are new to carving often already have such care products in their home - after all, they are needed for regular freshening up and care of wooden windows or wooden furniture, for example. It should be noted, however, that glazes and oils for wooden windows and the like are certainly suitable for the care of wooden decorations. However, if you have made a commodity such as a spoon, salad servers or cutting board, you should pay attention to special food-grade wood oils. Commercially available linseed oil, for example, is very suitable. In most cases, wooden kitchen utensils have to be treated more often than decorative items.

Conclusion: Fascinating hobby for DIY fans

For all hobby craftsmen and fans of do-it-yourself ideas, carving wood is a fascinating activity. With the right entry strategy, the right tools and blanks, as well as creative ideas, you can create a great hobby that, in addition to an attractive leisure activity, also delivers unique decorative or everyday objects as results.


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The Hubert editorial team consists of long-standing experts in areas such as timber construction, architecture and windows and doors. The specialist authors share their experience, report on current developments and provide helpful tips, tricks and advice for your (construction) projects.