Instructions for Carving Wood


Wood carving used to be a common way for people to create objects in homes and gardens. Objects that were once carved, and rarely are today, include doors, door frames and furniture. Once you develop basic wood carving skills, what you could carve is limited only by your imagination. If you were to take the time, you could carve a front door with decorative designs, or carve the supports on a front porch. However, more simple, attainable designs might be decorative accents for the posts of a garden gate or decorative carved panels. Although designs are available online and in books, sketching a design of your own on a piece of wood is also a good way to start.

Step 1

Sketch or transfer a design onto the basswood plank. If hand sketching the design, remove incorrect lines with the eraser. Different commercial patterns have different techniques for transfer, but many are rub-on transfers. Follow the supplier's instructions.

Step 2

Remove the wood from the areas of the carving that will be the deepest first. Remove thin strips of wood with wood gouges until the pattern has reached the desired depth.

Step 3

Remove progressively shallower parts of the pattern.

Step 4

Smooth parts of the carving with sandpaper once the pattern is roughed in. When working with textures created by gouges, be mindful of removing too much texture.

Tips and Warnings

  • Wear a cut resistant glove on the hand that isn't holding the tool. This will help reduce injuries. Always direct the cuts away from your body. If the tool slips, this will reduce the risk of cut or stab injuries. Always keep your tools very sharp. This will make carving easier, reduce the risk of unintended slips and will help any cuts or other injuries heal more quickly with less scarring.

Things You'll Need

  • Basswood plank, 8 inches by 12 inches or larger
  • Soft pencil
  • Eraser
  • Carving gouges
  • Carving chisels (optional)
  • Carving knives (optional)
  • Sandpaper


  • Northwest Wood Carvers Association: FAQ
Keywords: woodworking techniques, wood carving, woodcarving techniques

About this Author

Although he grew up in Latin America, Mr. Ma is a writer based in Denver. He has been writing since 1987 and has written for NPR, AP, Boeing, Ford New Holland, Microsoft, RAHCO International, Umax Data Systems and other manufacturers in Taiwan. He studied creative writing at Mankato State University in Minnesota. He speaks fluent Mandarin Chinese, English and reads Spanish.