As an amazon associate, Best Wood Carving Tools may earn an affiliate commission when you buy through links on our site.
It can be a little overwhelming starting to carve, mainly because you might not be sure exactly where to start. Truth is, it doesn’t really matter where you start, just as long as you are focusing more on just starting something. And if I’ve learned anything in my time creating wood carving designs, from simple to complex…don’t overthink it and don’t try to be perfect. As Winston Churchill famously said, “Perfection is the Enemy of Progress.”
Here are a collective number of wood carving designs that any level of wood carver, veteran or beginner, can easily accomplish with the right tools. I hope these beginner wood carving ideas help get you started on your journey.
Whittle a whistle! Probably one of the most simple wood carving designs to do, although some practice is required to get good at making them. It still offers a project to start where basic cutting styles will be implemented. Check out the different whittling and cutting techniques here in my simple guide: Whittling: An All-Inclusive Guide
Literally just pick up a good looking stick and jump into carving your whistle!
Kitchen Utensils are Classic Wood Carving Designs
Many beginners start out with making something they can use afterwards. The ever so popular item being a wooden spoon (you can also do spatulas) which is an awesome idea. You can use it for yourself, sell it, or even use it as a gift (if it looks good enough).
Wood carving spoons has become an art form more than anything and with the amount of modifying features wood carving allows its no wonder why people start with carving spoons.
Find out how to carve a spoon with our >>Top Leading Spoon Carving Guide
Impatient and want to get started on your carved wooden spoon now but don’t know how? Or perhaps looking for a gift idea for your kids to get them off the screen and using their hands? This beginner kit contains everything including needed, including sharp wood carving hook knife, classic wood whittling knife, thumb safety guards, beginner instructional video and more to create this beautiful curved handle wooden design spoon. Do you recognise the ancient celtic knot and the meaning behind it?
Isn’t it beautiful for such a simple beginner piece? Which then makes a great thoughtful hand-made gift in it’s own right. A true gift that give again and again. This is life skill that cannot be “unlearned”. Take a look for your self, this kit has had fantastic feedback from customers.
Uses the same principles as carving a spoon except using a larger chunk of wood.
Letter Openers are Simple Wood Carving Ideas
Aesthetically pleasing result while giving you practice for basic whittling cuts. Very simple design (or perhaps a wood burning design?) to create.
Here’s one meant for beginners and animals are always a favorite simple wood carving idea. Thinking of giving it a try? See our detailed tutorials on how to make a wooden carved owl.
Simple enough. Not near as many features as the first but it definitely is a starting point! Let’s face it, who doesn’t think a dog is a cool wood carving idea? Perhaps a great wood carving for a family member this Christmas?
Carving animals is great for beginners since you begin detailing identifying features like eyes and various shapes.
Isn’t this a beautiful set of hand carved and carefully painted birds? I think these make a great gift for my mom. I better get to work whittling again!
Inspired and ready to get started on carving your bird now? This complete bird carving project kit for beginners will have you up and going in no time at all.
Go grab some paint and add color to your new wood carving designs! I can’t tell if the snail on the left is suspicious, envious or admiring, can you?
Start carving gifts for people or decorating your house with little random ornaments after you get familiar with carving animals! This whittled bear ornament would look at home in a mountain retreat gift shop. If bears are your thing, checkout our introduction on how to do bear carvings.
You can also carve original ornaments for Christmas time!
Yes, a hand carved Yoda. It goes to show how versatile wood carving designs can be once you have an idea in mind. If you’re big fan, why not carve the whole Star Wars cast? Read on for inspiration….
That’s what expert artist Christopher Bucholz from Etsy has done right here. Checkout his Esty store “Buchworks” for the whole range of crafty sci-fi creatures.
We spotted this one that was previously on sale at TouchOfModern.com. Anyone recognize this dark and powerful figure?
Moving back to simple wood carving designs accessible to beginners. Do we have any Chess masterminds in the audience?
Chess pieces are insanely easy to make a far as wood carving designs go. The really cool thing I like is that you can add your own character to them for that personal touch and artistic flair. You’ll need to carve them from small blocks of wood you can purchase on Amazon like these ones from Beavercraft and Walnut Hollow.
Chip Carving Designs
Create a detailed pattern onto a basswood board!
Some of these carving designs would look great as wooden wall medallions. The natural progression from this is to move on to more advanced relief carving designs.
This example uses various other techniques utilized in chip carving like straight lines, three point chip, and curved lines.
You can find out more about this technique of carving here in my chip carving design guide:
Chip Carving: The Top Online Handbook
Here’s a more simple idea of what you can do with this model for wood carving designs. I think anyone could give this easy cat chip carving a try, don’t you?
This coaster was cut out using whittling tools and the ingrained pattern implemented whittling. A popular combination for a really cool, simple idea for beginners.
Carve wood spirits into branches or sticks you find while camping! Of course this takes some careful detail, but with time comes experience.
Carve little gnomes for your front yard or kitchen area.
You can also begin creating various of your own designs from oddly shaped wood. Spiral wood carving designs are simple enough yet still complex to give you a challenge and rewarding all at the same time!
More Info on Wood Carving and Wood Crafting
- What else can I Carve as a Beginner? These 4 Easy Wood Carving Ideas for Any Experience Level with Video Tutorials are great if you are looking for other useful things to carve out of wood.
- Perhaps you are interested in Power Carving using various power tools? These Wood Carving Ideas with Dremel are very popular with our visitors.
- What is the easiest wood to carve? In North America, I consistently recommend Basswood. You can find my current review of the Best Wood for Carving with Power or Hand Tools. I will have more recommendations for the UK, Europe, and other parts of the world where my key visitors are based. Check back for the wood information and reviews soon.
- What wood is easiest Whittle? Again in North America, I consistently recommend Basswood. As stated above, I will have more recommendations for the UK, Europe, and other parts of the world where my key visitors are based. Check back for the wood information and reviews soon.
- The Art of Pyrography, more commonly known as Wood Burning, is often a skill our readers take an interest in as and additional wood crafting hobby.
best woodworking business to start says
Good day! I could have sworn I’ve been to this site before but
after browsing through many of the posts I realized it’s new to me.
Anyways, I’m definitely happy I discovered
it and I’ll be bookmarking it and checking back frequently!
Hey there, great site! Wondering which exactly are the best tools for chip carving for beginner’s? Please be as specific as possible. Thanks very much!
I would definitely recommend the Wayne Barton chip carving set (https://bestwoodcarvingtools.com/wayne-barton-chip-carving-knife-set/), very low barrier to entry since you’ll only need two knives to get started.
It was also my top recommendation for this Chip Carving guide: https://bestwoodcarvingtools.com/chip-carving-best-model-get-started/
Would be nice to have patterns.
Wayne Barton is a master,also a very nice person.Took Switzerland trip with him.
William Virgil Amon says
I was trying to find out how can I get the wood tools that I need to carve animals out with, and how much will it cost me fo a set of them.
William Virgil Amon says
I,m trying to find some wood carving sets to carve animals out of wood chuncks, and some faces out of it. how much woud it cost me to get. thank you very much, yours trult William Virgil Amon.
It mainly depends how much you are wanting to pay for the knife. Here is an article a list with our top 10 suggestions for a whittling knife: https://bestwoodcarvingtools.com/top-10-best-whittling-knives/
And be sure to get basswood also: https://www.amazon.com/Walnut-Hollow-Piece-Whittlers-Carving/dp/B0018N9Z72/ref=as_li_ss_tl?ie=UTF8&qid=1487655852&sr=8-3&keywords=basswood&linkCode=ll1&tag=bwct-bestwoodcarvingtools-20&linkId=4858714ca1efa70193a7a6fa54dbf041
The top suggestion in that article is the mora 120 ($25) and if you get some basswood ($8), you’ll spend under $35.
Chuck Fisher says
Great article!!!! Maybe you could spend some time showing how to cut out the rough out for animals and spoons and such but over all very informative! Thanks
Cynda J Douglas says
I’d love to be part of this group. Do you have regular emails? Cynda, an old timer carver.
I have recurring emails from fellow carvers a lot actually haha. Great! Anyone is welcome.
What kind of carving do you specialize?
Jim Maguire says
I am retired and interested in learning to wood carve; My interest would be in carving boats and ships, what kind of tools would be needed and could you recommend any instruction guides?
Carving 3 dimensional objects of any kind is going to be the handy work of whittling. We have an article on how to whittle. So if it’s your first time whittling then give that a read.
As far as what tools will be best for this, that is heavily dependent on how big you want the carving to be. If it’s a larger scale model of a boat you’ll need more tools than just a whittling knife but if not then here’s a couple you can choose from that work perfectly:
– Mora 120
– BeaverCraft wood carving knife
If you’re not exactly sure how to go about woodcarving a boat or ship, then here’s a time lapse video of someone doing exactly this: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DbevnvX8saU
This person is actually using what’s called an “X-ACTO” knife, which is used for detailing and precision.
You can find that here: X-ACTO
Let me know if you have any other questions!
I want to start whittling but I do not yet have all the tools used. Are there any designs you can find or tips that can be given for working with a simple pocket knife?
Bert a. Coil says
I have been carving chess sets,walking sticks, carving tree trunks in to figures, i’m disabled carving keeps me insanly happy,i was womdering if you would know where i miye be abled to get free carbing tools,im on disabelity,dont get much cash but for i carve and sell . thanks. Bert
Do you have access to Pinterest? They have a lot of free patterns. I’m wondering if a local wood carver group might be able to help you out with tools or supplies? Not sure if you have a local wood carver group.
I would love to carve the snowman. Where can I find instructions for that item?
There are several resources online that have outlines on making a snowman in various styles. Youtube would be a great place to look.
Also here is a link to a tutorial: https://beavercrafttools.com/news/carving-a-great-snowman/
Margaret Wiebe says
Question in regards to the wood…specifically for the spoons….is green wood always used or can I use any wood I find. ie…from the lumber yard or wood that’s been sitting around for awhile and dried. I want to try my hand at carving a coffee spoon. Thanks.
Green wood is the most ideal for carving a spoon. However, you can certainly extend your spoon carving application to hardwood as well (poplar, black walnut, soft maple or cherry are great to start with).
The finer the grain, and the fewer open pores, the better. Hardwood will last longer in the kitchen, but make sure to use a food safe finish after you’re done carving.