Advice For Someone Getting Started With Carving?

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Forum topic by Cricket posted 07-01-2014 06:14 PM 1783 views 0 times favorited 22 replies Add to Favorites Watch
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1540 posts in 751 days

07-01-2014 06:14 PM

What advice would you offer someone who has very little (if any) woodworking experience but they are interested in exploring wood carving?

Where should they start?

What tools should they be looking at?

Should they take a class or could they learn from YouTube?

-- Follow LumberJocks on Facebook!

22 replies so far

View Monte Pittman's profile

Monte Pittman

19130 posts in 1497 days

#1 posted 07-01-2014 06:44 PM

Even carving has different forms. You must choose what direction you want to start. YouTube has a lot of great video on how to. Some areas have people who teach. I like working with instructors, but it is rarely an option for me. There is enormous talent here to draw from as well. Lydia, Maria, Michael Anthony Zelonis, Wiz and several dozen others. Michael has been running 2 different blogs on projects he is currently doing. But even people like Greg (cajonboxsculpter ) and spontaneous could give you tips.

-- Mother Nature created it, I just assemble it.

View darinS's profile


646 posts in 2026 days

#2 posted 07-01-2014 07:06 PM

I would agree with Monte. Additionally, try to see if there are any carving clubs in your area. You might be able to find a mentor there that could really help you out.

-- Rule 28: When you need help, ask.

View MyChipCarving's profile


550 posts in 2284 days

#3 posted 07-01-2014 07:11 PM

What advice would you offer someone who has very little (if any) woodworking experience but they are interested in exploring wood carving?

First decide what type of carving you’d like to try. Some styles require more artistic abilities than others. Also, look at your budget when deciding. Different forms require a different amount of tools.

Where should they start?

I would suggest starting out at a carving club or carving expo. Talk to others who have been carving for a while and see if you can take a class at an expo. Carv-Fest in Minnesota is a great example. Carvers of all different forms teach day classes for only $50/class. It is a great way to find out if you like that style of carving.
What tools should they be looking at?

If possible, try to find a class where tools are provided. Try it before buying lots of tools. Then if you like it, buy quality tools. They are expensive but it is worth the initial investment. Advertisement – I can provide Stubai Tools at 10% discount off list price. :-)

Should they take a class or could they learn from YouTube?

If possible, take a class. Quality instruction can help develop initial technique with pointers and “try this”. Online videos are good and are something I provide my students who are unable to attend a class. I have many partial videos on YouTube and full downloadable HD videos for my students. Books can also be a valuable resource.

-- Marty,, 866-444-6996

View Cricket's profile


1540 posts in 751 days

#4 posted 07-01-2014 08:26 PM

Thank you for taking the time to respond. These are great ideas!

-- Follow LumberJocks on Facebook!

View hairy's profile


2276 posts in 2691 days

#5 posted 07-01-2014 08:44 PM

Lots of great stuff here:

-- stay thirsty my friends...

View Jim Jakosh's profile

Jim Jakosh

14727 posts in 2264 days

#6 posted 07-01-2014 09:04 PM

I guess I can’t help since I don’t carve but if I could, I would follow the trail of the Wiz. I love his pieces!!
I think you have to just try a few things and see if you feel you have the talent- like faces or leaf forms or flower forms or round forms.

You Tube is a great teacher. I have learned a lot on there for what I do. Then you have to decide if you want to be hand carver or a power carver- different sets of tools!!

My 2 cents worth…...........Cheers, Jim

-- Jim Jakosh.....Practical Wood Products...........Learn something new every day!! Variety is the Spice of Life!!

View Jim Finn's profile

Jim Finn

2107 posts in 2081 days

#7 posted 07-01-2014 10:00 PM

-- "Just my opinion, I may be right"

View Cricket's profile


1540 posts in 751 days

#8 posted 07-01-2014 11:33 PM

- Jim Finn

THANK YOU! I am only about 20 minutes from New Braunfels so I truly appreciate that link!

-- Follow LumberJocks on Facebook!

View mahdee's profile


3117 posts in 926 days

#9 posted 07-02-2014 01:54 AM

When it comes to wood carving, obviously the tools are very important and the most important thing to me is sharp tools. You can really hurt yourself using dull tools mainly because you have to constantly move your piece as you carve and some times the strokes have to be inwards; towards your flesh. I would advise to begin with carving something that requires you to make your strokes outward and think what would have happened to your hand if the stoke was inward when the blade slipped due to it blade being dull. So, the main thing to me is being to able to control the movement of the blade regardless of which direction it is being pushed.


View Jim Finn's profile

Jim Finn

2107 posts in 2081 days

#10 posted 07-02-2014 02:10 AM

I first learned to carve at California Carvers Guild back in 1985. I no longer carve but I still have all my tools. Any local carvers guild is an excellent place to learn and meet fellow carvers. The lessons were very inexpensive, as I remember.

-- "Just my opinion, I may be right"

View NoThanks's profile


799 posts in 688 days

#11 posted 07-02-2014 02:13 AM

I would try to get a job with Dennis Zongker and learn first hand from a pro…

-- Because I'm gone, that's why!

View JAAune's profile


1368 posts in 1475 days

#12 posted 07-03-2014 02:49 AM

I do 90% of my carving using flat chisels. To get started, a set of ordinary chisels, a fishtail knife, one small gouge and a large gouge can handle many carvings. Most people already have the bench chisels so that would only require buying two gouges and a knife.

Chip carving is different and only requires a single tool to get into and that’s a good chip carving knife.

Most important is a sharpening system to get everything razor sharp.

-- See my work at and

View Roger's profile


18320 posts in 1963 days

#13 posted 07-08-2014 06:29 PM

Never use dull tools. Never.

-- Roger from KY. Work/Play/Travel Safe.

View CharlesNeil's profile


1311 posts in 3029 days

#14 posted 07-08-2014 06:50 PM

Sign up for Mary Mays on line classes they are 10.00 or so a month,,, she is the best I have ever seen and her instruction is excellent

View CFrye's profile


7166 posts in 998 days

#15 posted 07-08-2014 11:18 PM

A little late here, Cricket, but In the small town near me, a group of carver’s meet informally at the Senior Center once a week. May be a similar type of resource near you as well.

-- God bless, Candy

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