Applewood is not the most popular choice when it comes to wood carving. Although this wood grows throughout most temperate climates and is easily accessible just like with many other fruit trees applewood is hard to carve.
Applewood is very hard to carve, but the magnificent color and the beautiful grain make it very rewarding to try it. Carving applewood green is easier, as the wood is not as dense and therefore better to carve. This wood has many features that are similar to cherry wood including the great detail that you can display in your work.
If you are considering working with applewood or want to learn more about it, in this article you will find some tips and tricks as well as specialties of applewood.
Unique Features Of Apple Wood
Before working with applewood it is good to know what to expect of it. Here are the top 7 things you will find useful to know about applewood.
1. Moisture Content In Apple Wood
Moisture content is quite important when approaching fruit trees. If you are carving applewood that is too wet it will end up discoloring which is what you want to avoid.
Be sure to check out our guide on the moisture content in wood to take a look at the options you can take if your wood is too dry or too wet.
What you want to do with applewood is to make sure you let it out to dry for a good day or two. With that said, letting it dry for too long will make it nearly impossible to carve.
2. Apple wood color
Green apple has a very appealing caramel color. It is not always even with some areas having random brighter spots and others looking significantly darker.
The color of applewood is one of the main reasons why people like to carve it. Even though it is not too pleasurable to carve, the color of the wood is making the process worth it.
3. Color Difference Between The Branches And The Trunk
This is not unique to only applewood, however, it is important to remember. As mentioned earlier, green apple wood has a nice caramel color, but that is not the case in the branches as the beautiful color is only a trait of the trunk.
The branches of applewood have a brighter basswood-like color which does not seem as appealing as expected. Therefore try to get your hands on the wood from the trunk of the tree.
4. Apple Wood Weathers Really Well
In fruit trees you often find the grain to be quite tight. If you allow applewood to dry for some time after you carved it you will end up with a nice shiny finish which reminds you of a glass-like surface.
5. Possible Damage From Woodpeckers
Woodpeckers love apple trees and it is very difficult to keep them away from causing damage to the wood.
Keep it in mind when you are buying or harvesting your applewood. Try to be attentive and inspect for possible damage in the wood.
If you happen to come across a damaged grain from a woodpecker when carving, you will most likely split the wood and your carving will end up with an uneven surface in that area.
6. Apple Is Tiring To Carve
Applewood is by far not the easiest to carve. You need some physical power and endurance to carve apple for a long time.
The grain of apple is very similar to cherry, and if you carved cherry you will agree with the fact that it is not at all times simple.
7. High chance of splitting
Be ready to encounter some issues with the wood splitting as applewood is very prone to this happening. If you want to avoid splitting then we recommend some ways that will help you to get almost Zero spilling with perfect edges.. If you want to avoid splitting then we recommend some ways that will help you to get almost Zero spilling with perfect edges..
With a little creativity, you can always work around it, and implement the areas that are split in your carving. If that is impossible simply cut it off and as long as it’s not in the most important area of the carving you will still have a decent result in the end.
How To Carve Applewood Easily
Applewood is very, very dense when dry. Therefore the most simple answer to this is to carve applewood green.
If you have applewood drying for a few years it will be almost impossible to carve, but if you carve the wood fresh and manage to keep it in good condition as the wood seasons and dries, the end result will be very solid and you will be left with a very sturdy woodcarving.
If you are in a situation where you found some old applewood, we would suggest you simply don’t waste your time on trying to revive it. With that said if you want to challenge yourself and do everything possible to carve dry applewood this is what you need to do:
- Mix distilled water and alcohol with a 40/60 proportion in a bottle
- Spray (or dip and wipe off) the wood in the solution
- Wait for the wood to absorb the water
This leads the wood to absorb the water and makes it a little less likely to splinter and much easier to carve.
The alcohol in the wood also helps the wood to stay moist for longer and makes the carving knife do a better job when cutting through the dry wood
Do keep in mind that this will not always work, but it is worth a try!
Most Common Carvings From Applewood
Applewood is a pretty rare wood to be used for common carvings such as figures of gnomes or animals. Although carving apple is fun to try for the first time, most carvers will prefer basswood or butternut for such high detail work.
Therefore the most common type of carving from applewood are spoons and occasional bowls and kitchen decorations.
Spooncarving With Applewood
Spoon carving is becoming more popular around the world, with more and more people adding variety to this beautiful style of wood carving.
The reason the spoons are made out of applewood is for their interesting color that stands out from the common bright basswood or jelutong.
Carving a spoon from applewood is also pretty challenging and therefore the final product would be more appreciated if it was a present for someone, which spoon carving traditionally condones.
This concludes that more than half of the carvings made of applewood are created by spoon carvers in the most beautiful and creative way.
Other carvings from applewood
Of course, carving just spoons from this very interesting wood may sound a little boring to some of you. To your luck, applewood has just a little more variety to it.
Other carvings from applewood that would be reasonable and interesting to attempt are knife handles and bowls.
While bowls are far from easy to complete well, knife handles turn out great especially after they dry out a little bit and become nice and dense.