How Long Does It Take to Learn Wood Carving?

Wood carving is an interesting hobby that fascinates a lot of people. Like any craft (be it writing, drawing, painting, etc.), it looks daunting to the beginner. This leads to a lot of people wondering how long it takes to learn wood carving.

It will take several years to learn wood carving. This time depends on several things like the person’s dedication, innate talent, attention to detail, etc. But truth be told, there is no single answer to this question. Like with any craft, there will always be room to learn and grow.

In this article, we will explore this subject in detail. We will also look at the various types of wood carving and their suitability to beginners. Finally, in the second half of the article, we will share a brief beginner’s guide to wood carving.

How Long Does It Take to Learn?

The time it will take you to learn wood carving largely depends on what you are looking to carve. If you’re looking to carve simple shapes like hearts or fruits, you can easily learn to do this after a few hours of solid focus. More complicated figures (something like a detailed wooden sculpture of a lion) will take longer even as a professional.

If you’re starting off with your wood carving journey, it will take you many years to completely master the craft. You will have accomplished this when you’ve carved pretty much every shape there is, and after you’ve faced and resolved pretty much every problem you can encounter.

Wood carving is very much like learning to write or learning to draw. If you’re serious about it, there will never be an end to the learning process. You will keep learning new things for as long as you keep carving wood. And everything you learn will get ingrained into your collective experience.

Types of Wood Carving

The time taken to learn wood carving also largely depends on the type of carving you are looking to do. There are four kinds of wood carving:

  • Chip carving
  • Relief carving
  • Whittling
  • Carving in the round

Chip Carving

This is the most popular choice among beginners due to the relatively straightforward procedures. It involves carving on the surface of the wood and removing pieces of it to get the desired pattern. But of course, there are more complex chip carving projects as well, like wood-spirits.

Relief Carving

This is an interesting type of wood carving where the desired texture/pattern is carved on a flat surface. This type of carving creates the perception of depth, and these make popular choices for hanging on the wall. Relief carvers work with chisels, knives, and gouges.


This is another popular choice for beginners, as all that is required to start is a piece of wood and a knife. This is what most people think of when they hear the words “wood carving.” You will be using a knife (fixed handle or folding) to carve on a piece of wood. This is also the oldest form of wood carving.

Carving in the Round

This is perhaps the most complicated of all the forms of wood carving for beginners. It involves making true 3d structures that are best at capturing a certain scene or animal in action. This form of wood carving takes the longest to master and requires several different tools to accomplish.

Beginner’s Guide to Wood Carving

As a beginner in wood carving, you can do a few things to ensure you get to the level you want to get to faster. In this section, we will be sharing a few helpful tips on what a beginner woodcarver can do to get started right.

There are four things you will have to consider as a beginner in wood carving:

  • Workplace setup
  • Equipment and tools
  • What wood to use
  • Your first project

Let us look at each of these in detail.

Workplace Setup

The first thing you need to prepare as an aspiring woodcarver is a proper workplace. Ideally, you should get a separate table and avoid using the decorative or other tables in your house. This will prevent possible damages. If you’ve decided to get a new table, get a heavy one. Also, make sure the table is steady and doesn’t wobble.

If you don’t want to buy a table, You can simply make one for yourself. Don’t worry, making a woodworking bench is much easier than you are thinking. Here are the simple 9 steps that you have to follow to make the perfect workbench for yourself.

Next, you need to set up some holders to set your wood on while carving on it. You can get some pretty inexpensive clamps that are easy to set up.

Finally, always make sure you have a first aid kit handy. Wood carving involves the use of a lot of different tools, so you are prone to cut yourself. You need to be prepared.

Equipment and Tools

Once you have your workplace setup, the next thing you should be worrying about is a set of carving equipment and tools. The carving tools each cost around 50 dollars, so if you’re planning to get an entire set, it could cost you quite a bit. 

Your first choice as a beginner should be to look for a set of second-hand wood carving tools online. If you find a cheap set that looks rusty, don’t worry. It will still get the job done.

As a beginner, you have to also learn how to hold the wood carving tools properly. If you don’t know the proper techniques to hold and use any tool, Woodcarving can become extremely hard and not interesting at all. That’s why it is very important to learn the right techniques to hold the tools.

As a woodcarver, your first set of tools should include a set of 6 gouges (3×1/4 inch, 3×1/2 inch, 6×1/4 inch, 6×1/2 inch, 9×1/4 inch, 9×1/2 inch), a skew chisel (10mm) and a 20-ounce mallet. A 10mm 60-degree V tool will also be helpful. With these, you should be ready to roll.

What Wood to Use

One last thing before you’re ready to start your first project is the selection of proper wood. It is, after all, at the very core of the carving. As a beginner, you should get some good quality softwood like pine, balsa or basswood.

You may think the quality and type of wood have little to do with the result, but it is not. Softwood will be much easier for you as a beginner as it will be easier to carve into. They also require a lot less re-sharpening of the tools than hardwood. With a good quality softwood, you can start feeling right at home with your tools even as a beginner.

Your First Project

Now that you have everything set up, it is time to get started with your first project. This is up to you, but we recommend starting off with some simple objects like hearts, fruits, etc. If you’re feeling adventurous, you can even try carving wood-spirits.

Don’t get too ambitious when you’re starting off. The result could discourage you. Know that it will take time for you to master this craft. And the best way to make sure you get to the advanced levels is to take it slow.


To anyone serious about getting into wood carving, it could take several years before you can be referred to as a professional by another beginner. The problem is there are no clear cut reference points. Like with any craft, be it writing, painting, fighting, etc., there will always be new things to learn and spaces to grow.

If you are a beginner in wood carving, we suggest you start off with simple projects. It can be tempting to get right into more complex projects, but many people just end up getting frustrated with their results. This could even lead them to give up on wood carving altogether. Start simple, and let yourself grow.

This video can is quite informative:

Martin Swizz

Hi! This is Martin, I like to research, experiment, and learn new things related to wood carving and other kinds of woodworking.

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