Whittling Useful Things, 10 Ideas That You Actually Need In Your Life

If you are unsure of what to carve next, you will definitely be inspired by one of our 10 wood carving ideas of useful things. Carving something new is always exciting, so without further ado, let’s get into helpful items that you carve yourself!

1. Spoons and Bowls

Starting off with some basic ideas, spoon carving is its own world and has always been some people’s favorite item to carve. If you never tried spoon carving before but are interested to learn more about it you can check out our article Complete Guide on Spoon Carving for Beginners.

If you carved for long enough you most likely carved quite a few spoons in the time, however, did you end up using them in your kitchen? If not, perhaps one of your next few projects would be to carve out a few nice spoons for you and your spouse, and maybe a smaller one for your (perhaps future) child.

Bowl carving is not easy with hand tools, but nothing impossible either. Before carving a bowl try to decide what will it be used for, then there is a higher chance that this carving will be useful and not serve as a decoration inside the bottom drawer in the kitchen. Here are a few ideas of uses for your bowl:

  • Large bowl for salads
  • Bowl for salsa and guacamole (sauce bowl)
  • Small bowl for salt

You get the idea, make it a little special for you to enjoy, and also make the right adjustments to it. If you’re carving a bowl it’s for sauce, have the bottom of the bowl get narrower and if it’s for soup, make the sides curl outwards on the top.

2. Cups and Kuskas

Continuing with the kitchen theme you can make a personalized Kuska cup. Add some wood burning to that and on the side, you can add some fancy design or funny writing.

If you’re carving a kuska it’s quite similar to carving a bowl both in difficulty and technique, so be sure to expect having to use quite a bit of muscle power to carve all of the wood out.

A really nice accessory to a kuska is a string that goes through the side (without piercing the drinking area) to hang onto something when going out on a walk.

3. Wood Carving Tools

Did you know you can very much make your own wood carving tools? They may be worse in quality than the ones you buy but it would be a fun weekend project to create your own wood carving tools and carve something purely out of your own doing.

It will also be very interesting to compare how much harder it is to carve with something that’s not professionally made in a factory. Then compare the results of two similar projects and spot the imperfections of the work made with the homemade tools.

Consider using extra protective equipment when carving with unlicensed carving tools as it can be very dangerous!


Unsure where to start in making your own wood carving tools? Check out our article How To Make Your Own Wood Carving Tools to see how.

4. Whistle

How useful is a whistle? Maybe not as much as some of the other things on our list. On the bright side, it takes under an hour to carve even if you’re doing it for the very first time!

There are so many tutorials out there on how to carve a whistle, to save you time, here is a very short 3-minute video that goes through the process of carving the whistle.

Do listen to the last 5 seconds of the video where the carver blows his recently carved whistle, can you make it sound just as clean?

5. Carving Someone You Know In Relief

Whether it is your family member, friend, or even you yourself is completely up to you. Historically relief carvings have been around for a very long time (since 23’000 BCE) so you have a lot of inspiration to help you start on such a wood carving project.

You can also replicate some historical works and only change the faces to be more suitable to your culture or even completely change it to a friend’s face.

Such carvings are mostly useful as great surprises and present for the people who’s faces you are carving. While it is not a necessity in your life we decided to include this fun project idea on our list.

Potentially you could also make money by carving by caring popular figures in low relief and see if anyone prefers to buy wooden carvings instead of posters for their bedroom.

6. Personal Gifts

Wood carving is highly customizable which means that it is perfect for a personal gift or a meaningful decoration to lift up your mood in the house.

If anyone’s birthday is coming up or you can’t think of a future anniversary gift there are a lot of things you could do out of wood purposely targetting the interest of the person. For example, if your daughter is really into Star Wars you can make her a little “Yoda” out of wood.

Here is what that would look like by the way:

Of course, it does not only have to be a favorite character from a tv show, other personal gifts could be:

  • Sports club icon
  • Name on symbolic item (Carve out Joe on the handle of an ax or a baseball bat)
  • Little carvings representing their goals/dreams
  • Wall art such as the Balinese lotus flower

Now, for the next few celebrations, you should have enough present ideas, but of course, after a while, you’ll have to get creative again with what to give your sister’s husband for yet another birthday…

7. Chess

Whether you play chess or not creating your own chess board is a very aesthetically pleasing project to display in your home and if you know the rules of the game, you can also play with your own carvings.

The very nice thing about carving a chess set is that there is no standard to how each piece should look, while there is a common standard for rooks to be more square and bishops more triangular, pawns shorter, and knights shaped like a horse, you can add variations to such standards and even go your own, completely unrelated, way to design the chess pieces.

As for the chessboard, you can cut a large square and divide it into sections with your wood burner. In general, we always recommend adding the extra variety and dimension to your carving by wood-burning whenever possible.

So if you want to dive deeper into wood burning here is a very nice related article for you to look at: Beginners Guide To Wood Burning on Carvings

8. Holiday Decorations (Halloween, Christmas, etc)

If you’re looking for new wood carving projects mid November why not start an early preparation for Christmas and New Year by carving the relevant to the theme items.

Carving holiday-themed decorations in advance is mostly a good strategy. Whether it’s Halloween or Octoberfest, you can start carving the holiday-themed items a few weeks in advance, this will also set you in the mood for the day and make your carvings look extra special for a week before and after the day.

If you don’t want to dedicate the whole carving to just the celebrations, you can also slightly adjust your carving style to the time of the year. When carving during Halloween you can carve more spooky things in hyper-realism, while when carving close to approaching the New Year you can throw in the number of the upcoming year in a few hidden places of your carvings.

9. Bird Feeder House

If you are a lover of wildlife you could carve and construct your very own birdhouse to increase the bird count around your home.

There is no right way of carving a birdhouse because there are so many different ways to carve out a birdfeeder that it mostly depends on how you’d like it to look and what climate you live in.

If you live in a cold climate you can still create a birdfeeder. In fact, there is a higher possibility for your birdhouse to be a new home to some of the migrating birds

Side note

10. Book Support Stand

If you have more than a few books at home then organizing them will bring you pure pleasure. Instead of stacking books one on top of the other, you can carve two identical (or not, get creative!) support stands for your books and place them vertically between the two parts.

When carving two Support stands you must take into consideration the following:

  • Make sure it’s the right hight to support your books
  • Have a very firm base, you don’t want 10 books to fall and wake you up in the middle of the night
  • Make sure that the flat side of the book stand is parallel to the ground

If you want to be extra creative and not make the two sides identical, you can very much have the body of the elephant on the other side, same goes for any other project that you can think of, just split it with a firm wall in the middle and your book stand will be ready!

This project is a little harder to carve and may not be worth the effort since you can just buy it on Amazon, however, if you think it will make you proud be sure to be up for the challenge.

Final Thoughts

These were the 10 ideas of things that can impact your life and be useful in one way or another, and that can be carved 100% by you. We hope you enjoyed the idea and one or more of the projects inspired you to carve something useful for yourself.

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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