Have you ever watched a scene in a movie when someone was carving a wooden object and thought, “I wish I could do that!”? For me, that movie was Troy, and to be honest; it looked complicated.

The reality is wood carving is one of the easiest and most fulfilling skills you can learn. It has an intrinsic value (a good stress reliever) and is one of the most profitable woodworking projects if you want to start retailing wooden objects on Etsy.

Whether you want to learn wood carving for your private amusement or to make some money out of it eventually, we’ve got some easy beginner wood carving projects and ideas you’ll love.

Beginner Wood Carving Projects

  • Wooden Spoon Carving
  • Chip Carving
  • Spirit Carving
  • Wooden Rabbit
  • Wooden Gnome
  • Carving a Pawn
  • Whittling a Flower
  • Chopsticks
  • Owl
  • Carve a Cat
  • Heart
  • Whistle
  • Bowls
  • Letter Opener:
  • Butterfly:
  • Fish:
  • Keychain:
  • Turtle
  • Celtic Knot
  • Spoon Rest:
  • Pencil Holder
  • Mushroom
  • Leaf
  • Tree Bark Textures

Before we start, here’s a guide on how to make money woodworking.

23 Easy Wood Carving Ideas for Beginners

Starting out in wood carving can seem like a daunting task. There are so many woodworking projects that can sell and it can be hard to know where to start.

Luckily, we will review the basics of wood carving for beginners and provide some tips. But for now, let’s start with these simple wood carving ideas.

1. Wooden Spoon Carving

  • Estimated Time: 4-6 hours
  • Difficulty: Beginner
Wooden Spoon Carving

Tools for Carving a Spoon

  • Piece of hardwood (e.g., maple, cherry, or walnut), approximately 10-12 inches long and 2-3 inches wide.
  • Pencil
  • Carving knife(best carving pocket knife)
  • Gouges and chisels (optional)
  • Sandpaper (various grits, from coarse to fine)
  • Food-safe finish (e.g., mineral oil, beeswax)

Beginner Step by step wood carving patterns for Spoons

Carving a wooden spoon begins by selecting hardwood like maple, cherry, or walnut and sketching the spoon’s shape. With a carving knife, rough shape the spoon, focusing on the outline.

Next, create the spoon’s bowl by making shallow cuts inside the bowl area, angling towards the center. Shape the handle, rounding edges for comfort.

Consider refining details with gouges and chisels if available. Sand your spoon, starting with coarse (120-150 grit) and progressing to fine (220-320 grit) sandpaper.

Finish with a food-safe finish like mineral oil or mineral oil/beeswax mix.

2. Spirit Carving (Wood Spirits)

Wood carving patterns for beginners
  • Estimated Time: 6-8 hours
  • Difficulty: Intermediate

Sketch the desired spirit’s face on the wood and plan its features. Start the process with rough carving using a carving knife or gouges to shape the basic facial structure.

Gradually refine the details, focusing on the eyes, nose, mouth, and beard, paying attention to texture and expression.

Smooth and sand the piece, moving from coarse to fine grits. Finally, protect and enhance the wood’s natural beauty by applying a wood finish like oil or wax. Admire your Wood spirit carvings.

The Best Carving Wood for Spirit

If you don’t have any green wood, you can wood carve try any of these:

  • Basswood
  • Birch
  • Cedar
  • Pine
  • Apple

Carving Tools for Spirit

4. Wooden Gnome

  • Estimated Time: 4-6 hours
  • Difficulty: Intermediate

Begin by sketching your gnome’s design on the wood. Emphasize its unique charm.

For the initial carving, use chisels and knives. Shape the body, hat, and facial details.

Pay special attention to the facial expression. It’s where your gnome’s personality shines.

Transition to finer beginner wood carving tools and equipment for refining textures and contours. Aim for perfection.

Smooth the gnome’s surface. Start with coarser sandpaper, then switch to finer grits.

Finish by applying a protective wood finish, like varnish or wax.

The Best Carving Wood for Garden Gnomes

The most commonly used wood is basswood. You need a 4” by 2” woodblock to get started.

Carving Tools for Garden Gnome

  • Pencil or pen
  • Safety tape
  • Chip carving knife C12
  • C15 whittling knife
  • Wood carving chisel
  • Paintbrushes
  • Acrylic paint

5. Wooden Rabbit

  • Estimated Time: 3-5 hours
  • Difficulty: Beginner

Sketch the rabbit’s outline and features on the wood as a guide.

Begin rough carving using knives and chisels to shape the body, head, ears, and tail.

Pay attention to detail, carving expressive eyes, a nose, and a mouth.

Create lifelike fur texture and define unique features.

Smooth the carving by sanding, starting with coarser grits and progressing to finer ones.

Apply a protective wood finish or paint for preservation and enhanced appearance.

The Best Carving Wood for Bunny

Softwoods work well for small bunnies, as they are easier to whittle. As your skills improve, you can move on to stronger woods. I recommend using basswood as a beginner. Other options are:

  • Butternut
  • Aspen
  • Pine
  • Cedar

Tools for Carving a Wooden Bunny

  • Safety tape
  • Chisel
  • Whittling knife C16
  • Wood finish

6. Carving a Pawn

Carving a Pawn
  • Estimated Time: 2-3 hours
  • Difficulty: Beginner

The first step for most wooden chess piece carving beginners is the pawn. One of the advantages of making this as a beginner is learning how to make rounded edges. Most of the listed projects require curves of some sort, but the head of a pawn should be a perfect oval.

You might not get it right with your first pass, but you can keep going until you accomplish it. However, as you keep on fine-tuning, you can achieve a professional-looking level of depth and smoothness.

This gets challenging when you have to make 16 identical chess pawns – 8 black and eight white. However, this differentiates it from wood carving projects like spoons or rabbits, as they don’t always look the same.

The Best Carving Wood for Pawn

The best wood for beginners is basswood. It is a plain-looking wood, but it is easy to whittle. As you develop your skills and want a more professional look, you may also use:

  • Maple
  • Ebony
  • Padauk
  • Rosewood 

Tools for Carving a Pawn

  • Safety tape
  • Carving knife
  • Pencil

7. Whittling a Flower

Whittling a Flower
  • Estimated Time: 1-2 hours
  • Difficulty: Beginner

Find or draw a simple flower pattern with petals and a center. Equip yourself with essential tools: a sharp carving knife, sandpaper of varying grits, and a stable work surface.

Prioritize safety by carving away from your body. Begin with rough outlining, shaping the flower’s basic form, and then move on to detailing, adding curves and lines for definition.

Create texture with gentle grooves and lines to mimic real petals. Sand and smooth the flower, starting coarse and progressing to fine grits. Finish with a protective coating

The Best Carving Wood for Flowers

Carving flowers out of wood doesn’t require a lot of tools, and you also don’t need fancy wood as a beginner. You can practice on any leftover wood in your shop. Of course, you may also choose green wood.

If you want to buy wood for this project, then choose from:

  • Mahogany
  • Basswood
  • Birch
  • Cottonwood bark

Tools for Whittling a Flower

  • Glove
  • Chisel
  • Pencil
  • Whittling knives
  • V-tool

8. Chopsticks

  • Estimated Time: 1-2 hours
  • Difficulty: Beginner

You can opt for cylindrical or flat-sided chopsticks. Once you’ve carved the desired shape, meticulously smooth the surfaces using various grits of sandpaper, ensuring they are flawlessly even and smooth.

Exercise caution, as sanding can quickly remove excess wood.

Finish by applying a non-toxic wood finish, allowing it to cure fully for food safety. It’s a craft that combines precision with practicality, elevating your dining experience.

The Best Wood for Carving Chopsticks

  • Apple
  • Cherry
  • Walnut
  • Birch

Tools for Carving a Chopsticks

The easiest way to make chopsticks is by using a Chopsticks Master. It comes with all the tools you’ll need, and you can be done in just fifteen minutes.

For the full DIY experience, you’ll need:

9. Owl

easy wood carving ideas for owl
  • Estimated Time: 4-6 hours
  • Difficulty: Intermediate

Sketch a basic owl shape on the wood, encompassing its head, body, and iconic round face. With your carving knife, commence rough carving, sculpting away excess wood to form the owl’s foundational shape.

Pay attention to detailing the facial features, such as eyes, beak, and talons, keeping them straightforward.

Proceed to refine and smooth the surfaces, ensuring there are no rough edges.

If desired, add some color through painting or apply a wood finish for protection and enhancement.

The Best Wood for Carving an Owl

We return to one of our favorite woods for carving: basswood. It is easy to find, cut, and carve to your heart’s content. Again, you can use other hardwoods, but this is your best bet for easy wood carving.

Tools for Carving an Owl

  • Safety tapes
  • Pencil
  • Drake knife
  • Paint
  • Paintbrushes

10. Carve a Cat

  • Estimated Time: 3-5 hours
  • Difficulty: Beginner

Begin by choosing softwood like pine for ease of carving. Sketch the cat’s outline and distinctive features onto the wood. Start rough carving, focusing on the body, head, ears, and tail, gradually refining their shapes.

Pay careful attention to detail when carving the facial features like eyes, nose, and mouth, adding character.

Smooth the carving using sandpaper, starting with coarser grits and progressing to finer ones for a polished finish.

The Best Wood for Carving Cats

Say hello to our little friend basswood. Other good alternatives are::

  • White pine
  • Cedar
  • Beech

Tools for Carving a Cat

  • Safety tapes
  • Pencil
  • Drake knife
  • Paint
  • Paintbrushes

11. Heart

  • Estimated Time: 1-2 hours
  • Difficulty: Beginner

Sketch the heart’s symmetrical outline onto the wood, and then start rough carving, focusing on shaping the heart’s contours. Pay close attention to the curves and edges, aiming for a smooth, flowing design.

Carve a subtle recess in the center for added depth. Refine the details, carving deeper where needed.

After achieving the desired shape, sand the heart meticulously, beginning with coarse grit and progressing to finer grits for a velvety smooth finish

The Best Wood for Carving Wooden Hearts

This is another job for basswood. While it doesn’t have a rich color, you can paint it or apply epoxy to make it look more presentable. Other wood options are:

  • Pine
  • Cedar
  • Beech
  • Balsa wood

Tools for Carving a Heart

  • Safety tape
  • Whittling knife
  • Pencil
  • Wood finish
  • 220-grit sandpaper

12. Whistle

  • Estimated Time: 2-3 hours
  • Difficulty: Intermediate

If you like camping, hiking, or just being outdoors, this is a fun project to embark on (pun intended). There are many ways to make a wooden whistle, but the willow whistle is the easiest.

Carving a functional whistle is tricky because you’re not guaranteed that it will blow and make a sound. Willow branches are acoustic wonders, so it’s even one of the best DIY wood projects for kids.

You’ll need a knife, and you can get a functional whistle in minutes. The only downside is you have to wait until late spring or early summer so that the bark can come off easily.

Plus, you’ll also need fresh willow near you. Of course, there’re other ways to make a whistle with regular wood, but you’ll need more tools and precision.

The Best Wood for Carving a Whistle

Fresh willow is the ideal choice for the easiest whittled whistle. However, if you don’t have access to it, you can also use:

  • Purpleheart
  • Basswood
  • Sycamore

Tools for Carving a Whistle

All you need for a no frills whistle is a carving knife. If you’re using basswood, you’ll need:

  • Drillbit
  • 220-grit sandpaper
  • Wooden dowel
  • Pen, pencil or marker
  • Superglue

13. Bowls

  • Estimated Time: 8-10 hours
  • Difficulty: Intermediate

We started our list of beginner wood carving projects with spoon carving, so it’s only fitting to end with a complimentary project.

Wooden bowls and plates may not be popular utensils due to their heat conductivity issues, but they make for nice decorations.

Of course, you can also use it for salad or any cold foods, provided you applied a protective coating like polyurethane.

Wooden bowls can also hold potpourri, so the possibilities are endless for something so simple. As a beginner, you can choose to make a large bowl or a regular-sized bowl.

The advantage of the large bowl is you can use power tools to help speed up the process. However, it may not be as practical as a small bowl. In either case, you’ll be pleased with what you create.

The Best Wood for Carving Wooden Bowls

Greenwood is the best option to use, although you can also try:

  • Basswood
  • Cedar
  • Pine
  • Beech

Tools for Carving a Bowl

  • Protective gloves
  • Axe
  • Whittling knife
  • 220-grit sandpaper
  • Wood finish – polyurethane or Danish oil

14. Letter Opener

  • Difficulty: Beginner
  • Estimated Time: 2-3 hours

Tools Needed: Carving knife, sandpaper (various grits), optional woodburning tool.

How to Do It: Start with a hardwood like oak. Carve a sleek letter opener shape with a knife. Add decorative elements if desired. Sand it smooth and finish with a protective coat of oil or varnish.

15. Butterfly

  • Estimated Time: 2-4 hours
  • Difficulty: Beginner

Tools Needed: Carving knife, sandpaper (various grits), woodburning tool (optional).

How to Do It: Begin with a softwood like pine. Carve a butterfly shape with smooth, flowing lines. Sand the edges for a polished look. You can also add intricate details with a woodburning tool.

See Also: Lathe Projects That Sell

16. Fish

  • Estimated Time: 2-3 hours
  • Difficulty: Beginner

Tools Needed: Carving knife, sandpaper (various grits).

How to Do It: Choose a softwood like cedar. Carve a simple fish figurine with a basic body shape, fins, and tail. Sand the edges and add any desired details.

17. Keychain

  • Estimated Time: 1-2 hours
  • Difficulty: Beginner

Tools Needed: Carving knife, sandpaper (various grits), small eye screw or keyring.

How to Do It: Select a small piece of hardwood. Carve a design or shape that fits your keychain theme. Add an eye screw or keyring to attach to your keys.

18. Turtle

Whittling a Turtle
  • Estimated Time: 3-4 hours
  • Difficulty: Intermediate

Tools Needed: Carving knife, sandpaper (various grits).

How to Do It: Begin with a hardwood like cherry. Carve a turtle sculpture with a shell, head, and legs. Pay attention to details like the eyes and shell texture.

19. Celtic Knot

  • Estimated Time: 4-6 hours
  • Difficulty: Intermediate

Tools Needed: Carving chisels, carving knife, sandpaper (various grits).

How to Do It: Use a hardwood like oak. Research Celtic knot designs for inspiration. Carve the intricate knot pattern using chisels and a knife.

20. Spoon Rest:

  • Estimated Time: 2-3 hours
  • Difficulty: Beginner

Tools Needed: Carving knife, sandpaper (various grits).

How to Do It: Choose a hardwood like maple. Carve a spoon rest shape, which is typically elongated with curved edges. Smooth and finish as desired.

21. Pencil Holder

  • Estimated Time: 3-5 hours
  • Difficulty: Intermediate

Tools Needed: Carving chisels, carving knife, sandpaper (various grits).

How to Do It: Begin with a hardwood like walnut. Carve a cylindrical pencil holder, incorporating unique patterns and designs. After carving, meticulously sand and finish it to achieve a polished look. Looking for a creative woodworking project for your child? Consider starting with the best woodworking kit for kids to nurture their skills and imagination.

22. Mushroom

  • Estimated Time: 1-2 hours
  • Difficulty: Beginner

Tools Needed: Carving knife, sandpaper (various grits).

How to Do It: Choose a softwood like pine. Carve a whimsical mushroom shape with a cap and stem. Sand and paint as desired.

23. Leaf

Estimated Time: 1-2 hours

Difficulty: Beginner

Tools Needed: Carving knife, sandpaper (various grits).

How to Do It: Select any softwood. Carve a leaf shape with veins and natural curves. Sand and finish for a decorative ornament or coaster.

Looking to take your woodworking career to the next level? Consider enrolling in one of the best schools for woodworking to help you achieve your goals.


Here are a few cool wood carving ideas questions that we get quite often from starters;

What is the Easiest Wood to Carve?

The best wood for carving beginners is basswood. Basswood, also known as linden or European lime, is classified as hardwood but is erroneously referred to as softwood because it is easy to carve. Basswood is a popular lumber choice, making it accessible for many easy carving projects.

What Wood Carving Projects are Best for Beginners?

There’re so many great easy wood carving projects for beginners, so your choice will depend on why you want to carve. If you want to make gifts for others, you can start with a heart or wooden animals. Otherwise, a spoon or other kitchen utensils is a good place to start. Of course, these are amazing woodworking gifts for mom.

Recommended Reading: How to Start Wood Carving?

What Tools do I Need to Start Whittling?

For easy wood carvings, you need a standard whittling kit that will consist of at least three knives: a whittling knife, a roughing knife, and a chip knife. You would also need protective gloves, chisels, pencils, glue, and a ruler. You can easily find a beginner whittling kit with most of these tools for more complex wood carving designs.

Easy things to carve out of wood

  • Whittling a flower
  • Whittling wood
  • Animals such as rabbits
  • Wooden bowls
  • Wooden Spoons.
  • Wooden Gnomes

Other wood carving projects: Wood Carving Face

Final Thoughts on Beginner Wood Carving Projects and Ideas

There’re so many easy beginner wood carving projects that it can be difficult to find a palace to begin. Whatever you choose, you would need a bit of patience to get to a sufficient level.

Once you master these easy whittling projects, you can embark on something more ambitious, like a handmade woodworking wedding gift.

Want to get your kids busy during the holidays? Here are some of the fun wood projects for kids to try.

1 thought on “Easy Beginner Wood Carving Projects And Ideas”

Leave a Comment