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How to Carve Wood

A skill that was essential to the survival of early humans, wood carving affords pleasure to many craftspeople


  • Step 1: Select a tree branch Find a dead tree and cut a branch that is roughly the size of the object you intend to make
  • TIP: Hardwoods are best for objects without much detail; softwoods are better for greater detail.
  • Step 2: Remove the bark Remove the bark and outer growth from the branch with a sharp knife. Cut away small shavings as you slide the knife in the direction of the wood grain and away from your body. Smooth away splinters, ridges, or knots with sandpaper, but don't oversand the wood.
  • Step 3: Rough out your design Cut away chunks of wood with the knife to rough out your design. Use the point of your knife to make a cut, and then make a second cut parallel to it so that the second cut slants toward the first. Then remove the piece to be cut out.
  • Step 4: Add details Make small cuts as you add details. Work slowly while holding the knife with a loose grip.
  • TIP: Don't try to achieve perfection as you work. Wood carving is not an exact science.
  • Step 5: Finish the object Smooth and finish the object by dragging the unsharpened back of the blade over the wood.
  • FACT: Did you know? Contrary to legend, George Washington's false teeth were not made of wood. They were fashioned from the tusks of a hippopotamus.

You Will Need

  • A tree branch
  • A sharp
  • easy-to-hold knife

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