Looking for easy beginner wood carving projects to create over the weekend? You’re in the right place!
In this article, we will review ten different wood carving projects suitable for beginners. Each project will be rated based on the difficulty level, and I will also include the tools that you will need.
I have mainly focused on carving projects that require a wood carving knife or wood carving chisel. Also included is a couple of projects for power carving using a Dremel or similar rotary tool. I have also written an in-depth article on wood carving for beginners. If you are new to the subject, you can look at that before continuing here.
I have chosen most of them to be exciting yet straightforward enough to pique your interest. In my years of woodcarving, I have realized one thing – a simple project doesn’t have to be boring. In fact, the mark of good art is not its complexity but how much it appeals to the viewer’s emotions.
So without further ado, let’s jump right in.
1. Learn About Safety and Carve A Moravian Star
I will start off with this project because it teaches you the essential safety measures when carving with a razor-sharp knife. The project itself is relatively simple and great to look at. All you need is a cube of wood and any whittling knife.
Besides teaching you how to be safe when carving, it also touches on the basic cuts if you are not already familiar with them. So this is an excellent project to start with if you are an absolute beginner.
2. The 5-Minute Wizard
This is possibly the best project for beginners to sink their knives into. All you need is one whittling knife, and you are good to go. Best of all, though, the primary project takes just five minutes to complete. You can then go into as much or as little detail as you want. You can color it, make other versions of it, whatever your heart desires.
As the video explains initially, this is one of the most ingenious beginners’ projects ever. As you will see in the video, it is relatively simple, super easy, and very adaptable for further improvisation. You can take this concept and then apply it to small logs, bits of wood, and even a pencil later on as you get more used to it.
Getting the right shape for your block does not have to be done at your own workshop. Most beginners don’t usually have both a table saw and a bandsaw to work with. All you have to do is go to a friend who has both or at least the table saw or seek out a workshop that will do it for you. Otherwise, you can simply stick to a block and carve in the round. Or you can just make two faces, one on each side.
Greenwood or fresh wood that you slice off from your backyard is an easy option, as I have mentioned earlier. It is soft and easy to work with for beginners. Otherwise, go to any hobby shop and get a block of basswood.
As with most good projects for beginners, this one will teach you all the basics of safety, basic cuts, and whittling techniques as you go along. So if you just want to learn and create something quickly, this is the project for you.
Related: Best Whittling Knives to Buy in 2023
Whittle a Simple Fox
What I like about this project is the simplicity of it. Like all simple carvings, it begins from a small block of wood (basswood in this case). Eventually, it turns into something cute and fun to look at.
This project will teach you the basics of creating outlines for your model before you begin. While most projects will start this way, this is the simplest one I have found so far. It makes it really simple for the absolute beginner to pick up a block of wood and get started.
You don’t need same-sized blocks either. All you have to do for scaling up and down is maintain the primary ratio of the measurements already given.
The tutorial gives you various tips as it goes along. So it is very easy to follow. You will learn a lot of helpful cuts and techniques right off the bat with this project. Every move is clearly explained, and the pace is just right for newbies.
Just make sure that you are using soft wood. Basswood will work best for this. Using greenwood is also a good idea if you do not have easy access to a hobby shop nearby. Greenwood is soft and easy to work with.
The whole project is shown to you in real-time. Just play the video and follow along. You can use almost any small knife for this project. Just make sure that it is sharp and has a good grip. A proper whittling knife would, of course, make your life easier.
Carving an Easy Celtic Weave
This is an excellent project for those looking for an easy project that they can accomplish without purchasing special wood carving chisels or knives. This project is taught using a chisel, but you can just as easily swap it out for a Dremel. There are Dremel projects down below, so you can take your learnings from there and apply them to this project if you like Celtic patterns.
As the video demonstrates, this kind of carving is perfect for decorating things like tool handles, spoon handles, or just a plain block that will perhaps become a part of a box or some furniture.
This is a great beginner’s project for those who are into woodworking as a profession but haven’t tried out carving yet. Or perhaps you are new to woodworking overall and only have a few simple tools. This project allows you to take advantage of your bench chisels and use them for carving patterns.
Having a printer for printing the pattern is helpful, especially if you are not great at drawing by hand. However, if that is not an option for some reason, you can simply use a ruler and a pencil to make equal sections and recreate your pattern that way.
If you have a v gouge, it will speed up your process many times. A carving mallet also helps, but I have often used whatever block of wood I have handy at the moment.
Whittling a Ball in a Cage
This is one of the most fun projects a beginner can get started with. The end result is a kind of illusion that looks impossible. Once you know how it is made, it is easy enough to understand. The most fun aspect, though, is that the ball actually moves inside the cage, completing the illusion.
This project will tax your skills a little if you are absolutely new to whittling. So I suggest you do a few foxes (and dogs and rabbits etc.) before getting into this one. However, if you are willing to take it slow and perhaps try the same project a couple of times, you can quickly get into this one as your very first whittling project. It really depends on your general dexterity and tolerance for mistakes.
This project will teach you a lot of the basic cuts and techniques needed to do a geometric project like this one. Unlike the previous two projects, this one has a lot of straight lines and proper 3D geometry to consider. So it will help you understand how to visualize your project as you move along.
This project needs most of the wood to be removed from the side of the shape, so starting with a smaller size is advisable. Also, remember that you can also convert this project for your Dremel. You will need just one wood carving bit for this and one diamond bit for refining the edges and the ball.
Wooden Rings With Your Dremel (or Any) Rotary Tool
This is the most straightforward project that you can do with your rotary tool. You can easily make modifications and additions to further improve the idea.
Making a ring is simple and easy, and it is also functional. It is something that you can actually start to sell at pop-up sales and give as gifts to your friends and family.
You will need a few different rotary bits for this project, all of which are explained in the tutorial video. So you will also be learning about the various commonly used bits relevant to wood carving projects like this one.
This project will also give you ideas about how you can take any whittling project and convert it into a project for your rotary tool. You are simply replacing the whittling knife to remove wood with the rotary tool. The rotary tool is, of course, very different and needs a few other accessories to be effective. But used correctly, I can be a lot faster and relatively safer than using a razor-sharp knife.
On the other hand, using a knife has its simplicity and portability. So I encourage you to explore both worlds and see which one you like better.
Doing this project is an excellent way to understand the versatility of your rotary tool. This will start to give you ideas about how to use it for other projects and how to modify your existing projects to make them more challenging or exciting.
This project also teaches you some DIY hacks for using your Dremel in unconventional ways. This kind of improvisation is relly important when you are experimenting with new ideas. It allows you to expand the usability of your tools.
This type of circular project is best made on a lathe, but the idea here is to have a fun project that you can make using just your rotary tool.
Carve a Spoon From Any Piece of Wood
Carving a spoon is probably the first project that all newbies should do. It has the best parts of all good beginner projects. It teaches you how to use your whittling knives, how to be safe, and how to make a simple, daily-use item out of a basic block of wood.
This video is slightly different from all the usual spoon carving videos. The first thing you will see is a block of rough wood being chopped into the rough shape of a spoon using a small ax. I am including this just for fun and to show you how it happened back in the day. If you are good with an ax, have the control for it and a chopping block, you can also do it this way.
For absolute beginners, though, I advise you to start with a precut spoon blank that you can buy from any hobby store or order online. Having a hook knife will really help you with carving the hollow of the spoon, but you can also do it with a single whittling knife if that is all you have at the moment.
Once you are done, you can decorate the handle using a Dremel or a chisel or continue to use your whittling knife for the purpose. Most wood carving knife sets come with a hook knife, so if you are yet to buy your set or want to get into spoons for the long run, it is good to invest in one.
Carve a Wooden Heart
This is another straightforward project that is ideal for absolute beginners. It is a fun little project that you can then evolve further. One of the best things about this project is getting multiple pieces from slicing out one long woodblock. Or you can just get a few slices from your local workshop. Woodworkers will often have a lot of throw-away pieces that tare leftovers from their projects.
As long as the wood is not super hard, these can be a free supply for you to practice on. Basswood and similar softwood will work best for this.
This video teaches simple techniques for finding the center and maintaining symmetry on both sides when marking the design with your pencil. You can also use a printed template on paper and stick it on both sides to get the same effect. However, learning the manual way will make you a better artist in the long run.
Power Carve a Beagle Dog
The initial shaping of the block in this project is best done at a woodshop if you are very new to woodcarving. However, if you have access to a scroll saw at your own workshop or at a friend’s place, you are good to go. You can also take the lessons from this project and apply them to various ready-to-use basswood “blanks” that you find at hobby stores.
These blanks are basic cut-out templates that you can start carving immediately. This project is suitable for learning how to use various rotary tool kit accessories.
Learning these techniques will also teach you the skills and tools to convert some of the whittling projects into rotary tool carving projects.
Whittle a Tiger
This project will teach you how to carve a woodblock into a tiger with just a knife, some paper, and a pencil. So if you do not have access to a scroll saw or a workshop that will help you cut out your template, this is how you do it.
This project will take a bit of time to do if this is your very first project. So I recommend making the heart or the five-minute wizard first and then coming to this one. However, if you are patient and don’t mind starting over, this is an excellent project to learn from.
However, this one does not have a commentary, so it is best to look at other projects, like the five-minute wizard, to learn about basic safety when whittling. Then the movements in this one will make a lot more sense.
Remember that you don’t really need a lot of fancy tools to make incredible wood carvings. A basic whittling/wood carving knife or a rotary tool kit will go a long way. And you can even mix up different tools and use them all in the same project. The main point here is to have fun and be safe.
I hope this article has given you enough information and motivation to start your first or next project. As a beginner, it is important to continue making things and work with new ideas. So get out there and start carving!