Best Wood for Whittling

If you have a creative bone in your body, you might enjoy carving shapes out of wood. While some call it a waste of time, others call it “whittling.” Many people are severely passionate about whittling, some even making proper careers from it. If you want to whittle your way successfully, you must use the proper tools.

While whittling requires many specific tools, one of the most essential items you’ll need is good-quality wood. If you don’t have a decent piece of wood, your whittling will probably go to waste as your shape will fall apart. Please hold on until the end of this article to learn more about whittling, the tools required, and most importantly, the best wood types to carve from.

What Do You Need to Whittle Wood?

Whittling from wood has become a popular hobby, especially for those interested in art. It may be a tremendously fun activity, but you’ll still need the right tools to ensure you’re doing it right. You don’t want to waste your time figuring out a proper way to carve. So, it’s better to have all the tools by your side beforehand. Let’s explore every tool you’ll need to carve from wood.

Best Wood for Whittling

A Suitable Woodblock

Since you’re going to carve from the wood itself, it’s necessary to have an excellent quality piece of wood. If you don’t have the proper piece of wood, it’ll almost be impossible to carve something from it. You might carve something quickly, but the shape won’t hold together for a long time. Hence, it would help if you got a sturdy piece of wood first.

A Proper Carving Knife

This item is also an important (the most important) item to get if you want to sculpt. If you don’t have a sharp enough carving knife, you obviously won’t be able to carve any shape from your woodblock. So, please ensure to get an excellent-quality carving knife before you start sculpting if you want to carve creative shapes from your piece of wood.

A Sharp Pocket Knife

If you’ve developed an interest in carving from wood, you’ll have to purchase a pocket knife. Pocket knives are portable and highly sharp, helping you carve as much as possible. The best part about pocket knives is that they’re available everywhere, so you don’t have to go to numerous places to find one. Pocket knives may be small, but they’re still dangerous, so please be careful.

A Precise Specialty Knife

It’s great if you’ve gathered all the items mentioned above, but one thing you’ll still need to carve is a specialty knife. It’s not that you won’t be able to carve without one, but as the name suggests, it’ll help you carve specific shapes from your woodblock. So, if you have a particular shape in mind, you’ll need a specialty knife to carve that shape.

The 5 Best Woods for Whittling

Now that you know what you need to whittle from wood, it’s about time you learned which wood types are the best for whittling. Please know that choosing the correct wood type dramatically influences the shapes you carve. So, if you want your whittling to be effortless, you must invest in the proper piece of wood. Let’s see which wood types are the best for whittling.


Basswood is, hands down, the best piece of wood to whittle from. This wood type will aid you plenty, especially if you’re a beginner at whittling. However, even professional whittlers use basswood to carve wood from.

Basswood is relatively softer than most wood pieces, making it easier to carve shapes. You can get basswood from any hobby store and even online. However, if you want raw and organic basswood, you’ll have to collect it from the forest. Overall, we give basswood a ten out of ten for whittling purposes.

Balsa Wood

This piece of wood is incredibly soft when it comes to cutting and slicing. Many first-time carvers recommend balsa wood as it isn’t intimidating to work with. You’ll find balsa wood in creamy white colors, allowing you to cut beautiful angelic shapes from it.

Also, working with balsa wood is pretty convenient as you can carve accurate figures from it. Balsa wood pieces are lightweight, adding another reason you should work with this wood type to whittle from. If you ever want to experiment with your carving skills, you should get balsa wood.


You probably know that wood types made for whittling are all softwood. You can’t possibly carve shapes from hardwood. It may be possible, but most whittlers prefer softwood, especially beginners. Aspen is straight and includes plenty of refined grains.

The best part about aspen is that it doesn’t split easily, allowing you to carve versatile shapes from it. You should know that aspen comes in lighter colors. So, if you want your shapes to be dark-colored, you’ll have to go for something else such as cherrywood or walnut wood.


You may not know this, but butternut is also called “white walnut” due to its similarities with black walnut. However, white walnut, or butternut, is better than black walnut in many ways. Black walnut is a popular wood type among woodworkers, but every whittler will tell you how beneficial butternut is.

This wood type is light brown, giving you more room to add a range of colors through staining. So, if you’re going for a specific shape, color, and look, butternut will benefit you plenty. Butternut is more detailed than any other wood, making it an exceptional piece of wood for whittling.

White Pine

White pine is another excellent piece of wood to carve from (most of the time). However, you should know white pine can sometimes be tricky to work with. The thing with this wood type is that it’ll never let you carve shapes successfully.

As someone who often works with wood, you should know there’s a significant distinction between green wood (fresh wood) and brown wood (dried wood). When wood is green, it’ll be too sticky to work with. So, please always ensure to carve shapes from white pine when it has dried completely.

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