Best wood for carving figures

best wood for carving figures

If you want to take figure whittling to the next level, why not do it with the best woods for carving figures?

We reviewed some of the top woods for carving, and here are our top picks and why we picked them.

The best woods for carving figures


Basswood is our top wood for carving figures, and the reason is simple. Basswood is the softest wood that still gives a decent amount of detail. This means basswood can allow quick figure carving.

Many whittlers love this wood for its ease of workability. With basswood, you don’t have to sharpen as often as when carving some other carving woods.

Basswood’s predictable grain pattern makes it the most preferred wood by figurine carvers.

Figure carving in basswood by Jonathan Creason

Basswood’s plain color also makes for a good canvas for those carvers that love finishing their figurine carving with acrylic paints.

Cherry wood

For those that love to leave those whittled figures with the natural wood showing, Our best wood for carving figures, basswood, may not be a good option.

But with cherry beautiful, rich, and Interesting grain figure, you don’t need complicated finishing techniques. Just oil it, and it’s a remarkable piece. Look at the figure carving below done on cherry wood.

First try of a wee wizard using cherry wood and finished with Boiled Linseed Oil. by Ronnie
“First try of a wee wizard using cherry wood and finished with Boiled Linseed Oil.” by Ronnie-min

Cherry wood is, however, very tough to carve especially coming straight from carving basswood. You will need sharp tools and nothing less than patience to navigate this.

But the troubles you encounter are paid back by cherry wood’s durability. Cherry carvings will outlive basswood carvings.


pine, especially eastern white pine, has been praised as a good wood for whittling. The wood enters our list of best woods for figure carving for one reason but an important one to most beginner whittlers.

Pinewood figure carving

The first reason is pine is in the category of most affordable woods for whittling. This means you can practice and produce a lot of figure carvings without spending much. Pine is also fast growing and is listed among other sustainable woods.

Summary: Best woods for carving figures

While best in ‘best woods for figure carving’ may be relative, there are some advantages that figure carvers may enjoy in some woods that are absent in others.

Basswood is our favorite wood that we recommend to figure whittlers. However, it has two problems its a plain uninteresting figure and price point, but there are other options like pine and cherry that can easily fit in the best woods for whittling figures conversation.

Hadwin Fisher

I'm basically a "Hobby Whittler." Everything I make is for Personal use, gifts for others, or other Items for charity auctions or other "Causes" i.e. "Local Hospital" Etc. Some health issues are interfering with me doing any large-scale projects in my workshop at this Present Time. That said I can't stay idle, whittling, and writing about whittling with my Friend ken Read keeps me sane and happy!

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