Can I carve Redwood?

Redwood trees come from the conifers family, meaning they are softwoods and evergreen through seasons. Being the world’s tallest trees the next question is probably “Can I carve redwood?”

Carving redwood is very possible due to its straight grain that makes it easy to carve. Another thing that makes redwood easy to carve is its low density. Density gives wood strength which makes it tougher when it has a high density.

Redwood has a straight grain

These giant trees are found in coastal California and Oregon. The tallest redwood tree is estimated to be the height of a 35-story building; you can just imagine how tall the tree is.

What Are The Different Types Of Redwood I Can Carve

There are 3 known different types of redwood and they mostly vary in their size. These different types are; Coast redwoods, Giant Sequoias, and Dawn Redwoods.

The Coast redwoods are also known as the Sequoia sempervirens and are the only native to Humboldt County growing in the cool climate that makes the coastal regions of Northern California. The name sempervirens comes from the Latin words that mean evergreen or ever living. The reason why these types of trees are limited to where they grow is that they can only grow in the moist coastal environment where they feed necessary moisture through frequent rains and fog. The coastal region is where the interaction of sea and land process occurs.

Redwood lumber as either flat-grain feature that appears wavy, or a vertical feature that appears straight depending on how it is sawed.

Best Tools To Use When Carving Redwood

(What are some of the tools I can carve redwood with?) The most common tools used to carve redwood are; power tools and chainsaws. Some assume that because redwood is a giant tree, it will be hard to carve but it is the opposite. Due to its softness and straight grain, it is possible to use hand tools when carving or whittling.

The reason chainsaw is the most commonly used method is because it gives you the power to carve larger sculptures compared to the other methods. As you all know by now that redwood is a giant tree, you can decide to not split the lumber and use it to create a giant sculpture.

Example of an artist chainsaw carving an octopus

When using a chainsaw, you need to be very careful because it is the easiest carving tool to cause accidents. Make sure that before carving, you inspect that it is working in good condition and the chain is sharp, this will save you from accidents.

For more protection, wear goggles to protect your eyes from the dust that comes out from the carving of the wood. Wear earplugs or earmuffs to protect your ears from the loud noise when chainsaw carving.

Using power tools is also a good method to consider using if you need speed in completion and more accuracy. Power tools have a motor that is either powered by electricity or batteries. It rotates at a high speed that allows carving to be simple and fast. Some power carving tools are just used for rotating wood and gouges and chisels are used for carving.

When using hand tools to carve redwood, make sure that they are sharp to avoid strain. Always remember that a tool is always safer when sharp than blunt. When hand-carving, make sure that the tools are comfortable when used to avoid fatigue and make you carve for a longer period.

Best Finish For Redwood Carving

When you are done carving, it is important to apply stain to help in the aesthetic appearance of the carving by changing the natural hue of the wood and the grain. Stain also slows the rate of reaction to the surrounding and helps the carving to have a more impact resistance

When the area you live in has a warm climate, you apply the finish to avoid the moisture from escaping the carving because if it happens fast, it will lead to splitting and cracking.

When in a humid climate, applying a finish will help your carving from absorbing moisture from the environment. If it starts absorbing moisture from the environment, it starts to show signs of rotting.

Some wood carvers use paint to treat their carvings but in my view, the wood stain has more advantages over paint. Stain is available in two distinct variations which are acrylic-based and oil-based and it does not only protect your carving but also enhance it in certain environments and applications.

Oil finishes are best suited for carvings that are going to decorate the surrounding where it will be exposed to climate change. The oil stain seeps deep into the wood fibers and it will prevent it from cracking and warping.

When using oil stains, you should handle them with care because they are very flammable. Oils-based stains take roughly 2 days to dry and so when applying the coat, apply it indoors to avoid dust particles from resting on the surface before the stain is dry.

When you compare acrylic-based stains to oil stains, I would say that acrylic paints are better to apply to indoor carvings. Acrylic stains dry faster than oil paints and it takes roughly 2-3 hours to dry completely.

Some of the reasons why I prefer acrylic over oil stains are, that acrylic is easier to clean up after a mess happens and when you accidentally spill acrylic stain on anything, it will not cause any damage and all you will have to do is use some water and soap to clean it up.

Acrylic based-paints are also environmentally friendly and unlike the oil stains, they don’t seep into oil fibers making it easy to remove and re-stain. The only downside of acrylic stains is that they are more expensive compared to oil paints.


I’m hoping the ones with the question (Can I carve Redwood?) have gained something from what I have shared. Redwood is carvable and its size should not frighten you from carving. If you love wood carving, you can form a habit of planting a tree every time you carve a given number of projects.

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