Top 20 Wood Carving Ideas for Beginners and Experts

As an Amazon Associate we earn from qualifying purchases.

Wood Carving has been around for centuries. Some people think of it as a hobby, but I believe it is more than that.  Without wood carving, we would not have some of the beauty in our homes. 

The art of wood carving includes many types of shapes, designs, and structures. You can add a design to anything made of wood. Think about a wood rocking chair with an intricate design or a wood forest gnome with carved detail. 

If you are curious about other items that can be carved out of wood, this article is right where you need to be. Below is a list of the top 20 wood carving ideas.

Beginner Wood Carving Ideas

If you are a beginner, start easy and work your way up. Learning the basics and mastering them will help you improve your skills. If you’re interested in wood carving, then chances are you would also be interested in our beginner wood lathe project ideas.

1. Arrow Head

An arrowhead is perfect for someone who is a beginner at wood carving. It is basic enough to be done by anyone but intricate enough to teach you the basics of wood carving. 

Arrow head wood carving ideas

Check the project ideas here:

Arrowheads, carved from wood, are a beautiful way to display your appreciation for Native American culture. If you want to step it up, you can add additional intricate details.

These arrowheads are a great representation of basic wood carving.

You can make your arrowheads in various shapes and sizes. Take a look at these arrowheads as a great small wood project for you.

2. Wand

Everyone loves magic. What is more magical than a wand? Wood carved magic wands are great for beginners. They can be very simple, or get more detailed with the addition of handles. 

Wand wood carving ideas

Check out the wood carving project idea here:

Creating a magic wand can be a great side hustle, these are top sellers on various websites. They sell for as high as hundreds of dollars. If you want to turn your hobby into a business, this would be a fantastic niche.

Take a look at these wands for inspiration. They show simple designs and designs that are more elaborate.

3. Flute

Flutes are a good project for beginners. Flutes can be as basic as you want. They don’t require a lot of detail, which makes them perfect when first starting this journey. 

Flute wood carving ideas

Check how to make this DIY wood carving idea:

A homemade wood flute is a perfect gift for someone who loves music. If you want to start making presents for the people you love, this would be something to try. 

These flutes are cute and show how minimal the details need to be.

4. Game Pieces

How many times have you gone to play your favorite board game and one of the pieces is missing! This happens in every household in America! Family game night does not have to be ruined, though. 

Game pieces wood carving ideas

Check out this checkerboard made completely out of wood:

Games pieces for games such as checkers or chess are a great DIY beginner project. They are simple and small and can be easy to make. The extra pieces will come in handy the next time you realize one is missing.

5. Candlestick Holder

A candlestick holder is a great wood carving project. It can be made at a beginner level, for those who are just starting. Or, it can be for an expert who wants to get fancy.

Candlestick holder wood carving ideas

Try carving this design by checking the idea here:

Candlestick holders are perfect to have around the house in case of an emergency. You never know when the power may go out. But always remember to use glass or tin lining to prevent a fire.

The candlestick holder here is very basic. Try carving a design of your own when you feel ready.

6. Paper Weight

Do you hate it when your important documents fly all over the room if there is a draft? If so, create a paperweight to hold them in place. 

Paper weight wood carving ideas

Create this unique version idea:

Paperweights are an excellent beginner wood carving project. You can keep it minimal with just a few designs, or take it to the next level and create something wild. 

This simple paperweight is a great project for a beginner.

7. Coasters

The last beginner wood carving project that we will talk about is coasters. Coasters are great for newbies. They allow you to get the feeling for wood carving, but you don’t have to do too much.

Coasters wood carving ideas

Check out the wood carving project here:

Coasters are another great gift idea for someone. They always come in handy when your drink is too moist. Next time you are looking for a DIY gift idea, try a set of coasters.

These coasters are made from various types of wood. See how using multiple materials in your wood carving can enhance the final product.

Intermediate Wood Carving Projects

Once you have mastered the basics of wood carving, you may be ready to try something more difficult. Below are projects that add layers and details to enhance your abilities.

8. Fairy

Fairies are adorable. They have more details than the previous projects, so they may be better suited for someone with a little bit more experience. 

Fairy wood carving ideas

Check out these fairies to see what I mean about the extreme detail:

When carving your fairy, you may include her full body, wings, and wand. These are small details that make each carving unique. Fairies can be made large or small. They are a great step up from any intermediate project.

9. Garden Gnome

Garden gnomes go hand in hand with fairies. They are great for carvers who want to step up their skills. The details on the garden gnome will definitely take you from beginner status to intermediate.

Garden gnome wood carving ideas

Check out how to create this project here:

If you find it hard to customize each of your garden gnomes, don’t be afraid to try different paint colors. The colors of their hats, skin, clothes, and boots can all be changed to give each gnome a unique look.

Add these gnomes to your green lawn and garden for a perfect accent.

This garden gnome looks happy to be painted in his favorite colors.

10. Animals and Pets

Foxes, dogs, cats, or any other animals are an adorable intermediate wood carving project. The tail of the animal is the main feature of this project, and with the right skill can make the tail look real.

Animal and pets wood carving ideas

Look at these animals, check out the detail and how you can almost feel its softness:

These animals are great for trinkets or home decor. They can be loved and appreciated by everyone. If you don’t love the examples listed, try a different animal. Fluffy-tailed critters work best, such as raccoons, cats, or squirrels.

While you’re in the mood, take a look at our DIY dog fence projects.

11. Christmas Ornaments

People love decorations, and Christmas DIY wood crafts are extremely popular. We enjoy decorating our homes for holidays and birthdays. While we may not all celebrate the same holidays, ornaments can be appreciated for any one of them.

Christmas ornaments wood carving ideas

More details over at:

Ornaments tell a story. They represent something that the person loves or admires. When we collect a series of ornaments, it not only tells our story, but it shows a timeline of our lives.

Ornaments are a great intermediate wood carving project because they can be anything that you want them to be. These ornaments are a great example of storytelling.

You can also make your own Christmas ornaments with your scroll saw.

12. Picture Frame

They say that a picture says a thousand words. Creating a homemade wood-carved picture frame can add a thousand more. Picture frames are a great way to preserve the life of a photograph. It adds protection and beauty to the photo.

Wood carved picture frames are a great personal touch. They make a great project for someone who has their basic skills and wants to add more. 

13. Duck

Ducks are a fun way to decorate your yard or porch. A few wooden ducks placed around a pond may be the best way to invite a flock of real ducks. Either way, ducks are cute and lovable and something perfect for your backyard.

Duck wood carving ideas

These adorable ducks would be great to have in your yard:

14. Hair Berets

Hair berets are great for intermediate woodcarvers. Not because they have so much detail, but because they are so small. They can be a tiny flower or a big clip. The smaller the design the more skilled you need to be.

Hair berets wood carving ideas

Look at these hair berets perfect for any occasion:

Homemade wood-carved berets can be extra glamorous, they would be perfect for a bride-to-be or the birthday girl. Berets set you out from the crowd and are great for any age. 

15. Brooch

Wooden brooches are not as popular these days. But, for the right person who appreciates craftsmanship and beauty, it would be a great gift. 

Brooch wood carving ideas

Check out the idea here:

Brooches represent power and quality. They are worn as a symbol and are a great way to show leadership.

Creating a brooch takes skill in wood carving, it has layers and small details. They can help you fine-tune your abilities and accuracy.

This brooch is a real statement piece.

16. Nesting Dolls

Nesting dolls are very unique. They require the right skills because they need to be replicated on a smaller scale each time. Each doll looks the same as the doll inside of it, so being accurate is important when making them.

Nesting dolls wood carving ideas

These nesting dolls are great for any collector:

Advanced Wood Carving Projects

If you are an expert woodcarver, you may be looking for larger projects. These projects are perfect for someone who is ready to try something extraordinary.

17. Bench

A bench can be considered woodworking, but if it has intricate details, it can also be in the wood carving category. Benches require expert skill and a lot of attention to detail. If you feel you are ready to expand your portfolio, this is a great project.

Bench wood carving ideas

Check out the tutorial here:

Benches can have backs, armrests, legs, and feet. All of them can have their own details, making this a project that will be one of a kind. You can add a bench to your DIY table project.

Look at the details on this bench. See how one can be so intricate while the other is so simple. This shows just how much expertise can be needed. 

18. Memorial 

Wood carved memorials are a wonderful way to remember your family, friends, or pets. You can add details about their lives that a stone memorial couldn’t. 

Memorial wood carving ideas

Check out the full detailed view here:

It requires expert experience to create a memorial because of everything that goes into it. Dates, names, and quotes are a great visual aid in a memorial. Accompanied with carvings of things and places that they loved. 

Wood carved memorials like these are an impressive way to symbolize the love you had for someone. 

19. Totem Pole

Totem poles are amazing. They are large sculptures that recreate a story. They represent freedom and courage. They are perfect for gathering spots, or POW wows. 

Totem pole wood carving ideas

The best examples of how detailed totem poles are can be seen here. They show just how magnificent they truly are:

They require expert wood carving skills. They aren’t something that can be finished in a day or two. The massive carving can take weeks or months to complete. 

20. Sports Mascot

If you have a tree that you want to cut down, you may want to consider using it as your next wood carving project. If you love sports and have a favorite team, you can carve the team mascot into the tree stump.

Sports mascot wood carving ideas

This example of a sports mascot will have your neighbors talking:

Just like with the totem pole, this is a project that will take some time. The size of the piece and the details of the mascot all take time. But once completed, this project will be a major conversation piece. 

Wood Carving Recap

Whether you are a beginner or have the skills of an expert woodcarver, there is a project for you. Beginner projects are simple with minimal details that give you the basic carving feel. These will include arrowheads, picture frames, and paperweights.

The better you become, the more detailed and precise your projects will be. These projects will have smaller details and designs such as fairies, gnomes, and broaches.

If you want to show off your expert wood carving skills, larger projects will do the trick. These gathering pieces can be totem poles, sports mascots, or 

Always remember safety first. Wear the proper safety measures when working with tools. And lock up your tools when finished.

Allen runs a popular home website, and understands what it takes to educate audiences through online content. Through his focus at home, Allen developed an insatiable appetite for home improvement projects that he could do for cheap on weekends. Over the years, he has gained valuable experience, which he shares in detail in articles like How to Build A DIY Dining Room Table. His ability to clearly share these DIY ideas is a huge asset, and he is a valuable resource to the home improvement community.