How To Carve Wood Without Tools

How To Carve Wood Without Tools

Being without tools doesn’t mean you have to give up the project you are inspired to do. You can still carve wood without adding to your pile of art supplies or buying more materials at the store. As long as you are safe and taking things slow, there are many innovative ways to carve wood

How To Carve Wood Without Tools

Here are some tips and tricks on how you can carve wood without tools:

  1. Utilize things in your own home. 
  2. Make your own tools using household objects. 

Remember, these ideas may work best on a small scale. Below, I’ll help inspire some innovative ways to sculpt or carve wood without going to the store for a car full of supplies. I’ll talk about what tools you already have in your home can be utilized and then talk about some easy DIYs: How To Carve Wood Without Tools.

Utilize Things in Your Own Home

Wood carvings give any home an eclectic feel and make for an easy–and cheap–gift for your loved ones. If you find you have a talent for it, you may be surprised at the beautiful things you can make with wood. Branches or logs, there is a world of possibility when you commit to learning wood carving.

Typically, there are about three kinds of carving knives minimum used for small projects like a thick tree branch or a chunk of wood Opens in a new tab.(bear in mind that not any piece of wood will be primed and ready); this would include the following:

  • Carver
  • Scalpel
  • Detailer

Each of these has a different level of sharpness and shape to keep your hands, wrists, and fingers in shape while being able to accurately detail the wood. 

These kits come in packs from three to twelve pieces, but you don’t have to go to the store and add more supplies to your stockpile to become a wood whittler. One of the most sustainable ways to do art projects is to utilize all of the materials you already have. You’re already working with wood, so the desire to reuse what’s around you is clearly there.

Use a Butter Knife

A sharpened butter knife works perfectlyOpens in a new tab. as a whittler. You can handle it quickly and use the flat, serrated edge to carve through the wood. This might make things take a little extra time, but utilizing the serrated edge and the curve at the top can help you make tiny details in your wood whittling projects. 

Be cautious, though. I’ve listed butter knives and not your typical onion-chopping knives for a reason. These are much safer to control and grip than your run-of-the-mill kitchen knife. Sometimes, weak or cheap flatware will bend under pressure, putting your extremities at risk.

Use a Screwdriver or Flathead

A screwdriver, flathead, or other tools within your household toolkit may be perfect for your whittling adventure. These usually already have an easily graspable handle on them and various edges. 

With small chunks of wood, these will work perfectly to help you whittle tiny woodland creatures or utensils. You can use one or more to create your own wood carving toolkit. 

One thing I will say about this option is that you’ll need to be extra careful when you’re applying pressure. You could, of course, sharpen your tools to help them go through wood easier. 

However, if they’re dull, you may be applying a lot of pressure to the wood you’re working on. If you apply too much and the wood slips out of your hand, you may accidentally puncture your hand, steadying the wood in place. 

Use a Swiss-Army Knife

A swiss-army knifeOpens in a new tab. is a great wood whittling tool, especially in a pinch. Swiss knives are sharp, easily handleable, and most people have them lying around their houses if not in their pockets.

FoxChapelVideosOpens in a new tab.

As always, be careful! Too much pressure may make the swiss army knife close, which could cut you or damage your project. 

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Make Your Own Tools Using Household Objects

If you’re willing to get a little innovative, you can make your own toolsOpens in a new tab.. As a crafter–especially one interested in woodwork–you might find that making your own tools is a satisfying way to begin your wood carving journey. You can get creative by using old saw blades, underutilized sharp tools from your toolkit, or anything sharp and easy to hold.

Most commonly, people will utilize razor blades or box cutters. Below, I’ll talk about how you can make that work. 

Making a Wood Carving Tool With a Razor

A flathead razor makes for a tremendous whittling tool if only there’s a handle on the edge of it. Sometimes, as artists, we have x-acto blades or box cutters lying around for other art projects. These are a great thing to utilize, but you could also attach your box cutter to something if you don’t have one with a handle around. 

If you want to get a little fancier with it, that’s definitely possible. Though it may be a little more complicated, you can craft your own wood whittler out of a razor and some wood. My artists and crafters will love this–it’s like a project before the project!

VIDEO. This YouTube video from Walter Sorrell shows how you can do this with things you already have lying around and no power tools. WATCH – Making a Wood Carving Knife with NO Power Tools! Easy DIY Knife Making…

Walter SorrellsOpens in a new tab.

Just be sure to use a super-durable glue and then add an extra layer of protection. The danger here is that if the wood doesn’t give, your razor might end up bending or breaking and injuring your fingers or hands.

Final Words

Whatever you decide to utilize, please be cautious and use your best judgment. You are the number one thing in control of your safety, and whittling isn’t like painting or drawing for obvious reasons. You will be taking a hard piece of wood and carving it with a sharp tool, often very near your fingers and hands. Don’t get lazy–or else you might end up carving your fingers!

Seriously, people. Be careful.

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Caraca's self-taught artist based in the UK, Ines explores unconventional materials and sustainability.

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