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How to Start Woodcarving Using a Basic Utility Knife | DIY Project

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Using even the most basic household tools like the utility knife, you may be able to start woodcarving easily without any fuss. I may have given you something to think about that you may be wondering and curious to know the answer to this question: Exactly, how to start wood carving using a basic utility knife?

Well, the process is not any different than using any fancy wood carving knives, perhaps only convenient and accessible. The great thing about woodcarving is, its origin is dated way back when resources are scarce, hence, it does not necessarily require any high-end equipment to work with.

Aside from that, this article also aims to answer these questions, what are the things needed before starting? What are the things to bear in mind to achieve the desired outcome efficiently by using only this basic tool? Will the output be the same? I can hear my voice with these questions, as trying something different, and yes, queer can be daunting.

Woodcarving is an exercise of creativity and inventiveness. Hence, there is no reason why we cannot be all resourceful and bold in trying different techniques and procedures. And by doing so, knowing these step by step guide can help you maximize the use of these resources and achieve optimal results.

For this, you need to have an intermediate level of knowledge about operating woodcutter, miter saw, and hand saw.

What you will need to follow this tutorial

The most basic and essential items on your list:

  • A sharp utility knife

While there are many kinds of fancy knives used for woodcarving, it is possible to create a masterpiece by using only this one kitchen tool. Just make sure that your utility knife is sharp enough for an easy and smooth glide when carving.

  • Wood

Any wood is possible to use. And anywhere around you, you can find any wood lying that can be used to carve. Before choosing, however, you may need to ask yourself these questions:

What is the size of the wood? Will it be sufficient to fit in my whole vision?

Can the shape of the wood accommodate my design?

Is this wood durable enough?

But for some who wants something else, some wood especially ideal for woodcarvings such as the basswood, white pine, and butternut is also available. For an efficient performance and quality result though, we would recommend the use of Basswood, as it is easier and softer to carve with, yet at the same time sturdy and stable enough to hold your design in place.

Aside from the two essential elements, you may need the following as well:

  • Pattern

I said before since woodcarving is an exercise of creativity, you have the liberty to choose any design or figure that you want to create. Whether it is a leaf, bird, house of anything at all, it is essential to the process to be able to already have the pattern ready for an efficient and continuous work.

There are books available for different design ideas and figures that you may want, but we would highly suggest making use of your larger facility, which is your creative brains for some unique and fresh ideas.

  • Gloves

Some may prefer not to use this, but as a safety precaution given you are dealing with knives, it wouldn’t hurt to use one as there is absolutely nothing wrong with being cautious and safe.

  • Sandpaper

To make sure that end product is smooth, sanding it will even and straighten the rough surface and remove any grits.

  • Paint, Oil, or Wax

A splash of color or some shine will give your masterpiece a more sophisticated and luxurious finish.

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I always find starting a new or different hobby or endeavor tough and confusing until you get the hang of it. Take advantage of these tutorials, as it will help you get through the nitty-gritty of things. When starting to carve wood using only the utility knife, you may want to use these following pro tips to get you by:

Don’t rush.

This is not something you can finish in a few minutes, nor something you can expedite doing, as you need to be very exact with every cut and shape.

Stay focused.

To avoid any miscalculations and possibly cut your fingers, you have to concentrate and put your mind in the game.

Always check your blade.

Be wary of your knife if it isn’t gliding as smoothly as it is from the start, then you may need to sharpen it again, so it will not affect the quality of your work and performance.

Use gloves when carving.

For some safety precaution especially beginners, we would suggest using a glove until you get comfortable with the strokes and using the knife. You may not like the feel of it, but you will get used to it later on.

Step By Step Instructions

How do I start? Now that you have everything you need ready, you will find these steps useful and helpful to get started and for an organized work.

Step 1: Measure, Mark and Cut the Pieces

What is interesting about woodcarving is how it molds and hones your creativity and imagination. The possibilities are limitless, as you can create anything you can see and picture in your head. The more unique and inventive your ideas are, the better.

Step 2: Trace your pattern

Most wood carvers, if not all make use of a pattern to transfer their vision to the wood. You can use a carbon paper, stylus or a pencil to trace. You have to be extra careful in doing so to avoid any unnecessary movements that may ruin the whole design. You may pin or use adhesive tape to keep the pattern in place.

Step 3: Carve following your pattern

Be precise, mindful and take the time to cut and shape the wood within the outline using the utility knife to achieve the desired outcome.

Step 4: Sand the surface

Once the cutting is done, clean up your piece by sanding it entirely to remove the grits on the surface and give it an even and smooth finish.

Step 5: Add additional finishing

For added depth and quality to your piece, you may want to add stain, paint or oil to complete the look. And yes, to also make it more fancy and beautiful to the eyes.


How did you find this tutorial? As I wrap up, I can only hope you find this useful and entertaining and possibly inspire you to unleash your creativity and make more awesome and amazing pieces. Woodcarving may look complicated and intimidating, but a fun and artistic activity and experience. Doing the process strategically and systemically makes this entire course organized and productive. It is important for you to follow it to the latter to achieve your desired outcome in a timely and orderly manner.

I would like to hear your thoughts as well. You may want to share some tips perhaps to improve our outcome or some enjoyable experience when you start woodcarving using an essential utility knife where we can draw ideas from in the comments section below. We aim to inspire, thus if you like this article, hope you can take the time to help us share this to others as well.

  • June 21, 2017
  • DIY