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carving walnut

I am a beginning woodcarver with limited tools and materials, although i'm always willing to buy tools.  I know mary has talked about how she used what she had  when she first started carving.  I’m in the same boat when it comes to the wood I have available to me.  My father was both a carpenter and woodworker.  He was able to get a load of black walnut slabs a company was using for walnut rifle stocks.  it’s rough cut at about 2 ½” thick and the slabs are maybe 1 ½ - 2 feet long and 1 - 1 ½ foot wide.  these slabs have been in a water-tight shed for nearly 30 years.  I’ve always loved the look of walnut, but as a beginning carver, am a taking on too much of a challenge too soon?

SmokyRick Crawford has reacted to this post.
SmokyRick Crawford


Sounds like you have some good walnut just waiting to be made into something. As for too much of a challenge, I’ve found walnut to be a pretty nice mid-range in hardness wood to carve. If you were starting with oak, I might tell you to start elsewhere! If you have a lot of the walnut stock, it sure wouldn’t hurt to experiment on a piece.

On a side note, walnut is harder than the usual go-to basswood for beginning carving. Just know that you will have some difficulties that you wouldn’t experiment with a softer wood. You’re tools will need to be sharp and know that if you start getting frustrated you can change wood and always come back to that great stash of walnut!

Good luck and happy carving...

Michael Duncan and Greg Howlett have reacted to this post.
Michael DuncanGreg Howlett

thanks for your reply.  I answered my own question when I tried to carve a piece of that walnut with the limited tools I have, purchased used from estate sales, and it was a disaster.  so, being the tool collector that I am, I ordered mary’s beginner set of gouges and for good measure I also ordered a set of 2 cherries gouges and knives.  I also bought mary’s basic carving set so I could start out on some easier woods to carve.  I’m also thinking about purchasing a pair of safety gloves for starting out, because these new tools will be SHARP!  

Matthew Mizner and Tom Weir have reacted to this post.
Matthew MiznerTom Weir