Wood carving is an ancient type of art that people used to do as a hobby or as a profession. Wood carvings are mainly used for construction, making materials, and decorative purposes because of their long-term durability and nice appeal. However, it is important to know the characteristics of each wood before carving them. Some woods are not good enough for carving due to various factors such as strength, hardness, etc.
When it comes to Oakwood, even though we use it for many construction purposes, I was always wondered, Is Oak Good for Carving?
Here is what I found:
Yes, Oak is good for carving. Oak is a popular ideal wood for carving because of its great properties. Because of being strong and sturdy Oak wood carvings has long-term durability. But carving with oak is not simple as carving with basswood or pine due to various factors.
But there’s a lot more to know about the carving with Oakwood. In this article I have discussed properties of oak wood that are useful when carving, is oak difficult to carve, safety tips, examples for oak wood carvings, and much more. So, let’s get going!
Is Oak Difficult to Carve?
In terms of the durability of your oak wood carvings, they second to none. I have a wood-carved owl that made of oak wood more than 10 years ago and it’s still fresh as new. This is why oak carvings are common in churches. You just have to apply the coating once per year. This is because oak wood is hardwood.
But when comes to handling wood carving, Oakwood is difficult to work with. Especially when you’re working with white oak to make cuts and curls to get nice shapes is difficult. This is because of its high hardness.
If you don’t have enough experience with oak wood, safety gloves, and thumb guard are highly recommended. It can give injuries to the user because the blade spillage is can mostly happen because of being hard and dense wood.
Finished at last. I started carving this Barn Owl spoon back in February and, although I knew it was going to be a tricky project, it turned out to be far more challenging than I could have anticipated. Over 550 hours to carve and 6 snapped knives (this Oak is tough!). pic.twitter.com/DJ4KomCJN0— Giles Newman (@giles_newman) April 30, 2018
Proper handling is very much important when carving with oak wood because your carving tools will damage many times if you don’t handle the wood properly.
The reason for being difficult to carve apart from its hard and dense, Oakwood has a large porous structure, which can be difficult to get the smooth surface that pretty much important in wood carving. The appeal we wish is hard to gain with oak wood. So, to get the smooth surface your tools need to be sharp well.
You need to have mastered the skill to carve with oak. I don’t recommend oak wood for your first project in wood carving.
A mini carve in the oak tree folk family from before Christmas pic.twitter.com/dTQZJHr2Xg— Simon O’Rourke (@treecarving) January 13, 2021
Oak Wood Properties that are Important in Wood Carving
1. Safe and cause no Allergies
Oakwood is 100% safe for carving. In terms of safety, you can use oak carvings for any purpose. Oakwood is non-toxic and food-safe. There you can use oak wood to carve kitchen utensils, baby toys without any issues.
2. Beautiful Color
The appeal is an essential factor in wood carving. Oakwood has a wide range of colors from light beige to red and brown. White oak is more beige in color and red oak is rosier. Oakwood can bring natural beauty to your wood carvings which makes them attractive than most other woods.
Chessboard carved in Oak. Fairly large at 24″ x 24″. I did not carve the chessmen. pic.twitter.com/2nJFieXW5I— Vikingcarver (@vikingcarver) March 12, 2019
Oakwood is known as one of the strongest woods on the planet. Many oak wood carvings are still freshly can be seen in ancient churches.
4. Easy to Finish
Oakwood carvings can easily wish by applying beeswax, linseed oil, or Danish oil. This will extra protection to your carvings. The porous structure of oak wood makes the finishing oil penetrate more and dry quicker than most other woods.
Is Oak Good for Hand Carving?
It’s quite frustrating to hand carve with oak wood. The wood is so much hard and dense, so, if you’re a hand carver, you need a lot more power than carving other regular woods like basswood and pine to carve oak wood.
Wood carvings get more attractive when there are high in details. To get highly detailed wood carving, you need deep cuts, short cuts, curls, and other complex shapes. If you’re a hand carver it’ll be a difficult task to a place deep cuts in oak wood. So, sharp your tools well before going for hand carving with oak wood.
Oak is very difficult to carve with a knife. Not helped by the odd shape either but it’s starting to take shape (80). pic.twitter.com/ZZG8cn34Xw— Peter 💙 (@PewPewPew05) April 8, 2014
Is Oak Good for Carving Spoons?
Oak is not good for carving spoons because of its porous structure. Oakwood stain easily and water can easily penetrate through its porous structure. So, it absorbs moisture easily. Because of having a porous structure that will retain food, oils, and fats and soon the look will turn racial that doesn’t go away even after washing.
Also, bacteria and other harmful things can trap inside the pores. This is why oak wood is not recommended for carving spoons.
The same theory applies to cutting boards as well. Oakwood is not good for cutting boards.
Oakwood mostly uses for carving large projects like furniture. Oakwood is great for interior and exterior usage. So, if you’re looking for wood for a bigger project, oak wood is a great choice.
Here I have listed some oak wood carving projects,
- Wall art.
- Carve Oak box
- Gouge rack
- Sculptures (animals, humans, plants)
Likewise oak wood is a popular choice for most wood carvings due to its great qualities.
Wood Types Better than Oakwood for Carving
Due to several drawbacks of oak wood such as porous structure, moisture absorbance, poor workability, too high and dense, people tend to use the second-best options rather than going for oak wood for carvings.
Basswood is an excellent choice for carving due to its workability. This is known as the easiest wood to carve for beginners. Basswood is a common choice for most beginner wood carving projects.
It is softwood that stains well with good strength.
Pinewood is also a great alternative for oak wood due to its workability. It can retain its shape adequately. Popular for carving chainsaws.
3. Black Walnut
In terms of hardness black walnut is. So much similar to oak wood. Black walnut is better for wood carving due to its less porous structure than oak wood. They are totally food safe and can use to carve spoons, cutting boards as well.
As a summary, Is oak good for carving, I have listed everything we have discussed under the following table.
Advantages and Disadvantages of Using Oakwood for Wood Carving
|Advantages of Oak for Carving||Disadvantages of Oak for Carving|
|High strength||Poor workability|
|High durability||Absorb moisture easily|
|Food safe||Not good to carve a spoon|
|Non-toxic||Tools get damaged easily|
As you can see, there is an averagely same number of advantages and disadvantages of using oak wood for wood carvings. Even though oak wood has several drawbacks, it is still one of the most popular woods in the wood carving world.
I highly recommend Oakwood for carving for anybody that interested in wood carving. First, you have to do simple carvings and get the experience. This will teach you the techniques of how to handle tools, how to get basic shapes, how to do stuff with zero injuries etc.
Eventually, when you become a pro at this, you can take oak wood for bigger wood carving projects with ease. Workability will not be an issue, because you have nice practice. Strength and durability are the keys when it comes to wood carving.
Did I cover all you wanted to know about: Is Oak Good for Carving?
In this article, I have widely discussed is oak good for carving, is oak difficult to carve, what are the great properties of oak wood that make it perfect for carving, what are the drawbacks of oak wood, and what are the common wood carving projects of oak wood.
Oakwood is one of the popular woods among woodcarvers due to its strength and durability.
Practice makes you perfect. So, keep practicing with oak wood carving. One day you’ll be a star in oak wood carving.
I hope now you have a clear idea of whether you select oak wood for your next carving project or not. My advice is to try every single wood you meet to make carves and get the experience. It is so much valuable for you in near future.