Best Wood Carving Books for Beginners | Detailed Review

To anyone interested in carving, videos are really awesome and help us learn new skills quickly. However, videos are not as wholesome as books!

Videos do not exhaust a topic, technique, or specific themes well enough as books do. Videos are more visual and depict ideas on the visual planes but books provide not only the concept in wording but a space to develop, mold, explore and extend the idea.

Books on wood carving are an essential part of any wood carver’s collection. Whether you’re looking to expand your woodcarving knowledge with new techniques or keep current on the latest technique, styles, and designs. Wood carving books can help you learn new skills and improve your existing ones in no time at all.

But how do you find the perfect wood carving book that introduces a beginner to the art and craft of carving? Well by the time I was researching this there were no relevant reviews on this topic, we hope our best wood carving books for beginners review will be of help on your new journey of discovery!

Best Wood Carving Books for Beginners

Since there are so many books on carving I have decided to recommend  3 different types of books. I thought this was better than just listing books where some may just share similar approaches.

see our recommended whittling kits for beginners.

Best books on wood carving: Reference books

In this section, I am recommending two books that are good reference books for any woodcarver. While referencing is for people that already have the skill the two books are still perfect for those that are completely new to wood carving.

Chris Pye’s Woodcarving Course & Reference Manual: A Beginner’s Guide to Traditional Techniques

Chris Pye’s Woodcarving Course & Reference Manual is one of my favorite carving books. The book is well-written by a respected carver Chris Pye.

Chris Pye is a seasoned woodcarver having been practicing the craft actively since 1975. This beginners book is a recent book published in 2010. This is however not the only book Chris Pye has authored but it happens to be the best wood carving book for a beginner that still serves as a reference book.

woodcarving course book by chris pye

Structure of the Book

The book sets off with the basics of wood carving introducing the carving tools needed to start the craft.

The following chapters go into detail about how to use your tools to satisfy different techniques and styles in carving. From section three which is labeled exercises, Chris introduces different types of carving like Low relief in chapter 9 and Carving in the round later on in chapters 11 to 13.

All these include exercises with very detailed step-by-step pictures. All the pictures used are colored with good resolution.

As a bonus, the book has free templates you can photocopy and get started using the steps provided in the book.

Draw Backs of the Book

This is definitely a good Reference book for a person interested in carving it’s detailed enough and specific enough for beginner carvers. However, if you’re interest is to start whittling and want a light book this is not it.

That said This book not only guides you in honing your formal carving skills but also helps you build an artistic persona and approach to woodcarving.

The Beginner’s Handbook of Woodcarving

This one is an old-school book but nonetheless very resourceful. It is  The Beginner’s Handbook of Woodcarving by Charles Beiderman and William Johnston.

This is really an amazing all-rounded book covering the carving niche wholesomely. While I have included it in the reference/ coursebook section it is still a very good book for anyone just starting out on the art and craft of carving.

the beginners handbook of woodcarving

Structure of the Book

The book takes off with the basics of wood carving, tools, safety, and types of carving.

Every section is well detailed marking it a perfect reference point in your woodcarving workshop. The main styles and techniques have well been discussed and sample projects with easy-to-follow steps laid out. This is the book that has your back when you have forgotten a style or technique you can always refresh before that next project.

As a bonus, the authors conclude a section on how to take your craft from a hobby to a passive income earner/ professional career. This is a topic many books overlook but it’s very important non the less. at some point, you might wanna take things a notch higher and this book have some great tips.

Also how to form and run a carving club if it is non in your area. How cool is that? Surely reason enough to have this as one of the best wood carving books for beginners.

Draw Backs of the Book

The book’s last republishing date was 1993 so you might note the tools used are a bit old school especially the power tools but the principles are constantly the same as today.

The photographs are not in color but are still very clear with good contrast.

Best wood carving Magazine

Woodcarving Illustrated Magazine

There are several wood carving magazines available but none has impressed me more than the Wood Carving Illustrated Magazine.

They have quarterly issues full of information reach articles on woodworking. From the latest tips to step-by-step guides and challenges.

woodcarving illastrated magazine

The magazine has a growing community of carvers from beginners to experts on Facebook you can check it out here

Structure of the Magazine

Though each issue is different the main theme is usually carving small creatures like Gnomes, mythical creatures, Trolls, and Santa figures. Each issue will typically have beginner-friendly projects that have steps and detailed instructions.

Other than the exercise project there are usually pattern templates and guides on how to finish and paint a carving Just about the right amount of fun.

The author Sara Barraclough is a well-known and respected carver around the professional circle. This is a good magazine for both starters and experts alike.

Reading something fresh is quite engaging and the community they provide is a good place to learn and interact with others in the wood carving hobby.

For these reasons, we have included the magazine as the only entry of its kind in our list of best woodcarving books for beginners.

Drawbacks of the magazine

As a magazine, it feels light and therefore better used alongside other more detailed mediums. It is not to say you can not learn from it you can and many have but to understand this art and craft you will need a book with a little more detail.

Best single-topic wood carving book

Carving Faces Workbook: Learn to Carve Facial Expressions with the Legendary Harold Enlow

This is one of the best books to learn caricature carving. The author Harold Enlow is among the founding fathers of Caricature Carvers of America, an excellent instructor, and carver with experience spanning decades.

carving faces workbook

Structure of the Book

this is one of those books that focuses on a single style like caricature carving but teaches so much in basics and techniques used in almost all carving styles.

The book dwells entirely on carving faces going into minute details like how to carve eyes.

The illustrations are very well photographed in full color. Mr. Enlow is not shy to show steps and every project is spread inadequate steps to get you to a well-finished face.

Drawbacks of the Book

Many beginners may not find carving faces as easy as other simpler projects, well the book gives you only the hows of faces in carving.

In conclusion, best wood carving books for beginners

books are an amazing way to get things started with the correct basics. we have listed 3 types of books instead of just giving a list of the best wood carving books for beginners. Any of the books will give you a unique skill we, therefore, recommend to start building a collection of books that you can always fall back on whether for inspiration or for guidance.

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