Well, if you’re here – I applaud you for being enthusiastic about joining the carving community all over the world, first and foremost. The question “What’s the best type of wood for carving?” usually comes up for beginners more than anything, so I’m just going to assume and hope to not offend anyone with this assumption. Let me introduce you to the answer as well as some general information about choosing the wood to whittle.
Woods can be divided into two types: soft and hard ones. The difference is in the structure of the wood – hardwoods are more difficult to whittle, they require sharper tougher tools and some skill at the very least. Soft ones become the first choice for a lot of people learning how to do the tricks. Mostly, newbies that come into this without any previous experience decide to stick with basswood carving blocks.
It’s a very safe choice, that you can be certain about – simple to work with, no harm to your health (because some trees, especially exotic ones, can be hiding secrets that won’t be good for you to reveal at all) and pleasant to decorate after. It’s very pale, so you’ll be able to easily paint it or use any type of tinted finish without worrying that it won’t show. A lot of great patterns showcase basswood greatly – you can look them up any time.
One of the best choices for children’s toys, I suppose – though that depends more on the type of finish you choose. So if you are doing this for the first time or don’t want to rush into anything too difficult (and by “difficult” I mean intricate approach to working with hardwood grain, not the fear of failure), you’re probably better off with some reliable basswood supplier.
And here’s when it gets tricky. Why? Well, the reliability of a supplier isn’t an issue for now. However, there are quite a lot of options to choose from and what you need is to not get lost in those options. How to do it? My first recommendation would be to go to YouTube and watch some video reviews on carving blocks. There are also great websites on carving and numerous advice, such as carving forums, Woodcarving4U blog, a lot of online magazines, and so on.
Read reviews on Amazon if you trust them enough, ask for advice from the people you know if any of them are into wood carving – people are the greatest source of information there is, really. And since everything we do for people (even if those people are singular and you only), it makes some sense to look forward to understanding their thought process and sharing your own after you get some experience.
Hope this helps you out a little and you’ll go surfing further to those blogs and forums. Who knows, the person writing might be your neighbor and will be able to help you like no one else. After all, this world is rather small and you might find what you don’t expect in the slightest. Answer your “What’s the best type of wood for carving?” question and enjoy it from start to finish. I can only wish you the best of luck and endless inspiration!