jump to main content

How to Avoid Failures While Carving Wood

Starting to feel like a pro in the woodshed? A little research and preparation can help you avoid any mistakes and make for a more efficient process as you continue your woodcarving adventures with Dremel. Take a look at the most common mistakes while carving wood and what you can do to prevent them.

1. Sharp knives. Fresh wood. Less pressure

Letting your carving tools and accessories do the work is essential if you don’t want your fresh wood to crack and break before you’ve created anything. Always keep your knives as sharp as possible to allow for easy carving and a clean cut and finish. The high-speed rotations of your Dremel® tool and accessories are designed to remove the rest, so all you need to do is hold them and keep a steady hand.

2. Check for protruding accessories

Another common mistake while carving wood is when a user allows an accessory to stick out too much. Your Dremel accessory should protrude no further than half the length of the shank, but preferably even less. Having it stick out 0,3 to 0,5 mm is perfect.

3. Align your Multi Chuck

The Multi Chuck allows you to quickly and easily change accessories on your Dremel Multi-Tool without using collets. But, you might experience problems if your accessory is not aligned in the Multi Chuck correctly. Always check if the accessory is in the exact middle of the Multi Chuck before you start on any woodcarving.

4. Slant the side of the accessory

A common error is using the end (or the “head”) of the accessory to carve, but this part has no cutting ability. Always be sure to check which part of the accessory you are using, and for what purpose. When carving, slant the tool slightly. Holding the tool straight will probably cause you to chip away too much wood, because you’re using the head of the accessory.

5. Always go with the grain

You’ll know by now that carving wood is about “feeling” – your knives should carve, not scrape. Going against the grain can damage your wood and even cause your knife to get stuck. Remember, your tool might start running faster when following the grain, so be sure to stay in control. TIP: The Detailer’s Grip Attachment can help with comfort and added control during your hobby and DIY projects.

6. Test your skills first

One of the biggest mistakes while carving wood can come from being too enthusiastic. Always test your woodcarving tools and accessories on a spare piece of wood before you start, so you’re fully aware of how to use each one before you begin. And while you’re testing your skills, don’t forget to try out the tips above.

7. Dry your wood the right way

Never leave your unfinished piece of wood lying around in the air, because it will dry out. Put it in a plastic bag filled with wood chips and a few drops of water and leave the bag open. This will help your piece to stay moist and avoid cracking. You can safely leave it for a few days or even up to a week, but make sure you check and turn it every day.

8. Use the right oil for polishing

Using an oil on your finished project can help your item stay protected as the wood expands and contracts. It can also keep it shiny and accentuate the grain and texture. Any “food grade” oil will be fine – try raw linseed oil, walnut oil, or pure tung oil. Avoid olive oil, as this becomes sticky and attracts dirt. Never use boiled linseed oil on carved kitchen implements. This has been through an oxidation process, or had metallic additives to help speed up the drying process.

9. Take your time

Rushing is one of the best ways to ruin something you’re proud of. Always take your time when carving wood. Breathe in, breathe out and enjoy the art that’s been keeping people calm (and productive!) for centuries. Before you know it, you’ll be building amazing things. By now you're probably excited to start your first woodcarving project. Take a look at our 10-step guide to carving a wooden spoon.