The Best Wood for Carving Spoons to Sell

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As we’ve mentioned before we run an Etsy shop that specializes in handmade, wooden kitchen items. We have found that it is a perfect niche for the limited time we have to dedicate to the shop on a daily basis. Most kitchen utensils are quick to produce and there is always a demand for them.

One of our favorite sub-niches in this space is hand-carved wooden spoons. While we don’t sell in this space we just love how well they photograph and sell in other’s shops.

If you want to get started selling your own hand-carved wooden items one of the first things to consider is wood types. The best wood for carving needs to not only be easy on you and your tools but also be marketable as a final product.

What is the Best Wood for Carving?

best wood for carving wooden spoons

Black Walnut

Black walnut is hands down our favorite wood for carving. It is easy to carve and doesn’t quickly dull your tools. It takes a finish incredibly well. And lastly, it sells better than any other wood we work with.

The only downside of black walnut is on the expensive side for a domestic wood. You can often expect to pay prices that are double what you might pay for maple, cherry or oak.

Walnut is a harder wood so make sure to keep your tools sharp throughout the carving process.


Butternut is one of our favorite little known woods. It has a creamy brown/orange color that rivals black walnut and is incredibly enjoyable to work with.

While not a soft wood it is quite a bit softer than black walnut so it is very easy on your tools.

The grain and colors of butternut wood often swirl together to create very aesthetically pleasing finished pieces.

Unfortunately, finding butternut wood can be a bit of a challenge at most wood stores. Our best luck finding it has been with folks who produce wood slabs as these trees have been grown around the US in urban settings.


Oak is one of the hardest domestic hardwoods and a great choice for carving. White oak, with its closed pores, make for great carved spoons. It is also a widely available wood which can be found in almost any market in the United States.

Most wine and whiskey barrels are made from white oak. Making carved spoons from the barrel staves makes for a perfect marketing opportunity as whiskey and wine barrel products are very popular.

Fruit Woods

Fruit woods like apple, cherry or pear are great woods to carve wet. Meaning the wood has been recently cut down and is not yet dried.

Watching the free listings on craigslist or Facebook marketplace is a great way to find this wood. Many areas around the country in both rural and urban settings have an abundance of fruit trees. While the larger trees are highly sought after for milling into slabs the smaller trees or branches are often given away and are perfect for carving.

What Else to Consider

Here are a few other things to consider when selecting the best wood for carving.

Is the wood easy to carve with hand tools?

There is nothing more frustrating, and potentially dangerous, than working with stubborn wood. Any wood that has swirling grain patterns or is extraordinarily hard can be a nightmare to carve with hand tools.

This can lead to dangerous situations of using unsafe practices with your carving knives.

Very quick growing woods like pine can pose similar problems as well. Their alternating hard and soft growth rings make it tough to make consistent cuts.

The best woods will be somewhere in the middle of the hardness scale and have straight grain. This will make it easy to produce clean cuts and result in excellent looking final products

How does the wood finish?

If your ultimate goal is to sell your finished pieces then how the wood finishes and shows is an important consideration.

Customers love woods with character. One of my best selling items on Etsy is made from black walnut with streaks of lighter sapwood. This contrast photographs extremely well and creates a unique piece that draws attention.

Black walnut also takes a wax finish very well so the final pieces are almost glowing. We have received dozens of reviews from happy customers talking about how smooth and luxurious the wood feels in their hands.

Is it a marketable wood for carving?

Like it or not, black walnut is the wood de jour as of late and I don’t see that changing anytime soon.

In our Etsy shop we make sure to make variations of our items in black walnut purely because it drives search traffic. People are searching for black walnut. They absolutely love how it looks, especially in the kitchen.

That isn’t to say don’t carve other woods but keep in mind the search trends of potential customers and play to their wants.

Where to buy wood for carving?

Locally sourcing your wood for carving is going to be the best and most profitable path for your wood carving business. There are obviously limitations to this route though as you will be constrained to the species of trees available in your area.

Luckily, most major metropolitan areas have an impressive array of tree species planted around the city and parks. Watching online marketplaces, contacting tree services, or asking local slab milling companies for cutoffs or large branches are all great ways to obtain free wood.

Your next best option would be to ask milling companies if they have any cutoffs for sale. Door and trim manufacturers product a ton of waste wood which is more than sufficient for carving.

Most cities will also have hardwood dealers that are open to the public. While the wood can be expensive it is a great option to try out a variety of species.

You can also purchase wood for carving online from companies. While I have never used this option because of the high shipping costs it is sometimes the best choice if you don’t have any access to the above suggestions.

Final Thoughts on the Best Wood for Carving

Wood carving can be a profitable hobby that takes up very little space. Making it great for people who live in apartments or homes with no room for a full workshop. Once you find the best wood for carving that meets your needs you can get started with a fun and exciting business!

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