• Nick Maraldo

Pine vs. Hardwood: A Guide for Beginners

Updated: Aug 25, 2019

Pine is cheap, easy, and available, but it's not the best choice when choosing wood for carving practice. Instead, try hardwoods.

Some pine I had laying around the shop.

Chisel is plenty sharp as you will see in the next few photos. Note the tearing of the fibers. Not very much fun.

If you take a steep skew cut with a lot of down pressure you can get some good shavings.


You can get good results, but this took some effort to get it this smooth off the chisel.


Now for some poplar. Great wood for practice. Easy to work, cheap, Home Depot sells it.

Same direction of cut as the pine.

Much better shaving at the get go, it just glides through the wood without tearing. This is the same chisel as before, I did not strop or hone between any of these photos.

Clean an burnished. Really a joy to work with. This is why I highly suggest starting out with poplar and not pine. It is easier and you will have much better success from the beginning. Pine will be discouraging.

Let's try some oak. A lot hard wood right? So it is going to be harder to work right?

Same chisel, same cut.

Nice easy shavings.

Just as easy as poplar. Just have to re-sharpen more often. Cuts a lot cleaner than poplar too. Don't be scared of hardwood!

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