advertise on Tiki Central

Celebrating classic and modern Polynesian Pop
  [Edit Profile]  [Edit Preferences]  [Search] [Sign Up]
[Personal Messages]  [Member List]  [Help/FAQ]  [Rules]  [Login]
Tiki Central Forums ╗ ╗ Creating Tiki ╗ ╗ Tiki Carving ╗ ╗ Types of Wood for Carving
Goto page ( 1 | 2 Next Page )
Types of Wood for Carving
Capt'n Skully
Tiki Socialite

Joined: May 28, 2005
Posts: 418
From: The Lost Lagoon
Posted: 2006-09-29 1:16 pm   Permalink

Ahoy ALL!

Having searched through numerous threads trying to find info on various types of preferred wood for carving, I thought it would be nice to organize some information into a thread that could easily be referred to for new carvers and those looking for new challenges.

Please tell your experience with the type(s) of wood you use(d), avoid, recommend, Pros/Cons, carvability, insects, cracking, wet vs dry, etc..

White Pine

View Profile of Capt'n Skully Send a personal message to Capt'n Skully  Email Capt'n Skully     Edit/Delete This Post Reply with quote
Tiki Socialite

Joined: Aug 30, 2006
Posts: 1530
From: Aotearoa (New Zealand)
Posted: 2006-09-29 1:48 pm   Permalink

Good idea Capt'n! There are those of us who would gladly gobble up this knowledge. Im sure it will save many people from making expensive and/or time consuming mistakes.
Thanks in advance woodies!! TTT

View Profile of Tamapoutini Send a personal message to Tamapoutini  Email Tamapoutini     Edit/Delete This Post Reply with quote
Tiki Socialite

Joined: Jan 09, 2004
Posts: 10397
From: Port Saint Lucie, Florida
Posted: 2006-09-29 2:35 pm   Permalink

Boy, that's a Big Question as there is so much info to be had.
HERE is a link to a site where you can find pictures of Hundreds of wood types and Some of them have added info too.
The list is extensive and doesn't show much in the way of carvability.
Just in the Palm catagory are Many types and they all carve differently and some are Uncarvable.
Coconut Palm
I have carved a couple types of Coconut (there are Many) and they generally are fairly Hard compared to others. Coconut will hold fairly Fine detail unlike most palms. The center meat is some stringy but generally it is good all the way through and finishes very well.

Sabal, or Cabbage
palm is excellent carving though more stringy than coco and it is very soft and will not hold the detail as coco. Also it is very splintery and you will get splinters in your hands for Sure.

is Very similar to sabal but I think a bit better and firmer. It finishes well with detail like sabal.

More later.

 View Profile of Benzart Send a personal message to Benzart  Email Benzart     Edit/Delete This Post Reply with quote
Tiki Socialite

Joined: Jan 13, 2006
Posts: 1769
From: las vegas
Posted: 2006-09-29 2:50 pm   Permalink

don't carve purple heart.

that is all.

View Profile of pdrake Send a personal message to pdrake  Email pdrake     Edit/Delete This Post Reply with quote
Blue Thunder
Tiki Socialite

Joined: Apr 06, 2006
Posts: 115
From: San Diego
Posted: 2006-09-29 2:53 pm   Permalink

Or sand or grind real Brazilian Rosewood. If you do wear a mask and clean up very well the oils in the dust are toxic.

 View Profile of Blue Thunder Send a personal message to Blue Thunder  Email Blue Thunder     Edit/Delete This Post Reply with quote
Tiki Socialite

Joined: Jan 19, 2006
Posts: 839
From: Arlingtron Virginia
Posted: 2006-09-29 9:21 pm   Permalink

Here's a cool link for identifying exotic woods.



 View Profile of tikigap Send a personal message to tikigap  Email tikigap Goto the website of tikigap     Edit/Delete This Post Reply with quote
Capt'n Skully
Tiki Socialite

Joined: May 28, 2005
Posts: 418
From: The Lost Lagoon
Posted: 2006-10-04 08:54 am   Permalink

Here's a little info I found about some Northern/Midwestern varieties:

Catalpa or Cigar Tree- A little harder than basswood, lightweight, easier to carve. Doesn't split when drying and can be carved wet (as soon as it's cut). Is a fast growing tree and has larger areas between rings. Very resistant to rotting. Cigar Store Indians were carved out of it frequently and Farmers used it for fence posts. Larger trees can have hollow stumps. Not good firewood- Pops when burned.

Cottonwood- Also doesn't Split when drying.

Red Cedar- Red and blonde variation of color- Resists splitting when drying.

Oak- Harder wood to carve, dense and heavy. Holds fine details and lasts for ages. Logs generally splits when drying (1 big crack from center)

Mahogany- Logs generally split when drying (1 big crack from center)

View Profile of Capt'n Skully Send a personal message to Capt'n Skully  Email Capt'n Skully     Edit/Delete This Post Reply with quote
Tiki Socialite

Joined: Sep 27, 2004
Posts: 2408
From: So FL
Posted: 2006-10-04 10:47 am   Permalink

Here are my 2 cents:

Baswood - Perhaps the best for beginners and practice - soft and easy to manipulate - finishes excellent.
Mahagony - Excellent for carving - firm and holds good detail
Cherry - my favorite for carving!! - finishes nicely
Cocbolo - excelent wood for advanced carvers - hard wood but bee-u-tee-ful - skin reactions are common
Paduak - excelent wood for advanced carvers - fantastic reddish color - skin reactions are common
Zebrawood - Not so good for carving - the grain makes this wood scetchy, soft and hard - worth the aggrevation
Ficus - Hard wood with a smotth grain - finishes nicely
Ebony - almost as hard as bone - but oooooooooo black!!!
Purpleheart - hard with a stingy grain - purple and purty!!!! - skin reactions are common
Oak - Hard and holds great detail - good wood to use power tools with
Lacewood - very difficult to carve - has a cool looking grain
Palms - Coconut, Chinese Fan, Sabal are good - Queen and Royal are bad

A lot of my experience with the exotic woods has come from using these on a lathe and carving.

View Profile of AlohaStation Send a personal message to AlohaStation  Goto the website of AlohaStation     Edit/Delete This Post Reply with quote
Tiki Socialite

Joined: Aug 22, 2004
Posts: 1962
From: Sunny Florida
Posted: 2006-10-04 10:56 am   Permalink

Excellent thread!

I recently ran into some palm within my huge stash that when I get near the center, it is literally powder. By that I mean it holds a shape, but, is very vulnerable until it is sealed.

Where does one get large Basswood?

Mahalo woodies


View Profile of McTiki Send a personal message to McTiki      Edit/Delete This Post Reply with quote
Tiki Socialite

Joined: May 11, 2004
Posts: 2061
From: Wisconsin
Posted: 2006-10-04 3:21 pm   Permalink

I'm curious about the difference between large and small carvings. Would a wood that is great for carving huge tikis, like say... basswood, also be good for carving pendant sized tikis?
Please visit my new website,
Leeward Lounge Ukuleles

 View Profile of finkdaddy Send a personal message to finkdaddy  Email finkdaddy Goto the website of finkdaddy     Edit/Delete This Post Reply with quote
Hammock Bound

Joined: Feb 10, 2008
Posts: 7
From: Colorado
Posted: 2008-02-13 7:21 pm   Permalink

Can anyone offer some advice on where to track down wood for doing larger tiki carvings (3-8 ft tall for example). Are there companies that ship? Any help is appreciated. By the way I live in Colorado.

View Profile of Hammock Bound Send a personal message to Hammock Bound      Edit/Delete This Post Reply with quote
Tiki Socialite

Joined: Feb 13, 2007
Posts: 2105
From: Atlantis/Basque Country/Spain/Mexico
Posted: 2010-07-28 2:18 pm   Permalink

What about toromiro wood? Has anyone tried it? Regional tree of Easter Island.
Great thread!
íViva Tiki! Ambassador of Tiki in Mexico. Zeta is specialized in the research, study and preservation of Tiki culture in Latin countries.

View Profile of Zeta Send a personal message to Zeta  Goto the website of Zeta     Edit/Delete This Post Reply with quote
Grand Poobah
Tiki Socialite

Joined: Dec 09, 2008
Posts: 234
From: Reading, PA
Posted: 2010-07-30 1:05 pm   Permalink

How about poplar? does anyone have any experience with it? I have two 6 foot logs of poplar. I am carving it now. It seems ok but I have noticed that NO ONE has mentioned it. Should it be avoided?


View Profile of Grand Poobah Send a personal message to Grand Poobah      Edit/Delete This Post Reply with quote
Tiki Socialite

Joined: Jul 07, 2002
Posts: 837
From: Neskowin, OR
Posted: 2010-08-07 03:05 am   Permalink

In order to keep from chipping and cracking a carving it is important to keep cedar wet while working on a project. This is probably true for many woods. Consider keeping a carving project on saw horses and wetting the wood with a spray bottle. Then, between carving sessions, keep the wood covered with visqueen or some kind of plastic tarp.

View Profile of mrtikibar Send a personal message to mrtikibar  Email mrtikibar     Edit/Delete This Post Reply with quote
Tiki Centralite

Joined: Jun 11, 2004
Posts: 100
From: canyon lake ca
Posted: 2010-08-10 8:48 pm   Permalink

Cool topic! For the large chainsaw carvings I think the mexican fan or washingtonia is a great choice especially for outdoors. If you are real lucky and score a guadalupe palm you are in business! Hammock bound If you ever cruise to so cal let me know, I have a nice supply of fan palm trunks I could hook you up with! I dont know about carving with easter island wood, didnt that race wipe themselves from this earth for messing with those trees? Benzart is the man on the finer woods, I just work with palms! Tiki Stan....

View Profile of canyonlaketiki Send a personal message to canyonlaketiki  Goto the website of canyonlaketiki     Edit/Delete This Post Reply with quote
Goto page ( 1 | 2 Next Page )

[ About Tiki Central | Contact Tiki Central | Advertise on Tiki Central ]
(c) 2000-2018 Tikiroom.com (tm), Tiki Central (tm)

Credits & copyright infomation