A Guide on Wood Carving with a Router

Every woodworker irrespective of their skill level understands well how versatile a wood router is when it comes to wood working. It is one of those power tools that any woodworker cannot do without. Wood carving is one of the projects that can easily be done using a wood router. It is quite a breeze to undertake wood carving with a router once you know what is required and the procedure of coming up with the best carvings.

Get the Right Tool for the Job

For you to accomplish any task in wood working you have to get the right tool and the right materials. You should have the right type of the router and get the right router bits.

Types of Routers to Choose from

There are basically three types of routers and you should be familiar with them:

  1. Fixed base router
  2. Plunge base router
  3. Trim router

For edge treatment and use of jigs to cut dovetails, a fixed base router will work perfectly. The plunge base will give you the best cuts if you are cutting deep cuts and that is why is commonly used for mortises. The trim routers are perfect power tools when it comes to trim laminates and any other kind of thin treatments. They deliver perfect edges and are ideal for light duty projects.

The best kits to buy for wood carving are the light duty kits that combine plunge and fixed based features and use one motor. Heavy duty routers are specifically designed for hard hours of work. They are generally heavy duty and are highly powerful.

Choosing the Router Bits

To get the best wood carvings you have to choose the right router bits. Various router bits can be used on the router and this will hugely depend on the kind of groove or edge the woodworker wants to make.

Router bits come in various shapes, brands, and prices. They can be bought as either sets or single bits. The good thing about router bits is that they come with a little picture that shows the type of edge or groove the bit can create. Some of the common examples of router bits include dovetail, dado, angle, round nose, round over, and many others.

Selecting the Wood

When it comes to wood carving using a router, different wood workers have unique preferences. For instance, there are those who love using wood which is as soft as pine and does not have knots or any kind of difficult grain and is able to hold details. Others on the other hand love wood that is hard wood, dulls tools quickly and is made up of difficult grains. Irrespective of your preference make the right choice of wood carving wood.

  1. Easy to carve: Under this category are those types of wood that make wood carving with a router so much easier. These include: basswood, cherry, maple, red oak, sycamore, walnut American black, lime.
  2. Difficult to work: These are quite difficult to work on but they finish well. They include pear, tupelo, and mahogany.

Woodcarving with the Wood router

It is quite easy to make decorative pictures or even presentation plaques using a wood router. You can make some signs and guide boards using your wood router. Below is a guide on how to engrave any kind of picture on a wood using a router.


  • Router and the bits.
  • Sander.
  • Wood plane.
  • The picture to be engraved.
  • Clamps.
  • Paint or the finish.
  • Varnish.

Step 1: Print the Picture

Print out your desired picture preferably in an A3 format then glue it onto the wood that you want to carve out. Clamp it into a trestle and get the wood router. Pick your preferred router bit especially the type that will deliver best with regard to the nature of edging and deep cutting. Adjust the bit to an appropriate position.

Step 2: Rout out

You can now begin the routing process. It is always good to have a bit to use for practice on a scrap since the process is quite delicate especially where you are working on very fine detailing. Ensure you are working on a dust-free work piece every time by blowing away sawdust so that you can see clearly what you are doing.

Step 3: Continue Routing

Continue routing out the piece of work until all the required details have been captured on the piece of wood. You will probably take hours to accomplish it and mat ends up with an aching back. However, to avoid back pain consider using a bench set at a comfortable height instead of doing the job while standing or in the bad position.

Once you are done, sand out the glued paper until it is all cleared.

Step 4: Paint or add Epoxy

Choose your preferred paint colour and epoxy then apply to the carved picture. Make sure you match the colours for a nice finish. Leave it to dry.

Step 5: Apply the Finish

You can now apply your final finish. Apply sufficient amount of stain, varnish or epoxy to the right areas. You can then sand and oil where possible for a final outstanding finish. You may need to re-oil the piece of work once every year so as to maintain its outlook.


The process of wood carving with a router is pretty simple once you understand what is required in order to accomplish the job. After you have all the required materials in place you can follow the above procedure and engrave literally any type of picture into a piece of wood.

Practice this from time to time and soon you will be able to prepare any kind of carving in a piece of wood. Some of the pictures that can be engraved on a piece of wood using a wood router include a fish, workshop tools, general directions within a farm, livestock, and any other you may think of. Make wood carving fun and you will see the much you can do with your wood router.

Click Here to Leave a Comment Below 1 comments
Mark comly - January 20, 2021

I love the carving with the use of the router but I don’t believe it can be accomplished free hand using the standard router bits that you show at the end.
Please enlighten me further.


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