When shopping around for carving wood, you may run across the term “kiln dried” in the description. Kiln dried wood is regular wood that has been dried in a kiln to remove moisture faster than just letting it air dry. But can you carve kiln dried wood?
Yes, you can carve kiln dried wood. However kiln dried wood will be slightly harder to carve and a little more brittle than that of air dried wood. This is because of the lower moisture content in the wood, but once it is out of the kiln, it will slowly start to absorb moisture and become easier to carve.
Air Dried vs Kiln Dried Wood
The two main types of dried wood you will find for carving is regular air dried wood, and kiln dried wood.
Air Dried wood is typically the easier of the two to carve as it still has some residual moisture in the wood. The wood typically drys from the outside to the inside and you may find that the core is a different density than the outside rings.
Kiln Dried wood is a more commercial way to quickly dry wood for crafts and can sometimes be more uniform in wood texture when compared to air dried. After the wood is dried and left out in the open, it can absorb the moisture in the air depending on relative humidity.
Both air dried and kiln dried wood are great for carving, but if you are looking for an easier wood to carve, try air dried.
Does Wood Have to Be Kiln Dried?
Drying wood in a kiln is a common commercial practice to quickly produce acceptable wood for carving and woodcraft. This can reduce the time of drying from years to days.
Wood does not have to be kiln dried, but for most lumber needs the core of the wood needs to be dry. using a kiln accelerates the drying time and allows companies to quickly produce lumber.
Is Kiln Dried Wood More Expensive?
Because kiln dried wood requires more specialized equipment, kiln dried wood can be slightly more expensive when compared to air dried wood.
The price difference small when purchasing a few pieces of wood to carve, but may be more noticeable
What is The Easiest Wood to Carve?
If you are just getting into wood carving and whittling, you will want to pick up some quality lumber to start carving. Using cheap and basic lumber from the hardware store may be tempting, but you may find them to be more difficult to carve.
The easiest wood to carve for beginners is basswood. This wood has an even and fine wood grain that is easy to carve with, is soft enough for regular wood cutting tools to easily shape, and is hard enough to hold fine details.
Some of the best basswood I have used is sold by TreelineUSA.com. Their basswood has a fine and consistent wood grain, smooth creamy color, and is easy to carve with any decent whittling knife. You can pick up some for yourself by clicking here.
If you are new to whittling and wood carving, check out my one stop whittling resource for more information: