top of page

The Top 5 Mistakes Wood Carvers/Power Carvers Make

Updated: Jun 5, 2020

In this post we are going over the top five mistakes that woodcarvers/power carvers make.

I'm going to show you some, I guess secrets if you will, that I've learned along the way.

These top five mistakes I'm about to share with you guys have been learned through HOURS and HOURS of carving and research. Let's dive in!


#5 Dull Burrs or Bits.

Now, how in the world do you tell if your burrs are dull? You see these sharp edges right here in the picture below?

Over time these edges begin to dull, and then do you know what happens?

They begin to actually start grinding instead of cutting. This produces friction, which will burn your wood. If you continue using dull burrs, your cuts will become very sloppy which in turn will yield very poor results.

A lot of times I have bought new burrs and I was relieved to find out my bad results weren't me... but my burrs!

You can find the set of burs I recommend from Amazon right here


#4 Penciling Thick Lines

What do I mean by "penciling thick lines?" Okay, let's look at example A below. See the thin lines I drew for the triangle? I made a mistake while carving, and that's going to be very hard to recover from.

Let's go to Example B. Same idea: I have a triangle, but what did I do? I drew thicker lines. I made the same mistake, but now I can just take more stock off the opposite side and it will correct my mistake making everything look even.

Thick lines are your insurance policy for your projects. Start making your lines bigger when you go to design. Remember this simple rule of thumb: you can always take away, but you cannot add back.


#3 Using Sandpaper Efficiently

This could be one of my BIGGEST Tips. I know that's simple guys, but there is still so many people that do not do it.

Sandpaper is what takes the jagged edges off your corners, your shapes, your designs and makes it nice and fluent. Do not neglect this process. When used correctly, sandpaper will improve the look of your carvings up to TREMENDOUSLY.

You can find the sandpaper I recommend on amazon here.


#2 Lighting (Diffused)

I bet you haven't heard this before... Too MUCH lighting will cause you to overcompensate your cuts, while too LITTLE lighting will cause you to under compensate your cuts.

What in the world do I mean by that? Let me show you.

You can see we have too much lighting in the picture below. Do you see what is happening? I am OVER COMPENSATING my cut because my overhead light is TOO bright and I think my pencil line is extended out further than what it actually is.

This is obviously exaggerated but keep in mind, In some way, at some point, at a particular angle where your hand piece meets the object you are carving you will overcompensate or over judge a cut due to too much light.

But will happen if we have too LITTLE lighting?

Too little light will cause you to under compensate or under judge your cut resulting in carving inside your lines.

The picture below displays an example of too much & too little lighting.

Getting the correct lighting will solve many problems, including the ones you don't know you have. They sure did for me! I encourage you to get a great lighting setup. Thank me later when you see your results!

What is the solution to the light problem?

One of my personal favorite things to use is soft box lights or LED lights.

A lot of videographers use them and they work perfectly for diffused lighting

You can purchase them on Amazon by clicking here.

Another cost effective way to really help you get some good lighting is by taking a few clamp lights like this and sticking in daylight light bulbs with a piece white muslin sheet over it.

This picture shows a clamp light with a daylight light bulb with a piece of muslin sheet clamped on with multiple clamps.

WARNING: Use only CFL or LED daylight light bulbs! These bulbs burn very cool! Anything else could result in a fire.


I am using small clamps from a local hardware store to hold the fabric in place. You can find these here

When you have diffused lighting you can see all the shadows, depth and the positive and negative spaces evenly. That way you won't over or under judge any of your cuts.

#1 Believe In Yourself

The number one mistake that power carvers, woodcarvers, and a lot of other people make, is that they do not believe in themselves. I'm serious guys. You may be asking yourself, "How does this relate to woodcarving?"

It has everything to do with woodcarving, or any type of artistry for that matter. Let me be vulnerable with you guys right quick.

Do you know that your belief system will literally dictate your results?

When I first started carving, (and sometimes even now), I would get these overwhelming feelings of, "I can't do this, there's absolutely no way in the world I can do this!"

I would feel like a failure before I even started the project, and there's no worse feeling than that.

I'm telling you today, that is a lie. I promise you that you're not the only one feeling that, I feel that too.

Believe in yourself and have confidence in YOU. I promise you that you will see much better results when you do.

I hope you enjoyed this post! If this helped you be sure to share it for your friends to read!

To view a list of tools I recommend click here.

To watch an in-depth video of this post that goes a step further, you can do so below!

HowToWoodCarve participates in various affiliate marketing programs, which means we may get paid commissions on editorially chosen products purchased through our links to retailer sites. HowToWoodCarve currently holds affiliation with Dremel. HowToWoodCarve currently holds affiliation with Amazon.

What would you want to carve? Leave a comment below and share this post on your favorite social media platform by clicking the icons below!

3,478 views11 comments

Recent Posts

See All


Sean Wiggins
Sean Wiggins
Jun 05, 2020



Slim Pickins
Slim Pickins
Apr 25, 2020

Thanks for allowing me to join Matt, an ex entertainer I now work a wood Leith but wanted to expand and you seem to be the direction, your videos are great, will be following you from now. This is my other page as a turner, but I still write music and kids' stories, well, have to do something when retired.


Marty Stalvey
Marty Stalvey
Feb 15, 2020

Hey Matt,

I’ve been watching your videos for a while now and just finished my first carving. Yeah you can see I took on a big project for my first carving. But for me it’s either all in or not. But I made some mistakes as well. But you have bee a great inspiration for me to start.


Hi Matt, your videos have been really helpful. I’ve wanted a dremel for a long time and finally treat myself. My first attempt was okay but a little messy. I was wondering if you had any tips on keeping your background level and also rounding edges?


Walt Boland
Walt Boland
Jan 02, 2020

As a beginner (like starting today) I really appreciate all the "tips and tricks" i can find. I recently retired and was looking for a craft/hobby hoping to turn it into a money maker. So Matt, Thank You for the tutorials. A lot of very helpful tips and great ideas. Keep it going buddy!

bottom of page