A woodcarver


Woodcarvers manually shape wood into the desired shape using equipment like knives, gouges and chisels. Woodcarvers produce wooden products to serve as decoration, to be integrated into a composite product, as utensils or as toys.

The duties of a woodcarver include, but are not limited to:

  • Testing wood samples for moisture content and other physical properties to ensure that it is suitable for use in a product
  • Operating machines such as saws, shapers, sanders, routers, planers, and jointers to cut wood materials into usable pieces
  • Measuring materials to determine where cuts should be made and using other tools to mark the placement of holes or other features on materials
  • Preparing sketches of design ideas for customers or employers to help them visualize their finished product before starting construction
  • Maintaining a safe work environment by following safety regulations and wearing appropriate safety equipment such as helmets, gloves, glasses, and earplugs
  • Cutting boards, cabinets, doors, staircases, window frames, molding, and other wood products according to blueprints or verbal instructions from supervisors
  • Repairing damaged wood items by replacing broken pieces or sanding scratches off surfaces
  • Sanding and staining wood surfaces to prepare them for finishing or applying protective coatings such as varnish or lacquer
  • Measuring and cutting wood to specified lengths using handsaws, power miter saws, circular saws, table saws, and other power tools

Other titles

The following job titles also refer to woodcarver:

artisan woodworker
heritage wood worker
master woodcarver
craft wood carver
heritage woodcarver
traditional woodcarver
heritage woodworker
artisan woodcarver
traditional wood carver
heritage wood carver
traditional handcarver
artisan wood worker
craft woodcarver
artisanal woodcarver

Working conditions

Woodcarvers typically work in small shops, either in their homes or in commercial settings. They may work for furniture stores, cabinet makers, or other businesses that require their services.

Woodcarvers usually work alone, although they may have an assistant to help with heavy lifting or other tasks. They typically work regular hours, although they may work overtime to meet deadlines. The work can be physically demanding, and woodcarvers must be able to lift heavy pieces of wood and use power tools. The work can also be dangerous, and woodcarvers must take precautions to avoid injuries.

Minimum qualifications

A high school diploma is generally required to work as a woodcarver. Some employers prefer an associate or bachelor’s degree in woodworking or a related field.

ISCO skill level

ISCO skill level is defined as a function of the complexity and range of tasks and duties to be performed in an occupation. It is measured on a scale from 1 to 4, with 1 the lowest level and 4 the highest, by considering:

  • the nature of the work performed in an occupation in relation to the characteristic tasks and duties
  • the level of formal education required for competent performance of the tasks and duties involved and
  • the amount of informal on-the-job training and/or previous experience in a related occupation required for competent performance of these tasks and duties.

Woodcarver is a Skill level 2 occupation.

Woodcarver career path

Similar occupations

These occupations, although different, require a lot of knowledge and skills similar to woodcarver.

wood products assembler
frame maker
cabinet maker

Long term prospects

These occupations require some skills and knowledge of woodcarver. They also require other skills and knowledge, but at a higher ISCO skill level, meaning these occupations are accessible from a position of woodcarver with a significant experience and/or extensive training.

carpenter supervisor
bridge inspector
bridge construction supervisor
wood production supervisor
roofing supervisor

Essential knowledge and skills

Essential knowledge

This knowledge should be acquired through learning to fulfill the role of woodcarver.

  • Woodworking processes: Steps in the processing of wood for the manufacturing of wooden articles and types of machines used for these processes such as drying, shaping, assembling and surface finishing.
  • Woodworking tools: The various tools used to process wood, such as planers, chisels and lathes.
  • Wood cuts: Different ways of cutting wood, across the grain or parallel with it, and radial or tangential to the core. The behaviour of cuts of wood under different circumstances and the optimal cut for a given purpose. Influence of special attributes of the wood, like knots or defects.
  • Types of wood: Types of wood, such as birch, pine, poplar, mahogany, maple and tulipwood.

Essential skills and competences

These skills are necessary for the role of woodcarver.

  • Maintain edged hand tools: Identify and repair defects in a hand tool handle or shaft. Ensure the tool is in safe working condition. Identify defective and dull cutting edges in tools and use appropriate equipment to sharpen them. Store tools correctly to maintain condition and usage safety.
  • Turn wood: Turn wood in chiefly two methods, spindle and faceplate turning. The key difference between these two is the orientation of the wood grain relative to the axis of the lathe.
  • Join wood elements: Bind wooden materials together using a variety of techniques and materials. Determine the optimal technique to join the elements, like stapling, nail, gluing or screwing. Determine the correct work order and make the joint.
  • Manipulate wood: Manipulate the properties, shape and size of wood.
  • Use wood carving knives: Use specialised and custom made knives, gouges, and chisels to carve out and cut objects from wooden or paper surfaces.
  • Carve materials: Carve an object out of a material such as wood, or give a specific shape to a material by carving it.
  • Sand wood: Use sanding machines or hand tools to remove paint or other substances from the surface of the wood, or to smoothen and finish the wood.
  • Check quality of raw materials: Check the quality of basic materials used for the production of semi-finished and finished goods by assessing some of its characteristics and, if needed, select samples to be analysed.
  • Clean wood surface: Use a variety of techniques on a wood surface to ensure it is free of dust, sawdust, grease, stains, and other contaminants.
  • Apply wood finishes: Use a variety of techniques to finish wood. Paint, varnish and stain wood to improve its function, durability, or appearance.
  • Tend lathe: Tend a lathe designed for cutting manufacturing processes on metal, wooden, plastic materials and others, monitor and operate it, according to regulations.
  • Recognise signs of wood rot: Check whether a wood element shows signs of rot. Aurally inspect the wood by testing what sound it makes on impact. Check for visual signs of rot.
  • Operate wood sawing equipment: Operate various machinery and equipment to cut wood in different sizes and shapes.

Optional knowledge and skills

Optional knowledge

This knowledge is sometimes, but not always, required for the role of woodcarver. However, mastering this knowledge allows you to have more opportunities for career development.

  • Technical drawings: Drawing software and the various symbols, perspectives, units of measurement, notation systems, visual styles and page layouts used in technical drawings.

Optional skills and competences

These skills and competences are sometimes, but not always, required for the role of woodcarver. However, mastering these skills and competences allows you to have more opportunities for career development.

  • Manage supplies: Monitor and control the flow of supplies that includes the purchase, storage and movement of the required quality of raw materials, and also work-in-progress inventory. Manage supply chain activities and synchronise supply with demand of production and customer.
  • Engrave patterns: Engrave and print designs and patterns onto a variety of surfaces.
  • Apply restoration techniques: Select and apply appropriate restoration techniques in order to achieve the required restoration goals. This encompasses preventive measures, remedial measures, restoration processes and management processes.
  • Answer requests for quotation: Make up prices and documents for the products that customers may purchase.
  • Evaluate restoration procedures: Evaluate the outcome of conservation and restoration procedures. Evaluate the degree of risk, success of treatment or activity and communicate the results.
  • Operate manual planer: Operate a non-automatic or semi-automatic, manual planer for cutting workpiece surfaces, making them levelled.
  • Advise customers on wood products: Advise others on the applicability, suitability, and limitations of wood products and wood based materials.
  • Maintain equipment: Regularly inspect and perform all required activities to maintain the equipment in functional order prior or after its use.
  • Stain wood: Mix ingredients to create a stain and apply a layer to the furniture to give it a specific colour and finish.
  • Operate engraving equipment: Operate mechanical engraving tools and machines, set controls of cutting tools. Make adjustments if necessary.
  • Treat wood: Apply different chemicals to wood in order to increase its natural resistance and prevent deterioration.
  • Estimate restoration costs: Estimate the cost implications of restoring and replacing products or parts.
  • Dye wood: Mix the powder dye with water and/or liquid dye and any other necessary ingredients to create the desired colour and apply it to the wood.
  • Sell household goods: Sell household devices and goods such as microwaves, blenders and kitchen supplies in accordance to the client’s personal preferences and needs.
  • Dry wood: Adjust machine settings to adapt drying processes, drying times, and special treatments to the requirements of the requested wood to be dried.
  • Keep personal administration: File and organise personal administration documents comprehensively.
  • Prepare workpieces for etching: Prepare mechanical tools and work pieces for etching by polishing their surface and bevelling the work piece to remove sharp edges. Polishing is done using different sandpapers and sand films which are applied and vary from rough to very fine ones.
  • Prepare workpieces for engraving: Prepare mechanical tools and workpieces for engraving by polishing their surface and bevelling the workpiece to remove sharp edges. Polishing is done using different sandpapers and sand films which are applied from rougher ones to very fine ones.
  • Use painting equipment: Use brushes, rollers, spray guns and other painting equipment in accordance with the work.
  • Clean engraved areas: Polish and clean engraved etching areas.
  • Negotiate supplier arrangements: Reach an agreement with the supplier upon technical, quantity, quality, price, conditions, storage, packaging, send-back and other requirements related to the purchasing and delivering process.
  • Design objects to be crafted: Sketch, draw or design sketches and drawings from memory, live models, manufactured products or reference materials in the process of crafting and sculpting.
  • Sell furniture: Sell pieces of furniture in accordance to the client’s personal preferences and needs.
  • Decorate furniture: Use techniques such as gilding, silver-plating, framing or engraving to add specific decorations in the material of the furniture.
  • Store products: Store products to ensure the quality and in accordance with standards and regulations. Ensure the stock facilities are kept according to hygiene standards, regulating temperature, heating and air conditioning of storage facilities.

ISCO group and title

7317 – Handicraft workers in wood, basketry and related materials

  1. Woodcarver – ESCO
  2. Woodworker Job Description: Salary, Duties, & More – Climb the Ladder
  3. Featured image: Photo by Alex Gruber on Unsplash
Last updated on October 5, 2022

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