Getting Started with Green Woodworking

If you’re a greenwood greenhorn, you probably have a lot of questions. Here is some introductory guidance and resources to get you started in the right direction. Check the requirements for the specific classes you’ll be attending, and make sure you fill out the liability waiver before the festival.

Selecting and Preparing Wood

Fresh hardwoods with small grain structure are the best material to use for making treen (bowls and spoons). It helps to start carving with hardwoods that are relatively soft, such as Black Walnut (Jugulans Nigra), Red Maple (Acer Rubrum) and Smooth Sumac (Rhus Glabra). Other suitable woods include sweet gum, birch, cherry, any fruitwood (but fruitwood tends to be very hard and fine grained). Other interesting woods are Staghorn Sumac and Osage Orange for their fantastic colors, Box Elder with it’s flame texture, and Mulberry, Beech and Sycamore for a bit more variety. White Pine and Poplar are softer and often used to make bowls.

When drying greenwood it is prudent to work your pieces to a relatively even thinness as soon as possible to prevent cracking. Keeping your work out of direct sunlight and wind will also help. Another method to prevent cracking is to put partially finished work in two paper bags. Blanks or billets can be sealed on the end grain with left over latex, alkyd paint, wax, or latex rubber. They can also be stored in a freezer for about 6 months to limit drying.

Where to Buy Green Woodworking Tools

A good place to start for basic spoon carving tools is the 106 Mora knife. You’ll also want a custom spoon knife or a broad 1”+ long bent gouge which can also be used to carve bowls. There are a number of greenwood tool craftsmen scattered across the United States. A few of them are linked below, along with a few larger tool suppliers that carry appropriate tool for green woodworking.

Sloyd Tool Makers in the USA

Rocke Wood
Sharp knives and hooks in Pennsylvania by Roy Rocke
Jason A. Lonon, Toolmaker
Many greenwood tools, including adzes and spoon knives
Hoffman Blacksmithing
Custom carving axes in North Carolina by Liam Hoffman
Green Haven Forge
Axes, adzes, and carving tools made in Florida by Josh Whitehead
Pinewood Forge
Kolrosing knives and more made in Minnesota by Del Stubbs
Reid Schwartz
Knives, hook, and gouges
Temple Mountain Woodcraft
Nice carving and spoon knives in New Hampshire by Matt White
Deepwoods Ventures
Sloyd and hook knives forged in Northern Minnesota by Paul and Pat Jones
Barr Specialty Tools
Timberframing tools handforged in Idaho by Barr Quarton

Other Greenwood Tool Suppliers


Tools for Working Wood
Besides making and providing great books and tools they also carry some custom spoon knife makers from Europe.


Hand carving tools made in Europe and available for purchase in the United States via Amazon.

Selecting a Carving Axe

by Ty Thornock

It’s easy as a beginning carver to get stuck trying to decide on what axe to buy. This is a general guide of the most important features to look for when shopping for a carving axe.

  1. Steel quality. This is difficult to gauge by eye so buy a trusted brand, either new or vintage.
  2. Weight. Usually under 2 pounds.
  3. Handle length and shape. Usually between 10 and 15 inches; not long enough to become awkward, and thin enough to grip easily.
  4. Bevel grind. 25 to 30 degree bevel grind is good for carving.
  5. Edge shape. Many people like a long, curved bit in order to take advantage of slicing cuts. While helpful, this isn’t strictly necessary as most people use the axe for rough work.
  6. Head shape. Some people like a cut out behind the bit to put their hand close for detail work, but it’s not strictly necessary.
  7. Bevel type. Sometimes an axe is ground flat on one side to lay against the wood. This is called an asymmetrical grind and is either right or left handed. I recommend a symmetrical grind, but if you want an asymmetrical make sure it’s made for your dominant hand.

Resources and Guides

Green Woodworking Books

Slöjd in Wood
by Jögge Sundqvist, Lost Art Press

Swedish Carving Techniques
by Wille Sundqvist, Taunton Press

Spoon A Guide to Spoon Carving and the New Wood Culture
by Barn the Spoon, Virgin Books

The Woodwright’s Shop: A Practical Guide to Traditional Woodcraft
by Roy Underhill, University of North Carolina Press

Country Woodcraft
by Drew Lagnsner, Rodale Books
Woodworking in Estonia
by Ants Viires, Lost Art Press

Understanding Wood A Craftsmans Guide to Wood Technology
by Bruce Hoadley, Taunton Press

Common Forest Trees of North Carolina, A Pocket Manual
by John Simcox Holmes, Holloway Press
NC Forest Service Publication Request Form

Winter Tree Finder
by May Theilgaard Watts and Tom Watts, Wilderness Press
Field Guide to Trees and Shrubs
by George Petrides, Mariner Books
Bark: A Field Guide to Trees of the Northeast
by Michael Wojtech, University Press of New England

Green Woodworking Magazines

Mortise & Tenon Magazine
Joshua Klein and Michael Updegraff

Spoonesaurus Magazine
Emmet Van Driesche

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