We began by learning about woodworking tools, then we discussed how to build things with wood. Now we are going to explore wood shaping.

We will start by exploring the original wood shaping methods like chisels and knives, and finish with the computer controlled cutting.

Shaping Wood Introduction

Wood shaping has been around for centuries. Once we decided to decorate our dwellings with beautiful objects we have shaped different materials.

Now I doubt you came to this talk to explore ancient wood carving. But the shaping of wood has a long history.

Wood Shaping tools

Before we get into how to shape wood lets look at some of the tools available for this task.

Hand tools

The most common hand tools for shaping wood are:

  1. Cutting tools: saw

  2. Carving tools: ax, knife, chisel, plane

  3. Sanding tools: sand paper, files

Power tools

These have greatly expanded since the invention of motors. Today the electric motor is the most common and versatile.

  1. Cutting tools: table saw, band saw, reciprocating saw, chain saw

  2. Carving tools: router, joiner, planer, lathe

  3. Sanding tools: belt sanders, disc sanders, orbital sanders

  4. Jigs, router templates, CNC machines

Beginning wood Carving

Lets start with shaping wood in progressively more complex ways.


The art of whittling has been around for a long time, and not much has changed. Lets look at the beginning of a tutorial on whittling.

This can be a fun hobby but takes a lot of hand strength and patience.

Hand Carving

The difference between whittling and carving is in how it is done. Whittling uses knives to cut away the wood. The power is the strength of your hand.

Carving on the other hand uses the power of a hammer and a chisel, Lets look at some beginning ideas on how to carve.

Power Carving

Moving right along, how about using a Dremel tool to do the carving instead of a chisel or a knife.

Lets look at and example of how to do some engraving with a power tool.

This is similar to the carving project except we are using a power tool to remove the wood. Here is another example of someone doing a free hand carving with a Dremel tool.

I am not one to use this method, because I can not do sculpture without a template or drawing. But if you have the skill go for it.

Chain Saw Carving

OK, for those who feel adventurous, here is a a high energy form of carving. I do not recommend this type of carving. Chain saws are one of the most dangerous types of saws, and this is a free form type of carving. But it is fun to watch.

Beginner Wood Joinery

When we work with wood making things like boxes, book cases, or even drawers, we need to join boards together. This process helps make strong and decorative corners.

Types of Joints

Shaping wood for joints helps create strong connections. This type of wood shaping can be easy or complex depending on you needs. Lets look at some joint types.

Hand Cut Dove tail joint

We will learn how to cut a dove tail joint with hand tools. This is a tedious method of joining wood, but it is good to see how it can be done with hand tools.

Router cut dove tail joints with a jig

The best method for making dove tail joints is to use a jig with a router. The jig allows you to make multiple joints quickly, justifying the longer setup.

Shaping wood by turning it

One method of shaping wood is to move the wood and hold the cutting tool still. This type of wood working is known as wood turning. It is commonly accomplished by using a lathe.

Turning a Cherry Log

If you want to have fun with a lathe, try turning green wood. The wood is soft and easily shaped. And best of all it is free when a tree is cut down. You can often get this type of wood from tree trimmers, since green wood is trash for them.

Wood Shaping with a Router

Sometimes we don’t want to make art, we are just interested in decorating something we make. This can take the form of wood molding or shaping. The primary power tool for this is the wood router.

Wood Router Basics

Lets have an introduction to what a wood router is, and what is does.

Things you can do with a Router

Given the versatility of a router, there are a large number of tasks it can accomplish. Lets have a look at a few ideas.

Router tables

Now that we see what a router can do, lets expand it use by adding a router table to our tool box.

Router Jigs and Guides

Here a few ideas of what you can do using a router and an adapter.

Router Center Jig
Router Circle Jig
Router Sign Jig
Router Sled Jig
Router Template Jig

5 Amazing Woodworking Tools Hacks | Router Tips and Tricks

I thought you might enjoy seeing how some jigs can be made DIY.

Turn Amazing Table Legs with this Shop-Built Router Lathe!

For those of you who REALLY want to build an amazing router jig, I offer this video.

CNC Wood Router

What is a CNC and how does it work

CNC Routers Can Do ALL That?

CNC Furniture

4 Axis CNC router

Furniture designed for inspiring workplaces

This site lists pieces of furniture which you can purchase the plans for and make it yourself on a CNC machine. Lets look at some Opendesk Designs

OpenDesk Design Files: Downloading and Availability

Here is a site where you can download the design files for some opendesk layout plans

Finally a few pictures

CNC Art 1
CNC Art 2
CNC Art 3
CNC Scroll Work 1
CNC Scroll Work 2
CNC Scroll Work 3
CNC Signs 1
CNC Signs 2
CNC Signs 3
CNC Furniture 1
CNC Furniture 2
CNC Furniture 3
CNC Wood Clock

Written by John F. Moore

Last Revised: Tue Dec 19 01:15:35 PM EST 2023

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