Is Sycamore Wood Good For Carving?

If you live in the USA or Canada, you’ve probably come across plenty of Sycamore wood laying around your area. This hardwood is also native to the British Isles, and can be found growing in South-Eastern parts of England.

Now, Sycamore woods abundance is just one of the reasons why this hardwood is commonly used to make everything from furniture to moldings. As one of the softer types of hardwoods, Sycamore wood is easy to work and machine.

But, how does it stack up as a wood for whittling?

Well, in this post, you will find out which type of wood is the easiest to carve—and how it compares to Sycamore.

You will also learn which specific Sycamore subspecies is the best for whittling (and why). So, let’s dive right into it…

is sycamore good for carving

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What Type Of Wood Is Easiest To Carve?

If you want to develop your wood whittling skills, then Basswood is hands down the best and easiest wood to work with.

This low density lightweight lumber is perfect for carving with whittling tools. It’s affordable and easily accessible too, so it’s a great wood to learn basic carving techniques on.

Related Post: 9 Easy Whittling Projects For Beginners (That You Can Make This Weekend)

Is Sycamore Wood Also Easy To Carve?

Sycamore is suitable for carving, but it very much depends on the subspecies of Sycamore.

American Sycamore Can Be Carved With Simple Hand Tools

Let’s take for example the American Sycamore, (also known as the American Plane or Platanus occidentalis).

This Sycamore subspecies is native to the USA/Canada, and is a fairly pliable wood to work with.

According to the Janka Hardness Scale, (which measures the density of different types of wood), this particular type of Sycamore has a Janka rating of 770 lbf.

What this means is that it takes 770 pounds of force to make a dent in this lumber.

That makes American Sycamore wood almost twice as tough as Basswood, which measures a mere 410 lbf on the Janka scale.

is sycamore good for carving

…But, Some Types Of Sycamore Can Be Too Tough To Whittle

Another type of Sycamore tree subspecies is The London Plane. Found growing all around the United Kingdom, this trees lumber is tougher to cut into than it’s North American counterpart.

With a Janka hardness rating of 940 lbf, it is 2.3 times harder than Basswood. And that difference is none more noticeable than when you try and carve a dry piece of this hardwood.

What is The Janka Hardness Scale? The Janka Hardness Scale measures how much force it takes to make a dent in a piece of wood. The higher the rating, the more force it will take for your whittling tool to cut into lumber.

So, Does That Mean American Sycamore Is Good For Whittling?

American Sycamore will work great for whittling. It may be tougher than Basswood, but when Sycamore is freshly cut, it is very easy to work with.

But, the key to carving Sycamore wood is to work with it while it is still ‘green’ enough to still be pliable. That’s because, if this wood dries out, carving into it will be an incredibly hard slog.

Related Post: How To Soften Wood For Carving (Explained)

What’s more, carving into very dry Sycamore wood will splinter the grain… making it even more difficult to shape.

What Is Green Wood? Green wood is what we call any piece of freshly cut lumber. This wood has a very high moisture content, making it easy to cut into.

is sycamore good for carving

Is Sycamore Also Good For Carving Spoons?

You can use Sycamore for spoon carving, in fact, people have been doing so for centuries.

Sycamore ‘Lovespoons’ were a traditional engagement gift given in Wales, dating back to the 17th century.

Related Post: 5 Easy Halloween Wooden Spoons (Make ‘Em In Under 30 Minutes!)

And, provided you properly seal the spoon before use, Sycamore spoons can also be used as a cooking utensil.

To Wrap Up, Here Are The 3 Key Takeaways From This Post…

  • 1). The best and easiest type of wood to whittle is Basswood.
  • 2). However, despite being twice as hard as Basswood, American Sycamore can be carved by hand.
  • 3). But, avoid carving very dry Sycamore wood, because it will splinter easily.


Lovespoon | Wikipedia