I want to engrave, i.e. shape, a small toy sports car out of wood. I do not plan on doing it using chainsaws but with a few hand tools. The dimensions of the car are going to be 15cm x 12cm x 10cm. I do not know what kind of wood I should use and where can I get it. Also, I would like the wood to be light-weight and strong. If the wood is too strong or hard I will not be able to make a car out of it. Also, if it is too weak it may break very easily. Hence I want the wood to be neither very hard nor very soft.

  • Basswood maybe. Also check out woodtoyz.com/WTCat/LearnMaterials.html.
    – Jason C
    Dec 15, 2015 at 7:16
  • 1
    For someone who doesn't know what wood to use or where to get it, fir/spruce is maybe a better alternative. Ad hoc, I wouldn't know an easy and affordable way to get basswood anywhere near here, but you can get fir/spruce everywhere for little currency. It's light, too, and in comparison to this low weight, it's strong, too. For engraving (though I think the OP really means carving? or "shaping" in general?) it's maybe not the best choice, but at least it's soft, so it will be less frustrating to be worked on with hand tools for a beginner.
    – Damon
    Dec 15, 2015 at 9:42
  • @damon Order them.
    – Jason C
    Dec 15, 2015 at 14:41
  • @JasonC: Sure thing, but 14x5x7'' @ $47, might as well make the toy car from gold. :-) I'm having similar issues here getting something as ordinary as oak. Sure, I can order it, roughly at the price of gold. But to get a reasonable size (like, 40cmx5cm, 3 meters long) at an affordable price, I have to drive 150km.
    – Damon
    Dec 15, 2015 at 15:49
  • @Elem What's your budget like? (Fwiw fir was my second choice, too, it's very common.)
    – Jason C
    Dec 15, 2015 at 16:17

1 Answer 1


It really depends on the level of detail you want the wood to hold. My first response would be pine/fir/spruce. Most 2" x 4" material is pine, sometimes fir or spruce. It is cheap and all are 'softwoods'. These tend to be the woods often used to make toy cars. There are lots of level of quality when talking about wood cars.

So if you want toys, the softwoods should be fine. If you are wanting to attempt more 'model' type carving you are going to want to be using hardwoods (eventually). As a beginner I'd still start with the softwoods, understanding that they have a harder time holding fine details.

When you move to hard woods (because these are more expensive so practice on cheaper woods) Basswood and Butternut are supposed to be two of the nicer woods for carving.

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