DIY Carved Wood Wall Art

I’m in love with my newest piece of wall art, and making it was a lot easier than it looks! Check out this power carved wood wall art and tell me where you think it should go.

Hey, friends!

I’ve got a little bit of picture overload for you today. It’s honestly due to a number of factors:

  • I loved the way my project turned out
  • I loved that I didn’t have to put on makeup to be in these photos because my face is covered up
  • Even though my face is covered up, I look like a badass in these photos
  • This project looks harder to do than it actually is
  • This is part of a blog/YouTube hop called the #WoodArtChallenge

Don’t know about the Wood Art Challenge yet? Well, in a nutshell, around 30+ of us DIYers/makers (bloggers, Youtubers, Instagrammers, etc.) are all teaming up to present you guys with a single hive mind creative challenge: make a piece of wall art that is SQUARE and made out of WOOD.

Thassit. That’s the challenge. And that means with so many ways to interpret that, there are LOTS of DIY ideas in store for you guys today! Just look to the bottom of this post for others who are participating.

As many of you guys know (unless you’re new here because of the hop thing, in which case hi, stay awhile, we get weird around here… in a good way), I would call myself a woodworking “beginner”. Even though I’ve got plenty of house fixing shenanigans under my belt, there’s a whole other world of power tool fun that I am just now starting to learn more about. And that’s how I found myself using an angle grinder to make a block of wood look like fabric.

Or twisted metal? Or maybe just crumpled paper? I still can’t put my finger on precisely what I think it resembles most, but it definitely doesn’t look like anything I’ve created out of wood before!

It was actually inspired by an artist I follow on Instagram, . My attempt was, of course, pretty small and quick compared to his giant, awe-inducing carved sculpture (which takes anywhere from a few weeks to a couple months to complete). Seriously guys — you’re missing out if you haven’t seen his stuff yet!

The best part of it is, my DIY version doesn’t use a lot of tools to accomplish; the tools you would need to purchase are well within a normal DIY budget too, so this makes it a great beginner’s woodworking project!

What you’ll need:

  • 1x8x8 poplar board (if you choose another hardwood, keep in mind that hardwood species carve  differently, or so I’ve read)
  • lots of sandpaper: extra coarse (around 40 grit), coarse (60-80 grit), medium (100-150 grit), fine (220 grit), extra fine (400 grit)… a lot of this you’ll probably already have, and you can also buy finishing discs for your 4 1/2″ angle grinder if you wish, but you will likely have to hand sand a little
  • wood stain
  • sealer

DIY Power Carved Wall Art

1. Cut pieces to size

Cut down the 1×8 poplar into 6 roughly-equal pieces (it’s ok if it’s slightly off). Line them up the way you would like to establish the block you’ll carve into. Be mindful of the layers below; you’ll carve through parts of the top boards to expose lower layers.

Cover your work surface with cling wrap and tape the ends with painter’s tape (to prevent you from gluing your wood block to your work table).

For my version, I had two scrap pieces that had been Kreg Jig’d together for another project I forgot about ages ago. Since these pieces formed a 90-degree angle, they were perfect for using as temporary clamp pieces in the next step.

2. Glue and clamp the entire block together

I glued 2 stacks of 3 pieces each of the poplar, side by side. This sounds confusing, but it’s not. Just make two equal stacks of your poplar pieces and glue them in order. Be sure to cover the layers in between and the side where the two stacks touch with an ample amount of glue.

If you have or make clamp helpers like I did, put painter’s tape on any sides that will touch the glue… just in case.

With the glue still wet, clamp the ever-loving crap out of the wood block so that it will dry as one solid piece. Be sure to clamp the sides together and the layers (clamp vertically and horizontally).

3. Cut to square and sketch your carving

Since the top and bottom ends of the block aren’t perfectly square, now is the time to cut the excess off so you have a truly square block. Sorry, them’s the rules.

I used the back of my block to sketch out a few lines of where I thought “folds” of my make-believe wood fabric would be, along with giving the carving disc a few test runs to make sure I had a good handle on it.

4. Start carving!

With my carbide blade attached, I went to town on my wood block. Gently, at first, then more aggressive.

It made surprisingly quick work of the wood, and I began to learn how to control the curve and carve of the disc to get the shape I wanted.

This part was the quickest and most fun! It really only took an hour or two to carve the bulk of what I wanted. When I felt I had a better handle on how to get the shape, I went in again for a second pass to get things smoother.

5. Sand.

Ugh. This part. No fun. But I highly recommend getting a 40-grit sanding disc to attach to the angle grinder as well. This made getting those first big chunks sanded away to a smoother result. I tried again with the 80-grit one, but it left lots of bumps and I regretted it.

(For those who might suggest the Arbortech Turbo Plane to avoid/reduce all the sanding — I do know of the tool. I think it would be awesome to try one and haven’t yet tried it myself. But for a beginner’s project, it doesn’t make sense to recommend a blade that costly. Usually budget is a reason for DIYing and/or part of the roadblock for why someone might not try to DIY, so I’m not going to recommend it here. For professional woodworkers or those who intend on churning out multiple carved pieces, that would be worth giving a try though.)

After trying a few other battery- and corded- assisting tools to sand down the remainder, I had to resort to good ol’ fashioned sandpaper for the rest. I hated this part because I was already tired from carving.

7. Stain and seal.

At first, I was really tempted to go with a bold color, like blue or green, since the grain reminded me of a topographical map. I picked out a brown stain instead, because I was worried that the few lines where I used wood glue to connect pieces would not take stain and/or detract from the rest of the piece. I’m sure with more glue-up practice and better clamps, I could see fewer lines from the glue. Either way, I still loved the result!

8. Hang and admire your work.

After way too much dry time (it rained for two days and things just would. not. dry.), I got fed up and finally hung my piece using some of my favorite hangers (they allow the art to sit flush on the wall). I love it!

For now, it’s hanging in the entryway, but I may move it at some point.

What do you think? What color would you have picked? Would you have put a frame around it? I considered so many possibilities on this one, that the options are still pretty tempting. I’d love to hear your ideas.

P.S. If you’re wondering what those pictures taped to my garage wall are all about, check that out here. K is a real prankster.


Don’t forget, this is a WOOD ART CHALLENGE and a number of other folks are participating, so go check them out!

1) Reality Daydream / 2) 100 Things 2 Do / 3) House Becoming Home / 4) Anika’s DIY Life / 5) My Repurposed Life / 6) 3×3 Custom / 7) One Project Closer / 8) Merrypad / 9) Chatfield Court / 10) Create & Babble / 11) Hazel & Gold / 12) Jen Woodhouse / 13) Sawdust 2 Stitches / 14) Wood Work Life / 15) Remodelaholic / 16)  Evan & Katelyn / 17) Jaime Costigio / 18)  Pneumatic Addict / 19)  Bower Power / 20) Lazy Guy DIY / 21) My Love 2 Create / 22) Addicted 2 DIY / 23) Her ToolBelt / 24) Shades of Blue / 25) Ugly Duckling House / 26) The DIY Village / 27) DIY Huntress / 28) Mr Fix It DIY

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