Creating in any artistic medium takes knowledge of the tools and materials involved, and working in wood is no different. Rasps, gouges and saws are a few of the tools artists use to create, but they must also take note of the properties of the wood itself. Basswood is a soft hardwood that is easy to carve by hand, and an artist turning it on a lathe must take care to use little pressure. In comparison, Scarlet Oak is labeled as a hard hardwood because it takes great effort to carve it with power tools such as a lathe, and it is seldom carved using hand tools.
Choosing the correct materials for any project is important to the outcome, but selecting the right woods is critical. Whether an artist is carving by hand, or using power tools, they must be able to gauge how easy the wood will cut. When combining different woods in one project, they must match the hardness or be aware of the different cutting speeds to create a good finished product.