A Tête-à-Tête with Talking Woods – The Oldest & the Most Trusted Style of Carving Kadam Wood

Kadam Wood Carving

‘Going against the grain’, the famous idiom, is interestingly given by the wood itself. Well not in the literal sense but the great carvers say the wood actually speaks. While carving, the wood tells if the carvers are doing it in the right way or not.

So this article is an attempt to discuss how carving is done on Kadam wood to bring out beautiful pieces-of-art into life. And this process is based on the live experiences we have had with the famous wood-carvers of Jaipur, India.

About the wood

Kadam wood, majorly found in Southeast Asia, is the preferred wood for the carvers of India for two reasons. One, it is soft in nature and has parallel grains which makes it easy to carve the wood using hand tools and second, it’s considered auspicious according to the Indian mythology.

The Process

The craftsmen begin by cutting the wood into uniform blocks using a hacksaw.

Kadam Wood Carver


Cutting the wood into uniform blocks

Quick tip #1 from carvers: Always prefer creating pieces using a single block as that brings out a sturdier piece with no joints (the pieces shown above are examples of one block creation).

Then they make a drawing of the motif to be carved and start peeling off the material outside the drawing using sharp knives. Once the extra part is taken off, the main chiseling is done along the drawn pattern using multiple style chisels.

There are different kinds of chisels used for different style motifs. Some of the popular chisels used are: flat chisels for flat edges, short bents for quick deep cuts, long bents for long deep cuts, straight skew for diagonal cuttings, U-gouges for giving minute details and the list is endless….

Quick tip #2 from carvers: Work along the direction of the grain while carving the wood. Working in the opposite direction can lead to ripping and tearing of wood resulting in jagged surface. If you feel the resistance while carving, understand you are working in the opposite direction!

Undercut technique

There is another style in wood carving that is widely known as Jaali art. This type of carving works in screens and brings out beautiful see-through patterns. A special tool called burmi kamanak that bores deep holes in the wood is designed especially for this style of carving.

Adding details

After carving the desired structure, V-gouges or U-gouges are used for adding intricate details and expressions into the piece.

Carving Kadam Wood


Gouging the wooden block to add detail

Quick tip #3 from experts: While adding the details, keep your tools razor sharp or else you will end up with white lines on the wooden piece.


After completing the piece, it is given the final touch by buffing it on a machine which has fibers that rotate and polish the wood. This brings the wood a very smooth texture. At times, varnishing is also done, if required.

This whole process is definitely very intriguing but highly complicated. It takes days to carve even small pieces at times and the most important part of carving is using the right tools. There is a wide array of tools used by the artisans and they know which tool to use where. And sometimes they design their own tools based on the requirements they have. Seeing them working, we can simply understand the process but wood carving is surely not everyone’s cup of tea.

These experts presently are associated with SouvNear and together with our designing team they create very unique and best quality wooden sculptures. You can view all kinds of interesting handmade items at www.souvnear.com

We will look forward to your valuable feedback/comments on how you find these pieces. Our small effort brings a sense of pride and encouragement in the artisans.

Thanks for reading!

Author: Dolly Purba
Dolly is a Literature enthusiast and has honed her writing and literary skills with a Masters course in Literature. She has a knack for simplifying things and views life through the lens of positivity. She loves traveling and exploring diverse cultures. This blog serves as a medium to share her learning and observations.

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