Much can be said about wood, but most of that is best learned by experience and further research. I will make some brief points that will get you started. There are many type of wood and their qualities vary greatly. In a pinch one can construct a carousel animal out of almost anything (Douglas fir, palmtree trunk, eucalyptus etc.), but if that is not necessary, there are some basic woods available which serve our purposes best.

Types of woods best used

One hundred years ago there was an abundance of large clear straight grained trees in this country called "old growth".  They provided the carousel animal carver, as well as many other craftsmen, the ideal large slabs of wood, that is one of the reasons so much large carving was done in the United States at that time. This is no longer the case and one must by satisfied with smaller dimensions and possibly a few more knots. Appalachian White Pine was often used to carve carousel animals, similar to Western White Pine, this wood is almost no longer available. Yellow Poplar (actually Tulip Tree, not a poplar) was also used and still can be easily found. It is a good wood, works well and glues well although it tends to be a bit heavy. Yellow poplar is a tough, relatively fast growing, tree and not too expensive. Basswood was often used and still can be, there is plenty of it around. It is a good smooth grained carving wood which performs excellently in all categories, it's not as heavy as Yellow Poplar but costs a little more.
Many other woods do just fine for carving, English Willow is one, Mahogany is another (this looks great unpainted and oiled). Harder woods such as the fruit woods can be used for smaller carvings, these are usually used whole, that is, not glued up into the laminated and/or box constructions described here in this handbook that we will be using for the larger animals.


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