Best Wood for Carving Bowls

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Every home has some form or the other of wooden cookware. Using wooden carved items to cook and serve wood ushers in a unique type of experience. The finish you apply to a wooden bowl is an important consideration. You can learn more about food-safe wood finishes in another informative post of ours.

You can make wooden bowls either by hand or with the help of a machine. Choose the wood that you use by both methods carefully. The wood that you use should be relatively soft enough to carve with chisels and gouges. Fruitwood is a preferred choice for making bowls, but you can use various types of wood.

Best Types of Wood for Carving Bowls

Spalted oak bowlSpalted oak bowl (Image: Wikimedia Commons)

When we talk about the best wood, we don’t necessarily mean wood either readily available or cheap. Here is a list of some of the wood types that make some of the most unusually exotic wooden bowls. If you want to create a masterpiece, these types of wood that you want to use for making bowls:

Purple Heart Wood

Exotic Wood Pen Blanks 9-Pack: Purple Heart
Exotic Purple Heart Blanks (Image: Amazon)

With purple heart wood, it is the heartwood of the tree that is the most attractive. The vibrant purple color darkens to a deeper shade in a few weeks of cutting. Purple heart wood is hard and not very easy to work with. But with the right tools and enough carving experience, this wood makes spectacular bowls. Check price on Purple Heart Blanks on Amazon.


Legacy Woodturning, Cocobolo Wood Turning Blank, 1 1/2" x 1 1/2" x 12", Pack of 5
Cocobolo Wood Turning Blank

It is a form of rosewood and is beautiful to look at even in its raw state. You will also detect a floral fragrance from cocobolo. The wood tends to grow in a twisted way that causes swirling, multicolored dancing lines in the grain. Due to this reason, bowls made of this wood exhibit attractive black and brown stripes.

Macassar Ebony

Spalted Tamarind Exotic Wood Bowl Blank 2 3/4" X 7 3/4" X 7 3/4" TAM1173
Spalted Tamarind Exotic Wood Bowl Blank (Amazon)

This wood is sought after for the stripes seen in its grain when polished. The lines in Macassar ebony appear in a host of different colors. We use this wood to make wood veneer and parts of guitars. However, we also use it to make bowls where the twisting and overlapping grain patterns show beautifully.

Spalted Tamarind

Spalting is when wood gets infected by a fungus, which creates unusual patterns in the heartwood. Spalted tamarind is native to tropical Africa and is a medium-hard wood with a hardness of 2,690 (Janka scale). This wood is tough on tools, but woodworkers like it because carving it is spectacular. It also stains well, giving rise to a high, natural polish.

Gabon Ebony

Wbestexercises 1242.5 Black Ebony Wood Lumber, Wood Lumber Blank DIY Material for Music Instruments Tools
Black Ebony Wood Lumber (Amazon)

Other names for this wood are black ebony, African ebony, Nigerian ebony, Cameroon ebony, and Kribi ebony. It is extremely rare and on the endangered list. The story of Gabon ebony dates back to ancient Egypt, and it is depicted in Egyptian tombs. Today as well, artisans prize the wood for its traditional history. The wood’s jet-black color makes it the most sought-after, and a bowl made of Gabon ebony takes on a jet-black color.

Redheart Wood

Redheart wood is also called Chakte Kok. A native to South America, it is one of the softer woods with a density of 1,210 (Janka scale), making it an easy wood to turn and carve for making bowls. The deep red color makes awesome bowls that look as if they have been painted even though it may only be a clear varnish coating.

Wenge Wood

Exotic Wood Pen Blanks 9-Pack: Wenge
Exotic Wenge Wood Blanks (Amazon)

Finished bowls of wenge wood have a deep chocolate-brown color rather like walnut. It exhibits alternating dark brown and light brown stripes in the grain, which is this wood’s beauty. The primary use of wenge wood is for making percussion musical instruments. This wood is light and stable. Hence it is useful for turning and carving for making bowls.

Yellowheart Wood

Yellowheart, 3/4" x 3" x 24"
Yellowheart Wood (Amazon)

If you make a bowl from yellowheart, it can prove an exciting project judging by the final result. This wood is one of the most spectacular types of wood thanks to the wood’s bright yellow color. It is a native of Brazil and has a medium hardness of about 1,790 (Janka scale). Yellowheart is an easy wood to carve and turn for making wooden bowls. A drawback of this wood is its high degree of radial shrinkage.

African Blackwood

Blackwood African 1" x 1.5" x 5" Knife Scale
Blackwood African (Image: Amazon)

This wood is also known as congowood and Mozambique ebony. The heartwood of African Blackwood has a dark purplish-brown color punctuated with black striations. The strait and fine grain gives a high polish on finishing. It is extremely hard at 4,050 (Janka scale), so you are in for a tough ride to carve this wood. The deep brown shade of bowls made of this wood is second to none.


Bocote, 1/2" x 3" x 24"
Bocote Wood (Amazon)

Bocote is native to Mexico and Central America but also grows in the West Indies. You can get a wide variety of grain patterns from this wood. The color of the wood varies from yellow to different shades of brown. Thanks to the random patterns seen on the grain, the wood makes attractive-looking carved items like pool cues, knife handles, veneer, and bowls. On finishing, Bocote gives a classy high-gloss finish.


Texas Knifemakers Supply Brazilian Kingwood Knife Handle Block (Each Piece is Unique) 5" x 1-1/2" x 1"
Brazilian Kingwood (Amazon)

Here is another wood that exhibits a curvy, loopy grain of alternating light and dark brown. The sapwood is a dark yellow shade, so if you can get the transition in your piece, you can create some exciting designs in a bowl. Kingwood is not endangered but considered exotic. It is tough on cutting tools, but it finishes nicely, making smart gun handles and, of course, bowls.

Louro Preto Wood

Louro Preto is dense and hard but doesn’t cut so well. It serves as good wood for steam bending, which makes it suitable for making furniture. What a lot of people don’t know is that this wood also makes good material for carving. The light brown and dark brown streaks come up with a bit of polish to make charming bowls.


Exotic Marblewood Bowl Blank (Amazon)

Marblewood is a stunning wood that we use for flooring, cabinetry, wood veneers, and carving and turning. The wood gets its name from the streaky grain that resembles marble. The other name for marblewood is Brazilian teak. Marblewood bowls are very classy wooden objects. Although you need sharp blades and a good deal of patience to work on this wood, the results are satisfying. It is a stable wood, is hard on tools but retains its shape when thinly sliced.


The bright red color of zapote is bound to catch anyone’s eye, no matter what it is used to make. An interesting fact about this tree is that its sap serves as the raw material for chewing gum and candies. The ancient Mayans discovered the zapote tree who used to eat the sap even then. The zapote has a red to fiery-orange color. The wood is soft and easy to carve into bowls and other wood kitchenware, which look striking with a suitable finish.


We come to an end of the list of some of the most exotic types of wood you can use to make bowls. Each of the kinds of wood mentioned is exotic, expensive, and not readily available. If you are persistent and look hard enough, you can find at least one of these exotic woods. If you are a woodworker who makes bowls and other kitchenware, the ultimate goal should be to procure any one of the woods mentioned here and make a statement in wood!