How to Carve Wooden Animals 

Carving an animal in wood

If you're interested in round carving and are just beginning, starting with simple animal figures is an excellent choice. Creating a basic animal figure allows you to learn while still producing a satisfactory wood-carved animal. The skills you acquire during this initial phase will be valuable for more intricate carvings down the line. As your skills improve, so will the quality and intricacy of your wooden animal designs.

Carving a Merlin Falcon

Learning to carve animals can be easier than you might think. With a few tools and an investment of time, you can learn to carve anything you desire. Have you ever wanted to learn to carve but didn't know how to get started? Well, now, with the advent of the Internet, you can learn to carve by watching instructional videos online. This pattern has been designed for novice woodcarvers. I would recommend using Basswood for this project. However, if you opt for Pine, make sure to seal it with Jo Sonja's Tannin Blocking Sealer before painting. Pine can cause the whites to yellow if not properly sealed. Avoid placing the carving where it will be exposed to extreme temperature changes, such as near heat sources or in sunny windows.

Carving a Trout

Begin by tracing the side profile pattern onto the wood block. Ensure that the wood grain direction aligns with the fish's length. Use a square to draw a perpendicular line at the nose and tail junction, continuing this line on the top. Align the top profile with the side profile pattern and trace it onto the top of the block. Cut out the top profile first using a band saw, entering at the tail, exiting at the head, and then re-entering through the same exit cut. Proceed to cut down the other side of the top profile and exit through the entrance cut.

Simplified Mouse

This mouse came to life about 12 years ago. I had just started carving, so I added a curly tail, making it my second attempt at in-the-round carving. The original mouse was carved diagonally from a 50mm (2in) turner's blank of walnut, maximizing the use of limited dimensions. When viewed from above, the mouse retains a distinct diamond shape. Techniques learned here can be applied to carving other wooden animals.

Carve a Stylized Jack Russell

Plywood offers the advantage of creating a sizable carving by gluing up the required layers to form the block. Lamination not only provides strength to sections that would normally have short grain and be prone to breakage but also adds visual interest to the finished piece. This technique can be applied to carve most wooden animals.

Carve this Amazing Gecko

During a recent trip to South Africa for reference-gathering, I was captivated by some of the smaller inhabitants of the region, including the gravity-defying gecko. Due to their ability to cling to vertical surfaces, I thought a gecko would be an ideal wall-mounted wooden carving project. It's a carving project that can be easily achieved.

Enliven your Polar Bear Carving

When planning a carving, it's easy to fall into the trap of trying to replicate a suitable photograph from a magazine. Many carvers focus so much on getting the anatomy right that they lose the essence of the subject. However, it doesn't have to be this way. Simply study your subject and have confidence that you can carve it in your unique style. Ensure you're clear in your mind about what you want to achieve. In this case, the goal was to capture the playful side of a young polar bear.

Animal Photo Archive

A collection of animal photos is available to assist you in guiding your wood-carved animal projects.

Hand Carving a Simple Reindeer

Carve this rustic deer as a standalone project or adjust the pattern size to create a perfect complement to your favorite carved Santa. Use twigs for antlers to enhance the rustic charm and simplify the carving process. Whether you use knives, chisels, and gouges to carve the deer, leaving tool marks visible, or opt for power carving tools and sanding to achieve a more realistic look, you can create a herd of deer or even give one a red nose in homage to Santa's favorite reindeer, Rudolph. For a dramatic mantel display, add leather reins and position the deer in front of a sleigh.   


Carving Wooden Animals with Precision and Passion