How to Carve Dogs in Wood

By Mark Morris

Wood carving is an ancient craft that has been practiced in every culture. Most decorative woodworking is done by machine, but highly skilled wood carvers can charge premium prices. When setting out to carve a dog in wood, it is best to have an idea of what kind of dog, and the pose you want before getting started. Select or create your own images to work from. You can even photograph an actual dog to use as inspiration.

List of Items Needed

  • Reference images
  • Ruler
  • Wood block

    Getting Started

  1. Draw a grid of 1-inch squares on a sheet of paper. Sketch out the dog from both a side and front view from your reference images. Draw in as much detail as you can for later reference.

  2. Select a block of wood with light, even color and a low contrast grain pattern. The block must be large enough to carve the dog from. Both balsa and bass wood are considered good woods for beginning carvers, although almost any wood will do. Avoid bold grains, which indicate hard spots and changes in consistency.

  3. Draw a square grid onto the block of wood. Use the grid to transfer the outline and main details of your drawings to the wood block. Draw one square from the sheet of paper to one square on your carving block.

    Blocking in

  1. Cut out the outline of the carving following your pencil outlines. Remove material to get the rough profile of your dog into the block.

  2. Carve away the corners and major details to get the front view as close as possible to your drawing. Work in small areas and work slowly. You can always remove more material as you go, but it's impossible to put it back. A rotary tool with cutting blade accessories will allow you to make precise and detailed cuts.

  3. Compare the carving to the image regularly as you work and make adjustments as needed. Cut in details such as the muzzle, tail and ears.

    Finishing Touches

  1. Draw the details onto the carving where they belong. Draw in prominent lines such as the eyelids, nostrils and the clefts between toes on the paws.

  2. Remove material along the lines you drew to add the details. Remove precise shavings. Avoid cutting too deep or splintering the wood. Use cutting accessories and sanding drums on a rotary tool for intricate shaping and carving.

  3. Sand the carving to smooth out any roughness that looks out of place.

© Demand Media 2011