Wood Carving Hobby Wooden Kitty Cat Sculptures

A step-by-step tutorial on how to wood-carve cat sculptures for gift ideas and as a rewarding hobby...

Wood Carving as a Lucrative Hobby

A brief tutorial on how I create carved wooden cat sculptures. I have also made birds and other animals using these techniques. Woodcarving is a fun and engaging hobby and your skill improves with every project. I also carve stone Scarab Beetles. You too can make your own handcrafted gifts and sell your creations.

I used to make many of these back when I was in high school. Most of them were given away as gifts but I did sell a few. Cut from a short length of clean 2-x-4 beam, these carvings are fairly easy to make. First we will need to create a reusable pattern.

Draw a Template Cat Design onto White Posterboard

template of a cat traced onto a wooden 2-x-4 beam

(image by author)

You should make a 2-x-4 (2-inches thick by 4-inches wide) design on a piece of white construction paper or light cardboard.It is easiest to just trace the width the beam directly onto the posterboard. Draw your template within this width.

For the height, -whatever looks good for you is fine. Taller is nice, but I have done kitty cat woodcarvings at about half the height of the normal sized, -I call them juvenile kitties. And they look AWESOME with a special charm all their own!

Trace the Outline of the Cat Onto the Beam

trace the cat profile template onto a wooden two-by-four beam

(image by author)

Here we trace the template onto the chosen clean, knot-free wood beam. To cut this out, I use a hand-held electric jigsaw (with a reciprocating blade) but you can use a coping saw or other narrow-wide blade if necessary. That just takes longer than an electric jigsaw. A band saw would be most efficient but be careful, use protective equipment and observe all safety precautions.

The Cutout Planchet of the Cat Sculpture

The completely cut out form is ready to be worked on. Let's call it a planchet. A planchet actually refers to an un-struck coin but the term works here too.

the cat planchet has been cut-out from the wooden two-by-four beam is ready to carve.

(image by author)

Using the pencil or pen, sketch in the approximate location of the hind legs and tail. This will aid in carving the form correctly. Notice that I have used a drill to pre-form several holes to aid in opening the space around the legs. I used to do this with a pocketknife (and had the cut & bloodied fingers to show for it.) But now I use a rotary tool to stab the holes between the legs. It is an excellent time-saver and MUCH safer than using pocketknives or woodcarving gouges and knives to do this.

A good electric rotary tool can cost between $20.00 and $130.00, depending upon brand and what accessories you purchase. It can be a good investment, -I use mine all the time for other projects including carving stones.

Rough-out The Form

Carving or sanding the sharp edges gets the carving ready for the finer sanding and detailing. Here, the cat has begun to take shape. The edges have been drawn in digitally to show the basic edges.

the wooden planchet has been carved and roughly sanded to suggest curves, and begins to look like a cat

(image by author)

A lot of sandpaper and another hour or two of work can render this carving into a nice artful form. You want to make this as smooth and blemish-free as possible. The stain will reveal even the most tiny of imperfection, usually, unattractively so. This does not have to be perfect. A little bit of antique-primitive art appeal is nice too.

I sometimes will selectively wrap parts of the sanded kitty cat planchet in multiple layers of aluminum foil and tie it securely in place with string. Next, using a propane hand-held torch, will scorch the head, front legs and tip of the tail. It needs to be blackened quite a bit, but not to the point that it cracks the wood and it starts to blow red-hot wood cinders. There will be open flames on the wood. You will actually set the wood on fire. Just shake the planchet in the air to extinguish the flame. So this is an outdoor thing for sure! Do not dip in water to douse the flame, this will make blackening almost impossible until the wood is dry again.

Using medium steel wool, buff-off the dusty charred outer surface to reveal a toasty-dark color beneath. When you reveal just the right amount of scorched wood, stop. If you have an old toothbrush, use that to scrub away the black char dust as much as possible. Old toothbrushes are an excellent tool to keep with your Rotary Tool set for cleaning dust and chips from the device as each use. A used toothbrush also makes an excellent cleaning tool for the dusty Rotary Tool at the end of the day.

Remove the aluminum foil and clean the un-scorched wood of any carbon dust that may have gotten onto the white wood. You want this un-burned part of the wood to be CLEAN, -you may have to re-sand parts of the white wood to get it properly clean, bright and fresh. The carbon dust will stick to clean sanded wood and if stained and/or varnished over top of this, it leaves an unattractive shadowy haze.

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Launie Sorrels
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Posted on Jul 27, 2011
Martha lownsberry
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Posted on Sep 16, 2009