One of the joys of whittling is that you can carve an object fast and gift it on the spot to an interested child or adult. It’s also a great way to introduce the hobby of woodcarving to someone. When I teach someone to carve, I start with basic whittling, and I try to set them up to finish a small project in their first lesson. These small, stylized, flat-plane dogs meet that criteria.
I use the smaller dog as the first project, and the larger dogs for more advanced projects. These dogs are a great way to practice the basic cuts.
Transfer the pattern onto the blank, oriented so the grain runs from the top of the head to the haunches. Then, cut the perimeter; I leave a small handle on the bottom to hold while I carve or teach beginners to carve. Draw a centerline around the edge of the blank.
Carving A Dog
Step 1: Make a 1/8"-deep stop cut at the base of the neck.
Repeat the stop cut on the other side of the neck. Use a push cut or paring cut to taper the head and body to this stop cut.
Step 2: Thin and taper both sides of the muzzle.
Use a paring cut. Remove several thin slices of wood to avoid splitting off larger chips.
Step 3: Make a stop cut at the base of the tail.
Use a paring cut to thin the tail to about ¼" thick.
Step 4: Add the flat-plane details.
Note how the edges of the blank are made up of peaks and valleys with flat areas between them (such as where the legs meet the belly or the legs bend). Make small stop cuts at the bottoms of the valleys, all the way around each side of the dog. Use paring or push cuts to slice down from the peaks to the stop cuts at the bottom of the valleys to create small flat planes.
Step 5: Make a stop cut between the ears to separate them.
Use a push cut and a paring cut to carve to the stop cut to remove small wedges of wood from between the ears. Cut off any remaining slice marks or pencil marks. Cut the handle from the dog and finish as desired. I use thin washes of acrylic paint.
Show Off Your Work!
We'd love to see your finished projects. Share them with us on social media!
About The Author
Tom Hindes started whittling and carving in the early 2000s. Now retired from a career in technical training development at Ohio State University, Tom lives outside Delaware, Ohio, with his wife. He is the author of 20-Minute Whittling, available from Fox Chapel Publishing.