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Simple Songbird

Posted by Chelsea Place on

Simple Songbird

Use this all-in-one pattern to carve and paint your favorite backyard bird.

By: Frank Egholm
Originally published in Wood Carving Illustrated


  • Basswood, 1 1/2" (3.8cm) thick:
    2 1/4" x 4 3/4" (5.7cm x 12.1cm)
  • Bamboo skewers
  • Glue
  • Paint: acrylics, assorted colors
  • Glass beads for eyes (optional)


  • • Saw: band, coping, or scroll
  • Carving knife
  • Drill with bits: assorted
  • Paint brushes: assorted

This whittled bird fits nicely in your hand, and the blank is durable enough to throw in a pocket or backpack. With a simple paint job, this bird can look like any visitor to your backyard feeder.


Getting Started

Draw or trace the outline of the bird onto the wood. For strength, make sure the grain runs along the tail. Cut the perimeter with a band saw, coping saw, or scroll saw.


Step 1: Carve the bird.

Round the body. Then, round and narrow the head. Finish the head and body, and then carve the beak to a point and narrow the tail.


Step 1: Add the details.

Drill holes for the legs. I use bamboo skewers. While you can paint the eyes, I use tiny glass beads. Turn a tiny drill bit with your fingers to make sure you don’t drill too deep.

Step 2: Paint the bird.

I painted my bird with thinned acrylic paints. I based my painting on a common Eurasian bullfinch, but because the shape of the bird is so generic, you can make your bird a wren, goldfinch, bluebird, junco, or your favorite bird.


Show Off Your Work!

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About The Author

Frank Egholm lives in Denmark, where he taught woodworking in a school for several years. He’s the author of Snitte: The Danish Art of Whittling: Make Beautiful Wooden Birds and The Danish Art of Whittling: Simple Projects for the Home. He’s also organizing an annual “Snittefest" whittling festival in Denmark. For more of his work, visit his website at

Template downloads are provided courtesy of Fox Chapel Publishing.

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Knives best suited for whittling have multiple blades to be able to make a variety of cuts and carve outs without needing to switch tools.

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