Canadian Woodworking

Caricature carving

Author: David Bruce Johnson
Published: October November 2004
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Here is a great little project for you to practice using your well sharpened knife.

This caricature is made from a 2″ x 2″ x 6″ piece of basswood, but the pattern can be adjusted to fit any piece of wood. This is a photo-based project, without lengthy explanations.

Under each of the photos, the required action(s) are described. Study the pictures carefully, as they each provide a lot of information.

Copy pattern onto block

Use two-hand knife technique

Round the back of the head

Form the shoulder and bottom of hood

Round the back to marked centerlines

Carefully remove wood around tip of moustache

Round side from shoulder to above mukluks

Change direction to remove wood above mukluks

Relieve the arms and taper the leg fronts

Round arm and create mitten

Taper the back and re-draw bottom of parka

Define bottom of mukluks

Taper legs, establish bottom of parka and mukluks

Carve separation between back of legs

Complete rounding of legs and toes of mukluks

Finish rounding most of body, parka, and mukluks

Raise features by carving hood back

Add detail by rounding features

Complete hood trim and back of head



Before getting started, here are some general points to keep in mind: This project gives you practice for using the two-handed knife carving technique. However, there will be times when you can use a different technique.

Don’t try to remove too much wood with one slice. Start at one end of the area that you’re carving and work your way back in steps. This will help you avoid removing a large chip unexpectedly.

Anytime you are pushing your knife into the wood, be sure that the wood is resting firmly on something stable (like your workbench).

Always be aware of where your knife will go if it slips off your carving, AND be aware of your “holding” hand’s location.

Don’t be afraid to experiment! This project is for demonstration purposes and is just one of innumerable variations possible. Have fun!


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