3D Wood Carving Instructions

Updated February 21, 2017

Turn a simple block of wood into a work of art by learning three -dimensional woodcarving techniques. Folk figures and animals are common subjects, but once you learn the basic techniques, you can carve anything you can imagine. An ideal subject to start off with for a three-dimensional carving is a simple bird. Birds have flowing lines and enough detail so that you will be able to use all of the standard techniques for further wood carvings.

Place the 3-by-4-by-6-inch basswood block on a work surface. Draw the side profile of the bird on one 4-by-6-inch side using a pencil. Draw the top profile of the bird on one 3-by-6-inch side.

Cut out the side outline of the bird using a band saw. Feed the wood through the saw slowly to allow the blade to cut the wood as you move the block through the saw. Follow the same procedure to cut out the top profile of the bird with the band saw.

Use a carving knife to rough out the overall shape of the bird. Make small cuts with the knife to carve out the back, breast, head and tail of the bird so that they have flowing curves. Smaller knife strokes will create a more detailed carving.

Shape the bird's beak with the carving knife. Carve from the widest part toward the front tip of the beak. Take small shavings until you are satisfied with the overall appearance of the beak.

Add details to the bird with a V-gouge chisel. Create the outline of the wings and add texture to the wing and tail feathers by making tiny cuts with the V-gouge. Apply only a slight amount of pressure to achieve these cuts.

Carve out the eyes of the bird using the V-gouge to create the outline and the carving knife to make the eyes round. Make small cuts from the centre of the eye toward the outside edges.

Sand the bird carving lightly with fine grit sandpaper. Sand with the grain to avoid leaving scratch marks on the finished carving.

Apply a wood finish of your choice with a paintbrush. Allow the finish to dry prior to handling.


Practice three-dimensional carving daily to increase your skills. Try an increasingly challenging subject for each carving you make.


Wear eye protection when woodcarving. Always carve away from your body.

Things You'll Need

  • 3-by-4-by-6-inch basswood block
  • Band saw
  • Carving knife
  • V-gouge chisel
  • Fine grit sandpaper
  • Wood finish
  • Paintbrush
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About the Author

Jonah Morrissey has been writing for print and online publications since 2000. He began his career as a staff reporter/photographer for a weekly newspaper in upstate New York. Morrissey specializes in topics related to home-and-garden projects, green living and small business. He graduated from Saint Michael's College, earning a B.A. in political science with a minor in journalism and mass communications.