How to Make a Wooden Butterfly

Written by lauren vork
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How to Make a Wooden Butterfly
The bright colours and simple shapes of butterflies lend themselves to rendering in wood. (Jupiterimages/Goodshoot/Getty Images)

While wood carving and shaping is not always an easy art, some shapes lend themselves well to rendering in wood. The relatively simple, nearly flat form of a butterfly is one you can cut and carve in wood and rely upon painting, rather than three-dimensional carving. Make a butterfly of any size and colour combination from your preferred type of wood.

Skill level:

Things you need

  • Craft wood sheets, 1/4 inch to 1/2 inch thick
  • Butterfly stencil, cookie cutter, or printout
  • Scroll saw
  • Multi-directional scroll saw blade
  • Rotary power tool
  • Detail sanding bit
  • Needle nose pliers
  • Acrylic paint

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  1. 1

    Draw the outline of a butterfly shape on the wood in pencil. Draw it freehand, use a stencil or cookie cutter, or print and cut out a piece of butterfly clipart on cardstock and trace the clipart.

  2. 2

    Use the scroll saw to cut a rough circle around the butterfly shape, just big enough to encompass the butterfly; this will make it easier to control the wood while you cut out the shape.

  3. 3

    Cut out the butterfly shape. Follow the pencil line as closely as possible. If necessary, use the gripping tool to position the wood close to the blade without risking your fingers; you will probably need to do this if your butterfly shape is less than four inches across at any point.

  4. 4

    Sketch a pencil outline of the butterfly's major features within the outline, including the shape of the body and the line between the top wing segments and bottom wing segments.

  5. 5

    Use an oscillating power tool with a detail sanding attachment to route dimension into the butterfly around the sketched lines. Sand down the wings by about an eighth of an inch to make the body seem to thrust forward. Sand the edges of the body to round it. Sand down the lower wing segments to make them stand back from the top wing segments.

  6. 6

    Hand sand the entire butterfly with fine grain sand paper to smooth it.

  7. 7

    Cut two lengths of craft wire, each measuring about half the length of your butterfly's body. Use the needle-nosed pliers to bend a tiny loop into one end of each wire. Glue the loops to the top of the butterfly's head using wood glue.

  8. 8

    Paint the butterfly, if desired, using acrylic paint. Layer colours and let them dry before painting any black lines. This assures that the black lines are clean.

Tips and warnings

  • Always follow all safety instructions included by the manufacturer with the scroll saw. Keep your fingers out of the "danger zone" indicated by the instruction manual to avoid getting too close to the blade.

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