Steps to Make a Homemade Wooden Ventriloquist Dummy

Written by vivian gomez
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You need a high level of proficiency to craft your own ventriloquist dummy. The dummy's head requires the most attention and the most intricate work. It is made up of a network of wires and pulleys that move the dummy's eyes, eyebrows and jaw. Draw patterns for the dummy's face and its profile, and then draw large rectangles over your drawings to see how large the wood blocks that will form its head need to be.

Skill level:

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Things you need

  • Soft wood blocks
  • Saw
  • Carbon paper
  • Straight and U gouges
  • Bench knife
  • Wood glue
  • Fine-grit sandpaper
  • Straight chisel
  • Scroll saw
  • Internal head mechanism
  • Acrylic paints
  • Craft brush
  • Varnish
  • Eyes
  • Wig
  • Fabric
  • Sewing machine

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  1. 1

    Place the wood blocks you need to carve the head on your worktable. You should have four blocks for the face, the forehead, the top of the head and the back of the head, and a small block for the nose.

  2. 2

    Cut the wood blocks down to size so they match the patterns you drew beforehand on paper. You need to glue the pieces together so you can shape the head and carve the features. However, you will need to take the blocks apart so you can work on the inside mechanism. Therefore, instead of gluing the blocks to one another, put a sheet of paper between each piece so you can take them apart easier afterward. The only piece you are gluing directly onto the block representing the face is the nose because you will not need to remove it later. Put a sheet of carbon paper on top of the rough assembled head and trace the patterns you drew before beginning on the assembled block.

  3. 3

    Shape the head with the gouges. Keep carving off large chunks of wood until the dummy's head is the size you desire. Carve finer details with your bench knife. Smooth the head with a fine-grit sandpaper.

  4. 4

    Break the head apart using your chisel. Carefully hollow out the inside so you can insert the internal head mechanism. The cavity must be large enough to accommodate the mechanism, but you do not want to puncture through the head. Therefore when you are hollowing out the head make sure the walls of the head and face remain at about 1/2 inch thick.

  5. 5

    Cut the dummy's jaw with the scroll saw so that it can move its mouth. Cut out eye holes. Insert the eyes and the internal head mechanism, connecting everything so that the dummy's face comes to life when you manoeuvre it. Glue the head back together. Paint your dummy with acrylic paints as you desire and apply a coat of varnish. Let it dry thoroughly.

  6. 6

    Carve the dummy's torso from a block of wood large enough to accommodate your hand as you operate the dummy. You do not need to worry about carving much detail since the body is covered with clothes. Carve a chest cavity and shoulders. Sew its clothes onto it and sew stuffed cloth arms and hands. Finish it off by attaching a wig.

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