Carving a cat everyone will adore

You can easily create this feline in a weekend using our free tutorial.

Carving a cat is a purrfect wood carving project for cat lovers. This pattern was inspired by Trixie, our beautiful tuxedo cat who went to the rainbow bridge far too soon. 

Once you get started, carving a cat with our pattern goes pretty quickly. The painting is also uncomplicated.

Carving a cat
catTrixie inspired this design

What you will need for carving a cat

  • Cut-resistant gloves
  • 1.5 x 1.5 x 4-inch (3.81 x 3.81 x 10.16 cm) basswood block 
  • Pencil 
  • Permanent pen to highlight your pencil marks (optional)
  • Knife of choice (we use a roughout knife and a detail knife)
  • Paints (we use acrylic) and paint brushes (small for details and larger for the body)
  • Water (to dilute the paint) 

Carving a cat: getting started

  • Draw a line around the block that is 1 3/4-inch (4.445 cm) down from the top (marks bottom of the head)
cat pattern lineFront line marks bottom of the head
Basswood block for cat carvingDraw line all around the block

Round the corners

  • Round the corners (we use a push cut)
  • Use sweep cuts to remove wood inward on the top of the head on the front and repeat on the back side
  • Draw the ears on both sides to mark where you will reserve the wood when carving a cat
rounded wood cornersCorners are rounded
Drawn ears for cat carvingUse sweep cuts to curve the top of the head inward on both sides

Separate the body

  • Using a stop cut, separate the head from the body
  • Continue rounding the corners below the head
Cat carving neckSeparated neck from head (front)
Side view of cat carvingSide view

Shape the cat further

  • Use sweep cuts to create a slightly curved neck on the front and back
  • Round the corners around the face
  • Use the pattern (at bottom) to draw the face on the front
  • Mark areas of wood that will be removed  (see crossed lines below)
  • Draw the tail that curls around from the back to the left side
cat pattern for wood carvingNeck and head are rounded and pattern is drawn (front)
left view of cat patternLeft side view of tail wrapping around
right view of cat carving in progressRight side view
Tail for cat carvingBack view with tail at bottom

Round the shoulders, face, and shape the ears

  • Remove wood to narrow the shoulders of the cat
  • Also remove wood to shape the ears (thin them further at the end to avoid breaking the ears when carving a cat)
Rounded face and body of cat carvingHead and shoulders are rounded and ears are defined (front)
Left side view of cat carvingLeft side view
Left view of cat carving in progressRight side view
Back view of cat carvingBack view

Split the front legs

  • Split the front legs by making a V-cut about a 1/4-inch from the bottom of the block (slight design change) 
  • Separate the legs further with V-cuts 
  • Use V-cuts to define the front paws and remove wood to narrow the legs about the paws
Cat carving legs are splitFront legs are split and paws are defined

Define the face

  • Use deep stop cuts to create the outline of the eyes
  • Remove wood from underneath (inside the eye)
  • Cut into the top of each eyelid to add a shadow when carving a cat
  • Carve the nose
  • Cut out wood to create the mouth and jowls (use line cuts to start and remove wood from the middle out)
Cat carving face

Carve the hind paws and tail

  • Remove wood to define the tail from the back to the left side (using one  stop cut on the back and short stop cuts for the curved tail)
  • Define the hind  paws on each side
Carving cat tailBack of tail
Tail defined on cat carvingTail is defined
Cat carving in progressHind leg is defined

Before you paint

  • Clean up any fuzzies prior to painting
  • Wash the cat with a little dish soap to remove dirt or pencil lines
Cat carving completedCat from all sides prior to painting

Painting the cat wood carving

wooden cat
painted cat carving
feline cat carving
back of cat carving

Here is the paint (and brands) we used in order of application:

  • Ears, eyes, snout, paws, and side circle: 100% titanium white (Artist’s Loft)
  • Nose: 1 drop of pink paint (Apple Barrel) diluted with 25 drops of water
  • Body: (first coat): 1 drop of black (ArtSkils) diluted with 25 drops of water. (Second coat) 1 drop of black paint (ArtSkills) diluted with 10 drops of water
Free cat patternIncrease or decrease the pattern to fit your wood block

Summary

  • This cat can easily be carved in a day or two
  • It makes a great gift for any cat lover
  • You can adapt the paint colors to capture the essence of any feline (find cat pictures here)

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