Fun carving a moose tutorial

Carve an adorable caricature that’s a grinner.

Carving a moose caricature is fun and effortless with this easy-to-follow tutorial.  It includes everything you need, including step-by-step instructions, lots of progress photos, painting guide, pattern (if you prefer using a band saw), and tips to help you.

David and I once saw a male and female moose (from across a pond) in New Hampshire several years ago.  It was during the mating season.  Boy, was the male moose loud!  

We also saw a moose on the road (thankfully on the side).  These animals are huge and can be dangerous—especially if you hit one with your car.  

Fortunately, you will be carving a moose that is completely safe and cute as a button.  Let’s get carving! 

Carving a moose

Supplies you will need for carving a moose

This carving a moose tutorial is for a basswood block that is 1.5 x 1.5 x 4 inches (3.8 x 3.8 x 10.1 cm).  If you want to go bigger, simply double or triple the pattern dimensions.  

Use whatever knife or knives you want (perhaps a roughout and a detail knife).  A knife with a straight blade works well on small wood blocks and seems to prevent the wood from crumbling.  

A pencil will be needed to sketch the design.  An eraser is also helpful if you make any mistakes.  

A wood burner was used to create the eyes, nostrils, mouth, and other details.  This is optional (brown paint can be substituted), but it adds extra personality to the final moose carving.  

A free painting guide is provided at the end of this carving a moose tutorial, as well as a free pattern (for bandsaw use).  

As always, carving gloves are recommended for safety.  Also, protect your lap with a cutting board or another hard surface that can withstand an accidental knife stab.  

Another good habit is to take your time—and make sure your cuts are always intentional—to avoid slips with your knife when carving a moose.

Carving a moose tutorial at-a-glance

This short video will give you a quick overview of the key steps in this carving a moose tutorial. 

Preparing your wood block for carving a moose

You are going to carve off the corner for this carving a moose tutorial. This will give you more room to work with across the block, which is helpful.

Round off the corners on the front and back (photo 1).   

Moose carving rounded block1. Front and back corners are rounded off

Draw your guidelines for carving a moose

  • Draw a box that is 1/2-inch wide (1.3 cm) and 1/4-inch (0.6 cm) down from the top on the front and back to mark the wood that you will remove between the antlers (photos 2,3).
  • Draw a line that is 3/4-inch (1.9 cm) from the top to mark the bottom of the antlers (photos 2,3).
  • Add a second line 1.75 inches (4.4 cm) from the top of the block to mark the bottom of the head (photos 2,3).
  • Draw a third line 2 inches (5.1 cm) from the top to mark the bottom of the neck (photos 2,3).
  • Add a fourth line 3 inches (7.6 cm) from the top to mark the bottom of the body (photos 2,3).
  • Finally, draw a fifth line 3.5 inches. (8.9 cm)  from the top to mark the bottom of the legs (photos 2,3).
Front moose carving guidelines2. Front guidelines
Back moose carving guidelines3. Back guidelines

Make your first cuts

Make a deep stop cut along the marked box on the top (photo 4). Tip:  Carving on end grain can be challenging.  It may help to carefully rock your knife back and forth to make your cut as deep as you can.  Then, make cuts at an angle against your stop cut to remove wood (photo 5).  

You will have to make several passes and dig into the wood a bit.  Be careful not to snap your knife.  If you have a fishtail gouge, this is a great place to use it.  

Once you have removed the middle section, remove wood to flatten the antlers a bit (photo 6).  You will save carving the antlers for later to avoid breaking them while you are carving your moose.   

Now, draw the facial details on the front of the moose carving (photo 7), including the top part of the antlers.  

Cutting head of wooden moose4. Rocking a stop cut
Removing wood on moose carving5. Removing wood against the stop cut
Shaping antlers on moose carving6. Flattening the antlers
Drawn face on moose carving7. Face details are drawn

Start the head

You will carve the head from the neck up, which will help you maintain the right proportions for carving a moose.  

Make a stop cut along the second guideline (photo 8) and remove wood from above it (completed in photos 9,10).  You can use a pull cut (or turn the piece around and use a push cut).

Separating head on moose carving8. Cutting the neck
Progress photo of moose carving9. Neck is cut
Back view of moose carving In progress10. Back view of cut neck

Continue carving the moose head

Make a stop cut along the first guideline on each side (photo 11), which will give you access to separate the antlers and ears (photos 12,13).  Note: Do not separate the ears or eyes just yet (photo 12). 

Carving ears on moose carving11. Making second stop cut
Carving face details on moose carving12. Front view after completed cut
Back side of moose carving In progress13. Back view of completed cut

Separate the ears

You will need to set the ears back a bit so they fall under the middle of each antler.  Draw a box on each side to reserve the wood (photos 14,15).  These boxes should be about a 1/4-inch (0.6 cm) square. 

Make a stop cut under the ear box and along each side of the box (photo 16).  Remove wood from around the ear box (photo 17).  Continue on the front side (photo 18).

Then, remove some wood from under the antlers on the back side of the head (photo 19).

Carving ear on moose carving14. Right ear box
Carving left ear on moose carving15. Left ear box
Cutting below ear on moose carving16. Cutting below the ear
Refining ear on moose carving17. Removing wood around the ear
Separating ear on front of moose carving18. Separating the front of the ear
Shaping back of head on moose carving19. Shaping the back of the head

Start the nose

Using your knife, follow the guideline to separate the nose (photo 20).  Tip: Start at the top and cut “downhill” on each side to avoid splitting the wood. 

Remove wood from above to meet your previous cuts along the nose guideline.  Then, cut straight back into the nose (photo 21) to achieve some depth. 

Separate the head all around using stop cuts, removing wood from underneath (photo 22).

Draw the face on the front of the moose (photo 23).

Carving nose on moose carving20. Starting the nose
Shaping nose on moose carving21. Cutting straight back
Carving head on moose carving22. Separating the head all around
Drawn details on moose carving23. Details are drawn

Start the body 

Use your knife to carefully hog off (remove) wood around the neck.  You can make a stop cut into each side and remove wood from above.  You may have to make several passes to remove all the wood (photo 24).  

Mark wood to remove on the front and the back to shape the legs and body (photos 24,25).

Start to remove wood to shape the body on the front and the back.  On the top, you can use slicing cuts.  On the bottom, you can make a deep V-cut to remove wood (photo 26).  You may have to make additional V-cuts to remove all the wood. 

Separate the bottom guideline all around, which marks the bottom of the feet.  Use stop cuts and remove wood from underneath. Then, narrow the legs all around.  Draw where you will split the legs on the front and the back (photos 27,28).  Also, draw the little tail on the back (photo 28).

Marked wood to remove on moose carving24. Wood to remove from the front is marked
Back wood to remove on moose carving25. Wood to remove from the back is marked
Making V-cut on moose carving26. Making a V-cut
Front legs are marked on moose carving27. Front legs are shaped and marked
Back of legs are marked on moose carving28. Back legs are shaped and tail is marked

Carve the details

Use V-cuts to separate the legs and the hooves on the front and the back.  Cut the wood at an angle to set back the hind legs a bit (photo 29).  

Use your knife to flatten the tops of the antlers (photo 30).  Then, use V-cuts to carve the grooves in the tops of the antlers (photo 31).  Be careful not to break the wood here.  

This carving a moose tutorial calls for using a wood burner to burn the nostrils, eyes, mouth, and add highlights on the antlers (photo 32,33,36). 

Tip: I use a Walnut Hollow woodburning tool (affiliate link) that has 11 tips and provides temperature control.  It is easy to use, not super expensive, and gets the job done.  I pair it with an Elenco soldering iron holder (affiliate link) so you won’t burn your table or your lap!  

Cutting hind legs on moose carving29. Cutting back the hind legs
Flattening antlers on moose carving30. Flattening the top of the antlers
Using V-cuts on antlers of moose carving31. Making V-cuts to notch the antlers
Using wood burner on moose carving32. Using the woodburner
Front view of wood burned on moose carving33. Wood burning highlights on the front
Left side of wood burned on moose carving35. Left view of wood burning highlights
Right side of wood burned on moose carving34. Right view of wood burning highlights
Back side of wood burned on moose carving36. Back view of wood burning higlights

Time to paint your moose carving

Use whatever acrylic paints and paint brushes you prefer.  All paint is diluted with water, except where noted as 100%.  

Start by adding a wet paint brush to a drop of paint.  Continue until the paint has a milky consistency to it.   Tip: For large areas like the body, use a few extra drops of paint so that you will not run out.  

  • Eye whites: 100% Artist’s Loft titanium white.
  • Antlers: 100% DecoArt Americana natural buff. 
  • Body (first layer): DecoArt Americana fawn wash.
  • Body (second layer): Apple Barrel classic caramel wash.
  • Body (third layer): Dry brush with titanium white.
  • Body (highlights): 100% Academy burnt sienna. 
  • Allow to dry (cure) for at least 24 hours. Brush with boiled linseed oil to finish (be sure to properly dispose of cloth or towels with oil on them because they can self-combust).

Get more wood carving painting tips here.

Front view of painted moose wood carving37. Front of painted moose carving
Right view of painted moose wood carving38. Right view of painted moose carving
Left view of painted moose wood carving39. Left view of painted moose carving
Back view of painted moose wood carving40. Back view of painted moose carving

Free, full-color pattern for carving a moose

Photocopy pattern to size to fit your wood block, especially if you want to go larger and prefer to use a band saw for carving a moose.  

Wood wood carving pattern

Carving a moose tutorial summary

  • This little moose carving goes pretty quickly and the paining is super easy.
  • This carving a moose tutorial is a great way to try a little wood burning, which takes some practice.
  • The wood burning is optional, but it really adds character.
  • You can easily increase the size of your moose by doubling or tripling the pattern dimensions. 

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