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!
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.
This short video will give you a quick overview of the key steps in this carving a moose tutorial.
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).
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.
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 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).
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).
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).
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).
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!
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.
Get more wood carving painting tips here.
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.