Dashing dog wood carving tutorial

The perfect pup to carve for a big smile. 

It’s time for a cool dog wood carving tutorial!  Let’s woof it up together and carve this cute schnauzer caricature. 

This little whittle is fun to carve and shouldn’t take you more than a day or two to finish.  While the painting is simple (guide provided at the end), the textured cuts for the fur add visual interest.  

This step-by-step tutorial provides all the instructions that you will need to carve a beautiful dog that never needs walking! 

Dog wood carving

Supplies needed for your dog wood carving

For this dog wood carving, you will need a wood block that is 1.25 x 1.25 x 3 inches (3.2 x 3.2 x 7.6 cm).  I use basswood for ease of carving.  

Want a bigger dog wood carving?  Simply increase the dimensions (print this tutorial and mark each measurement so you will not forget the changes).  

A pencil or a sharpie is helpful for sketching.  A small ruler is another great addition to your everyday carving kit.  

Since this is a little whittle, you can probably use just detail knife.  A gouge or micro-gouge is helpful (and faster) for carving the fur, but you can also make V-cuts with your (sharp) knife.  

Safety first! Please always use a carving glove and protect your lap with something hard and flat as well.  

Dog wood carving tutorial at-a-glance

See the key steps to make your dog wood carving in this short video. 

Draw guidelines for your dog wood carving

You will carve off the corner for this dog wood carving.  

Draw a guideline all around the block that is about 3/4 of an inch (1.9 cm) from the top.  Add a second guideline all around that is 1.75 inch (4.4 cm) from the top.  

Add a nose box between the two guidelines that runs 1 inch (2.5 cm) wide.  This means you nose box will run 1/2 inch (1.3 cm) on each side.  

Add a third guideline that is 2 inches (5.1 cm) from the top all around.  All guidelines are visible in photo 1.

On the back, add a box to reserve wood for the tail (photo 2) between the 2nd and third guideline.  It should be 1/2 inch (1.3 cm) wide.  This means it will be  1/4 inch (0.6 cm) on each side of the corner.  

Nose box guidelines for wood carved dog1. Nose box is reserved
Tail guideline for wood carved dog2. Guidelines on the back

Make the first cuts on your dog wood carving

Use stop cuts (photo 3) to separate the top guideline all around.  Tip: Start at each corner and work your way between the corners).  

Flatten the corner above the nose (photo 4) to make an area for the eyes. Then, sketch the eyes and mark areas on the top where you will remove wood to carve the ears (photo 5).  Tip: Hold off on carving the ears to avoid breaking them.  

Now, separate the nose all around.  You can use stop cuts, or slicing cuts, or a combination of both (photo 6).  

Stop cut on wood carved dog3. Making a stop cut
Cutting eyes on wood carved dog4. Carving the eyes back
Eye sockets drawn on wood carved dog5. More guidelines are drawn
Separating nose on carved wooden dog6. Separating the nose

Add details to your dog wood carving

Sketch on the head, mustache, tongue, and the paws on the front (photo 7) and the back (photo 8).

Facial details drawn on wooden carved dog7. Front details are drawn
Back paws on wooden carved dog8. Back paws are drawn

Start the eyes and ears on your dog wood carving

Make a V-cut on the top of the eye sockets (photo 9) and separate the eyes all around.  Tip: It may be easier to hold the knife like a pencil (photo 10) on the side—and then a slicing cut—to remove wood.  

Now that  you have access to the eye sockets, you can remove wood in layers around the eyes (photos 11,12).

Once both sides are cut, mark more wood to remove to shape the ears (photo 13).

V cut on wooden carved dog9. Making a V-cut
Making pencil cut on wooden carved dog10. Making a pencil cut
Removing wood in layers on wooden carved dog11. Removing wood in layers
Right progress photo of wooden carved dog12. Progress view of right side
Wood marked for removal on carved wooden dog13. Wood is marked for removal

Refine the ears on your dog wood carving

Use your knife to remove the wood that you previously marked (photos 14,15) on one ear using V-cuts (or slicing cuts).  Repeat on the other ear.

Round the back of the head (photo 16).   

Shaping ear on wooden carved dog14. Shaping the ear
Progress on right ear of wooden dog carving15. Progress of right ear
Rounding head on wooden carved dog16. Rounding the back of the head

Continue to shape your dog wood carving 

Start to shape the next section of the head from the front around (photo 17).  Round the nose (completed in photo 20), and separate the mustache (photo 20) and tongue on the front. Tip: mark wood to remove on the corners to round the nose (photo 18).

Draw guidelines to mark where you will separate the legs on the front (photo 21) and the back (photo 22) of the carving.  Note: I ended up moving the tail box down a little bit.  

Carving mid sections of wooden dog17. Rounding the mid-section of the head
Wood marked on carved dog nose for removal18. Wood marked to round the nose
Carving wood with knife on wooden dog carving19. Removing wood around the mustache
Front legs on wooden dog carving marked for removal20. Front legs are marked for carving
Back guidelines on wooden dog carving21. New back guidelines

Start the lower body of the dog carving

Separate the tail, paws, and the legs on the front and back.  You can use a combination of cuts—such as stop cuts (photo 22) to separate the tail and front paws—and push or pull cuts to remove wood between the paws (photos 23, 24).

Use a V-cut to remove wood to shape the ears (completed in photo 25).  On the back side, make a curve cut (turn your wrist as you cut) to shape the back of the ears (photo 26).

Separating the tail on wood carved dog22. Separating the tail
Removing wood in layers on wood dog carving23. Removing wood between the paws
Shaping paws on wooden dog carving24. Shaping the paws
Ears are cut on wooden dog carving25. Ears are cut
Shaping back of ears on wood carved dog26. Shaping the back of the ears

Carve the hair on your dog wood carving

Use a V-tool to carve the fur on your dog wood carving (photo 27).  Make your lines curve around the face (visible in photo 31).  If you don’t have a V-tool you can use a sharp knife and make V-cuts.  It will take you longer, but you can achieve the same effect.  Go slow and be careful.

When you are done, draw on the paws (photo 28) that you will cut with a V-tool (photo 29)—or very carefully with a knife.

Using gouge on carved wooden dog27. Carving the fur
Paw lines added to wood carved dog28. Add the paw lines
Carving paws on carved wooden dog29. Carving the paws

Clean up your dog wood carving

Use your knife to clean up your cuts.  You can also use a metal file or some sandpaper to remove any fuzzies before painting your dog wood carving.  This will help enhance your painting.

Unpainted carved wooden dog30. Front of unpainted dog wood carving
Right view of unpainted carved wooden dog31. Right side of dog wood carving
Left view of unpainted carved wooden dog32. Left side of dog wood carving
Back view of unpainted carved wooden dog33. Back of unpainted dog wood carving

Finish your dog wood carving

Front of painted wood carved dog34. Front view of painted dog wood carving
Right view of painted wood carved dog35. Right view of painted dog wood carving
Left view of painted wood carved dog36. Left view of painted dog wood carving
Back view of painted wood carved dog37. Back view of painted dog wood carving

Feel free to use paints and paint brushes of your choice.  To get this look, I make a paint wash with 1 to 2 drops of paint mixed with 25 drops of water.  Here are the acrylic paints, brands, and colors you can use to get the same look:

  • Full body: Academy burnt sienna wash (1 drop paint/25 drops of water).
  • Fur (first coat): Ceramcoat ivory wash. 
  • Fur (first highlights): Dry brush sections with Apple Barrel dolphin gray (allow some wood to show through).  
  • Fur (second highlights): Dry brush with FolkArt medium gray.
  • Nose, ears, and paws: 100% Craftsmart deep gray.
  • Tongue: 100% Apple Barrel cameo pink.
  • Eye whites: 100% Ceramcoat white.
  • Eye color: 100% Americana calypso sky.
  • Pupils: Black magic marker.
  • Specs: 100% Ceramcoat white applied with metal dot brushes. 
  • Fur highlights: Dry brush with white. 
  • Finishing: Dip completely into boiled linseed oil (or use a brush to apply) and let dry.  If using paper towels, properly dispose of them as they are flammable.  

Free dog wood carving pattern

Photocopy this pattern to fit the size of your wood block.  

wood-carved-dog-pattern

Dog wood carving tutorial summary

  • Animal caricatures are fun to carve and this little schnauzer is no exception! 
  • You can create this pup with just a knife, but it will be easier to create fur texture with a gouge. 
  • The painting is simple and uses just a few colors with dry brushed highlights. 
  • A dot brush with a round metal end is helpful to accent the eyes evenly. 



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