Simple wood whittling tutorial

Carve yourself a crooked house


This simple wood whittling tutorial to carve a mini crooked house is fun and easy.  This project is small enough to take with you outdoors  (as I did on a recent camping trip in Maine). 

Simple wood whittling

The inspiration for this adorable little house came from an illustration I saw online (credit: Lineartestpilot).  I knew I wanted to carve it in wood.

I hope you have as much fun with this simple wood whittling project as I did! 

What you will need for this simple wood whittling tutorial

Start with a wood block that is 1 x 1 x 3 inches (2.5 x 2.5 x 7.6 cm).  To make a larger house, simply increase the dimensions.  

You will be carving off the front corner of your turned block (photo 1), which will give you more space for your little house. Use a pencil to sketch your guidelines.

You probably only need one sharp knife for this piece.  If you use a long-bladed knife, you might want to switch to a smaller bladed detail knife to carve the tiny windows. 

Always wear a carving glove for safety.  If you carve across your lap, also place a flat piece of wood—or a plastic cutting board—across your thighs to protect your vital blood arteries from a knife slip. 

Strop your knife every 30 minutes to keep it super sharp.  There is nothing more dangerous (or frustrating) than a dull knife! 

As always, a painting guide is included at the end of this tutorial if you want your crooked house to look like mine. 

Simple wood whittling tutorial at-a-glance

It may help to watch this short video—which has snapshots off all the steps—before you start this simple wood whittling project.

Set up your simple wood whittling project

Turn your wood block (as shown in photo 1) and mark the areas of wood that you will remove (from the top all the way to bottom) to flatten the front and back of your wood block.  It may take several passes.  Also round the remaining corners on the left and right sides to create a rectangular shape. 

Once you have your roughout, sketch the curvy house on the front, marking the areas of wood you will remove (photo 2).  You can freehand sketch the pattern. Or, photocopy the pattern at the end of this page to size to fit your block.  Cut out the pattern with a scissors and trace it on your wood block.  Note: You can skip sketching  the windows and door.  I ended up carving them off to create a flatter front surface on my crooked house. 

Use your knife to remove wood from the top right of the block (photo 3) to carve the roof.  Tip: Move your fingers out of the way if you’re holding the piece in your hand! 

Make a stop cut on the inside edge of the chimney (photo 4) and remove wood from around it.  Shave wood off the other side of the chimney and shape it. 

Guidelines for easy wood whittling project1. Wood is marked for removal
Front guidelines on easy wood whittling project2. Guidelines are drawn
Shaping roof of easy wood carving3. Shaping the roof
Making a stop cut on easy wood whittling4. Making a stop cut

Carve the curves and roof eaves on your simple wood whittling

Use your knife to remove marked wood on each side of your house (photo 5).  You often run into grain issues when you carve curves. Carving from the bottom up to the middle (photo 5)—and switching from the top down to the middle—should make carving easier.  If that doesn’t help, make a stop cut across the middle and try again. 

Make stop cuts along the underside of the roof eaves (photo 6) and remove wood from underneath.  Also, make a shallow stop cut at the bottom of the chimney and remove a little wood from underneath (visible in photo 10). 

Tip: Once you have the general shape of the front of your house (you will carve the back later) you may need to remove some additional wood to ensure that you have a flat surface to add—and carve—the windows. 

Use stop cuts to separate the front step (photo 7).  Now, sketch the crooked door (photo 8).  Hold your knife like a pencil and cut along the guideline. Make a second slicing cut to remove the wood (photo 9). Or, you can use stop cuts here. 

Shaving wood off sides of easy wood whittling5. Shaping house sides
Separating the roof on easy wood whittling house6. Separating the roof eave
Separating step on easy wood whittled house7. Separating the step
Door to easy whittled house is sketched8. Door is drawn
Separating door on easy wood whittled house9. Separating the door

Add some details to your simple wood whittling

Sketch the 6 small windows at an angle on your crooked house (photo 10).  Carve the windows the same way you carved the door (photo 11).

With a pencil, extend your front roof eave guideline around the sides—and across the back (photo 12)—and use your knife to separate it (completed in photo 13). 

If needed flatten the back of the house. Sketch the larger back windows at an angle (photo 13) and carve them (completed in photo 14).

Windows are drawn on easy wood whittled house10. Windows are sketched
Sketched roof on back of easy wood whittled house12. Back eave is drawn
Separating windows on easy wood whittled house11. Carving the windows
Back windows are sketched on easy wood whittled house13. Back windows are drawn

Finish your simple wood whittling

Refine the shape of your crooked house (photos 14-17) .  Add small chip (pyramid) cuts in the corners of all the windows, bottom sides of the door, and under the roof (in the middle) to add shadow. 

Clean up any ragged cuts on this simple wood whittling project. Tip:  I use a denture brush to clean up fuzzies.  

Now, it’s time to paint! 

Front of unpainted easy whittled house14. Front of whittled house
Right view of unpainted easy wood whittled house15. Right view of whittled house
Left  view of unpainted easy wood whittled house16. Left view of whittled house
Back view of unpainted easy wood whittled house17. Back of whittled house

Paint your simple wood whittling

For great tips, read this page on painting a wood carving. Use whatever acrylic paints and paint brushes that you like. Dilute the paint with water (called a wash).

 If you want a similar look, use these paint colors:

  • Base coat for the entire piece: Craft smart ivory wash.  
  • Cut lines and steps: DecoArt burnt umber wash (very diluted).
  • House front: Ceramcoat purple wash. Highlight with Craft smart purple.
  • Windows: Ceramcoat yellow 100%.  Once dry, I used a fine point black magic marker to sketch the window panes. 
  • Roof and door: Ceramcoat Tahiti blue wash.
  • Door knob: Apple barrel flamenco red 100%. 
  • Chimney and step: Apple barrel flamenco red wash.  Once dry, I used a fine point black magic marker to draw the bricks. You could also use black paint with a toothpick.
  • Step: DecoArt burnt umber wash.
  • Window, door, and step cut lines: 100% DecoArt burnt umber applied with toothpick.
  • After your house is completely dry, dry brush the roof and areas of the house with Craft Smart vanilla.
  • Use whatever finish you like (I did not add a finish to mine before taking the photos).
Front view of painted easy whittled house18. Front view of painted house
Right view of painted easy whittled house19. Right view of painted house
Left view of painted easy whittled house20. Left view of painted house
Back view of painted easy whittled house21. Back view of painted house

Simple wood whittling tutorial summary

  • This simple wood whittling project if fun, fast, and easy to whittle.
  • It’s a great project to carry with you because it is small and requires primarily one knife. 
  • You can easily adapt this pattern to carve yourself a little village of houses with different shapes and colors. 


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