Two peas in a pod wood carving tutorial

These little whittles are great to practice carving faces.

Looking for a wood carving tutorial that will create some buzz?  This two peas in a pod wood carving is a fun way to create humorous faces within an adorable green pea pod that is sure to make people smile.  

This wood carving lesson has everything you need to succeed, including step-by-step instructions, easy-to-follow progress photos, painting guide (at end) and a free pattern (also at the end).  

Vary up the eyes and faces to create a passel of pea pod people! 

Wood carving tutorial

Supplies for this wood carving tutorial

For this wood carving tutorial (the pea pod on the far right in the picture above), you will need a block of wood (I used basswood) that is 1 x 1 x 3 inches (2.5 x 2.5 x 7.6 cm).  

If you want a longer face, you can go taller (the one in the middle in the picture above is 1.25 x 1.25 x 4 inches or 3.2 x 3.2 by 10.1 cm). To go larger, simply increase the dimensions of your wood block.  A free pattern is included at the end if you prefer using a bandsaw for an even bigger pea pod.  

A ruler and a pencil with an eraser is helpful to sketch as you go.  You will carve off the corner, which creates a ready-made plane for the faces.  

Gloves are a must for safety.  I slipped recently while wearing 2 gloves on one hand and still bled a little!

Also, always protect your lap (and vital arteries) with a cutting board or a wooden box.  Better to be safe than to be sorry!

Peas in a pod wood carving tutorial at-a-glance

See the key steps for this wood carving tutorial in the short video below. 

First steps for this wood carving tutorial

Draw a line 2.75 inches (~7 cm) from the top to mark the top of the base, which you will need to support your pea pod (photos 1-4).

Draw a circle on top of the base line and another circle directly above it.  These two circles should be touching slightly (photos 1,2). Use a round object (I used a water bottle top) to evenly sketch the two circles. Tip: draw a line halfway through your bottle cap to make it easy to get a perfect circle on each side of the corner.  Each circle is about 1 inch (2.5 cm) wide.

Loosely sketch the curvy, outer and inner guidelines of the pea pod (photo 3). Use pencil so you can erase the parts of the circle that overlap. I used magic marker for this wood carving tutorial so you can see it better.  

After erasing the overlapping areas, color in the wood that you will remove between the faces and at the top and bottom of the pea pod (photo 4).

You do not need guidelines on the back because you will easily be able to shape the back of the pea pod as you carve.  

Circle guidelines for pea pod wood carving1. Drawing the circles
Adding guidelines for pea pod wood carving2. Baseline and circles together
Sketching pea pod wood carving3. Sketched pea pod around circles
Marked wood to remove on pea pod wood carving4. Guidelines are completed

Separate the faces

For this wood carving tutorial, I used knives that I received to review from Focuser Carving. To separate the faces, I used the FC001 wood carving knife (affiliate link).  It’s a great little knife that I plan to keep using!  It is thicker than my usual go-to knives but I really like the stability (and carving power) it provides.  

First, use a pyramid cut to remove the triangle on the top of the carving (photo 5).

Holding your knife like a pencil (for control), follow the guideline around the face. Then, make a slicing cut (photo 6) underneath your first cut. Carefully continue around until the face is completely separated (photo 7).

Repeat this process on the bottom face (completed in photo 8). Note: Redraw the bottom of the pea pod so it extends out a little bit (photos 7,8).

Also, mark the wood that you will remove to create the curved shape of the pea pod (photo 8).  

Making pyramid cut on pea pod wood carving5. Making a pyramid cut
Making slicing cut on pea pod wood carving6. Making a slicing cut
Separating face on pea pod wood carving7. First face is separated
Marked wood for removal on pea pod wood carving8. Both faces are separated

Separate the base

Use a stop cut (photo 9) at each corner—and remove wood from above your cut—to start to separate the base.  Cut all around (skipping over the newly drawn bottom of the pea pod).  

Then, use your knife to slice and shape the bottom of the pea pod so it is slightly raised on the base (see right side on photo 10). Finish the other side before jumping to the next step of this wood carving tutorial.  

Separating base on pea pod wood carving9. Separating the base
Bottom of carved base on pea pod wood carving10. Right bottom of the pea pod is separated

Shape the pea pod

To remove the marked wood to shape the pea pod, I switched to the Focuser Carving FC015 long whittling knife (affiliate link) for this part of the wood carving tutorial. It made removing the wood super easy! I will definitely reach for it again to rough out future pieces.  

Make your first cut (I use a push cut) to remove wood on the right side (photo 11). Then, use your knive to remove wood around to the back of the pea pod (photo 12).

Tip: To shape the curve in the middle of the pea pod, start at the top of the curve and cut down to the middle. Then, start at the bottom of the curve and cut up to the middle. This will help you avoid splitting that occurs when you carve against the grain.  

Remove wood from the other side in the same manner. When you are done, the front of your pea carving should look like  photo 13.

Shape the back top of the pea pod into a point (completed in photo 14), but leave the rest of your shaping for later in the wood carving tutorial.  

Roughing out pea pod wood carving11. Removing wood from the side
Side progress photo on pea pod wood carving12. Side is carved
Faces are shape for pea pod wood carving13. Both sides are carved
Back view of progress on pea pod wood carving14. Back will be further shaped later

Carve the faces

The nose boxes should be drawn (photo 15) and carved using the carvingjunkies’ triangle-by-triangle nose carving system (with the adaptation of doing the stop cuts last).  

I used the Focuser Carving FC016 chip carver knife (affiliate link) that I was provided to review for this section of the wood carving tutorial. I really love it for the ease of making clean pyramid cuts.

Since the nose will be big, start by making the first cut of your pyramid cut (photo 16). Make the additional cuts to complete your pyramid cut. Repeat on the other side of the nose (completed in photo 17).

Now, make a series of stop cuts under the nose and remove wood from underneath (photo 17).  Angle back the bridge of the nose (photo 18).  

Mark additional wood for removal on the sides of the nose (photo 19).

I switched to the FC001 wood carving knife (affiliate link) to narrow the nostrils. I didn’t have high expectations but was pleasantly surprised at how well it performed for this part of the wood carving tutorial.

Draw on the smile lines and carve them (photo 20). Draw additional facial details (photo 21). Carefully separate the eyebrows and the cartoon eyes. Add the cheek guidelines (photo 22) and separate them. Also, carefully separate the mouth (completed in photo 22). 

You will create flat eye sockets, and paint the eyes on later, which will be much easier than carving them. 

Nose boxes added to pea pod wood carving15. Noses boxes are drawn
Making nose pyramid cut on pea pod wood carving16. Making first pyramid cut
Stop cut under nose on pea pod wood carving17. Separating bottom of nose
Angling bridge of nose on pea pod wood carving18. Cutting back bridge of nose
Marking wood to remove on nose of pea pod wood carving19. Wood is marked for removal
Adding smile lines on pea pod wood carving20. Adding and carving smile lines
Drawn facial details on pea pod wood carving21. Facial details are added
Cheeks drawn on pea pod wood carving22. Cheek guidelines are added

Carve the bottom face

Carve the bottom face in the same way that you carved the top face (photos 23-25).

After the second nose is carved, shape the back of the pea pod (photo 26) and narrow the sides.  

Carving second nose on pea pod wood carving23. Starting to carve the second nose
Marking wood for removal on nose of pea pod wood carving24. Marking wood for removal
Carved details on pea pod wood carving25. Details are carved
Shaping back on pea pod wood carving26. Shaping the back

Clean up your peas in a pod

Use your knife to deepen cuts on and around the face.  You can also use a little sandpaper to smooth rough areas, especially the curves of the pea pod.  

Unpainted front side of pea pod wood carving27. Front view of unpainted peas in a pod
Unpainted right view of pea pod wood carving28. Right view of unpainted wood carving
Unpainted left view of pea pod wood carving29. Left view of unpainted wood carving
Unpainted back view of pea pod wood carving30. Back view of unpainted wood carving

Painting time!

I use acrylic paints—and a variety of paint brushes—that I’m always changing up and experimenting with.  I really like angled brushes for getting into nooks and crannies.  

All of the paints used were diluted with water to create a wash that can be added in layers (if more color is needed).  

I usually start with the eye whites, but for this carving, I painted the whites over the face color.  I wanted the entire face to have a slightly greenish hue.  

  • First coat of entire carving: A drop or two of Academy burnt sienna heavily diluted with water. 
  • Pea pod: FolkArt Apple orchard wash. Once completely dry, enhance facets by dry brushing Ceramcoat leaf green.  
  • Faces: Ceramcoat tawny light wash (you may need two layers).
  • Eyes: CraftSmart ivory (100% paint). When completely dry, add Ceramcoat black (100% paint) with a toothpick for the pupils.  When completely dry, use a toothpick to apply a spec of CraftSmart ivory (100% paint).
  • Finish: Howard’s Feed ‘N Wax (dispose of paper towels or cloths outside because it is flammable). 
Front view of painted pea pod wood carving31. Front view of painted pea wood carving
Right view of painted pea pod wood carving32. Right view of painted pea wood carving
Left view of painted pea pod wood carving33. Left view of painted pea wood carving
Back view of painted pea pod wood carving34. Back view of painted pea wood carving

Free peas in a pod wood carving tutorial pattern

Photocopy this pattern to size to fit your wood block if you are using a bandsaw. 

Free pattern for pea pod wood carving tutorialPeas in a pod wood carving tutorial pattern

Wood carving tutorial summary

  • This is another fun wood carving tutorial that works up fast and lets you practice carving facial expressions.
  • Get creative and make more of these little whittles with different expressions.
  • Happy faces will be cuter than scary faces.
  • You could also carve these without a base and glue them to a window box frame. 
  • Check out the Focuser Carving knives, which are readily available (affiliate link).






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