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!
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!
See the key steps for this wood carving tutorial in the short video below.
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.
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).
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Photocopy this pattern to size to fit your wood block if you are using a bandsaw.