How to Carve Animals Out of Sticks

By Faith Chandler
A soft wood, such as pine or cedar, is easier to carve.

Woodcarving is a sedate pastime and requires only a stick and a pocket knife. Specialized carving tools are available to make the process easier, but you only need a pocket knife to make a decorative carved animal. Artists examine the wood before carving and let its form and shape indicate what kind of animal to make. They may also carve from photographic reference material. The outline of the animal is traced onto the wood stick and the wood whittled away to reveal the form.

Select a stick with an interesting form.

Look at the stick. Does its form suggest an animal to you? The branches can suggest legs or antlers. A single stick with a large diameter and that is without branches can be carved into a range of animals, including fish and whales.

Trace the shape of your animal onto the stick.

Cut off excess branches from the stick with a small serrated knife or hand saw.

Use a small pocketknife or carving tool to carve the stick down to the outline you created. Always carve with or across the wood grain, never against; otherwise, you'll damage the wood and have a harder time carving.

Double-check your animal form to ensure that it still looks good. Make small adjustments with your knife blade. Decide if you want to keep the bark on the stick.

Carve away the bark, if you decide you don't want it.

Carve out the definition of the animal form. Create the impression of muscles, ribs, a hint of the tail and features. If you keep the bark, use sparing cuts on it to create contrast between the wood and the bark.

Carve out the eyes, nose and mouth with the point of the knife or a fine carving tool.

Finish carving details, such as fur or scales. Making small horizontal notches gives the impression of fur or spikes.

Sand away rough spots with a piece of sandpaper.