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How to Carve A Wood Spirit | Carving Faces Beginner Woodcarving Project Tutorial | Lesson 1 - Prep and Roughout Stage


Lesson 1 of 5

Did you enjoy this lesson? You can finish your wood carving project in the next videos, Lessons 2-5:
Lesson 2 - Nose, Brow and Eye-Mounds
Lesson 3 - Carving the eyes
Lesson 4 - Carving Hair
Lesson 5 - Finishing your carving

In this Schaaf Tools Video Series, woodcarver Lucas Kost will take you through the process of carving a wood spirit from start to finish. In lesson 1, beginners will learn what tools they need to carve a face. Then Lucas covers an easy way to set up and mount your project if you don't have a carving vise. Next, Lucas will cover how he approaches bringing a face out of a piece of wood in the roughout stage.

What Tools Do I Need For This Type of Woodcarving?

From the 12-Piece Foundation Set

From the 7-Piece Expansion Set
#3- 20mm

From the 4-Piece Fishtail Set
#3F 6mm

How Do I Mount My Project?
Timestamp [1:11]
- Simple Mounting System
- Three 2x4s stacked on top of each other at the bottom
- One 2x4 on top
- One 2x6 perpendicular up the middle
- Next, using screws attach your piece of carving wood to a separate 2x6
- With clamps, secure the second 2x6 (with your piece of carving wood) to the first 2x6

Types of Wood for Spirit Carving
Timestamp [1:38]
- Lucas uses cottonwood bark
- Recommended if you can find it (often available for purchase online in the US and Canada)
- If you don't have access to cottonwood bark, not a problem! Basswood, butternut, or any other type of material will work just fine, and the principles of face carving that Lucas is teaching are exactly the same.


How Do I Approach Bringing A Face Out of a Piece of Wood?

Step 1: Create a Rounded Surface
Timestamp [2:20]
- Use your Schaaf Tools #3-20mm Gouge
- Clear away material to create a semi-rounded surface

Step 2: Draw the Proportions
Timestamp [2.56]
- How to draw your guiding lines with marker to proportion to set up the face carving

Step 3: Define the Eyeline
Timestamp [4:00]
- #11-15mm
- Horizontal cut along the "eyeline" creating the eyebrow ridge at the top
- Smaller, shorter cutting motions are recommended. You can always pass through a second time to take off more material

Step 4: Roughing in the Nose
Timestamp [4:41]
- With the #11-15mm, clear away the material on either side of the nose, up to the eyebrow ridge

Step 5: Taking the Forehead Down
Timestamp [5:25]
- Using the #3-20mm gouge, bring down the forehead below the nose material

Step 6: Shaping the Nose
Timestamp [6:05]
- Identify where the tip of the nose is going to be and draw a circle to represent the ball of the nose
- Using your #12 V parting tools, come underneath the nose and create a line to define where the bottom of the nose is going to b
- Continue to clear away the material underneath using your larger #3- 20mm carving chisel
- Next start to carve the angle of the nose
- Draw in the lines to mark where the bridge of the nose is going to be
Two Types of Cuts - The Sweeping Cut and the Plunge Cut
Timestamp [8:20]
- Learn how to do a sweeping cut to bring the bridge of the nose forward. This type of cut leaves a nice, clean transition out the other side of the cut.
- The second way to do this is with a plunge cut. Insert the corner edge of the wood carving tool and cut along the line of the nose. Next, come in with a U shaped gouge, like the #9-10mm and clean up the plunge cut.

Step 7: Roughing in the Mustache and Hair
Timestamp: [9:27]
- Draw in the shape of the wood spirit's mustache
- To bring the mustache forward, carve around the outside lines with your #11-15mm, removing material below and above the mustache. The trusty #3-20mm gouge is helpful to do this as well.
- Draw in the hairline next. You'll do the same thing you did with the mustache for the hair, removing material above and below the raised area that will be the hair.
- Define your mustache better with your V-tool

Step 8: Setting up the Eyes
Timestamp [12:11]
- We are going to carving open eyes. Draw two semicircles where the eyes will be
-The eyes should be raised a bit, so you are going to leave the material inside the drawn semicircles
- Begin the cuts with the #11-15mm. Be mindful of where the top edge of the tool is, and run the top edge alonf the pencil line to scoop out the area underneath the eye circle.
IMPORTANT - be mindful not to take out any of the material inside the drawn semicircle.
- With the #11-3mm gouge, make scooping cuts, coming down from above, to bring depth to the corners of the eye
- Round out the eyeball area using one of your smaller fishtail gouges (NOTE - if you don't have a fishtail, you can use a skew chisel to this as well.

And that wraps up part one of the video series on How to Carve a Wood Spirit! In step two, we'll learn how to start bringing some detail into your carving. Don't forget to Subscribe for more video lessons, carving projects and woodcarving tips for beginner wood carvers!


  • Jim Gardner

    This is so helpful, can’t thank you guys enough for doing a series on carving a face. Can’t wait for the rest and hopefully other carving totorials.

  • Peter Ward

    The video is very interesting, will try to follow when my cottonwood bark arrives

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