How to Carve a Feather Pattern in Wood


Wood is a natural medium for carving and a feather pattern, with its long and delicate lines, makes a good first carving project. Follow your feather pattern and you'll soon have a block you can use as a wood stamp or for decorative purposes.

Things You'll Need

  • Block of wood
  • Feather or pattern
  • Carbon paper
  • Pencil
  • Clear tape
  • Bench knife
  • V-gouge tools (various sizes)
  • Choose your wood with care. New wood carvers will appreciate the soft surface of basswood or aspen for their first projects. You can purchase blocks at a hobby and craft store or ask your lumberyard to cut a piece for you.

  • Photocopy a real feather to carve a realistic pattern or use a drawn pattern. If you photocopy, adjust the contrast of the image to show strong defined lines.

  • Place a piece of carbon paper face down on your wooden block. Trim the excess so that the paper is the same size or slightly smaller than the face of the block. This prevents wrapping the carbon paper over the edges and staining the wood.

  • Place your feather pattern, right side up, on top of the carbon paper and tape both papers down securely.

  • Use your pencil and carefully trace over the lines of the feather. Apply some pressure, but not so much so that you bunch or gouge the paper. Trace only the large outlines and fill in the small details by hand after you remove the paper.

  • Pull the V-gouge tool lightly along the main lines on your block of wood, applying steady pressure. A small ribbon of wood should curl up in front of the tool. Use smooth even strokes to minimize uneven gouges in the lines.

  • Switch to a smaller V-gouge tool to carve the fine details of the feather. Control the depth of the cut by pulling the tool towards you instead of to one side or pushing it away.

  • Finish the feather carving by using the bench knife to cut out minute details of the feather. You can use a small V-gouge for this job, but tiny details retain a delicate feel if you employ direct knife cuts.

Tips & Warnings

  • Observe safety rules. Keep your fingers out of the way when you are carving and store your tools where children can't reach them.

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