How to Carve Faces on Walking Sticks Using a Dremel Tool

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Carving wood faces into walking sticks is a tradition that goes back centuries. The faces, called wood spirits, are part of an American Indian legend that still fascinates people today, making wood spirit walking sticks popular collectors' items. Using a Dremel rotary tool, you can easily carve your own wood spirit faces into any stick to make a hand-crafted walking stick for your personal use, as a gift or to sell at flea markets and craft fairs.

Things You'll Need

  • Dremel 10.8-volt lithium cordless
  • Walking stick
  • High speed cutter, #117
  • Engraving cutter, #108
  • Light sandpaper
  • Wood varnish
  • Paintbrush
  • Select a walking stick. You can purchase one from the store without a design or pick up a suitable stick on a walk through the woods. If you're picking up a stick from the woods, check it for durability. Be sure it hasn't begun to rot. You will want to add a sealant and varnish a natural stick to increase its lifespan.

  • Sketch a rough design of the face you want to carve. The design can be any kind of face you want, but walking stick faces are traditionally of the wood spirit design. Wood spirits are faces with a combination of human features blended with the elements of nature. Your sketch doesn't need to be perfect. You can even find a photograph and work from that if the design suits you.

  • Use a #117 cutting attachment to rough carve your design. Dremel makes an array of attachments you can use, but the #117 cutter is ideal for bringing out the basic lines of your design. Carve the outline of your wood spirit face first, bringing out the human features in bas relief, then adding the natural elements of the carving around the human features. Use this attachment to carve away excess wood to bring out the main features of your design, then use a light piece of sandpaper to brush away any rough edges.

  • Switch to a #108 engraving tool for the detail work. Carve the pupils, define the mouth and add any small cuts to enhance the 3D dimension of your wood spirit. This tool is small and easy to work with. You can even add intricate symbols and patterns. Be sure to keep a steady hand as you cut. Work in small movements that allow you to focus on one element at a time. Remove excess wood debris with light sandpaper when you're done.

  • Finish your stick with wood stain or a coat of varnish. Not only will this protect your wood spirit walking stick, it will give it a nice appearance.

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