Carving faces into wood can be extremely daunting for new carvers. However, with enough practice and proper technique, you can quickly master this skill. There are also plenty of techniques, styles, and levels of realism that you can choose from.
Here’s what you need to know if you want to learn how to carve a face in wood.
Preparing the Wood
Find the right piece of wood for your project. If you’re just getting started, it’s best to use soft, cheaper woods that have less dense grain. After you’ve chosen the right piece of wood, follow the steps below:
- Hold the wood in place with a clamp or vice to prevent it from sliding around while you’re working.
- Remove the bark and the sapwood underneath it with a drawknife or an ax.
- Check the wood for any imperfections, like bumps, holes, or knots. Figure out how to avoid these markings, or work them into your wood carving human face design.
Creating the Layout
Draw your design using a pencil and paper before you start. Copy this design over to the flat surface of the wood using a marker.
Carving the Face
Follow the steps below on how to carve a face in wood:
- Using a chisel, make wedge-shaped cuts to mark the planes of the face, the nose bridge, the bottom of the nose, the mouth, and the chin.
- When cutting the forehead, make sure that you’re carving such that the area slopes back into the wood. Use a gouge to cut away the excess wood around the nose. Taper the cheeks back into the eye area.
- Using a bench knife or detail knife, carve the finer details of the face following the layout you’ve previously made. Make sure that the brow and cheek lines curve inward and remember to use gentler curves for the upper eyelids.
- Round the edges off the top to create the shape of the head. Gouge the hair area and make its flow more natural.
- Finish off with details, such as wrinkles, furrows in the forehead, and crow’s feet.
- Remember to be more careful when working on the finer details. It’ll be more difficult for you to correct mistakes than it would be to remove excess wood.
Some people prefer the rough look of an unfinished carving. If this is more your style, you can directly skip this step. However, if you’d rather have a smoother, more defined wood carving, check out the steps below for finishing how to carve a face in wood:
- Get rid of rough edges by sanding down the carving. Lightly rub with sandpaper to remove splinters.
- Apply some wood stain or lacquer for a smoother and more flawless look.
Knowing how to carve a face in wood is an exercise in patience, skill, and accuracy. It will take you hours of preparation and careful practice to ensure that your carving is perfect. Just remember that learning the techniques for detailed, more intricate work is crucial. Discover more wood carving tips here!