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Wood Carving Patterns for Beginners – Easy Whittling Templates for Free

by Roman Law 05 May 2023 4 Comments

Whittling Patterns for Beginners

After many years of being into wood carving, for me it is more than just a hobby now: it is a way to express my creativity, but it also has a wonderfully calming effect on me. Both beginners and those with more experience are constantly looking for more wood carving ideas online, and I keep discovering new, exciting wood carving patterns and whittling patterns, that are both intriguing and challenging for me, and help me level-up my whittling skills. There are many different tutorials and patterns to be found, the most popular among which being animal patterns (horse, rabbit, cat). While searching through different websites, I found that the easiest way to learn a new pattern is to find a downloadable one, print it out, simply glue it to the wood and carve away. In this article, I would like to share with you the wood carving patterns that I have created, that are very simple and will help you learn how to make animals and caricatures. Both animal figures and caricatures can be simple to make or very complicated, depending on how detailed you want to make it.

small wooden figures

Wooden Animals Projects

One of the most popular wood carving projects for beginners is animal carving. With so many different animals to choose from, the possibilities are endless. Woodcarving offers a wide range of animal carving projects, from the majestic bear to the graceful horse, from the soaring bird to the cute and cuddly rabbit. Whether you prefer to create realistic animals or stylized, cartoonish creatures, there is a wood carving pattern that will suit your style. Not only are they adorable, but they're also a great way to learn the basics of wood carving.

One of the easiest animal carving projects for beginners is the wooden bird. With its simple shape and smooth curves, a wooden bird can be a great starting point for anyone new to woodcarving. A wooden cat, with its sleek and elegant curves, is another popular project for beginners. Other beginner-friendly animal projects include a golden fish, quirky penguin, or gentle elephant.

As your skills improve, you may want to tackle more complex animal carving projects. It can include carving a realistic-looking bear or horse or creating a set of woodland creatures like squirrels, foxes, and deer. Whatever your preference, there are many wood carving patterns and templates to help you create the perfect animal carving.

Bear Carving Pattern - From the Bear Head to the Cartoon Character, whittling ideas for beginners

When I was looking for a bear carving pattern, I came across many different styles and wood carving designs. It is probably best if you start simply with carving patterns for the bear head, as it is challenging enough, especially if you are a beginner at making animal figures out of wood. Once you get a hang of it, you can move on to the more interesting full-figures of a bear - the one that looks like a cartoon character, and the real-life bear figure. There are many free wood carving patterns you can find online and start practicing, and here you can see the patterns I have created for you guys.

wooden bears

The 2d designs are especially good if you are only learning how to engrave the shapes into the wood, and these skills will be highly useful for more complex 3d figures once you take on a bigger project. If you liked the bear you made, why not the whole forest? Before starting this project, I did comprehensive research to discover which knives are good for this type of carving, and I’ve tried out different ones. For 3d figures, though, you need 3-4 types of knives: firstly to remove big chunks of wood and reduce the wooden cube to the shape you want to make; then for removing the small parts to create the sensitive areas such as the neck area - the whole part between the head and the shoulders has to be nicely cut; then something for detailed carving for ears, eyes, the hair of an animal, and finally something to polish the wood with and make the figure look smooth.

bear carving pattern

Horse Wood Carving Patterns - Easy and Fun Carving Project for Beginners

If you are lacking wood carving plans while chilling at home this autumn, I recommend you grab a whittling knife and try out the horse head carving designs. Horses are noble animals and I find it quite calming and peaceful to do this type of project, and it is understandable why horse wood carving figures got so popular among us who practice this hobby. Carving a horse into a piece of wood is not as difficult as it might seem. Just the opposite, it is super easy and you can just keep polishing it until it’s perfect, the way you wanted it to be.

wooden horse

This design takes up to 15 minutes to be finished. However, I’ve spent hours on this project, enjoying brushing every little detail until it was done, and finally, I came up with an easy pattern that I wish to share with you. Once you learn how to do it, you will wanna keep on carving this from time to time just for fun. The best part about a 2d horse wood project is that you can’t really make a mistake if you are following the pattern that you printed out. There are many different horse wood carving templates that you can find, and here is the one I designed:

horse carving pattern

Bird Wood Carving Pattern - Simple Full-Size Bird Out of Wood, wood carving patterns for beginners

Unlike bears and horses, you can create actual full-size figures of baby birds by using 3d wood carving patterns. 3d designs are always more demanding and require more time and dedication, as well as switching different knives (for spoon carving and whittling). When you follow small wood carving patterns, use a big enough wood piece (for example a basswood piece of a size 4”x2”x2”), to allow yourself some mistakes until you master how to do it.

wooden bird

There are also various designs among free relief wood carving patterns, and if you are satisfied with the cute little wooden bird you made, it makes a great decoration in our home, and can also be a lovely self-made gift for your friends. To make a bird out of wood, with the right patterns and tutorials, it will take you a couple of hours. To spare you the search for the best bird patterns, you can download the ones I have designed, and, as result, get the bird from the picture below. You should use the knives that you are comfortable with, and that won’t end up hurting your hand. I’ve used a combination of a C15 Whittling Knife, a K9/10 Wood Carving Chisel, and a K1/10 Whittling Chisel, to achieve all the features of the bird that I wanted.

pigeon carving pattern

Rabbit Carving Pattern - Cute 3d Rabbit with a Fluffy Texture, whittling patterns for beginners

There are two types of rabbit patterns - the wild rabbit ones (that are more complicated to make) and the bunny ones. The wooden bunnies are usually carved as sitting down and their ears are laying on their back, so it is a much simpler pattern to follow. Among wood spoon carving patterns, the bunny is one of the simpler ones, and you can even create a pattern of your own, just as I did. The concept is very basic: you take a wooden cube and draw the rabbit from each perspective (from the bottom, front, back, and sides). Once you carve the bunny shape, use a little detailed carving to apply texture so your wooden rabbit really appears as a little ball of fluff that it is. These detailed textures are not at all difficult to achieve, and most 3d animals you make will have either wings, feathers, or fur that you should engrave onto your wooden animal model. Check out my wooden bunny, and feel free to download my pattern and try it out for fun.

rabbit carving pattern

Cat Carving Pattern - Relief Wood Carving Design, whittling patterns

Just like the horse wood carving patterns, or a bear carving pattern, the cat is usually done by engraving the cat shape into a block of wood. Among many different designs, the cat ones are the number one relief wood carving patterns, in my opinion. Playing with different cat designs in wood calms me down and I am usually pretty satisfied with the result.

Many more ideas can be found online for wood carving patterns animals, that also include 3d cats, but it takes quite a bit of skill and time to make it look smooth and proportional. Making a cat sculpture is something that I am actively working on for some time now, and I keep improving until it’s perfect. Playing with different cat pattern designs, I have created one that I wished to share with you - it is super simple, and you can make it easily even if you are a beginner with wooden sculptures. Aside from making a realistic cat, I am also fond of cartoon-like cats, such as Garfield, for example. I enjoy letting my imagination flow and thinking of a cat in different positions, trying to create a new pattern of my own.

cat carving pattern

Wood Fox Whittling Template

If you're looking for a fun and challenging project that is also adorable, the wood fox whittling template is perfect for you. This project is great for animal lovers and carving enthusiasts of all levels. The pattern is easy to follow and will guide you through creating a beautifully carved wooden fox with detailed and lifelike features. It's a project that will impress your friends and family and add a unique touch to your home decor.

wooden fox

Wood Mushroom Carving Patterns

Mushrooms are a popular motif in wood carving and can be turned into various projects, from home decor to your kid's favorite toy. The wood mushroom carving pattern is an excellent option for beginners because it's relatively simple yet can be customized in many ways to create a unique and beautiful piece. The pattern will help you carve a beautiful, textured mushroom with intricate details that will make it stand out from the rest.

wooden mushrooms

Wood Carving Elephant Pattern - Relaxing Wood Carving Project, whittling patterns

Elephants are essentially rather easy to make. However, that truly depends on how many details you want to invest in them. There are highly detailed projects you can find online, which are absolutely stunning, and an even bigger number of wood carving elephant patterns you can download for free.

wooden elephant

Since every elephant is different, start with the basic shape of an elephant. Later on, you can carve a large number of lines into your wooden elephant and get a truly authentic appearance from your carving project. What I love about carving an elephant (if you wish for it to genuinely look like a real elephant) is that it takes a lot of time and patience to slowly, gently, finish the piece, and in the end, you get an object that is so gentle and looks fragile and beautiful. Here is my favorite wooden elephant design that I have created combining different ones I’ve been trying out. If you like it, you can take over my printable pattern and give it a shot yourself.

pattern for elephant carving

Free Wood Carving Patterns

Aside from free wood carving patterns animals that I like to play with and experiment with, I found that caricature carving patterns are a lot of fun as well. For example, there are interesting wood carving Santa patterns that I intend to try out before Christmas and make my own wooden Santa pattern. There are also smooth ideas for Halloween caricatures such as a funny pumpkin with a witch hat, that is kinda difficult to pull off unless you have a really good toolkit.

Some caricature carving patterns have a different level of difficulty, such as hand wood carving patterns - depending on the number of details you plan to engrave into the palm (palm lines). The most common caricatures among woodcarvers (that also have the biggest variety of patterns available) are the wood spirit carving patterns. There are a number of different wood spirits, from the simplest one possible to a very detailed and expressive one. Aside from making a wood spirit, I tried many possible feather patterns, and lately, I had a lot of fun making an astronaut out of wood. Check out the variations of these wooden figures and the patterns I have created along the way.

Wood Heart Carving Template

For a wood carving project that's full of love, try our wood heart carving template. Its simple yet elegant design makes this pattern perfect for beginners who want to create a romantic gift or practice their carving skills. The smooth lines and gentle curves make it easy to carve, and the finished product will surely be a cherished keepsake for years to come.

wooden heart

Wood Bowl Whittling Patterns

For those who are feeling ambitious and want to tackle a more complex wood carving project, then our wood bowl whittling patterns are just what you need. Not only will you create a beautiful piece of art, but you'll also have a useful and practical kitchen utensil to serve up your favorite dishes with. With our detailed guide and pattern, you can create a stunning wooden bowl that will impress your guests and add a touch of elegance to any meal. You can customize your bowl with intricate designs or keep it simple and elegant – the possibilities are endless!

wooden bowl

Wood Spoon Carving Pattern - Every Woodcarver’s Guru Recommendation

A Wooden spoon looks beautiful, especially if done with patience and in detail. If you are new to wood carving projects, you might need more than wood spoon carving patterns - rather a step by step tutorial of how to start and what to pay attention to. Once you get a hang of it, you can experiment with different wood spoon carving patterns, free downloadable instructions, and get creative with your own designs.

Personally, I used the printable templates at first, and now that I have created a template myself, I couldn’t be more proud - my best wood spoon figure is standing proudly in my workshop. Wooden spoons can be diverse in shapes and sizes. Usually, they are made from a block of basswood that fits into your hand, although I have discovered intriguing scoops that are as big as a kuksa. I must say that the figures that are not bigger than my palm are much more challenging to make, and thus the satisfaction is greater once you finish the project.

spoon wit leaf

Astronaut Carving Pattern - The Wooden Caricature is Ready to Fly to the Space, best whittling Patterns

Carving the astronaut caricature seems more intimidating than it is actually difficult. Sure, there are sensitive points that require a lot of focus and are delicate to deal with, but that only means that you need a good set of spoon carving and whittling knives to achieve the effect that you want. There are whittling templates I made, that can make your life easier, and you can also follow tutorials that explain step by step astronaut wood carving projects.

wooden astronaut

My patterns you can download are easy to glue to the wood and all you have to do is to just follow the lines and get a finished astronaut with all of his equipment on him. With a good Youtube video tutorial, you can also learn how to wood carve an astronaut ready for a mission in less than an hour, with my free whittling patterns that go with it. It took me a lot of time to get around to the astronaut project, but now I am hooked. It is a lot of fun, and if I keep carving the spacemen, soon I will be having a whole space station on my desk.

astronaut carving pattern

If You Are New to Wood Carving

If you are new to wood carving, the ideas and wooden sculptures you can find on websites like Pinterest can seem kinda scary to you. To be able to level up your spoon carving and whittling skills, start with the simple designs that are 2d, engraved into the piece of wood. There are over 50 free carving patterns I’ve prepared, that you can start with, and practice until your hands get used to the grip of each knife and you get a better feeling of how to shape the wood. Once you’ve mastered the basics of animal and character wood carving, you can go for some more challenging figures such as an elephant, a dwarf, a 3d house, or 3d flowers.

When I don’t feel particularly inspired, or I need some help with figuring out how to carve a particular figure, I usually go to the BeaverCraft Youtube channel for inspiration. BeaverCraft website also has a newsletter subscription option that surprises you with interesting free whittling patterns for beginners, easy wood carving patterns that you can master on your own easily. Those include all of my patterns, precisely over 50+ free wood carving patterns are available and once you subscribe you will start receiving a bunch of print-ready wood carving templates for free.

wooden fish

Free Wood Carving Tutorials, best whittling Patterns

As I said before, BeaverCraft Youtube channel has a lot of tutorials that are presenting how to carve wooden figures by following simple wood carving patterns, which helps a lot if you are struggling with the way to proceed with the project. It is super useful for beginners who don’t yet know which knives to use in which phase of the project, so you can see, in the tutorial, which types of knives are working the best for removing big chops of wood, brushing, polishing, and engraving the lines such as feathers for bird wood carving patterns, fur for a cat, or fluffy hair of a rabbit. These are my favorite videos that are explaining how to carve wooden gnomes, a wood spirit figure, and a rabbit out of wood, that support your project and you can follow them to carve something using my patterns as well.

Download 150+ patterns for free:

wooden penguin

Wooden Gnomes Carving Tutorial - Carving a Wooden Gnome from Scratch best whittling ideas

A wooden gnome is carved from a basswood cube, and for this project, it is handy to use four tools from your toolkit: a Chip Carving Knife C12, a C15 Whittling Knife, Wood Carving Chisel K12/02 that is quite important, and a Chisel K9/10. Carving a wooden gnome is a lot of fun and the end product is super cute and nice to keep around. This is a good project for those who love to do detailed wood carving and whittling with an object that can fit into your hand. It is a good step by step tutorial to learn how to carve wooden gnomes, and on top of that you can check out the projects done by other folks who are creating wooden gnomes for more ideas of how to make yours unique.

Wood Spirit Carving Tutorial - If you Love Wood Carving, You Should Have One of These on Your Shelf best wood carving projects

Wood spirit is something we should all have made at least once. It is a classic wood carving design and simple to make if you are using my carving templates from the BeaverCraft newsletter. It takes up to 30 minutes to create a small figure, while you can later on experiment with bigger pieces of wood or engrave the wood spirit into the tree in your backyard. For this project, you will need three different knives: a K9/10 Chisel, a C8 Wood Carving Knife that you are probably already used to using, and a Palm Chisel P12/02 that is very comfortable for your hand and it helps the project to go smoothly.

Carving a Rabbit out of Wood - Full Tutorial on how to carve a rabbit out of wood in only half an hour best whittling projects

This video is an excellent tutorial for making a sitting bunny out of a basswood cube. Carving wooden rabbits is one of my favorite things to do during quarantine, and I have perfected this craft easily with the new carving patterns I have created - I just printed them out and placed them on my basswood. When it comes to choosing the knives to use for this project, I recommend: a Chisel K8/08, a Whittling Knife C16, and a K12/02 Chisel. It turns out they really are the perfect combo for making a rabbit out of wood, and using them for this project is the most calming thing to do.

The rabbit, and animal carving projects in general, are quite a relief type of activities, and this hobby helps a lot to chill after a long and stressful day.

If you are new to wood carving small figures, you have nothing to worry about - you don’t have to start alone and from scratch. It could be very helpful to download my existing wood carving templates free from the BeaverCraft newsletter and to glue the patterns to your wood pieces. Give a shot at trying to whittle your way to the final figure on your own, but ultimately it can be great assistance to look up the videos that are also linked in the BeaverCraft emails you would receive and go through the whole project by following the tutorial.

Even when you master it, look up the step-by-step videos on the BeaverCraft YouTube channel, as it gets easier to have assistance when it comes to changing the knives for each project phase, and it means a lot to select the toolkit to work with in advance. If you are afraid of starting your first detailed carving project, don’t be. My advice would be to scoop some ideas online, pick a simple figure to begin the practice with and download carving patterns free for the caricature or animal you have chosen. You will see, there is nothing so peaceful as creating something beautiful and working with wood in your hands.

Wood carving projects are something I enjoy for quite some time, and I couldn’t have picked out a better hobby. The wood whittling kept me relaxed the whole time during the pandemics, and it kept me busy and creative. I always wanted to do something with my hands, and create beautiful things, so creating whittling patterns is the best thing that has happened to me recently. There is no better way for me to spend the autumn season than looking up wood carving ideas and playing with different whittling styles in my workshop. To carve wooden figures was intimidating at first, but with wood carving patterns it is super easy and the most enjoyable activity for late afternoons.

Projects for Difficult Wood Carving

For those who have mastered the basic wood carving techniques, there are a variety of more challenging projects to try. These projects require advanced skills and more patience, but the result can be gratifying.

One popular option is to create birdhouses. This project involves carving a functional home for birds that can provide a safe and comfortable place for birds to nest and feed. You can experiment with designs and sizes to carve a unique and personalized birdhouse.

Another challenging project is to carve various vehicles, such as cars, motorbikes, or planes. It requires great skill and attention to detail to create a realistic and accurate representation of the chosen vehicle.

If you're a fan of movies or famous personalities, try carving figurines of your favorite characters. You can experiment with different poses and expressions to capture the essence of the character and bring it to life in wood.

Ultimately, challenging wood carving projects like these require a great deal of practice, patience, and dedication. But the sense of accomplishment and satisfaction that comes with creating a stunning and complex work of art is well worth the effort.

Wood carving patterns for beginners FAQ

What are some popular wood carving patterns for beginners?

There are many wood carving patterns that beginners can start with. Some popular ones include geometric designs, animal shapes, flowers, and lettering. Simple designs with clean lines and minimal details are often recommended for beginners.

Where can I find wood carving patterns for beginners?

There are many resources for finding wood carving patterns for beginners. Some good places to start include online woodworking communities and websites, woodworking magazines and books, and carving supply stores.

What kind of wood is best for beginners to carve?

Softwoods like pine, basswood, and butternut are great choices for beginners. They are relatively easy to carve and have a uniform texture, which makes them easy to work with. As you gain more experience, you can try carving hardwoods like oak, cherry, and walnut, which are denser and require more skill to work with.

Do I need special tools to carve wood patterns as a beginner?

Yes, you will need some basic tools to carve wood patterns. A carving knife, a chisel, and a gouge are the most common tools used for wood carving. You can find beginner carving sets that come with these tools at many craft stores. As you gain more experience, you may want to invest in more specialized tools, such as power carving tools.



Roman Law

Wood carving guru

From a childhood enchanted by nature, my passion for wood carving guided me on a path of creativity. With a pocket knife, I uncovered the transformative power of my hands, breathing life into driftwood and forging a lifelong connection with the medium.
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30 Aug 2023 Diane Theiben

I love the patterns!

30 Aug 2023 ken
how to get my 150 free pattern
03 Feb 2023 Richard Eugene Norris
Great stuff. I have woodcarved for years but your method is appealing. Dr. R. Norris
05 Sep 2022 Deb Osting
Very new to carving, i’ve bought your knives, just looking for a place to start.

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