Carve a Comfort SongBird

Comfort Carvings are easy carvings with a great purpose.

Humans are tactile beings. Children reach for a favorite teddy bear during a thunderstorm; your friend grabs a mug of coffee before giving you the news; you twist a locket or play with your phone while waiting for a big interview. Whatever your mood might be—antsy, anxious, joyful, or sad—it often helps to have something physical to hold in your hand. With that in mind, the Woodcarving Illustrated Magazine team has scoured the archives for our all-time favorite comfort carving projects and gathered them in one place for the very first time. Each simple animal project can be carved in one sitting with a minimum of tools, so you can make a whole mess of them to keep or gift to anyone in your life who needs a little extra comfort.

Below is a sample Comfort Songbird project and free pattern download by Frank Foust from the Complete Guide to Bird Carving Book and Carving Comfort Animals Booklet.

Woodcarving Illustrated Magazine

Complete Guide to Bird Carving

Featuring a compilation of 15 step-by-step projects from Woodcarving Illustrated, Complete Guide to Bird Carving includes easy-to-follow guidance, expert tips, and wood carving patterns for a variety of recognizable birds, including woodpeckers, chickadees, owls, blue herons, goldfinches, and more. From simple whittled songbirds and a comfort bird to realistic hummingbirds and a stylized wren, this must-have project guide features various techniques on how to carve wood birds – such as whittling, relief carving, and power carving – and is perfect for tailoring to your comfort and skill level, from beginner to advanced. Also included are helpful overviews on materials, tools, adding texture, painting, and finishing. Original projects and patterns contributed by well-known and talented carvers in the industry, including Chris Lubkemann, Greg Young, Randy Conner, Sandy Czajka, and others.

Wood Carving a Comfort Song Bird

Wood Carving a Fish - Step 01

1. Cut away the excess wood.

Create templates by transferring the patterns to thin cardboard and cutting around the outline of the patterns. Trace the templates onto the blank and cut the top view of the bird with a band saw. Tape the waste in place, rotate the blank 90°, and cut the side view.

Wood Carving a Fish - Step 02

2. Rough out the bird.

Remove the sharp edges and rough shape the bird with a sanding drum equipped with 60-grit sandpaper. I use a 1 1/2″ (38mm)-diameter drum attached to a radial arm saw, but you can use a rotary-power carver. Shape the neck with a 1″ (25mm)-diameter cushioned sanding drum.

Wood Carving a Fish - Step 03

3. Finish shaping the bird.

Use a carving knife to shape the beak. Use a rotary-power carver and your bit of choice to add any desired details and to remove any remaining ridges. Make sure the bird is smooth and flowing, with no hard lines or sharp angles.

Wood Carving a Fish - Step 04

 4. sand & Finish the bird.

Sand the bird. Sand the bird by hand with 150-grit
sandpaper. Then buff it with synthetic steel wool until the carving is perfectly smooth. Don’t rush the process. Creating a smooth surface is a vital step. Apply polyurethane. Insert a darning needle into the bottom of the bird to give you something to hold. Then apply a light coat of polyurethane to the carving and allow the finish to dry thoroughly. Buff the carving with synthetic steel wool, apply another coat of finish, and let the finish dry thoroughly. Finish the bird. Rub the second coat of polyurethane with powdered pumice mixed with oil. Remove the oil and pumice, and then apply paste wax. Use a soft cloth to buff the wax to a high gloss.

More Wood Carving & Whittling Titles

Notebook Doodles Unicorns

Fun Things to carve from Wood

Author Tom Hindes demonstrates his easy-to-learn, quick-cut method for whittling expressive little figures from wood in just 20 minutes or less. With his friendly instructions and step-by-step photos, you’ll learn to carve an endless array of charming wizards, gnomes, gargoyles, ornaments, dogs, leprechauns, and more.

The Little Book of Whittling by Chris Lubkemann

18 Step-by-step whittling projects

Now available in a handsome new hardcover gift edition, this friendly guidebook features 18 step-by-step whittling projects for knives, forks, birds, animals, trees, flowers, and more.

Little Book of Pyrography

Comfort Animals Booklet

Learn to carve 7 simple comfort animals in one sitting! This helpful booklet will show you how to carve stylized animals with very few tools – from hedgehogs and penguins to turtles owls – making these woodcarving projects ideal for beginners. 

Landscape Pyrography Techniques & Projects

Four quick & Easy characters to carve & Paint

Learn to whittle four little friends! Featuring step-by-step instructions, coordinating photography, and full-size patterns for a snail, bear, troll, and penguin, author and talented woodcarver Sara Barraclough will guide you through each adorable whittling project.

When you’re done, don’t forget to share your carving with us on Facebook and Instagram by tagging @foxchapelpublishing.

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About the Author

Robert Triplett has been carving for most of his life. He retired from the U.S. Army after twenty-five years of service and later worked as a safety engineer at electrical power plants. Born and raised in Bedford County, Pa., Robert lives in Hummelstown, Pa.