Carve this Stylised Dove in a Weekend

Monday 9 July 2018

This small dove is based on the very first carving I did. I have thought for a while that I could improve the shape, making it a little more elegant, and this has given me the opportunity to do that.

I have kept it quite small as 100mm (4in) lime is fairly easy to come by, but thicker than that is less available and can be quite costly. The block I used was a little less than 100mm cubed.

Using the templates

The first step is to draw the outline (see photo1) onto your block and cut the side profile. If you have a bandsaw use a narrow blade to cut as close as you can to your

lines. If you don't have this facility,

draw the outline on both sides of the block so that you can see when your cuts are horizontal, otherwise there is a danger that one side of the bird will be slightly larger than the other. Next, cut the outline of the tail and cut in under the wings.

I reduced the roughing out by making sure the outlines of the bird touched the edges of the block.

Start carving

Draw the head, body and centreline on the front (see photo 2) and cut back using a gouge that fits the curve of the neck (see photo 3), then round the breast and head to the centreline (see photos 4-5). Use the inside bevel of a No.3 gouge to curve the top of the head.

Rounding off

Curve the fanned tail back from the centreline and round the body between the tail and the head (see photo 6). Shape the beak leaving it thick enough not to break off (see photo 7).

Cut underneath the wings (see photos 8-9).

Hollowing the tail

Mark a line with a small No.11 gouge (see photo 10), round the back of the tail and start to hollow out with No.8 14 or 16mm, then smooth with a smaller No.3, making a sharper edge (see photo 11). Although the tail now looks delicate, it is still thick enough to be quite strong.

Point the wings at the back and thin the edges.


At this stage there are a few alternatives. You can leave the piece tooled (see photo 12), carve some feather detail on the fantail, or you can sand the whole carving.

I decided on the last option and spent nearly a day sanding with Abranet, starting with 120grit and finishing with 400.

This was a particularly light coloured piece of lime so I decided to wax it without oiling first, although this does have the disadvantage of picking up dirt if it is handled too much.

Finally consider the presentation. The dove has a flat base so can just sit as it is. I tried it on a small slice from a branch so that it can be handled without touching the bird.

Photos 13-14 show my finished piece dove. Enjoy making yours.