This fun and cute cat whittling project is perfect for beginners and takes very little time to make. My average times were between 20 and 40 minutes from start to finish.
Here is what you will need to make the cat:
- Sharp whittling knife
- 2″ x 1″ x 1″ block of wood
- Leather strop
You can using a larger block of wood if you want to, but it will take longer to whittle.
Before starting, make sure your whittling knife is nice and sharp. It is always a good idea to hone your knife with your leather strop before starting to whittle. If you feel like your knife is starting to dull out while whittling, strop each side 10 to 20 times and continue.
Step 1: Trace the Outline
The first step is to trace the outline and make reference marks on the piece of wood. You don’t need to be exact or perfect, but having them close to what is pictured will be fine.
Here are the reference points I drew starting from the bottom up:
- Bottom Center line is where the feet start
- Two lines on the sides about halfway up are referencing the tops of the back legs.
- Three lines 1/3 of the way from the top are representing the bottom of the head.
- Single line in the middle of the head is the nose
- lines at the top shaped like this ^-^ are the top of the head, side of the face and ears.
Step 2: Cut Out Rough Details
We are going to start cutting from the top down doing the following (see picture below for side profile):
- Use a push cut on the top sides of the block defining the sides of the cats face and the top of the ears.
- Make a slight sweeping cut from the top of the nose to the top of the head
- Create two angled v-cuts on the sides to define the bottom of the head and the top of the back legs. Use a slight sweep cut on the lower portion for the legs.
- Make a stop cut for the bottom of the head and use a sweep cut from the feet to the head to define the front.
Step 3: Define the Head
Now that we have out front defined, lets define the back of the head.
Make a slight sweep cut starting from the back of the block around the same level of the chin and bring the angle close to the ears.
We are leaving the back of the body for step 5 to add the tail. Make sure you don’t remove too much material off of the back or your tail might be small!
Step 4: Round The Front of the Body
At this point you have removed excess material from the front and back of the head, making it easier to add the ears. Start the ears by making v-cuts from the top and define each ear. Then remove the center triangular piece that is remaining by cutting across the grain (sharpen your knife beforehand if you need to)
From here, we start adding more organic angles to the cat. Start chipping away the blocky proportions and make them round and natural looking.
I like to do sweep cuts on the side of the face from the nose in to define the muzzle and make it stand out a bit more. Add details to the feet and angle in the bottoms of the rear legs slightly.
Step 5: Add the Tail
The tail is super easy to make but also very easy to cut off if you rush it.
I like to start off by making a few push cuts to make the tail a more blocky shape, and then adding in detail with v-cuts and rounding the tail for a more natural look.
Step 6: Smooth Out
From here, remove any chips and clean up your work a little. If something looks off (like the head in the picture above) just smooth out the area and try your best to balance everything out.
Feel free to add eyes and a mouth to your wood carving, but you don’h have to. I like my wood carvings to look simplistic and find them to be more fun to make.
For more whittling guides and information, check out my One Stop Whittling Resource Page for more details!