Carving a Bald Eagle, 1st Blog #1: First Up-date

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Blog entry by LittlePaw posted 01-24-2012 11:07 PM 10592 reads 0 times favorited 9 comments Add to Favorites Watch
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I thought it’s time I filed a progress report on my attempt to carve a Bald Eagle. But first, let me apologize for not starting on the BE. You see, I’ve been looking at a couple of geese blanks sitting atop my fridge in my shop. Every time I wanted something out of the fridge, I could just hear these two geese honking at me to free them from the blocks of wood! So after a year of resisting, I finally got one down and started shaping and cutting on it, figuring that if I mess it up, at least I wouldn’t be messing up a Bald Eagle. And it would also serve as the Qualifying School, as in pro golf, before getting on the Pro Tour. Is that wrong to give the Bald Eagle a higher regard than a goose?
Oh, I am not completely sure that it is a goose. They didn’t come with instruction or labels. I Googled both ducks and geese and carefully studied several hundred images of both. While it may be a shade big for a duck, the neck may be a little short for a Canadian goose. So, what do my fellow LJs think? Should I add about an inch to the neck so it’ll look more like a goose?
One thing I want to mention is that I really don’t want to paint it after I’m done carving because I don’t want my goose to look like most of those commercial decoys cast in plastic or resin. I noticed that a lot of them are generally shaped and painted without any detail carving of its feather. I think painting him would cover up any detail carving that I spent so much time on, don’t you agree? I may woodburn the fine feather detail and also make a Plexiglas display case to protect it. I am thinking about applying a light stain overall and varnish or polyurethane it to preserve the natural beauty of wood . . . yes even Basswood.
So far, I’m finding that basswood is so soft, if I didn’t hold my tongue just right, it will chip out at the trailing edge of the feather. So to prevent that from further happening, I plan to apply Minwax Wood Hardener on it after I’m done carving. I welcome any input if anyone knows of a better way, please.
Pic 1: I started caving the tail feathers (3811)
Pic 2: Shows the depth of carve (with a dollar bill) on those tail feathers (3856)
Pic 3: Shows what I’ve done to shape each individual feather on the back, wings and side of the bird. (3840)
Pic 4: (3820) As you can see, I’ve knife outlined the feather at lower left, working on the middle area, and at the right show some rough carved and others sanded. Knife carving the detail on each feather is very slow going and extremely tiring (at least for me) on the hands, arms and shoulder muscles. Very often I’ve wished for a gorgeous masseuse after a day of carving – - – LOL. Yah, dream on, LittlePAW!
Pic #5: (3854) I’m still working on this handsome fellow’s head. I’m not happy with his neck and I need to reset the eyes that came with the blank.
So, here’s the update. I just want you to know that I haven’t been loafing – not totally anyway!

-- LittlePAW - The sweetest sound in my shop, next to Mozart, is what a hand plane makes slicing a ribbon.

9 comments so far

View mpounders's profile


997 posts in 3977 days

#1 posted 01-24-2012 11:29 PM

It looks like you are off to a great start! Painting is a personal choice and an art in it self, if you are going for realistic. It really doesn’t hide any of the feather details when they are burned in, but I wouldn’t do it if you don’t think your painting skills are as good as your carving skills! I use the thin CA glue from the hobby store to strengthen delicate pieces. The thin stuff absorbs in, while normal CA glue kinda sits on top and gives it a plastic look. Experiment a bit with it on some scrap first, and see how it looks with your planned on finish….I usually paint over the stuff I use it on tho.

-- Mike P., Arkansas,

View DocSavage45's profile


9048 posts in 3924 days

#2 posted 01-25-2012 01:05 AM

Yor BACK! Yipee Skippy! would poplar provide a stronge yet maluable surface for your carving, it’s gotta be stronger than Basswood?

-- Cau Haus Designs, Thomas J. Tieffenbacher

View DocSavage45's profile


9048 posts in 3924 days

#3 posted 01-25-2012 01:08 AM

Only carved an indian head in high school, a loooooooooonnnnngggg time ago

-- Cau Haus Designs, Thomas J. Tieffenbacher

View Roman - THE BOOTMAN's profile (online now)


1070 posts in 3768 days

#4 posted 01-25-2012 02:24 AM

Nice work Little Paw. Don’t worry about the head and neck because to me they look great. I like the bold feathers and burning them would add little to the composition. Seal it and use a natural finish and let the wood speak to you! You’re not making a taxidermy specimen! You’re making a work of art!

-- Author of POWER CARVING BOOTS & SHOES - Schiffer Publishing. Available online or your favourite bookstore.

View gfadvm's profile


14940 posts in 3772 days

#5 posted 01-25-2012 04:26 AM

Very impressive carving! I wouldn’t paint it but the woodburning could be nice. “Hardening” the wood shouldn’t be necessary if it will be in a protective case???? You had better pass on the gorgeous masseuse. I’ve met your wife and I don’t think she would approve. LOL

-- " I'll try to be nicer, if you'll try to be smarter" gfadvm

View LittlePaw's profile


1572 posts in 4160 days

#6 posted 01-25-2012 06:35 AM

You’re right, Andy, she agrees with you! LOL Thanx for the input, LJs. I’m glad everyone agrees – so far – that I shouldn’t paint it. I’ll present it for the final verdict when I’m done carving it. Again thanx, everyone.

-- LittlePAW - The sweetest sound in my shop, next to Mozart, is what a hand plane makes slicing a ribbon.

View stefang's profile


17040 posts in 4416 days

#7 posted 01-25-2012 04:44 PM

I can’t give you advice on goose or duck anatomy but your work and the forms sure look excellent to me. When it comes to coloring, I agree that paint can make it look like plastic, but staining does let the grain show through so folks know it’s wood. Staining can be done as precisely as painting if one uses felt tip permanent markers, some with fine tips, others with broader tips. I have tried this myself and it works really well. At any rate, the decision to stain, paint, or leave the natural wood grain is the makers choice, and he should like his own work, or why bother making anything?

-- Mike, an American living in Norway.

View LittlePaw's profile


1572 posts in 4160 days

#8 posted 01-25-2012 09:00 PM

I never thought of using permanent markers on this! What an idea! I will certainly experiment on some scrap wood. I am very curious as to the appearance especially after varnishing. Thank you for your suggestion, stefang.

-- LittlePAW - The sweetest sound in my shop, next to Mozart, is what a hand plane makes slicing a ribbon.

View Lee A. Jesberger's profile

Lee A. Jesberger

6874 posts in 5061 days

#9 posted 02-19-2012 11:25 PM

Incredible carving work.

I have just a bit of carving left on a pie crust table, and just can’t seem to get motivated on it. I think I burned myself out on the ball and claw feet!


-- by Lee A. Jesberger

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