Haunted Whimsical Cottonwood Bark House

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Project by CatUpATree posted 05-24-2022 07:01 AM 465 views 0 times favorited 6 comments Add to Favorites Watch

I finally got around to carving a whimsical house out of cottonwood bark. I’ve been carving for a while, mostly basswood, but carving cottonwood bark was very enjoyable. I’m definitely hooked.

A fun part of doing this type of carving is that it really starts with imagining the house based on whatever irregularly shaped piece you get your hands on. Here’s a mugshot of the original piece of bark from this carving.

The only parts of the carving that immediately appeared to me were the stairs and that there should be a house of some kind at the top. The rest of the carving just evolved.

One of the things I discovered about carving bark is that there are small holes from insects burrowing into the bark. They only appear once the carving starts. The other thing I discovered is that the bark’s grain wasn’t really a problem most of the time… except when I accidentally lopped off the big house. Fortunately, the break was clean along very straight grain, which made it easy to repair.

I don’t have any more photos of the carving process because I got quite engrossed by the project. However, I will mention something about the tools I used. Basically, I used quite a range of tools on this project, more than I usually do. The tools ranged from using full-sized, 25mm (1”) #2 and #5, Pfeil gouges to Dockyard microtools that were like 1-2mm, and a bunch of stuff in between. I hollowed out the windows using a Dremel with various bits. a rasp bit worked particularly well for this because there was a lot of material that needed to be removed. It was a challenge to control at times.

I will also mention that I used a homemade detail knife for this carving that I just finished.

This knife’s handle shape is inspired by my Flexcut Carvin’ Jack knife, which feels very nice in my hand. The main shape change is that I made my knife’s handle wider than the Carvin’ Jack. I’ll note that the handle is made from wood from a plum tree in my yard.

Another reason for mentioned homemade tools is that I realize that I’ll probably make more tools for future bark carvings, particularly the type needed to get into tight or irregular areas. I suppose I could buy some of these, but I’ve already spent too much on carving tools recently.

Once the carving was done, I finished it first by applying teak oil, then paste wax. The teak oil did add to the haunted look, so I’m satisfied with it. However, I’m not sure I’ll do paste wax next time. There are too many irregular or hard-to-reach surfaces to deal with, so I felt that I got incomplete coverage with the wax.

Thanks for checking out my post!

6 comments so far

View JCamp's profile (online now)


1791 posts in 2044 days

#1 posted 05-24-2022 09:07 AM

Looks nice to me. It doesn’t look haunted to me it just looks like it needs a couple gnomes setting around it. Lol
It always amazes me how some of you folks can see something like that in your mind then carve it out. I can do it with building but when I see that raw piece of bark all I see is a candidate for the fire pit. Just another example of how wood working takes on so many different talents.

-- Whatsoever thy hand findeth to do, do it with all thy might

View Eric's profile


5763 posts in 1367 days

#2 posted 05-24-2022 11:25 AM

Nicely done carving, very neat looking. Thanks for sharing your process.

-- Eric, building the dream. the "Loft"

View MrWolfe's profile


1974 posts in 1617 days

#3 posted 05-24-2022 03:03 PM

Fantastic and well done!
Wonderful work.

View therealSteveN's profile


10202 posts in 2068 days

#4 posted 05-24-2022 06:37 PM

Made my Whimsy meter jump up a few notches, thanks for that.

Nice work

-- Think safe, be safe

View ClaudeF's profile


1527 posts in 3201 days

#5 posted 05-25-2022 12:06 AM

Excellent work! I really like all the steps going up.



View swirt's profile


7787 posts in 4466 days

#6 posted 05-25-2022 01:50 AM

Very nice. Thanks for showing the progression.

-- Galootish log blog,

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