Carving A Head

Carving A Head

By Roger Stegall

Below is a short picture tutorial on how to carve a head done by my good friend Roger Stegall, which is being posted here with Roger’s gracious permission.  The tutorial does not go into much detail but the photos do give you some idea as to how Roger does it. Text explanations are provided by me.

Pattern – Side View
Pattern – Front View

Draw the front and side view patterns on two adjacent side of the blank, then cut out both side on the bandsaw.

1. Right side view cut out
2. Front view cut out
3. Left side view cut out
4. Back view cut out
5. Head shaped, nose and ears carved

Use a rough out knife and a 5/8″ (14mm) #3 gouge to round off the top of the head and the chin. Round the outer corners of the face taper the face slightly from the front of the ears to the tip of the nose.

6. Jaw, bottom of hair and sideburns cut in

Use the same tools to cut in and shape the jaw. Cut in the hairline and sideburns with the rough out knife. Taper the ears from back to front.

7. Back view progress
8. Jaw and hairline shaped. Facial detail drawn on.

Use a pencil to draw on the facial detail.

9. Finished face – front view

Use the following tools to carve the facial details:

Nose: #7 and #9 gouges

Eyes: Detail knife and micro V-tools

Eye brows: #9 gouge

Hair, sideburns and mustache: #9 gouges, various sizes

Ears: #6 gouges

Teeth: Detail knife

Beard stubble: 1/8″ (3mm) 70 degree V-tool

10. Finished face – right side view
11. Finished head – back view
12. Finished face – left side view
13. Finished face – close up

Questions & Comments

Our first question today comes from Robert Larsen in response to my book review on “EGG HEADS”.  Robert asks:

“very nice carvings. I would like to know where i can buy basswood eggs. I bought some some time back but they are so hard to carve on. any good place to buy them? thanks”

The eggs you bought a while back, Robert, were probably made of southern basswood which is very hard to carve.  You want eggs made of high-quality northern basswood which is much easier to carve.

There are several woodcarving suppliers that carry good basswood eggs.  Here are just a few that I use and can recommend:

1.  Stadtlaner Carvings

2.  Hummul Carving Co.

3.  Greg Dorrance Co.

Our next comment, from Cory Rower comes with photos of the neat penguins he’s been working on:

“Here are a few carvings I have been working on. I worked on these two while on vacation last week. Definitely not perfect but two different Christmas penguins. They still need some paint but had fun making them.

Thank you again for the help about the wood and explaining it I appreciate it”

1. Penguin WIP by Cory Rower
2. Penguin WIP by Cory Rower
3. Penguin WIP by Cory Rower

Those penguins are coming along nicely, Cory.  I’d like to see them when they’re finished.  You’re welcome for the wood explanation.  I’m glad I could clear things up for you.

I noticed in your first two pictures that you were using a BeaverCraft knife and a Flexcut knife.  What differences do you find between the two and do you prefer one over the other?  Tell us a little about your experiences with them.

Rough Outs For Sale!

Over the years I have collected many various rough outs, most of which I will never get around to carving.  So I have decided to sell them at a discounted price to any of my woodcarving friends who are interested.  I will be listing them here, one or two at a time,  on every upcoming blog post going forward.  Anyone who is interested in one (or more) can just send me a message and we will work out the details.  Rough outs will be sold on a first come basis.  I have the first two rough outs listed below:

“Hugs” reference sheet

“Hugs” is a Jon Nelson rough out which is 4″ tall and sells new for $11 plus shipping. The one I have is a larger version (approx. 6″ tall) and I’m selling it for $5 plus shipping. The rough out also comes with the above reference sheet.

“Po Po Panda”
“Po Po Panda” reference sheet

“Po Po Panda” is a Bishop rough out which sells through Dwayne Gosnell Woodcarving. It sells new for $22 plus shipping. I am selling this rough out for $10 plus shipping. I have two of these rough outs available and each one comes with the above reference sheet.

Let the chips fly!  Tell your wood carving friends and spread the word about Wood Chip Chatter, and don’t forget to click the ‘Comment’ button at the bottom of the page to send in your questions and comments so we can keep Wood Chip Chatter active and keep the conversations going! 

And remember, we need your photos!  I’m sure you all have some terrific carvings to share, and photos of your carvings will help to liven up the blog’s appearance and make it more interesting.  Perhaps we can start a carvers photo section!  Email your photos to


Keep a sharp edge and keep on carvin’!

My mother-in-law phoned today and said, ‘Come quick, I think I’m dying’.  I said, ‘Phone me back when you’re sure’.

Published by carverbobk

I’m a self taught award winning wood carver who has been carving since I was a teenager. I enjoy instructing other carvers, especially beginners.

One thought on “Carving A Head

  1. The two knives in the pictures are my two favorites that I own. The Beavercraft I had won in a giveaway and when I got it I thought I was going to hate it because of the handle but it’s actually really comfortable. I use it mainly for roughing out. The other knife is Flexcuts Detail knife. It is probably my number one favorite carving knife I own. The blade stays sharp a little longer on the Flexcut Detail knife I will say. The other thing I like about Flexcuts Detail knife is that the tip isn’t super thin so you don’t have to worry to much about the tip breaking off unless you are really hard on your tools.


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