Carving the Whittle Pup

Forming the back legs

We'll form the back legs next, so that we can get the body of the figure to its (almost) final width. It's important to do that now so that we can carve the head to match the body. Otherwise you're likely to end up with the head looking much too large.

With your trusty pencil, make a mark on the front-back center line at the top of the figure, about 1/4 inch (0.6 cm) from the back. Then, draw a line perpendicular to the front/back line and extend it all the way down both sides of the figure.

1/4 inch is an approximation. On my little figure, the line is actually 3/16 inch (about 0.5 cm). The measurement isn't critical, but it probably shouldn't be much more than 1/4 inch. The line is a guide for the next step.

Now, on the side of the dog, make a mark about 3/8 inch (about 1 cm) up from the bottom. Then, draw the outline of the back leg and paw, as shown in the figure. The top of the curve shouldn't go much higher than that 3/8 inch mark you made. Do this on both sides of the figure.

With the tip of your knife, carefully make a stop cut along those leg outlines. This doesn't have to be very deep: 1/16 inch to 1/8 inch (0.2 or 0.3 cm) is plenty. You have to be careful for two reasons. If you apply too much pressure the knife could very well slip and the point will end up in your hand. That carving glove is great for stopping minor slicing cuts, but it definitely will not stop the tip of your knife from going into your hand. Also, if you apply too much pressure, you're very likely to break off the tip of your knife on one of those curves.

I've found it easiest to start with the tip of the knife in the "corner" where the paw meets the leg. Do the stop cut from there to the back of the figure. Then, turn the carving over, put the tip of the knife in the corner again, and cut the outline of the paw. Be very careful, though, when coming off the edge, as the knife could slip. You might want to cut the top of the paw from the corner and then cut the front of the paw from the bottom up.

When you've made the stop cut, carefully slice wood away to the depth of the cut. If you want to go deeper, slice some wood away, score the stop cut again, and slice a little deeper.

You want to be careful when working near that stop cut, especially down towards the paw. It won't take much to slice that hip or paw right off, and then you'll have to make your dog thinner. Take your time and make thin slices, deepening the stop cut with the tip of your knife as required.

After you've relieved the back leg and paw on both sides, carve the sides of the figure flat, to the depth of the stop cut.

Don't worry right now if your cuts aren't clean. We'll come back and round the back legs after a bit. I just wanted to make sure that we know how wide the body is going to be before we do final shaping of the head.

Give your knife a good stropping now. You'll want the blade to be in good shape before moving on.