Americana Whale

eNews: Strop Talk

Americana Whale

This folk-art style carving is a craft-show favorite

By Vernon DePauw

Add a whimsical touch to your summer celebrations with this patriotic swimmer. I change the size and vary the pattern to make each one a little different than the last. Play around with the stars and stripes to make your own marine mammal.

Making the Whale

Enlarge the pattern as desired using a photocopy machine. Transfer it to the wood and cut the whale and stars with a band saw. Round the corners and carve the design using your preferred tools. Be sure to carve the entire surface or the finish will be uneven.

Paint the whale and stars with acrylic paints. To match the American flag, the first full stripe below the blue field should be white. When the paint is dry, seal the whale with clear satin varnish and once dry, distress it with sandpaper. Apply a coat of Minwax aged oak gel stain to antique the piece. Let the stain dry, and apply a top coat of clear satin varnish. Clip the heads off long straight pins to attach the stars. If you are mounting the whale on a base, drill holes for welding rods; otherwise, attach a hanger to the back.

For a 21″ wall hanging, enlarge the pattern 192%. For a 16″ whale to mount on a stand, enlarge the pattern 150%. 

Whale Pattern 

Materials & Tools


• Basswood, 3/4″ (1.9cm) thick: whale & stars, 3 1/2″ x 11″ (8.9cm x 27.9cm)

• Straight pins with the heads cut off: 3 each

• Acrylic paint, such as Plaid Apple Barrel: true navy, white; such as Plaid FolkArt: cardinal red, bright yellow

• Gel stain, such as Minwax: aged oak

• Spar urethane varnish,
such as Helmsman: clear satin

• Oak, 1/2″ (1.3cm) thick: base, 4″ x 9″ (10.2cm x 22.9cm) (optional)

• Copper welding rods, 1/8″ (3mm) dia.: 2 each 4″ to 5″ (10.2cm to 12.7cm) long (optional)

• Hanger (optional)


• Band saw

• #3 gouge: 5/8″ (16mm)

• Carving knife

• V-tool: 1/4″ (6mm) 60°

• Drill with bit: 1/8″ (3mm) dia.



The author used these products for the project. Substitute your choice of brands, tools, and materials as desired.






About the Author

Vernon DePauw started carving in seventh-grade shop class and has been carving for pleasure and profit ever since. For more of his work, visit his website at

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