Patterns & Projects / Whittling

Carving Animals for Noah’s Ark

Power-carve an assortment of animals two by two

By Tom Hindes

Thousands of men and women have probably received a rotary tool as a gift and, not knowing what to do with it, put it in a drawer. This is unfortunate because you can use a rotary tool to have an enormous amount of fun and easily produce attractive carvings.

For example, a Noah’s ark with pairs of carved animals is an impressive toy that both the young and the old will appreciate. Once you cut the animal blanks, it’s simple to use a rotary tool to carve them into finished animals, creating a prized toy or collector piece.

If you make more animals, choose thicker wood for big animals such as an elephant and thinner wood for smaller animals such as a fox. Note that the legs are not separated on these animals. They are meant to be played with, and separated legs can break easily.

I like to use redwood for this project because the oils in the wood prevent it from fuzzing while I carve it. Cedar works well, too. However, you should not breathe the dust from these­—or any—varieties of wood. I recommend using a good-quality dust mask and/or a fan to direct the dust away from you.


Redwood or cedar, 3/4″ (19mm) thick: one cheetah, 2″ x 3″ (51mm x 76mm)
Acrylic paint
Shellac (optional)

Rotary tool and bit: 1/2″ (13mm)-dia. sanding drum with a medium-grit sanding sleeve
Scroll saw or coping saw

CLICK HERE to download the Animals for Noah’s Ark Patterns (1).

CLICK HERE to download the Animals for Noah’s Ark Patterns (2).

Read 20-Minute Whittling Projects by Tom Hindes for more information on simple carving projects. Learn the quick-cut method for whittling expressive little figures from wood in just 20 minutes or less, with step-by-step projects for wizards, Santas, gnomes, and more. The book is available for $12.99 plus S&H from

Find the pattern and how-to instructions for a cheetah, as well as instructions for a simple ark, in Woodcarving Illustrated Fall 2012 (Issue 60).

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