Information > Carving a European Goldfinch

Carving a European Goldfinch

I started with a 4"x4"x6" block of Basswood. A  2"x2"x6" would work better.


Now you need a template, you can find them on internet for free or for a few dollars buy then from a carving supply store. Note this is a drawing of an American Goldfinch. I could not find a European Goldfinch carving pattern. So the main difference is the American Goldfinch is 4-5" in length and the European Goldfinch is 3-4" in length. So this pattern can be used just print it at a reduced size.

Next I drew the template of the top and side of the bird on to the wood being careful to line up key area on both the top and side drawings.

Now I cut the unneeded wood away with a draw saw (if you have a Bandsaw it would be much easier).


Next I changed to my Dremel 8240 with a Inverted Cone bit and removed all remaining unneeded wood close to the drawing lines. I then switched to a carving knife I roughly rounded the body. Caution always wear carving gloves when using the carving knife or the Dremel as the knife or Dremel bit can slip and the gloves will help to protect you. Next I switched back to the Dremel and a Pointed cone bit and started shaping the head and shoulder areas. Following this i finished rounding the the body and roughed in the the wing areas with the Dremel and the Inverted Cone bit and then moved onto roughing in the the tail area using the same inverted cone bit.. Still using the Inverted Cone bit I detailed the underside of the body. Now after a lot of sanding I started using the Pyrography unit to burn in the feather details. (Sorry I forgot to take photos of each of theses steps. This photo show where we are at this point. Don't use to high of a heat setting or you can burn the wood and it will show thru the paint.

The lighter area in the body is where the wings will mount. Its a channel where the notch in the wing will fit. Be careful to make the channel the same size as the notch so there is a tight fit. The wings were made out of the left over wood. Both were sanded a lot. and then wood burned (Pyrography) to put in the feathers. Notice the eyes were also put in. The drawing will help you place the eyes in the correct location. You can buy the eyes and feet from caving supply centers or You can use two part solid epoxies and round then into balls the correct size. Then per the drawing glue & place them into holes you drill into the head. Once dry then paint and once that is dry put several coats of Gloss Varnish over the eye balls only. Now as far as the pyrography goes some drawings will guide most like this one will not. So here is where research helps. Lock at many high quality photos of this bird on the web. Blow them up so you can see the patterns in the feathers. Study this picture of the wings see the patterns. Take your time! The more time you take here the better your bird will look. There are many good videos on how to burn in the feathers and I refer to them all the time. you can always learn something new.

Now we are ready for primer, in the form of 2-3 thin coats of Gesso, and then the Acrylic paint following several different bird photos. Always have several reference photos to go by, both for the carving and the painting. For each color I use a thin coat of a lighter color first and let dry. Then add the final color. In some birds you may need to mix several different colors to get the correct match. On this bird I didn't find I needed that. No I take that back I did add some burnt umber to the orange.

The last item is the feet. I sometimes buy them but this time I made them. I used small paper clips for the feet and legs. The carving pattern show the size of the feet use the photos you have gotten of this bird to set the leg length. this fist part is the leg and main middle toe. don't forget to file in the toe nail shape. This is a lot of work so I do recommend buying at the start of the project as it takes a few day to get the feet via the mail same is true for the eyes. Now if you have never soldered then just buy the feet, but if you no how to solder then here are the steps. Below are 2 photos the first show the 3 pieces required to make a foot. The size will vary by the bird. The V shaped piece goes into the circle on the largest piece, the item left goes on top of that, make sure the claws all go the same direction. Add flux and solder the pieces together. Note: the last piece that was put on top is like out thumbs so one goes to the right and one goes to the left. Now take wood glue and cover the foot and leg; then cover the glue with sawdust from the bird carvings. This may take several coats, let each full dry. Now paint it and mount it to the bird by drilling a small hole where the legs go after again viewing your bird photos.


The tree branch is an actual branch from a birch tree. The leafs and stems and made of brass and painted with Acrylic paint. I downloaded a photo of a leaf and drew it onto the brass sheet and cut it out with scissors and I filed down the edges to dull the sharp areas. I soldered the two leaves on to small Brass rods 3/65" and then to each other and finally onto a larger Brass rod 1/16". I then drilled a hole in the Birch branch and glued the stem and leaves into it. I glued the branch on to the wood plaque after I first painted it a dark brown and put two coats of Gloss Varnish over the dark brown once it was dry. I also did the same on the bottom after putting my information and the date and title on the bottom,. I put two coats of Matt Varnish on the bird and the Birch limb. I attached the bird with mild steel but stainless steel I think would work better. I did not go into detail on the base as there are so many ways you can mount your bird and I thought you would want your own.

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