Little Mouse


Little Mouse:
Johan Roudy carves a ready-to-leap mouse.

Johan Roudy carves a ready-to-leap mouse

This mouse was a really fun project to carve. The base is left during almost all the carving process to allow the piece to be clamped on the bench more easily. Once the carving is done, it is carefully cut so that the mouse can rest, for example, on the edge of a shelf. My Japanese saw was quite handy for that step. A clean and accurate cut can be achieved both along and across the grain. It is important to carve the body large enough compared to the head to achieve a good stability and avoid the carving falling too easily. Also, I had to change the direction of the tail compared to the pattern to get rid of a knot in the wood.
I chose a piece of walnut (Juglans spp.) as it has a nice grain and colour and is one of the preferred choices for carving. My intention was not to carve the fur, but walnut could have held such fine details.
I hope you will enjoy this project as much as I did and will find a nice place in your house for this cute little mouse.

Things you will need
 No.3, 4mm & 16mm
 No.4, 6mm & 16mm
 No.5, 6mm
 No.8, 4mm & 8mm
 No.11, 5mm V-tool
 Scroll saw
 Japanese hand saw
 Walnut (Juglans spp.) 45 x 55 x 120mm

Drawings and how to resize them
To enlarge or reduce the size of drawings right click on the image to download it and then go HERE to watch a video on how to use paper with a grid to do exactly that.

1. Draw the pattern on to the wood, in side and top profile. Use the scrollsaw to cut out the side profile of the mouse. Put the cut-off back in place with masking tape and cut out the top profile of the head. Screw the blank to a piece of wood that you will clamp on the bench. Remove 2-3mm on each side of the body up to the height of the back paws and the tail. Then start to round the back with a flat gouge, saving the start of the tail

2a. Draw the centreline of the head. Using a No.11, 6mm, remove some wood in front of the right ear to achieve a good symmetry of the head. Separate the ears by carving a groove connecting the curve of the back and the top of the head

2b. Use the same tool to clean the back of the ears and shape the neck towards the sides

3. With a No.11, 6mm and flatter gouges, refine the jaw and cheeks, turning around the ears area. From the pelvis towards the neck, remove some wood with a No.4,16mm to give the body the shape of a pear. In the top view, as the head is slightly turned to the right, the left side of the body has a sweet curve while the right side looks more like an S shape

4. Mark the lower side of the eyeball with the No.11, 6mm and round it with the No.4, 6mm

5. Set in the eyes with a No.8, 4mm and clean all around using a No.8, 8mm. Round the eyes with a small flat gouge and dig the corners with the veiner to let the brow bone show. As the head is slightly turned, the grain direction won’t be identical on both sides

6. Shape the nose with the V-tool and pare the muzzle with the No.3, 4mm. Carve a hollow with a No.11, 6mm from the eye to the jaw to separate the muzzle from the cheeks. Switch to a No.5, 6mm and flat gouges to round the cheeks and refine the nose. Under the muzzle, mark the mouth with the V-tool

7. Flatten the front of the ears with a flat gouge and draw their shape. Remove the waste all around in the direction of the neck, and use the No.8, 8mm to hollow the inside. Once done, refine the edges and the connection to the head and neck

Top tip: Cutting the pattern on face and side profile (or top and side profile here) is a good way to quickly remove some waste. However, if some elements of the carving are not in the same plane as the cut, like the head of the mouse, the resulting shape appears too massive and it can be somehow confusing. Keep in mind that there is still some material to remove to rough out the carving. 

8. On each side of the tail, remove the waste behind the back to reach the background level. Note how the back paws are running under the body towards the rear. Round the tip of the paws using a No.5, 6mm, and mark the edge of the legs on the body by carving a groove with No.11, 6mm

9. Shape the legs with a flat gouge and the paws with the No.5, 6mm. Use the V-tool to undercut below the leg. Clean the rear and round the tail roughly

10. Remove the waste between the front paws to reach the background level and start to shape the throat, which is slightly convex, and the arms

11. When close to the final shape, unscrew the carving and cut the background. I chose to set the mouse in the bench clamp and to use the Japanese saw, keeping it flat on the bench. Cut under the body, along the grain first, then cut behind the front paws at a straight angle. If necessary, clean the saw cut with abrasive  set on a flat sanding block or a scrap

12. Round the chest towards the body, and refine its connection to the front legs. To work safely, take support on the bench and hold the mouse firmly in one hand. I hold the gouge in the other hand and use the hollow of my shoulder to push the tool. Always make sure your fingers are not in the trajectory of the gouge and don’t try to remove too much wood at a time. Use a carving glove if you have one. The tail can be refined and rounded with a small riffler or sandpaper. The mouse should be ready to finish. I applied three coats of shellac to enhance the colour of the wood


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