But the little man that lives in my head is relentless with his "Come on, try it. You could do that. What are you waiting for? That would be FUN, don't you think? Are you really going to sit back while someone else takes your Artsy Fartsy title?"
"Zip it, little guy! You know I hate being called Artsy Fartsy. And yes, I want to carve a fish, DUH... but just lay off for Pete's sake. I have other stuff I have to do. And what do you care anyway? You aren't concerned with my happiness, you just want to see me cut myself. Think I haven't caught on to your cheering in the background every time the opportunity to play with something sharp arises? Sheesh."
But of course I did it anyway. And of course I cut myself. I always do. But I kinda like the way my sturgeon turned out and I didn't sever any major arteries, so all's well that ends well.
Step 1: Gather Your Supplies.
Saw or saws of choice
Utility knife and a fistful of blades
Fish "bling" to run down the side
Step 2: Make the Template.
Step 3: Mark the Wood.
Step 4: Cut the Wood.
Step 5: Fine Tune Your Fish.
There are all kinds of carving/whittling tools out there, but today we're going to be using our trusty utility knife, and here's why: we don't have the patience to sit around sharpening tools all day long. We want a fish, and we want it now. That means we should spend out time carving, not sharpening. If you decide you want to make a career of this or sculpt a whole school of fish, the carving tools are probably the way to go. But for today, it's utility knife and plenty of blades. One starts getting dull, switch to the next blade. If you have a quick change knife, it'll be that much easier.
Okay, position your fish so that you are looking down on him from the top. Visualize a fish from this position. Shade with your pencil the areas on your current piece that don't belong. This will give you a rough idea about where you should be doing your wood removal.
At some point you'll have whittled away all your pencil marks if. If you have the hang of working in three dimensions at that point, continue on. If you're wandering a lot with your knife or still a little unsure of your carving skills (which are mad, by the way), take a top view and again shade what doesn't jive with your mental sturge picture. If you can't visualize the top view of a fish at all, go ask my BFF Google. He'll help you out.
Step 6: Prep for "accessories".
Step 7: Sand. Sand. Sand.
It's the most tedious part but it also pays the most benefits. 9 times out of ten, if I'm unhappy with the results of a project like this, it's because I cut my sanding time too short. Really. So settle in and sand the piss out of that there fish. Start with a coarse grade of sandpaper (60-80) and work your way to fine (220-300).
See how great it looks? Aren't you happy you did that?
Step 8: Finish.
After the paint is dry, you can glue some felt on the side of the fish that will butt up against the wall. That's entirely optional, it just gives him a little more finished appearance if you plan on making him a gift fish.
Glue on your lateral line bling. Hot melt glue works great- just don't over-do it.
When you're happy with your fish, it's advisable to put on a protective clear coat of some kind. Besides protection, the clear coat will help give him that shiny fish appearance. (Cabot Water-borne Polyurethane should do the trick.)
You're done! And he looks great! You are such an awesome fish sculptor. I knew you would be. Now, hang him up on the wall or give him to a friend and be proud of your "catch".