Shaping a piece of wood is one of the most calming and rewarding experiences I know, but sadly it seems to be a dying art. Here is one of the simplest ways to try your hand at an art form.
Step 1: Get a Piece of Wood
Pretty simple, grab some wood. Just about anything except your standard construction grade Pine. Grab a branch from your yard, jerk the leg off of your dining room table, or go buy a piece at the hardware store (if you go this route, which I recommend, look in the hobby section and get some Basswood…its a great first wood to carve. This Grumpy Guy is roughly 3/4" X 3/4" X 2".
Step 2: Find a Sharp Knife
Just about any old pocket knife will work. Some people use Exacto knives, box/carpenter knives, bench knives…the key part is that it be very sharp! A dull knife is a dangerous knife!
Step 3: Carve!
Cut off everything that isn't a grumpy old man.
Seriously though, you don't need to be a sketch artist, just crudely draw a general outline of your character (head, torso, arms, legs). Cut the outlines of your main features with a little "V" shaped groove, but don't worry about the details just yet…the head is nearly a square, the arms and legs look like a Lego man. Once the whole figure has received this treatment sketch in a few more details (ears, nose, mouth, clothing, jewelry, hair, etc.). Again, don't get over concerned with the "details of these details", just keep roughing then adding, roughing then adding… you will know when you are done. Enjoy!