Picture of Hand-carved Iron Man head
This is an Iron Man head I carved out of balsa. From chin to crown, it is about 145 mm tall, and about 90 mm wide at the widest part. It weighs about 150 g (a little over 5 oz.).
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Step 1: Balsa block glue-up

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I purchased blocks of balsa from a craft store and glued them all together as shown with wood glue. The individual blocks were approximately 3" x 5" x 1.5". When the glue was cured, the large resulting block was trimmed so the final dimensions were 6" x 5" x 3.5".

I made a side-view template of Iron Man's helmet by tracing a side photo of an Iron Man toy using basic drawing tools on my computer. I've included a PDF of that template just in case you are so inclined to make one of these.

Step 2: Carve basic shape, lay out details

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Using the template, I traced the outline of the helmet onto the wood. I hacked off some of the excess balsa to get down to the basic shape using a small wood saw.

Using the tip of a mechanical pencil, I traced and impressed the details of the mask into the balsa on either side of the block of wood. Then I drew in the details with sharpie to work as guide marks on the sides and front of the mask.

Step 3: Begin carving

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Using a heavy duty snap-style utility knife with the blade mostly extended, I began to carve out more of the basic shape.

If you use a utility knife in this manner it can be very useful, although EXTREMELY dangerous. You could do some serious damage to yourself or someone else if you're not careful.  

Step 4: Continue carving, drawing in details as a guide

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I continued carving and redrawing in details with a sharpie as I removed material.

Continually adding details with a sharpie as a guide and inspecting carefully after every couple of cuts kept me from making any drastic mistakes, like removing too much material.

Step 5: Begin working on details

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I started working on more intricate details using a combination of coarse sandpaper, exacto blade, and a 1/4-inch chisel.
when i say dremel,i mean using the sanding and saw attachments
seamster (author)  Mr. tony stark2 years ago
Sure, you could use power tools for this.
though it would defeat the purpose of "hand carved", could you make this with a dremel?
Hey! Nice job ;)
I was wondering what sandpaper grits you used.
GREAT JOB FOR SOMETHING CARVED OUT OF WOOD!!!! might i make a suggestion though? carve out a midsize hole into the bottom, then carve out the eyes, place some icey blue plastic into the eyeholes and fit some LEDs into the head, would make something sick into REALLY SICK
seamster (author)  darknessfalls5 years ago
Thanks! The LED idea crossed my mind. Might still be an option. We'll see!
well it would be very sick (though you will need the plastic sheets to fit inside the eyes to give it that seemless look) you mentioned a larger project, any hints?
seamster (author)  darknessfalls5 years ago
Yes, step 11.
But put the rockets in the head and in the body, so when the rockets from the body are used up, the head will activate and fly off

I would watch that.
Nice work!
Awesome, how lond did this take from start to finish
seamster (author)  imthatguy11254 years ago
I think I worked on it off and on over the course of a few weeks. It wasn't a one-nighter, that's for sure!
Screamo4 years ago
Neat, i just watched iron man 2
Foaly75 years ago
Good conversation piece, better than a ship in a bottle on the mantle.
three0five5 years ago
is it life size
seamster (author)  three0five5 years ago
Nope. It's about 145 mm tall, and about 90 mm wide.
skimmo5 years ago
wouldn't have guest it was wood from the first photo
DerStu5 years ago
so you are making an Iron Man rocket, awesome please add a video or the launch when you finish it
JakeTobak5 years ago
Absolutely amazing! Great job.
nickodemus5 years ago
Nice work!   The finished product is beautiful!

And it would make a nice adaptation to other characters as well...
I can already hear the Xbox fanboys screaming...    Master-Chief... 
Master-Chief... :D