Introduction: How to Carve Soap

Required Materials:

  • Bar of soap (a harder soap like lever 2000 is recommended)
  • Small knife
  • Paper clip
  • Thumb tack
  • Pencil

Step 1: Picking a Design

The first step is deciding what you want to carve. For instructional purposes, we will choose a small car.

Step 2: Transferring Your Design

Next, you will need to transfer your design to the bar of soap. A good way to think about doing this is to imagine you are drawing different views of your object and then wrapping those drawings around a cube.

To accomplish this, use either a paper clip or pencil to gently etch your design into the bar of soap. If you are not confident in your artistic abilities, you can place a piece of paper with a design you traced over your bar of soap, and then make indentations on the paper which will transfer onto the bar of soap.

Step 3: Etching Top View

You will want to etch the top view of your object first, as this will often determine the length and width of your object and save you from having to re-etch the side views during the carving process.

Step 4: Removing Excess Bulk

After you have finished etching the top view, use your knife to carefully remove any unnecessary bulk before proceeding onto the side etchings. Be sure to leave a little bit of excess to account for any mistakes you might make carving though.

Step 5: Etching Side Views

Next, you will want to etch your side views using the same methods as described above.

Step 6: Carving

Now that you have finished transferring your design, you’re ready to begin carving. Start using your knife to remove material from the bar of soap using your etchings as guidelines. A good way to approach this is to imagine you are excavating some delicate artifact. In a sense, you’re digging your design out of the bar of soap.

***WARNING: When using a knife, cut away from, and never towards yourself.

Step 7: Examine Your Work

Periodically examine your work to make sure you are keeping symmetry. Make any necessary adjustments by shaving off excess material.

Step 8: Smoothing Out Rough Surfaces

Once you get most of the carving out of the way, it is time to focus on the finer details. First, you’ll want to smooth out any tooling marks left over from carving. To do this, you can rub a paper clip (or other straight edge) along the surfaces of your carving to smooth them out.

Step 9: Adding Detail

After you have finished smoothing out any rough surfaces, you can begin adding details with a thumb tack.

Step 10: Completion

With the last of the details added, you are done.