Introduction: Small Wooden Eagle

I wanted to make a wooden eagle that I could use in other projects. I had these objectives.

1. Must be small enough to fit in an octagonal frame I had already made.

2. Must not be too complicated, that is, must be within my skill set.

3. Must not be too time-consuming.

4. I did not want to use a professional pattern. I wanted to use my own pattern.

5. Must be repeatable in case I decide to make additional eagles.


These instructions require the use of power tools and sharp hand tools. Safety is the most important consideration of this project. No final product is worth an injury. SAFETY FIRST.


HARDWOOD: oak and walnut

GLUE: Super glue

PAINT: Small amount of yellow paint

Small amount of black paint

TOP COAT: Shellac

TOOLS: Scroll saw

Small sanding and filing tools

Belt sander (optional)

Dremel tool or similar (optional)

Step 1: Preparation

I already had an octagonal base and frame, so that determined the size of the eagle. I used the pattern shown above, which is not professionally done. The final size of the eagle is 8.5" wide by 3.75" high. Feel free to use my pattern. Better yet, make your own drawing.

Step 2: Apply Pattern to Wood and Cut Out the Parts.

If you have ever done intarsia, you will be very familiar with this step. Make at least 3 copies of the pattern and cut out each part with scissors. Glue the pattern parts to the wood you have chosen, so that each part can be cut separately on a scroll saw. In order to make the parts fit together after cutting it may be necessary to file or sand some parts.

In photos four and five above, you can see how the parts fit together after some sanding and filing. In photo six, you can see that some parts are too thick. For example, the head is thinner than the main body/wing but it should be slightly thicker than the main body/wing because I want it to look as if the feathers at the back of the head are overlapping the feathers at the top of the body. Also the tail feather part is a little too thick and divisions between tail feathers have not been cut, because cutting those divisions weakens that part. I decided to wait on cutting divisions between individual tail feathers until I had that part at the right thickness. It was OK to cut the divisions between feathers in the wing sections early in this step, because those cuts do not go so far into the part.

Step 3: Sand Bottom of Parts to Adjust Thickness, Then Cut Tail Feather Divisions.

Using a belt sander on the bottom of each part, I adjusted thickness as follows:

Highest: head

Second: main body/wing part

Third: smaller wing

Fourth: tail feather part

Sanding is tricky. A belt sander can quickly remove a lot of wood so it is best be be cautious and slow in this step.

After adjusting the thickness of the tail feathers part, I cut the divisions between the tail feathers on the scroll saw.

Step 4: Shaping and Sanding the Top.

Please note there are exactly four pieces. Because of the work in the previous steps, the four pieces fit together and are at the thickness they should be. Now comes the most challenging step of the entire project -- shaping and sanding the top of each part. This step is very time-consuming.

The most difficult to shape is the head because the beak and eye must be distinct. The claws are also difficult.

Photos two and three show a Dremel with a sanding bit. I used a Dremel on the wing sections and sides/edges of the parts, but I did not use any electric tool on the beak, eye, or claws. Too much risk of ruining something. On the beak, eye and claws, I used only hand tools. The last two photos show small hand tools I used. I have a collection of small sharp knives as well as files and was able to use them on the beak, the eye and the claws, but was extremely careful not to hit myself with any tool.

The paper pattern gets removed as you sand and cut.

Step 5: Glue the Pieces Together

In this step you will glue the four parts together. I recommend super glue gel. In the photo, you see I used Gorilla brand. Gorilla is a good brand, but it is not the only brand that I use.

Please note that the first photo, which shows parts ready for gluing, is taken on a piece of birch plywood. I did NOT use that plywood for my glue base. I put the parts on plastic on top of solid, flat wood.

Photos two and three show the top of the eagle after gluing. Please be aware that more sanding and filing will be required. You will no doubt find small areas that need attention. Also, it will be essential to remove glue residue.

The fourth photo shows the back of the eagle. Note there are only four pieces. They fit together pretty well.

Photos five and six show final dimensions.

Photos seven, eight and nine show how it might fit in the frame.

Step 6: Fill Gaps

You may see small gaps between the parts. I mix hardwood sawdust with a small amount of water and with glue to fill them.

In the first photo please note two jars half full of hardwood sawdust, walnut in the left, oak in the right. Put a small amount of one type of sawdust into a disposable container, add a small amount of water (just enough to moisten the dust), then add wood glue. Mix. Using a small tool work this into the gaps. Allow to dry. Then more sanding is required.

Step 7: Painting

The next step is painting. For me, this is a difficult step.

I masked areas for painting. The first photo shows results after masking and painting then removing masking tape from the claws. The second photo shows my results are not so good because my painting skills are weak. It took a lot of painting, scraping, sanding and repainting to get a decent paint job on the beak, eye and claws. I believe you will do better at painting than I.

Step 8: Apply Top Coat

Before applying top coat, use very fine sandpaper to smooth the eagle as best you can but avoid messing up the painting.

I use two coats of shellac for top coat. I do not have a photo showing that process, but photos above show the final result. The third photo shows eagle in a frame but it is not glued in yet. I am not quite ready for that final step.