Introduction: Wooden Sugar Skull

A carved wooden sugar skull. With a jaw that hinges and a hidden comparment in the back of the skull.

A video of the build can be found here:


Wood, wood glue, band saw, wood carving tools, blue tape, flocking kit, paint, 2-part epoxy, flower shaped buttons, wooden dowel rod.

Step 1: Carving the Top Part of the Skull

Find a large chunk of wood or glue together multiple boards to make a large block. I glued together poplar boards and made a 5.5" cube because that is what was able to fit in my bandsaw.
Draw the front and side view of skull on front and side of the block.
With the band saw cut out the front view leaving sides intact.
Reattach the sides and then cut out the side view. This will leave you with a rough shape of a skull. You can begin carving from here.
What I did is I used photo reference of skulls and took my time carving. I mostly used chisels ,knives, rasps, and a Dremel. As I carved I would redraw parts of the skull and then continued to carve until I was happy with how it looked.
Once the carving is done sand to remove any tool marks

Step 2: Adding Hidden Compartment in the Back of Skull

This part is a little stressful because it involves cutting apart the skull you just spent hours carving.. You can skip this part of you wish and still have a cool project.
It's basically a band saw box. Cut the face off completely. Set the face aside.
Then with the remainder cut off the sides . Then do the same with the bottom and top. This will leave you with a chunk made up of the core and a section of the back. Cut that piece into a drawer.
Then glue the rest of the skull back together. I found it awkward to use clamps so I just used blue tape as clamps. Once the glue dries remove tape and sand everything smooth again.
The drawer should be able to slide into the opening. If it's too big just sand until it fits.

Step 3: Flocking Hidden Compartment.

if you don't know what flocking is it's a fine dust that when it coats an object leaves a velvety cloth-like feel.
I added flocking to the inside of the drawer as well as the inside of the skull.
Tape off everywhere that you do not want flocking. I choose red flocking . Brush on the red adhesive on the inside of the drawer and skull. Take your time and get full coverage. After that fill the flocking application tube and then puff the red flocking coating the adhesive you previously brushed on. Let dry overnight shake out the loose flocking and remove the tape.

Step 4: Making the Lower Mandible

Very similar to how we made the upper part of the skull.
Cut paper to the shape of the front and side view of the jaw.
Transfer the cut out paper to the front and side of the block of wood you are using for the lower mandible.
From there use the band saw to cut out the front view. Make sure to leave the sides whole .
Reattach the sides and then cut out the side view. This will leave you with a rough lower mandible. Begin carving from here.
Just like the upper part of the skull use photo reference and take your time to carve out all the details.

Step 5: Painting the Skull

Start off the paiting by doing a wash with black paint. Brush it on lightly then immediately wipe it off. This will give the carving depth and make the details stand out.
After that it's time to paint on the sugar skull features. Pull up reference photos of sugar skulls and paint your design onto skull. Once done use some sand paper to make the paint look old and worn. Then spray some clear coat over everything to protect it.

Step 6: Flower Button Eyes.

Find flower shaped buttons that will fit into the eye sockets. Glue them into place so that they won't float. Then mix up some two part epoxy and fill the eye sockets til the buttons are covered. Leave to cure.

Step 7: Building the Base

The base will both hold the skull and act as the mechanism for the hinging jaw.. I used Walnut for my base.
Cut out a teardrop shape that will be the bottom piece of the base.
Then cut a "Y" shaped piece. Drill two holes in the arms of the "Y" that will accommodate a dowel .
Screws the two parts of the base together.
In the upper part of the skull drill two holes on either side of the skull that will hold the dowel..
From there feed the dowel rod through the "Y" part of the base into the skull. Glue the dowel into the skull but do not add glue to the base. This will act as a pivot point for the upper part of the skull.
Now to attach the lower mandible to the base. Drill a hole for a dowel in the top of the teardrop part of the base. And also drill a hole into the bottom od the lower mandible.
Glue a dowel into the hole you made in the base. And glue the other end into the mandible.
Once the glue dries the project is complete.

Halloween Contest 2019

Participated in the
Halloween Contest 2019