The Wooden Whale of Woe




About: Enough about me.

Greeting my fellow Instructables I've made this whale mostly out of branches and other things I had laying around the house, it was 100% free. The story all starts when my partner in crime and I were in Target a couple weeks back and had seen this very simple outline of a 1' x 2" wooden whale made out of a 3/4" plank of wood and a poorly washed paint job. They were asking 30 bucks for it, Ef that. We were getting it for our nautical themed bathroom so I was gonna go ahead and replicate it however i would have had to go out and bought a nice piece of wood (not that they are that pricy but a little bit of imagination would lead me to a simple yet challenging solution, one that you couldn't buy in stores) And so was born The Whale of Woe! (enter whale sounds) Come with me as we embark on a journey of bravery and tales of such imminent peril, but seriously you need to gather some branches either from the backyard or your local forest. Firstly, find a pattern you want to make it's could be anything, it will just be easier when you go out and fetch your sticks to know how much area you're covering for my 1'X2' I used about 6 or 7 5' to 6' feet 3/8" round branches. It is better to pick more than not enough, let's GO!

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Step 1: The Big Picture

Once you've thought about what you want to make, draw it up or even do a Google image to get new ideas. Size it up on your screen, projector or anything else you have handy for transferring the image to the board. If you start this way, you will have a rough idea of how may branches and sizes you would need to bring back from your quest into the wilderness.

Remember: if you are using someone else's artwork for profit, make sure you have that person's permission and copyrights.

Step 2: Pickup Sticks and Other Mat'l Handling

The outline of the whale was made with fresh green branches that were roughly 1/4" to 3/8" thick, the greener the branch the more flexible it is just be very careful when the bends are excessive. Now, start at a really sharp bend where two branches will meet up and for the two halves of the outlined whale and work your way around the top adding nails wherever necessary (use a drill to make pilot holes for easier and finer work with the nails.

Get yourself

- pruners

- gluegun and glue sticks

-1/2" plywood (big enough to hold your whale)

- strong glue

- exacto knife

- small detailing nails

- hammer

- drill

- multiple coloured, size variety of sticks (fresh green ones for outline)

Step 3: The Whale Awakens

As seen in the first picture, grab two green, long, smaller and very playable branches, remove any small twigs or nodes that could interrupt the inside branches. Fasten the two sticks going opposite direction (I used a glue gun but two nails would work fine as a wedge, as long as they don't move while you're building your outline.) Now carefully make your way around the top side following your pattern and adding nails wherever needed (you'll get the feel for it once you start, I ain't worried. I added two smaller separate pieces for the flippers.

Hint: to make a bigger bend without breaking the branch try pre-rolling the one part to warm it up a bit.

Step 4: Angler

Try to pick an angle to which the direction of the branches are going to be throughout the whole whale (vertical, 35 degrees, horizontal, etc.) Start at one end cutting all your pieces one by one they fitting and adjusting. (this part will take you awhile so throw on a movie or some good tunage and take your time) I alternated with the size and colours as I was going, I suggest using the pruner to get the rough cut and tweaking it with the exacto knife or a box cutter and using the glue gun to fasten them along the way, nice and tight ;) Once all done, I filled in all the open holes and cracks with glue gun then i applied the the ultra bond glue on top (this was to prevent the liquid glue from seeping through the other side.

Remember: the top side of the whale (seen surface) will be the back of the design so you can add as much glue as you want I used about 20 sticks (small ones).

Step 5: The Glue

Before taking your art off of the plywood be sure to fasten all of the sticks with an ultra bonding glue, but beware, some glues foam up like hell, seep through, the other side and all you hard work will parish. So, before applying a layer of any kind of glue, try it out on a test piece and let it dry for at least 24 hours. (I used the 3x PL Premium Lepage Glue, it holds like a son of a bitch but the foaming action is fairly dramatic. Plus it dries up white) Once you have everything figured out apply a thin layer to your "whale" using a brush or something similar and let it dry overnight. This way you ensure that nothing will move once you remove the nails from the board. Wait a day or two to be safe.

Step 6: Minor Details

The glue I was using managed to foam up in between the branches (I must have missed some spots with my glue gun), so I used a mini torch to add a burnt look effect which added a lot of character and darkened the glue that was visible and got rid of all the glue strings (carful not to melt the glue thats holding the branches together though lol) I then added the details using hemp rope and a button with the crazy glue and a hanger on the back with two small screws (two pilot holes to prevent cracking the branches.

Hint: hold up the design with your finger and thumb to find the centre balance (or off balance) and mark the back to know where to screw in the hanger.

Step 7: Revelation

There you have it, put it up on display and hope that everything holds up, after a week if nothing has moved, you've used enough glue and everything will be alright in the end :) .

Let me know if you have questions, and don't forget to share your attempts at this project.

Hope you have fun, I'm out,


Step 8:

Wood Contest

Participated in the
Wood Contest



  • Indoor Lighting Contest

    Indoor Lighting Contest
  • Metal Contest

    Metal Contest
  • Make It Fly Challenge

    Make It Fly Challenge

9 Discussions

Brokk Hrafnsson

1 year ago

I love the title, and the delivery was great.

This is going to sound sarcastic, but it isn't intended that way: you actually managed to capture the majesty of a 45 ton predator with twigs and glue! This actually looks like a damn whale. I am so gonna make one of these...


4 years ago

I just saw a dolphin version like this a couple weeks ago. my mom loved it, I knew it would be expensive so I figure there's got to be a way to make looked and the price...$110. around my place I think I need to use driftwood...the green wood is what I need to score. ty for sharing!


4 years ago

Nice! I love all of the carefully spelled out steps


4 years ago on Introduction

cool, always wanted to so something like this..thanks for detailed steps..


4 years ago

This looks great and seems fairly simple to do. Thanks for the instructable.


4 years ago on Introduction

Such a great idea!

I love homemade art/home decor stuff like this. Very inspired by this!