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I’m not the only one who straight up steals ideas from stores like Target and Crate and Barrel, am I? A few weeks ago, I was at Target in the home decor section and I found a wooden bunny sculpture and I picked it up and I looked at it and I liked how it looked… and then I realized it kind of had that same vertical symmetry that would work well as a bandsaw project.
So like any sane, normal person, I picked it up off the shelf and started taking photos of it in the middle of the aisle and then promptly put it back on the shelf and continued on my merry way. I got home and I pulled it into Illustrator and traced it out and made myself a template.
And this is just a proof of concept… but this is what I came up with last night in using the template. And while it’s still really rough, but it’s a good enough proof of concept to make me happy. But I couldn’t continue with this last night anyway because I accidentally hit my finger, so I had to go in and do a little first aid.
But it’s fine. My finger’s fine and now I want to try and give this another go with a nicer piece of wood like walnut, rather than just cedar, which is what this is. But yeah, this seemed like a fun project, and I’ll have the template available on my website if you’re interested. So yeah, move over, Bandsaw Reindeer, Mr. Bunny is in town!
I can sometimes be a bit of a tease when doing a project like this, so before we get too in the thick of it, let me show you the final “better bunny” made out of walnut. I really liked how it turned out, and while it’s not perfect, it’s about as good as I can ask for for my first-ever power-carving project.
I started by cutting my piece of walnut to size on my miter saw. After it was cut to size, I decided to be lazy… or extra… or both… and use my laser cutter to mark the bunny pattern on my wood. Please, please, please do not think you need a laser to do this project. Printing the template and gluing it on the side of the block of wood is what 99% of you would and should do.
This was just honestly 5% easier as I was already out of my shop and that way I didn’t have to go in the house to fetch my prints and cut it out. With the bunny marked on both sides, I could cut it out on the bandsaw. I started with the tallest dimension as it’s easier to see where the scrap needs to be glued back on from the short dimension.
If that doesn’t make sense right now, you’ll see what I mean shortly. You can throw your scrap away from in between the ears, but the scrap from the sides we need to keep and temporarily glue back on with hot glue. Try to place the glue on the outside of your cut line for the side profile. If you’re wondering why we’re gluing this back on, there’s two reasons for this.
One, the top piece contains our template markings, which, uh, we need. The second reason is that it gives us a flat, level, surface to rest on the bandsaw table as we cut. Once the hot glue has had a moment to set up, we can immediately get to work cutting out the side profile. This profile is always easier to cut as we’re not cutting through nearly as much wood.
If you’re relatively new to using a bandsaw, make sure to not take the turns super tightly or you may break the blade. Instead, either back out and start a new cut at the angle you need, or shimmy around a little bit of the transition point to make room for you to rotate your workpiece around the blade.
So you could totally stop here and just have it kind of be a rustic, blocky bunny… it’s identifiably a rabbit. So from a distance, especially you, you, you could get away with it looking kind of unfinished like this. But I want to take it a step further and really find that rounded organic rabbit shape inside. So what I’m going to do is I’m gonna take it over to my belt sander to get rid of some of the larger chunks that I know will be going away, such as the the back right here. I’m going to basically turn these 90s into 45s, and get rid of some of the detail here. The face is also really square right now and, and this will be more of a, you know, an oval shape once we’re done. And then I’ll use my burr bit in my Dremel to really find the organic bunny shape inside.
So I just got down on the belt sander and it already looks a lot better, especially in the face. I’ve got much more of a rounded shape. Unfortunately, I can’t get to the chin really, and there’s just areas on the side, like by the ear where I’ve got bandsaw lines. So that’s where the burr bit comes inside the Dremel comes in and we’re going to do that next.
This is a little chunk of spinning metal that’s going to really take this project to the next level. You’ve heard me describe it as a burr bit a few times, and this close up really shows where that name comes from. It’s literally covered in a ton of tiny metal burrs that grab onto the wood and clear it away as it spins.
I started by doing a first pass all around the rabbit’s body to bring the entire surface to the same level of roughness so that I could more easily see what needed my attention. After that, I focus on the most obvious bandsaw lines that were left behind from the initial cutting.
I also gave early attention to the hard 90 degree angles that were difficult or impossible to reach with the belt sander to give it a more organic shape.
Then I mostly just went with the flow, working on what felt to be calling me in the moment.
For the bunnies tail the bands all just left a wide chunk the entire width of its backside. So I brought it in from both sides and smooth it out until it more resembled Peter Cottontail’s cotton tail.
I mentioned earlier that this was my first power carving project, and true to the name, I really found it worked well to kind of treat this like a carving knife, sort of pulling it towards your thumb. Now, obviously, if a carving knife makes light contact with your thumb as you pull it towards you, that’s generally okay if you have good control. So it might not seem wise to be doing that same thing with a literal spinning medieval mace, but I didn’t find it problematic as the direction of the spin makes a bit want to pull away from you, so I found it generally safe.
Speaking of safety, you may notice I’m wearing a glove with my non-tool hand. In most woodworking applications, you don’t want to be wearing a glove as the glove getting caught on the blade can pull your arm or hand in, making your injury far worse.
Here are my thoughts on that: towards the beginning of the video I mentioned, I’d already cut myself with this thing and that was because the bit skipped forward towards the hand I was holding the wood with. I didn’t want a repeat of that. But more than that, this isn’t a normal glove. This is a chainsaw milling glove, and it’s a special type of glove lined with a ton of long fibers that are specifically engineered to bind up a chainsaw and stop it as soon as possible should it make deep enough contact.
While the makers of these gloves might not have had this specific application in mind, I figured it might offer a similar level of protection should I make contact with my hand. Sure enough, I did make accidental contact with my hand right about… here and the glove protected my hand from damage and also survived the blow itself, since it didn’t cut very deep.
Definitely still scares you in the moment though!
Despite the few scares, this was otherwise a really fun and kind of relaxing project. Power carving is something I’ve been interested in dabbling in for a while, but never really made the effort to actually buy a carving bit and give it a try, and, truth be told I still didn’t.
I got this one for free in my attendee tote bag from WorkbenchCON 2023 filled with sponsor goodies. This one is by a company called Kutzall and it worked really well and I definitely recommend it. If you’re interested in giving it a try, I’ll have a link in the description below. #NotAnAd, just a fan.
Also worth noting, I’m using my Dremel with the flexible extension shaft that is much easier to hold in your hand like you would a carving knife. Could you use it in the bulky motor body itself? Probably? But you’re going to get a lot of hand fatigue from the heft and the weight. So having something more akin to a marker or knife handle makes it much nicer to work with. As for of the specifics of my bunny, I decided against adding facial details to the bunny like Target did. I didn’t find these overly necessary and figure it’d be really easy for me to screw those up.
I did want to add in the hind leg details though, so after I was happy with the rest of the body, that’s where I moved on to next. Using a sharpie, I drew marker lines on my bunny to guide my hand as not entirely freehand the carving.
And you’ll notice I switched back to the cedar bunny here for the first go. I figured I’d practice with the lower stakes bunny and come up with a plan of attack for the hind legs before doing it on the walnut one. What I found work best was to carve along my line in its entirety and then carve further above the line down into it, effectively transitioning the rest of the body down to where the leg contour starts.
Then, with that transitioned, I could round over and smooth out the outer portion of the hip. Because of the direction of the spin of the tool, I found this easier on one side of the bunny than the other, but just having patience and taking your time is about the only necessary skill on a project like this.
After the back legs were carved out, I went around fixing up any final areas that were calling me, before progressing on to the less fun part of any project: sanding.
I’m always so torn about sanding on projects like these. I start telling myself that it doesn’t need to be perfectly smooth, that a little bit of tool lines and texture makes it look homemade and natural. But then after doing the first few sanding grits, 60 and 80, and it starts to look smoother, I talk myself into progressing the 120, 180, 220, and sometimes even higher.
The only problem is that when I go up to the higher grits, I’m not overly strict about making sure 100% of the scratches from the higher grits are gone before moving on. And I don’t usually notice until the end, which if you can piece together from my foreshadowing is what happened on this project. I know, I know it still looks pretty good and the only reason I’m so hard on it is because I’m the one who made it. I’m still working on that self-deprecation thing, but anywho I sanded it through all the grits wiping down with mineral spirits removes some of the excess dust and letting it dry entirely before continuing on to the next grit.
After my final bout of sanding and mineral spirits wipe down, I was excited to move on to finishing. A spray finish like canned polyurethane might have been slightly easier, but I had some wipe on polish on hand and decided to go with that.
This bunny was large enough that I could reach all this nooks and crannies with my cloth without being so large that it was tedious to do by hand.
Per the directions, I let it dry for a few hours between coats doing a light sand between each.
All right, so I’ve done about four or five coats of the wipe on polish on the bunny, and it looks good. There’s a nice like, matte luster to it, but there’s also a few areas like on the top of the head and front of the ears where there are some… kind of scratches visible where I probably should have sanded it a little better than I did and I didn’t realize it until I got to the higher grits. So I think I’m to try to put a layer of paste wax on top of the polyurethane to try to buff a few of those out. I know it’s not going to be perfect: those scratches are still going to be there and you can just fill everything entirely with paste wax and expect it to be perfect. But I think… I think it will help a little bit. And then that’ll also give me the ability to kind of buff to the luster I’m looking for, which is a smidge shinier than this, I think just to kind of show some of the details in the in the legs and whatnot.
And I know paste wax isn’t the most durable finishes, but for smaller decor items like this, I find it super easy to apply and get a very light film finish that super flexible in terms of getting the sheen you want with a little bit of buffing.
So there you have it. A power-carved bandsaw bunny perfect for any Easter mantle decor.
And if you like this project, be sure to check out my bandsaw projects playlist. Cheers!
Ready to carve a wooden bunny yourself?
Below are links to various tools and materials used in this project to get you going. As a heads up, some are affiliate links which allows me to receive a small commission if you buy something, at no extra cost to you. Every little bit helps me continue making videos like this, so I appreciate your support and consideration!
Kutzall Power Carving Bits: https://amzn.to/3KgDrob
Dremel Rotary Tool: https://amzn.to/3Mkj3UL
Chainsaw Milling Gloves: https://amzn.to/40PLbmu
Cordless Hot Glue Gun: https://amzn.to/3m1deAG
Minwax Wipe-On Poly: https://amzn.to/42OrahY
Minwax Paste Wax: https://amzn.to/3JVljPh
2” Sanding Discs: https://amzn.to/40pU2LL