Wood Carving Fish Decoys

With the ice fishing wood carved fish decoy’s body shaped its time to cut the gills, eyes, and scales of our decoy.


wood carivng the ice fishing decoyStep 9

With a pencil mark where you want your fish gills.  this pencil line is a curved-sided “v” that falls about 3/4″ to 1″ away from the mouth.  The v-gouge cuts a two-side stroke.  Use several cuts to deepen the gill line.

You can also use your bench knife to cut the gill line by making one cut 1/16″ from the pencil line, angling the knife point towards the line.  make a second cut 1/16″ along the other side of the pencil line, also angling the point towards the line.   This free-form chip carving cut will lift a v-line of wood.

carving a fish decoyStep 10

This photo is from another fish decoy carving session.  Up-end a round gouge so that the carving tool is at a 90 degree angle to the wood.  Roll the cutting edge where you want the eye, it will cut a perfect circle.

Roll the gouge several times to create the depth of the cut line.  With your bench knife cut along the wood in the face area, carving up to the round eye.  Use the bench knife to round over the eye.

adding scales to a fish decoyStep 11

With a pencil and ruler, mark lines along the fish body at 1/4″ intervals.  These will be the guide line for your fish scale cutting.  The size of your scales is determined by the size of your round gouge.  My gouge is a half-circle 3/8″ wide gouge.



wood carving fish scalesStep 12

Up-end your large round gouge.  Place the gouge’s cutting edge along the pencil guide lines.  Push the gouge’s cutting edge into the wood, use a light rocking motion.

Cut the next fish scale by placing the outer point of the cutting edge of the gouge against the point of the first cut scale.  Create one row of scales.


wood carving fish scalesStep 13

With your bench knife cut along the round gouge curve on the back side – tail side – of each scale to slightly lower the wood in the body.  You can also use your bench knife at the intersection points between the scales to insecure a clean, sharp v-shape at this spot.



fish decoy wood carvingStep 14

Begin the next row of fish scales, repeating steps 12 and 13.  Set your up-ended round gouge with one edge point at the center of a scale in the first row to stagger this row.

1 thought on “Wood Carving Fish Decoys”

  1. Pingback: Wood Carving Techniques | LSIrish.com

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