Port Townsend School of Woodworking
Preserving the Tradition

Carving a Makah-Nuuchahnulth Style Mask

Carve a Nuuchahnulth Style Mask using traditional tools.


Carving a Makah-Nuuchahnulth-Style Mask



This class is designed to refine your skills with traditional Northwest carving tools: adzes and straight or curved knives. Steve will show you the techniques for efficient carving of sculptural forms using these tools. You can make the adzes and knives you'll need in Steve's tool making class (see the Tools section below), or you can bring your own (see suggested tool list below).

The class will focus on making a Makah-Nuuchahnulth-style mask from a fresh block of green alder. We'll be sourcing the blocks specially for the class and Steve will be rough shaping the blocks prior to the class to expedite the sculptural process.


Class Description

This five-day class offers you a deep exploration of carving and design techniques, with the possibility that you can complete the mask by the end of the week. Carvers with any kind of sculptural experience will be more likely to complete the sculptural processes of the mask and possibly move on to the painting stage, while carvers with less general experience will be challenged by the tasks involved.

  • Proportions and layout of Mask Designs

  • Preparation of carving blocks

  • Adze carving techniques

  • Creating sculptural forms

  • Creating surface texture

  • Knife Carving Techniques

  • Carving details

  • Smoothing surfaces

  • Traditional paints and design elements



At a minimum you will need the following carving tools to participate in this class:

  • Straight edge elbow adze (actually a slight curve is best)

  • Curved edge elbow adze (for hollowing)

  • Curved traditional carving knife

  • Straight traditional carving knife

You can purchase these tool from various vendors or we offer you the opportunity to make the tools yourself with Steve Brown in his NW Carving: Toolmaking class.

Steve suggests these tools from the following vendors:

Kestrel Tools:  

  • Full size standard bend; C-C

  • Full size not so crooked; C-B (Optional)

  • Three-quarter size standard bend; C-3

  • Three quarter size not so crooked; C-5

    Note: For smaller hands or smaller work, particularly for the panel carving, bowls and ladles, and mask carving classes, the ¾ size knives are better suited for the work.

North Bay Forge:

  • Crooked knives: Tip Bent Knife and Shallow Bent Knife

  • Medium straight knife

If you are in the Port Townsend area, Edensaw now carries a variety of North Bay Forge tools. 

Steve would like to share this, Basic Steps in Knife Making

If you do not have tools - we may have some loaner tools, but please inquire before registering for the class.
Carvers who already own tools are encouraged to bring their carving kit with them. The discussions and history of various tools are great fun.


This is not a class for the beginning carver. You should have some prior experience using both adze and crooked knife.

Class Information and Registration

Class starts at 9:00 am on the first day.
This class takes place in Building 304 at Fort Worden. Map
Please read our What to Expect page for general information about the School.
Please also read our Registration Policy.

Class size: 10
Cost: $775
Materials Charge: $ 75

When you click on the Register link you will be able to register for the class or, if the class is full, sign up for the wait list.