Setting Decoy Eyes...a quick tutorial

Geoff Vine

Active member
Drill a clean hole. I use a brad bit and start with the drill in reverse to cut the perimeter


Use two part epoxy to set the eye


It hardens quick and the placement of the eye isn't confused by trying to fill at the same time


Fill with latex sandable putty. It's easy to shape by adding some water to smooth


Start at the center of the eye and sooth the filler outward in all directions


Use a tool or you fingernail to clean filler off the eye and shape the perimeter. I use my nail and push out from the center


Sand the filler staying away from the eye. If sandpaper touches the eye it will scratch instantly


Seal the decoy and cover the eye and filler. The varnish on the glass will be removed with base coat paint later



Thanks Geoff for making the difficult task of mounting eyes so much more understandable for us newer carvers. I appreciate it!

Very, very nice. Really beautiful work, almost too perfect for me :).

Thanks for sharing, it is just amazing to see.


Thanks for a very well-done instructional. I use the same filler. If I'm putting in eyelids, I shape them with the paintbrush while wet.

And, Oh, I only scratch the eyes with my sandpaper about 50 % 0f the time....

All the best,

I want a tutorial on head carving...particularly cutting in the bill so perfectly. If you are going to be at the Worlds...I'll shoot it and write it up! ;)
Great tutorial! Do you do anything special for the proper alignment in the front view? In other words, do the eyes focus in on the end of the bill?
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You guys are welcome. Thanks for the responses.

Terry - If you look at the bottom'll find that the eye is looking right at you!

I set them so they are parallel with the surface of the head in that area. They aren't twisted in the opening, up, down, or forward.
Capt Fred Muhs used powder water putty and yellow carpenters glue mixed and inserted the eye, The excess was used to make eye lids. With a finepoint brush you could under cut the eye lids. Keep adding water to the brush to keep workable. No sanding, no scratches.
Great tutorial! Do you do anything special for the proper alignment in the front view? In other words, do the eyes focus in on the end of the bill?

Terry, if the birds are so close they can see what direction the focus of the decoy's eyes are, I think it is too late, because if you shoot now you will likely hit your decoys!

Geoff, great tutorial...I use basically the same methods, except somehow I always manage to make a much bigger mess...
Not piling on, but if it doesn't matter how they're set, then why put them in? In fact, why sand your decoys? There are a lot of things we can delete because "the birds don't see it!", but then many decoys also have to look good in hand. I would venture to guess that the majority of Geoff's decoys do not hit the water. Yes, I think it matters how the eyes are set. Geoff makes it look good, you would notice if they were uneven.
Terry, you're right on many levels, but mostly since Hank jumped on my favorite "tease Geoff about sanding" topic, I figured I'd hastle you instead. Actually I was thinking (hoping) that Geoff could post a front view of the finished head to see the eyes from that perspective.

Meanwhile, tomorrow is garbage day, I think I'll haul that cork out to the curb, and rummage through the neighbors' recycling cans for some more chlorox bottles...
This sounds like something that needs to be discussed, in detail, in the wee hours of the morning, in Strongsville. Terry...will I be seeing you soon?
Chuck: I would certainly be beholden to you if you did. Maybe we could work it out as an appearance fee or something? I don't do these things for free.....I am, after-all......a......Capitalist!
I am off the cider this year! I am bringing the nectar of the gods.....Canadian beer. We will be there around noon, in case you and Judi want to reconnect. Dinner Friday evening?