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Monday, May 25, 2009

Carving a Santa Ornament

This step-by-step tutorial will be broken up into daily parts, not so much to benefit the person trying to carve the Santa, but to benefit me, who must assemble this effort. It also will serve as a much needed FEEDBACK mechanism. FEEDBACK is where you can tell me where I have confused you. Where you need some clarification. I promise I will address each comment...and make adjustments to the tutorial.

Before we start to actually carve, lets sketch a few Santa faces. Our sketches should be about the same size as the one we will carve. And, that would fill a space about one inch wide by 3 inches long. Notice the differences between each of the sketches. Sketch #1 has a mustache that is curled down, while the others have a mustache that is turned up. You might also notice that when the mustache is turned up, the face is kinda smiling. Notice the different shapes for the beard. See how the cheeks can determine a different look. I think the rounder the cheeks are, the happier the look is. Therefore, I'm going with Santa #4, for my carving. Any sketch you select for your carving will work fine with the step-by-step-directions.

OK, now we might begin to think about carving this Santa. I will be carving a piece of 1/2" x 1/2" x 4 " Basswood. But I like to carve smaller. I recommend starting out with a piece of 3/4" x 3/4" x 6" Basswood. If you cannot got a piece of Basswood that size, have someone rip a 3/4" strip off of a clear Pine board, that can be purchased at Lowes or Home Depot.

What you will need to carve this Santa:

A. The wood. 3/4" x 3/4" x 6". (several pieces for additional trials)

B. Carving knife. I use a pocket knife. (The sharper the better)

C. A Carving glove for the hand holding the wood when carving.

D. Strop. For touching up and keeping the knife edge sharp.

E. Pencil. For drawing lines on the wood.

F. Band aids


This step-by-step tutorial is intended for the advanced beginner or intermediate wood carver. This means that I will not be getting into sharpening your knife, nor any detailed safety related to wood carving. I will, however, try to include some tips that make things easier, and some other more basic things that will serve as a review.


The 5 minute wizard was my first attempt at writing a step-by-step tutorial for carving. The steps that were used in the 5 minute wizard are nearly the same as for the Santa. Only with the Santa there will be more detail and more facial features.

Step 1: Stop cut at bottom of hat.

Step 2: Slice/thumb push cuts up to the bottom of the hat stop cuts.

Step 3: Cuts on each side of the hat bottom / outside corners of the wood.

Step 4: Thumb push cut to remove wedge of wood at nose bottom.

Step 5: Stop cuts to define each side of nose and the tops of the eye sockets. Then use push/slice cuts to remove wedges of wood from each side of the nose, up to the top eye socket stop cuts.

Step 6: Draw and make stop cuts defining the mustache. Further shape the nose and use thumb push/slice cuts to the mustache stop cuts; to define the beard, and cheeks.


Stop Cut: This cut is usually a knife cut straight down into the wood. The stop cut allows you to slice up to the cut and remove wood to obtain the sharp edge that you want.

Thumb push/slice Cut: This knife cut is made using the knife holding hand and the thumb of the hand that is holding the wood. The thumb of the hand holding the wood pushes the knife blade to the wood, while the other hand holds and controls the position of the knife blade.

You will notice that both the wizard and the Santa will be carved on the corner of the 3/4 x 3/4 inch wood.


Donnelly said...

Your sketches for your Santa carvings would look fantastic stitched up as a little red work quilt!
Have a great day.

Chris said...

Thanks, Tom, this is great. I'm off in search of wood. And Bandaids.