Heirloom Santa Ornament
  1. Cut the blank. Trace the outline of the ornament on the front and side of the blank. Cut along the lines with a band saw. Shave off three of the sharp corners with a band saw table set to a 45° angle or use a sharp knife. Draw a circle on the top of the blank.

  2. Round the blank. Carve a cylinder shape for the metal hanger. Round the blank with a carving knife. Draw the line marking the bottom of the hanger. Make a shallow stop cut around the line and gently relieve the area below the hanger. Sketch in the face area.

  3. Begin shaping the face. Carve along the top and sides of the face with a 11mm #11 veiner. Draw a vertical centerline. Draw horizontal lines for the bottom of the hat, the eyes, and the base of the nose. Sketch in the beard. Cut across the eye mark with the same veiner. Make a stop cut along the hat line and taper the face upto the hat line.

  4. Carve the eye sockets. Redraw the centerline and make a mark on either side of the line to establish the width of the bridge of the nose. The bridge of the nose is equal to the width of one eye. Use an 11mm #11 veiner to carve the eye sockets. Start at the side of the face and carve up to the bridge of the nose.

  5. Rough out the nose. Make a stop cut along the bottom of the nose with a knife. Cut up to the stop cut from below to separate the nose from the lips and chin. Make stop cuts along the wings of the nose and cut up to the stop cuts from below.

  6. Determine the position of the nostrils. Make a horizontal line across the bridge of the nose halfway between the brow and the tip of the nose. Make angled lines from the wings of the nose up to the horizontal line. Make a cross mark halfway along the angled lines.

  7. Rough out the wings of the nose. Cut up to the cross marks with a %" 60° V-tool to establish the top of the wings of the nose. Make stop cuts at the base of the V-tool cuts and cut up to the stop cuts from the side to establish the sides of the wings.

  8. Finish the nose. Cut alongside the bridge of the nose from the wings up to the eyebrows with a 11mm #11 veiner. Round the tip and wings of the nose. Make stop cuts with a 14" #9 gouge for the nostrils. Cut up to the stop cuts with the same gouge.

  9. Begin carving the eyes. Draw a straight line across the eyes to keep them symmetrical. Cut a C-shape on the inside corner of each eye with an 11mm #2 gouge. Draw a small arch across the top of the straight line and make a stop cut straight in along the arched line.

  10. Finish carving the eye. Use a carving knife. Cut a wedge from the inside corner of the eyes. Carve upward across the eye to form the upper eyelid. Cut thin slits across the eyeballs to separate the upper and lower eyelids producing a squinting effect.

  11. Carve the cheeks. Draw hook shapes from the wings of the nose out to the edge of the face. Carve along the line with a 14" 60° V-tool. Make a stop cut along the V-cut and cut down to the stop cut to form the bottom of the cheeks.

  12. Carve the temples. Cut straight in at the temples with a ¾ #9 gouge. Then cut up to the stop cuts to free the chips and separate the temples from the glass area of the ornament. 

  13. Carve the mouth and mustache. Draw in the mustache and cut along the line with a ¼ 60 V-tool. Undercut the mustache with a knife. Draw in the mouth and carve it with a knife. Use a 5mm #11 veiner to cut under the lower lip. Carve the mustache hair with a ¼ 60 V-tool.

  14. Carve the flowing beard. Draw in the beard and carve along the lines with a 5mm #11 veiner. Separate the mustache from the beard by placing the veiner on its side and carving wood away from the beard. Carve the beard details with a 14" #9 gouge. Add more texture to the beard with a 5mm #11 veiner.

  15. Finish the carving. Use a small V-tool to further texture the beard and add texture to the eyebrows. Use the same V-tool to carve the crow's feet and wrinkles under the eyes. Use a 14" #11 veiner to add the grooves to the top of the metal hanger.

Ornament: Painting the Ornament

Paint the hanger with full strength DecoArt pot of gold patio paint. Paint the glass with red metallic paint. When dry, dip the piece in a bucket of pure boiled-linseed oil. Let the ornament drain for about ten minutes, then blot off any oil that pools in the deep cuts. Do not wipe the carving.

Dilute the rest of the colors with 15 to 20 drops of water for every drop of paint. Use medium flesh for the exposed flesh. Use a brush to add thinned tomato spice blush on the nose, cheeks, forehead, and upper eyelid to create the blush. If the blush is too strong, remove some of the color with a clean wet brush. Use adobe for the lip and antique white for the fur trim of the hat. The beard and mustache are painted with wicker white.

Create a lighter wash of burnt umber paint by adding a few extra drops of water. Use this mixture to paint the eyes and shade the deep crevices. Let the paint dry for about 20 minutes, then seal the carving with several coats of Rust-Oleum painter’s choice clear matte finish.


Band saw

Chip carving knife of choice

11mm #11 veiner

yz 60° V-tool

Small V-tool


2%" x 216" x 614" basswood

Pure boiled-linseed oil

DecoArt pot of gold patio paint

Acrylic paint: red metallic, medium flesh, tomato spice, adobe, antique white, wicker white, burnt umber

Rust-Oleum painter's choice clear matte finish

#9 gouges: 14", %"

14" #11 veiner

5mm #11 veiner

11mm #2 gouge

Assorted paintbrushes