Folk Art Trees

Holiday Carving / Patterns & Projects

Folk Art Trees

Carve these festive trees to go along with your jolly polar bears

By Dave Francis

Carve these fun and easy evergreen trees to go with the folk art polar bear from the winter issue. I used a 4″ square, 12″ long piece of basswood, but you can use any size wood that you have. Make sure you keep all the tool marks on your trees and even give them a snowy-cap effect by drybrushing white on the branches. Create an entire lush and rustic forest for your holiday bear to live in!

Getting Started

Trace the tree profile with a pencil, making sure the grain runs vertically. Cut the shape on a band saw. Since this is a carving in the round, meaning it will be lifelike and viewed from all angles, always keep turning your block of wood while carving to keep the piece symmetrical. Try not to get carried away with working on just one angle, or you may remove too much wood.


Carving and Finishing

Rough out the project. Round the blank and establish the basic shape of the tree with a 1 9/16″ (40mm) #5 gouge. Draw the landmarks for branches with the pencil. Follow the branch lines with a 3/8″ (10mm) 60˚ V-tool. Then rough in these areas with a 1″ (25mm) #5 fishtail gouge, taking your time and checking your work often. With a bench knife, clean up the branches you just carved. 

Paint the trees with phthalo green. Drybrush the carving with white to create a snowy-cap effect, if desired. Antique the carving. Note: If you are apprehensive about antiquing your carving, practice on a scrap piece of basswood first. I applied a light coat of neutral shoe cream to the tree. This will allow you to antique the carving with a darker shoe cream without making the wood too dark. Buff with a clean cloth. Then apply dusky brown shoe cream. Wipe it off and buff to a nice shine. Display as desired.



  • Basswood, 4″ (10.2cm) square: 12″ (30.5cm) long
  • Pencil
  • Acrylic paints, such as Ceramcoat®: phthalo             green; Americana®: snow white
  • Kelly’s Shoe Cream: dusky brown, neutral
  • Clean rags

  • Band saw
  • Bench knife
  • #5 fishtail gouge: 1″ (25mm) 
  • #5 gouge: 1 9/16″ (40mm)
  • V-tool: 3/8″ (10mm) 60˚
  • Paintbrushes: assorted
About the Author
Dave Francis has been carving since getting hooked in 1992. He lives in the small West Kootenay town of Castlegar, British Columbia, with his wife Tammy. To date, he has completed over 9,150 Santas and related carvings, which reside in collections worldwide. For more of Dave’s work, visit or follow @snowcottagecarvings on Facebook and Instagram.


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