Halloween Santa

Fall Carving

Halloween Santa

Santa lovers will delight in this autumnal take on a classic design

By Russell Scott

Our Undercover Santa is at it again. This time, he is out on Halloween night, watching how the children behave. Christmas is still a little while away, but when you’re compiling naughty-and-nice lists, every moment counts. Although this is a Santa pattern, you can alter the carving to make yours a wizard, if desired. To paint the wizard, use a dark blue with stars and moons. You could attach a painted orb to the top of his staff and give him a long, twisted beard.

For Diane

This piece is a tribute to a beloved sister-in-law, Diane Nelson, who died from breast cancer in 2019. She absolutely loved autumn and Halloween, and I carved a unique Santa for her every Christmas for her collection. She was an artist and art teacher, and I inherited a box of paints from her. I wanted to use them to make something special.


Getting Started

Transfer the pattern to the blank. Cut the profiles with a band saw, and then mark the major landmarks.



Use a rough out knife to block out the arms, cat, jack-o’-lantern, and foot. Knock off the sharp corners and round the features. Redraw the detail lines as you remove wood. Drill a 1/4″ (6mm)-dia. hole into the hand you will insert the staff before carving the knuckles. Use the knife to shape the cat. Separate the head from the hood, and then carve the nose and eye sockets. Carve the hair and adjust the beard and mustache to your desired length. Round the back of the hood. Draw the eyes, round out the eyeballs, and then create the forehead. Use the tip of the knife to carve the jack-o’-lantern’s face and ridges. Add creases and folds throughout the robe. Carve the staff and raven separately, and then attach the bird to the end of the staff with a toothpick and glue. Secure the staff in the hand with glue.


Painting and Finishing

Wash the carving in warm water with a soft brush and liquid dish soap, such as Dawn®. Let dry, and then seal the carving with a coat of semigloss clear polyurethane spray. I went for a traditional Halloween look (see Paint Notes below). The details on the coat are painted, but you could woodburn them, if desired. Apply three part nautral and one part dark of Watco® wax with a clean brush. Wipe off the wax immediately with a cotton cloth. 


Paint Notes

Face: warm beige (1), drybrushed with burnt orange (1)

Hands: warm beige (1)

Robe: black (4), cadmium yellow (3), pumpkin calabaza (2), titanium white (4)

Crow: black (4)

Cat: baby pink (1), black (4), light olive green (1), baby pink (1)

Eyes: black (4), titanium white (4), light olive green (1)

Hair, eyebrows, and beard: dolphin grey (3), drybrushed with light ivory (3) and titanium white (4)

Jack-o’-lantern: black (4), lantern orange (1), woodland green (1)

Staff and shoe: burnt umber (1)

1 – Americana®

2 – Anita’s™

3 – Ceramcoat®

4 – Craft Smart®



• Basswood, 2 1/2″ (6.4cm) thick: Santa 2 3/4″ x  7″  (7cm x 17.8cm)

• Basswood, 5/8″ (1.6cm) thick: staff  3/8″ x 6 3/4″ (1cm x 17.1cm)

• Basswood, 1/2″ (1.3cm) thick: raven 3/4″ x 2 3/8″ (1.9cm x 6cm)

• Marker and pencil

• Glue: wood

• Toothpicks

• Cleaner and degreaser, such as Dawn®

• Cotton cloths

• Acrylic paints, such as Americana®: baby pink, burnt orange, burnt umber, lantern orange, light olive green, warm beige, woodland green; such as Anita’s™: pumpkin calabaza; such as Ceramcoat®: cadmium yellow, dolphin grey, light ivory; such as Craft Smart®: black, titanium white

• Finish: semigloss clear polyurenthane spray, such as Deft®

• Antique wax finish, such as Watco®


• Band saw

• Knife: rough out

• Drill with bit: 1/4″ (6mm)-dia. 

• Paintbrushes: assorted

• Woodburner (optional)

About the Author

Russell Scott of St. Paul, Minn., has been carving since 1999. He is the author of Carving Undercover Santas by Fox Chapel Publishing and teaches online and in person at carving shows and meetings. Check out his free instructional videos on YouTube at Scottcarvings. See more of his work on Etsy and purchase his roughouts at scottcarvings.com.


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