Holiday Carving / Patterns & Projects

Super Simple Santa, Fisherman, Soldier Ornaments

Faces are quick and easy when you hide the eyes

By Don Worley

Many people are familiar with the tiny biting insect called the no-see-um. I created a series of carvings I call no-see-ums because the eyes are hidden by hats or hair. Designed to eliminate the task of carving symmetrical eyes, these easy carvings are addictive. The technique is easy to adapt to other no-see-um faces—use the bonus patterns or create your own designs.

Making the Project

Start with 2″ by 2″ (51mm by 51mm) stock and use a band saw to cut it diagonally (See Cutting Triangular Blanks). Note: It is dangerous to use a table saw for this cut. Copy the pattern, cut it out, and flip it over. Trace the flipped pattern onto the flat back of the blank, and then mark the material outside the tracing to be removed. Use a band saw, coping saw, scroll saw, or a carving knife to cut on the line, resulting in a triangular blank.

Cutting Triangular Blanks

Set a table saw blade to 45° and cut halfway through a scrap block of wood, such as a 2 by 4. Cut from both directions to create a 45°-angled groove in the middle. Slice halfway down the length of the board through the center of the groove with a band saw.

Clamp the angled jig to the band saw table. Position a square carving blank in the groove and feed the blank through the band saw blade to create two triangular carving blanks.

Finishing the carving

Use a flap sander and 320-grit sandpaper to lightly sand the carving. Then, dunk the carving in water and blot it with a paper towel. Paint the face with medium flesh. Tint the nose and cheeks, and paint the hat, with tomato spice. Paint the mustache, beard, and hat trim white. Finish the carving with a coat of clear spray finish if desired.

Basswood: 2″ x 2″ x 8″ (51mm x 51mm x 20.3cm), cut diagonally (the extra length makes it easier to cut the triangular blanks safely)
Acrylic paints: medium flesh, tomato spice, white
Spray finish: clear (optional)

Carving knife
Band saw
Coping saw or scroll saw (optional)
60° V-tool: 1/4″ (6mm)
#9 gouge: 1/4″ (6mm)
#11 veiners: 3/16″ (5mm), 5/16″ (8mm)
Micro gouges: 1/8″ (3mm), 5/32″ (4mm)
Flap sander: 320 grit

CLICK HERE to download the Super Simple Santa Pattern.

CLICK HERE to download the Super Simple Fisherman Pattern.

CLICK HERE to download the Super Simple Soldier Pattern.

Read Carving the Little Guys by Keith Randich for more information on simple carving projects. This skill-building beginner’s guide reveals the secrets of capturing humor and expression in caricature carving. Learn to transform small blocks of wood into expressive little people with illustrated cut-by-cut instructions. Basic information is included on wood, tools, sharpening, cutting, safety, finishing, repairs, and more. The book is available at for $9.99 plus S&H.


Read the full step-by-step instructions in Woodcarving Illustrated Fall 2011 (Issue 56). 

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