Carving a snowman on ice skates

Add a few magnets to make him twirl. 

Carving a snowman can be so much fun!  Our carving has a vintage look and feel, which is accentuated by the old-time ice skates and the tilted hat.  

The simple plaid design on the hat band, heart, and mittens also adds interest to this cute wood carving.  His hands are clasped behind him. 

Carving a snowman

Carving a snowman tutorial at a glance

Carving a snowman: What you will need

For this tutorial you will need:

  • One basswood block that is 1 3/4 x 4 inches (4.4 x 10.16 cm) for the snowman.
  • One basswood block that is 2 x 2 inches (5.08 x 5.08 cm) for the hat, which you will glue to his head.
  • A roughout and a detail knife.
  • 1 U gouge (to easily remove wood from inside the hat).
  • Pencil (or magic marker).
  • Good carving gloves to protect your hands.
  • Acrylic paints and brush of choice (painting guide is at the end).

Carving a snowman: Getting started

  • Draw a line 1/2-inch (1.27 cm) from the bottom all around to mark the top of the skates (photo 1).
  • Draw a second line 1.75 (4.445 cm) inches from the bottom all around to mark the bottom of the head (photo 1).
Snowman guidelines on basswood1. Guidelines are drawn all around

Carving a snowman: Initial cuts

  • Use stop cuts at each corner and remove wood from underneath to create a notch (photo 2).
  • Continue to use stop cuts (or V cuts) to separate the head all around (photo 2).
  • Use the same method to notch the lower corners and separate the wood for the skates all round (photo 3).
Removing wood after stop cut2. Notch each corner
Snowman head and body are separated3. Head and skates are separated all around

 Carving a snowman: Round the head and start the shoulders

  • Using a series of V-cuts, round the head all around (photo 4).
  • Use a pyramid cut to create a triangle in the front and back where the skates will be separated (photo 5).
  • Start to round the body of the snowman.  He will be pear shaped with a pot belly, and have an indentation at each shoulder because his arms will be clasped behind him.  Start from the sides and work your way inward (photo 6).
Carving neck of snowman4. Rounding the head
Wood snowman head is rounded5. Skates are separated (repeat on back)
Rounded belly of wood snowman6. Shoulders and body taking shape

Carving a snowman: Add some details

  • Roughly draw the skates on the front (photo 7).
  • Draw the skates on the back and add the arms (photo 8).
Adding skates to carved snowman7. Skates are drawn (front)
Drawn guidelines for wooden snowman mittens8. Skates and arms (back)

Carving a snowman: Separate the arms and mittens

  • Use a stop cut across the guideline and remove wood from underneath to separate the arms and mittens on each side (photo 9). You can also use a line cut if that’s easier for you.
  • Remove wood in between the arms to create the back and shoulder blades.  We switched to a detail knife to define the mittens (photo 10).
Cutting arms on wooden snowman9. Separating the arms
Back arms of wooden snowman10. Arms and mittens are cut

Carving a snowman: Add more details

  • Draw buttons on the front of the snowman (photo 11).
  • Also draw the set up for the nose using our triangle-by-triangle nose carving technique (photo 11).
  • Cut wood off the base to shape the skates.  Be careful to leave enough wood for stability (photos 11-14).
  • Shave a little wood off the top of the skates to create a curve for the top of the skate (photos 11, 14).
  • Draw lines for the mitten bands (photo 14) that you will separate using narrow V-cuts.
Drawn face of wood carved snowman11. Details are drawn
Right view of wood carved snowman12. Right view
Left arm of wooden snowman13. Left view
Back view of carved snowman14. Back view

Carve the nose

  • Using our nose carving technique, make a stop cut under nose and a pyramid cut on each side of the nose (photo 15).
  • Since the nose will be pointed, make an angled cut under the forehead, giving you access to shape the nose further (photo 16).
Carving snowman nose15. Starting the nose
Carving top of wooden snowman nose16. Angled cut at top of nose

Carving a snowman: Shape the nose and draw the face

  • Shape the nose to a point by evenly slicing wood off on each side and making another angled cut underneath. Also smooth and round the forehead back to create a flat surface for the eyes (photos 17-19).
  • Draw on the eyes, lip, smile lines, and buttons (photo 17).
  • Use stop cuts and remove wood from above to shape the skates all around (photo 21). We made a design change to carve just one rim for the skates to avoid crumbling.
Face drawn on wood carved snowman17. Details are added
Right view of wood carved snowman18. Nose is shaped
Left view of wood carved snowman19. Left view
Back view of carved snowman20. Back view
Shaping skates on wood carved snowman21. Carving the skates

Carving a snowman: Start the hat

  • Draw a line about a 1/4-inch (1.2 cm) from the bottom of your 2 x 2-inch (5.08 x 5.08 cm) block for the brim of the hat.  You want to keep it a little thick so you don’t break it (photo 22).
  • Also draw a circle on the top of the hat to mark the cylinder that you will carve (photo 22).
Guidelines on wood snowman hat22. Hat guidelines are drawn

Carving a snowman: Shape the hat

  • Use a roughout knife to carve the hat into a cylinder shape (photo 23).
  • Separate the brim all around (photo 24).
  • Shave wood off the lower third of the hat to create the final shape (photo 25).
Refining wood carved snowman hat23. Creating the cylinder shape
Brim on wood carved snowman hat24. Hat brim is separated
Finished wood carved snowman hat25. Hat is fully carved

Carving a snowman: Add hat details

  • Draw the band around the hat (photo 26) and add the heart to the front (photo 27).
  • Define the hat band and heart with narrow V cuts or stop cuts (photo 31).
Brim drawn on wood carved snowman hat26. Hat band is drawn all around
Heart on wood snowman hat27. Heart is drawn

Carving a snowman: Fit the hat to the head

  • Place the snowman upside down against the hat and trace the shape of the head all around (photo 28).
  • Use a U gouge to scoop some wood out to create space for the head (photo 29).
Tracing wood carved snowman head28. Outlining the head
Carving wooden snowman hat29. Making space to attach the head

Carving a snowman: Add magnets (optional)

  • Use a U gouge to carve circles on each side and glue on the magnets (let dry overnight). Make sure you make the holes deep enough so they are flush to the bottom of the skates (photo 30).
  • Tip: Add a third hole for a magnet in the middle for stability (two ended up being a bit wobbly).
Adding magnets to snowman wood carving30. Adding magnets

Carving a snowman: Carve the details

  • The lip and smile lines, buttons, mittens, and skates should all all carved (photos 31-34).
  • The eyes are colored with black magic marker (photo 31).
  • Use wood glue to attach the hat to the head and let dry overnight. Tip: lean it against something, especially if you are tilting the hat.
  • Use a U gouge to get perfect circles for the buttons (photo 31).  Note: we decided to go with just two buttons.
Wood carved snowman before painting31. All details are carved
Left view of wooden snowman33. Left view
Right view of wood carved snowman32. Right view
Back view of wood carved snowman33. Back view

Carving a snowman: Time to paint

Painted wooden snowman carving
Painted right side of wood snowman
Left view of painted snowman wood carving
Back view of painted wood snowman carving

To get this look

  • Body and top of the skates: 100% Artists Loft titanium white (skate shoe laces are added with black magic marker).
  • Heart, gloves, hat band: 1 drop of ArtSkills red paint mixed with 5 drops of water (plaid design is added with black magic marker).
  • Hat and skate blades: 1 drop of Craft Smart dark grey paint mixed with 5 drops of water.
  • Nose: 1 drop of Craft Smart  Jack o’ lantern paint mixed with 5 drops of water.
  • Eyes: black magic marker (or black paint).
  • Buttons: 1 drop of Craft Smart brown paint mixed with 5 drops of water.

Free pattern for carving a snowman

If you prefer to carve your snowman with a pattern, photocopy this to size to fit your wood block. 

Free pattern to carve a wooden snowman

Carving a snowman summary

  • Carving a snowman is fast and fun.
  • The vintage design details are simple yet elegant.
  • Carving the hat separately gives you the option to tilt the hat, which adds to the overall design.
  • Use wood glue to adhere the hat and magnets (let dry overnight).

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