Cute Christmas tree wood carving caricature

Carve yourself a fun ornament or make a larger decoration. 

LEVEL: EASY

This Christmas tree wood carving caricature ornament is perfect for the holidays and it carves up really fast.

It is an easy pattern that you can carve up in different ways time after time—to give as gifts—or to decorate your home. For other holiday carving ideas, check out my fun Santa caricature carving and wooden Christmas carolers tutorials.

Happy holiday carving! 

Christmas tree wood carving

What you will need for this Christmas tree wood carving caricature tutorial

If you want to carve an ornament, use a wood block that is 1 x 1 x 3 inches (2.5 x 2.5 x 7.6 cm).  I pretty much use basswood for all my caricature carving because it holds details well and is easy to carve. 

You can also go much bigger with this pattern if you want to make a tabletop Christmas tree wood carving.  Just multiply the dimensions to fit your wood block. 

If you’ve carved with me before,  you know what’s coming next: Make sure you wear a safety glove and protect your lap if you like to carve over your lap.  A piece of wood or cutting board will do the trick.  

I only used one knife (the FC016 I describe on this page from Focuser Carving).  It‘s really a chip carving knife—and ideal for making pyramid cuts—but I also like using it for some of my caricature carvings.  

You’ll need a pen or pencil for sketching your guidelines and a ruler for measuring them.  I provide a painting guide at the end.  I also used my wonderful Colwood detailer wood burner (affiliate link) to add some definition. No worries if you don’t have one.  You can use brown paint or 100% paint of the wash color you are using to highlight key areas. 

Christmas tree wood carving caricature at-a-glance

Before you start your Christmas tree wood carving, take a look at this short video that provides an overview of the key steps.  

Setting up your Christmas tree wood carving caricature

You will carve off the corner to create your Christmas tree wood carving.  First, draw a nose box that is a little less than 2 inches (5.1 cm) down from the top of your wood block (photo 1).  It should run about 1/2 an inch (1.3 cm) across each side.  The box is about 1/2 an inch (1.3 cm) tall. 

Using your knife, make a stop cut under the nose and remove wood from underneath (photo 2). Turn your piece upside down and repeat above the nose (completed in photo 2). After making your initial cuts, remove some wood above the nose—and below the nose—to flatten the front corner of the wood block.  

When you are done, your wood block should look like photo 3. You will carve the sides of the nose later.  

Wood carved Christmas tree ornament nose box is drawn1. Nose box is drawn
Making a stop cut on wood carved Christmas tree ornament 2. Making a stop cut
wood carved Christmas tree ornament nose progress3. Progress on nose

Mark wood for removal on your Christmas tree wood carving caricature

Using a pen or pencil, draw a triangle on the top front and back corners (photos 4-6) to mark the wood that you will remove to shape the top of your Christmas tree wood carving.  

Use your knife to carefully remove the marked wood (photo 7). Your final shape should be close to photo 8.

Wood marked for removal on top of wood carved Christmas tree ornament 4. Front view of wood marked for removal
Left view of wood marked for removal on wood carved Christmas tree ornament 5. Left view of wood marked for removal
Wood marked for removal on right side of wood carved Christmas tree ornament 6. Right view of wood marked for removal
Slicing wood off wood carved Christmas tree ornament 7. Starting to slice marked wood off
Shaped top of wood carved Christmas tree ornament 8. Starting to take shape

Some great knives I use!

I love these very sturdy knives (all Focuser Carving affiliate links). The general carving knife is very comfortable to use. The chip carving knife is my go-to for clean pyramid cuts and more. The long whittling knife is great for roughing out wood. These knives are terrific for beginners, reasonably priced, and readily available. A lot of popular wood carvers on Instagram now use them.  

Add some details to your Christmas tree wood carving caricature

Draw the cross hatch design for the Christmas tree branches on the front (photo 9) and back (photo 10). The guidelines should be about 1/2 an inch (1.3 cm) wide. It’s okay if your guidelines are a little thinner in width. Use your ruler to help you keep your guidelines straight.  

Keep an eraser handy in case you make a mistake. Ideally the guidelines should extend from the front around the back, but don’t worry if they don’t line up perfectly.  

Make a series of stop cuts to separate the Christmas tree branches (photo 11).

Cross hatch details are drawn on front of wood carved Christmas tree ornament 9. Front view of drawn details
Cross hatch design is drawn on back of wood carved Christmas tree ornament 10. Back view of drawn details
Separating the cross hatch lines on wood carved Christmas tree ornament 11. Separating the tree branches

Refine the nose of your Christmas tree wood carving caricature

Once the tree branches have been separated, mark the corners on the nose box where you will remove wood. Use a pyramid cut on each corner to cleanly remove the wood (photo 13). Tip: Make your first cut along the inner guideline (photo 13).

Continue to round the nose. When you are finished, draw on the eyes (photo 14). Now, follow the guideline of the eyes (photo 15) with your knife and make a second slicing cut to remove a clean sliver of wood.  

Tip: If you have a V-tool or gouge, you can use it here.  Just remember to carve down on each side of the eye to avoid running into grain issues. Tip: If your cuts aren’t as clean as you like, wood burning the outline of the eye will help.  

Marking the nose for removal of wood on wood carved Christmas tree ornament 12. Marking wood for removal on nose
Removing wood on the corners of the nose of wood carved Christmas tree ornament 13. Starting a pyramid cut
Eyes are drawn on wood carved Christmas tree ornament14. Eyes are drawn
Carving eyes on wood carved Christmas tree ornament15. Carving the eyes

Add details to your Christmas tree wood carving caricature

Draw the mouth and smile lines on your Christmas tree wood carving caricature (photo 16). Tip: The smile lines extend from the corner of the nose on each side.

Follow the guideline with your knife—and make a second slicing cut close to your first cut—to carve the smile lines (photo 17) and mouth. You can also use a stop cut for the mouth and remove wood from underneath  (photo 18).

Smile lines are drawn on wood carved Christmas tree ornament16. Mouth and smile lines are drawn
Carving smile lines on wood carved Christmas tree ornament17. Carving the smile lines
Carving the mouth on wood carved Christmas tree ornament18. Carving the mouth

Refine your Christmas tree wood carving caricature

Clean up any wood fuzzies and refine the shape of your Christmas tree wood carving caricature (photos 19-22). Tip: Remember to remove some end grain wood from the top and bottom to be sure your paint will be absorbed evenly.  

Front view of unpainted wood carved Christmas tree ornament19. Front of unpainted ornament
RIght view of unpainted wood carved Christmas tree ornament20. Right view prior to painting
Left view of unpainted wood carved Christmas tree ornament21. Left view before painting
Back view of unpainted wood carved Christmas tree ornament22. Back view before painting

Finish your Christmas tree wood carving caricature

For great painting tips, check out my page on painting a wood carving. Here are all of the acrylic paints I used if you want to get this same look for your Christmas tree wood carving caricature.  

As mentioned, I wood burned the key lines on this Christmas tree wood carving caricature. Another option is to use 100% paint, or brown paint to create shadow. Unless noted, all paints are diluted with 15-20 drops of water to create a wash:

  • Eye whites: 100% CraftSmart vanilla.
  • Tree base layer: FolkArt bright green wash.
  • Light green tree highlights: Ceramcoat leaf green wash.
  • Dark tree highlights: Mix 2 drops of 100% bright green with 1 drop of Ceramcoat black and apply with a toothpick, streaking lines under the branches.
  • Nose: Academy burnt sienna heavily diluted with water.
  • Eyes (pupils): 100% Ceramcoat black (allow to completely dry).
  • Eyes (irises): 100% Ceramcoat denim blue.  After allowing to completely dry, add a speck of white to each iris. 
  • Seal with your finish of choice (such as wax, boiled linseed oil, polyurethane spray). I used a little clear nail polish on the eyes. 
  • If you want to turn your Christmas tree wood carving into an ornament, add a small screw eye into the top. 
Front of painted wood carved Christmas tree ornament23. Front of painted ornament
Right side of painted wood carved Christmas tree ornament24. RIght view of painted ornament
Left side of painted ornament25. Left view of painted ornament
Back view of painted wood carved Christmas tree ornament26. Back of painted ornament

Christmas tree wood carving caricature pattern

If you want to make a much larger Christmas tree wood carving caricature, photocopy this pattern to size and use a band saw to create your roughout. 

Christmas tree caricature pattern

Christmas tree wood carving caricature tutorial summary

  • This Christmas tree wood carving caricature is fun and fast to carve.
  • The big eyes give it a cartoon-like look, but you can try other eye shapes as well.
  • You don’t have to worry about making the perfect tree and can have fun making this pattern your own.
  • This makes a cute ornament or can become a tabletop decoration if you carve a larger wood block.  

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