Treasurable Thanksgiving pie wood carving

The perfect carving to add to any table setting. 

This Thanksgiving pie wood carving tutorial is just in time to add some holiday cheer to your dinner table.  The best part of these easy pie pieces is that they have NO calories! 

This tutorial provides the pattern for a cherry pie with a lattice design.  You can use the same pattern to carve a pie without the lattice.  Or, if you prefer a little challenge, you can carve pecans or include a design (like in the photo below). 

Thanksgiving pie wood carving

What you need for your Thanksgiving pie wood carving 

For this tutorial, I used a wood block that was 1 x 2 x 4 inches (2.5 x 5.1 x 10.2 cm).  You can use a larger wood block and double or triple the dimensions.  You want a piece of wood that is long and not super high.  Otherwise you will spend a lot of energy hogging wood off.

I used my sturdy Focuser Carving FC015 whittling knife (affiliate link) for removing wood.  I then switched to a smaller, just-as-sturdy Focuser chip carving knife to cut deep into the curved edges of the pie crust.  

I always recommend wearing a good carving glove and protecting your lap with something hard (if you are a lap carver).  Remember to stop and strop your knife every half hour or so.  

A wood burner is optional but really enhances the painted pie. I recently upgraded my wood burning pen to the Colwood Detailer and what a difference!   If you do not have a wood burner, you can use brown paint to highlight your cuts.  But consider adding this amazing wood burner to your holiday or birthday wish list.  

Thanksgiving pie wood carving tutorial at-a-glance

Here is a quick video to see the key steps for making your Thanksgiving pie carving. 

Prepare your pie wood carving

Use your ruler and pencil to find and mark the middle of your block. Mine was 3/4 of an inch (1.9 cm).  Hold one end of the ruler at the middle—and the other end at the corner—and draw the first side of a triangle (photos 1,2). Repeat on the other side (completed in photo 2).

Color in the wood that you will remove (photo 2). I used magic marker so you can see it well.

Draw another line that is about 1/2 inch (1.3 cm) down from top to mark the end of the curly-shaped pie crust (photo 2).  Also, draw the curves on the crust. They are a little less than a 1/2 inch (1.3 cm) wide (photo 2).

Wooden pie carving block with ruler1. Drawing the triangle
Wooden pie carving guidelines2. Wood to remove is marked

Start your pie wood carving

Use a sturdy  rough out knife to remove the marked wood from each side (photo 3).  You can use a push or pull cut. It will be a bit of a hand workout!  

Just make sure that the knife you use has a very sturdy blade. 

Keep checking your angle as you carve to ensure smoothness and symmetry.

I started from the bottom and worked my way up (photos 3, 4). 

Removing wood on wooden pie carving3. Starting to hog off wood
Cut half of wooden pie carving 4. Halfway there!

Carve the crust on your Thanksgiving pie wood carving

Make stop cuts across the end of the pie crust and remove wood from underneath (photo 5).  Continue to remove the top layer of wood (photo 6).  Your top does not have to be completely flat. You want it to bulge a bit in the middle to appear as if the pie is overstuffed.

Draw the lattice on the top of the pie piece, which extends to the sides (photos 7-9).  The lattice pieces are about 1/4 inch (0.6 cm) wide. My pie has 3 across and 3 down. Your lines do not have to be perfect—and you can add more or fewer lines—depending upon the width of your wood block.  

Also, draw lines across the top and bottom of each side of your pie piece (photos 8,9). Each line is about 3/8 of an inch (0.96 cm) from the top and bottom. 

Making a stop cut on wooden pie carving5. Removing wood under stop cut
Reducing height on wooden pie carving6. Removing wood from top
wooden pie carving with lattice7. Lattice is drawn on the top
Side view of wooden pie carving8. Side view of lattice and crust
Wooden pie carving with side view9. Opposite side view

Separate the lattice on your pie wood carving

Use stop cuts to separate the lattice (photos 10,11).  You can use slicing cuts along your stop cuts to remove wood along the guidelines. Clean up your cuts as you go. 

Draw your knife along each guideline on each side (photo 12) and use a second slicing cut (photo 13) to separate the pie crust along the sides.

Making stop cut on wooden pie carving10. Making a stop cut
Carving lattice on wooden pie carving11. Carving the lattice
Carving side of wooden pie carving12 Separating the crust on the side
Carving wood on side of wooden pie carving13. Making a slicing cut

Finish your Thanksgiving pie wood carving

Carve the end grain off the back of your wood block.  Mark the wood on the sides that you will carve off to make the pie piece slightly curved (photos 14, 15).  Carve off the wood you marked on both sides (photo 16).

Use pyramid cuts to carve the pie crust curves (photo 17).  Be super careful here because the wood may be thick. Take your time (or remove wood in layers) to avoid breaking your knife. This is where I switched to my Focuser Carving chip carving knife (affiliate link), which is perfect for this kind of cut.  

Optional: Use a U-gouge to scoop wood out of the crust curves (photo 18). If you don’t have a U-gouge, you can make a scooping cut to remove wood (if you have a very sturdy knife). If not, you run the risk of breaking your knife. 

Wood to remove on wooden pie carving14. Wood marked for removal on right side
Wood to remove on left side of wooden pie carving15. Wood marked for removal on right side
Removing wood from pie carving16. Shaping back of pie slice
Carving crust on wooden pie carving17. Carving the curved pie crust
Using U gouge on wooden pie carving18. Using U gouge on pie crust

Knives used for this tutorial

Time to paint your Thanksgiving pie wood carving

Prior to painting the pie piece, I used my awesome new Colwood wood burner (affiliate link) with the H nib. As previously mentioned, if you don’t have a wood burner, try adding brown paint with a toothpick or a narrow brush to outline your cuts. This is important to make the paint pop.

You can use whatever acrylic paints you want (I’ve provided what was used to help you get the same look). Note:  I always dilute my paint with 15-20 drops of water to create a milky wash.

  • Lattice: DecoArt Buttermilk wash.
  • Cherry filling: 3 drops of FolkArt Lipstick red mixed with 2 drops Ceramcoat Burnt umber (plus 20 drops of water). Add a second coat to highlight some areas where the cherries would be darker.
  • Finish: Two days after painting, add 1 coat of Minwax penetrating stain (natural) with a brush. Tip: Keep a brush that you only use for adding stain, wax, or boiled linseed oil. Clean after using with soapy warm water.  

Top of painted wooden pie carving19. Top view of painted pie wood carving
Right view of painted wooden pie carving20. Right view of painted pie wood carving
Left view of painted wooden pie carving21. Left view of painted pie wood carving
Front view of painted wooden pie carving22. Front of painted pie wood carving

Thanksgiving pie wood carving tutorial summary

  • This simple Thanksgiving pie wood carving is fast to carve and fun to paint.
  • You are only limited by your imagination (use pictures of real pie pieces to help guide you).
  • Wood burning really helps the pie pieces pop when you paint them (also prevents paint from bleeding).
  • If you don’t have a wood burner, you can outline the pie pieces with brown paint (or use try a magic marker).


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