Teeny toothpick monster wood carving tutorial

The perfect gift—or to brighten your dinner table.

This adorable toothpick monster wood carving is fun to carve and makes a great gift.  The next time you go to a dinner party, or event, you can place this little guy in the middle of a food or snack tray for that little something extra that is sure to make your host or hostess smile! 

You can use your imagination to carve other toothpick monster wood carvings, or take this design and vary up the colors when painting it.  I’ve included photos with different colored toothpicks to show you how you can easily change up the color pattern.  Plain wooden toothpicks work well, too.

Of course, you can completely skip the toothpicks altogether and still end up with a fabulous teeny monster wood carving.  

Carved monster toothpick holder

Supplies needed for your toothpick monster wood carving

For this toothpick monster wood carving tutorial you will need a wood block that is 1 x 1 x 3 inches (2.5 x 2.5 x 7.6 cm).  As is typical, I use basswood because it is easy to carve and holds details well.  

You will need a knife of choice (I used one long-blade straight knife).  A pencil for marking your toothpick monster wood carving—and a ruler for measuring your guidelines—will be of help to you.  

A U-gouge is optional for scooping wood out of the toes. 

As always, a painting guide and pattern are included at the end of this page. If you want to make a large-sized toothpick monster wood carving—and use a band saw—you can easily use the full-color pattern at the end of the page.

Please carve safely with a good carving glove and something hard to protect your lap (especially if you carve while sitting like I do).

Finally, you will need a small pin vise to create the holes (or a small hand drill) and some colored or plain toothpicks to complete the carving. 

Let’s have some fun and start your carving! 

Toothpick monster wood carving at-a-glance

Watch this short video to see the key steps for making this toothpick monster wood carving.


Starting your toothpick monster wood carving

You will carve off the corner for your toothpick monster wood carving, which will give you some extra room for big feet that will give the piece stability.  

First, slightly round down all of the corners (visible in photo 1).  

Draw your first guideline 0.75 inches (1.9 cm) from the top all around. Add a second guideline that is 1.25 inches (3.2 cm) from the top. Draw your final guideline 2.5 inches (6.4 cm) from the top all around (all visible in photo 1). 

Now, separate the first guideline all around.  You can start by making a stop cut at each corner (photo 2)—and work your way in between the corners—removing wood from underneath.

When making a stop cut along the second guideline, remove wood from above and beneath (photo 3).

Also, separate the third guideline all around, removing wood from underneath (photos 4,5).  Draw on some details, including the eyes, mouth, arms, and hands (photo 4).  Mark wood for removal to split the feet on the front (photo 4) and the back (photo 5).

Monster wood toothpick holder guidelines1. Guidelines are drawn
Stop cut on carved monster toothpick holder2. Making a stop cut
Removing wood above carved monster toothpick holder3. Removing wood from above and below
Details drawn for carved monster toothpick holder4. Front details are drawn
Wood marked on carved monster toothpick holder5. Back wood marked for removal

Carve some details on your toothpick monster wood carving

Use your knife to round the eyeballs all around, starting on the sides (photo 6).  Make small pyramid cuts to split the eyes on the front (photos 7,8) and the back.  

Now, shave wood off the front of the eyes to create a flat surface for even painting (photo 9).

Carving eye on carved monster toothpick holder6. Carving the eye
Starting pyramid cut on carved monster toothpick holder7. Making a pyramid cut
Shaping eyes on carved monster toothpick holder8. Bottom of the eye is cut
Flattening eyes on carved monster toothpick holder9. Flattening the eye socket

Carve the mouth of your toothpick monster wood carving

Make a stop cut under the teeth, removing wood from underneath (photo 10).  Use a pyramid cut to remove each corner of the mouth (completed on the left side in photo 11 and both sides in photo 12) and refine the shape of the teeth and the tongue (completed in photo 12).  

Cutting teeth on carved monster toothpick holder10. Making a stop cut under the teeth
Refining teeth on carved monster toothpick holder11. Shaping the teeth

Separate the arms and hands on your toothpick monster wood carving

Use your knife to separate the hands and arms (photo 12).  You can use stop cuts (or slicing cuts), removing wood from around the guideline.  

Separating hands on carved monster toothpick holder12. Separating the hands

Carve the feet of your toothpick monster wood carving

Use your knife to shave wood off the top of the feet, to make them flatter (photo 13).  Don’t remove too much wood as thicker feet will be less likely to snap off as you carve them.  Tip: Go slowly and carefully remove wood in layers (if necessary) to avoid cracking the feet and breaking the tip of your knife.  

Make a wide V-cut on the front (photo 14) to split the feet and repeat on the back.  Tip: If the wood doesn’t cut easily, make multiple, shallow V-cuts to remove all the wood. 

Draw the three toes on the toothpick monster wood carving (visible in photo 15) and make shallow V-cuts (photo 16) to separate them.

Optional: Use your knife to scoop out some wood on the top of the feet (visible in photo 17).  You can also (very carefully) use a U-gouge to scoop the wood out.  Go slow because it is easy to snap a toe off! 

Carving foot on carved monster toothpick holder13. Flattening the foot surface
Splitting feet on monster wood carving14. Making a V-cut
Sketched feet on carved monster toothpick holder15. Toes are drawn
Making V cuts on carved monster toothpick holder16. V-cuts to carve the feet
View of toes on carved monster toothpick holder17. Toes are carved

Carve the top of your toothpick monster wood carving

Using your knife, carve down the bottom of the top of the toothpick monster carving (photo 18).  Also, curve the top of your toothpick monster wood carving all around so it looks more like a dome (photo 19).

Once you have the desired shape, use a pin vise (or small hand drill) to create the holes for the toothpicks (photo 20).  Make sure that you test your holes with actual toothpicks before you start to paint or stain the wood.  It will be much easier to cleanly make the holes deep enough for the toothpicks to stand up straight. 

Carving down monster toothpick holder18. Carving down the bottom
Top of carved monster toothpick holder19. Shaping the top
Drilling holes on carved monster toothpick holder20. Adding holes

Refine your toothpick monster wood carving

Clean up your cuts on your toothpick monster wood carving.  Also, make a final check for symmetry.  Remember to insert the toothpicks to be sure they fit and will stand on their own (photos 21-24).  

Toothpicks on carved monster toothpick holder21. Front of toothpick monster wood carving
Right view of carved monster toothpick holder22. Right view of toothpick monster wood carving
Left view of carved monster toothpick holder23. Left view of toothpick monster wood carving
Back view of unpainted carved monster toothpick holder24. Back of toothpick monster wood carving

Finish your toothpick monster carving

Front of painted carved monster toothpick holder25. Painted front of monster toothpick wood carving
Right side of painted carved monster toothpick holder26. Right side of monster toothpick wood carving
Left side of painted carved monster toothpick holder27. Left side of monster toothpick wood carving
Back view of painted carved monster toothpick holder28. Back of monster toothpick wood carving

Feel free to use whatever paint or finish you want for your toothpick monster wood carving.  I like to use watered-down acrylic paint (called a wash).  When it comes to brushes, you can also use whatever shape or style brush you prefer.

To get this exact look, use the colors below that are also listed (with the brand names):

  • Full body (base coat): Academy burnt sienna wash.
  • Eyes and teeth: 100% Craftsmart vanilla.
  • Body: Ceramcoat purple wash.
  • Body highlights: Craftsmart purple wash.   Then dry brush with Folk Art violet pansy. 
  • Tongue: 100% Apple Barrel cameo pink. 
  • Dome: Folk Art true blue wash.
  • Mouth and nose dots: Folk Art 100% true blue. 
  • Feet and hands: Apple Barrel classic caramel wash.
  • Eye color: Folk Art apple orchard. 
  • Pupil: 100% Ceramcoat black.
  • Polka dots: Folk Art calypso sky. 
  • Fingers and feet highlights: 100% DecoArt burnt umber. 
  • Finish: Let your toothpick monster wood carving dry for at least 24 hours.  Dip (or brush) with boiled linseed oil.  If you use paper towels, be sure to dispose of them outside right away because they can combust! 

Want to learn more about painting a wood carving?  Click here.

Full-color toothpick monster wood carving pattern

Use this pattern if you want to make a larger-sized monster wood carving.  Simply photocopy to size to fit your wood block.  

Carved monster toothpick holder pattern

Toothpick monster wood wood carving summary

  • This teeny toothpick monster wood carving is fun to make with—or without—holes for the tootpicks.
  • Change up the colors when painting (or the toothpicks) to easily alter the look of your toothpick monster wood carving.
  • A simple and inexpensive pin vise is all you need to easily create the toothpick holes.
  • Remember to check your holes to be sure they are big enough to fit the toothpicks before applying your finish. 



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