Looking for a fun wooden Halloween gnome carving that is small in size, yet big on cuteness? You will love this easy-to-follow tutorial, which also includes painting instructions and design inspiration to make more “boo-tiful” gnomes.
This tutorial provides free step-by-step instructions to carve the gnome with a bat on his hat. You can adapt the design to create additional gnomes.
I’ll be experimenting with a few more Halloween gnomes to include in my first book. Sign up for our free newsletter to be updated when it becomes available!
You will need a 1 x 1 x 3-inch (2.5 x 2.5 x 7.6 cm) block of wood for your wooden Halloween gnome carving.
I only needed one knife (my trusty OCC Tools 1-7/8 inch straight knife. Tip: Strop every 30 minutes to make carving a pleasure.
Keep a pen, pencil, or magic marker nearby for sketching details. Tip: If you make a mistake, simply carve your drawing off and start over.
A ruler or measuring tape will also help when you are sketching your guidelines.
Refer to the painting guide at the end of this page to get a similar look. As always, if you want to create a larger wooden Halloween gnome carving, simply get a bigger wood block (and double or triple the measurements in this tutorial).
Accidents do happen to even the best of carvers. Please protect your mitts with a good carving glove. I use Vet tape to reinforce my gloves, which provides a higher level of protection.Remember to protect your lap with someone hard, too (if you’re a lap carver).
That’s enough gabbing… let’s start carving!
Take a look at this short video to see the important steps to successfully carve your Halloween gnome.
You will carve off the corner to create your wooden Halloween gnome carving. First, use your knife to slightly round down the corners (completed in photos 1-4).
Draw the curved line for the bottom of the hat on the front (photo 1). Start about 1.5 inches (3.8 cm) down from the top at each corner (photos 2,3). In the middle, the bottom of the hat is about 1.25 inches (3.2 cm) from the top (photo 1).
Make your nose box about 0.75 inches (2 cm) wide by 0.5 inches (1.3 cm) tall at the middle point (photo 1).
Extend the bottom of the hat around the back, about 1.75 inches (4.4 cm) from the top of the block (photo 4).
Sketch the beard (photos 1-3).
Using stop cuts, separate the brim of the hat all around (photo 5). Tip: Start at each corner and work your way toward the middle.
Then, start to shape the top of the hat (photo 6). Work evenly as you remove wood all around (completed in photos 7,8).
Mark wood that you will carefully remove using a V-cut (photos 7,8) to create a notched hat.
Use a wide V-cut to notch the wooden Halloween gnome carving hat (started in photo 9 and completed in photo 10). You may have to make several passes to remove the wood. Tip: Take your time—and keep your notch thick—to prevent cracking the hat.
Draw your knife along the nose box guideline (photo 10) and use a slicing cut to remove wood. Tip: You can make a series of deep stab cuts along the guideline or hold your knife like a pencil. Repeat on the other side.
Then, make a stop cut under the nose (photo 11) and remove wood from underneath. This will give you greater access to remove more wood around the nose box.
Once the nose box is separated, mark further wood to remove (photo 12) to round the nose (photo 13).
Tip: Make small pyramid cuts on each side of the nose (right under the brim of the hat) to add shadow.
Make stop cuts along the guideline for the beard (photo 14), removing wood from underneath.
Now, draw several wide triangles along the beard to mark the wood that you will remove (photo 15).
Use a pyramid cut to carefully remove triangular chips of wood (started in photo 16). Tip: Clean up the wood around your pyramid cuts to keep the beard clean. It’s easy to think that you will come back to it—and forget.
Now, use your knife to follow the guideline along the mouth (photo 17) and the smile lines. You can make secondary slicing cuts to remove slivers of wood. I decided to extend the smile lines up under the nose (photo 18).
Draw the bat on the front of the hat (photo 18). Also, mark the beard where you will carve segments (photo 18).
On the back, sketch on the arms and the mittens (photo 19).
Using your knife, carefully carve along the guideline of the bat and remove wood from around it (photos 20,21). You may have to make several passes to get the desired depth. Tip: If you have a V-tool this is a place to use it.
Also, lightly sketch the lettering (I used pencil) to ensure you will give yourself enough room for it after you paint (partially visible in photo 22).
Make a few wide V-cuts on the hat to add some interest and catch the light (completed in photos 26-29).
Clean up your cuts as you go (remove any wood fuzzies). Tip: If you have a lot of fuzzies, you may need to strop your knife more often.
Using stop cuts, separate the arms on your wooden Halloween gnome carving (photo 23). Once the arms are carved, separate the mittens (photo 24).
Shape the shoulders on the front and back by cutting at an angle against the neck (visible in photos 25-28).
Clean up your cuts and deepen cuts where you plan to use different paint colors.
Also, make sure your wooden Halloween gnome carving is symmetrical (photos 25-28). Tip: You may need to narrow the lower body slightly.
Use a small square shaped wood block to carve the pumpkin (optional), if you want to create 3 “Trick or Treat” wood carvings. Any size will do.
First, round all the corners (photo 29). Sketch the segments that you will separate (photo 30) with V-cuts (photo 31) all around.
Keep the front flat to make it easier to letter “Or” after painting (photo 37). Tip: Lightly sketch the letters (photo 30) to make it easier to draw them after painting (I used a white paint pen).
I like to used watered-down acrylic paints with round and angled brushes (for sharp corners). Make sure you let each coat of paint dry before adding more color.
To get this same look, use these brands and colors:
Photocopy this pattern to size if you want to go bigger, or use a bandsaw to create your wooden Halloween gnome carving roughout.
I love these very sturdy Focuser Carving knives (affiliate link). Their carving knife is very comfortable to use.
The chip carving knife is my go-to for clean pyramid cuts. The long whittling knife is good for roughing out wood.
All are terrific for beginners, reasonably priced, and readily available.
They also support this website whenever purchases are made using these links (at no cost to you).
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