Wooden Halloween gnome carving

Carve an adorable mini trick-or-treat gnome.

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! 

wooden Halloween gnome carving
Carved Halloween gnome

What you need for your wooden Halloween gnome carving

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!  

Wooden Halloween gnome carving tutorial at-a-glance

Take a look at this short video to see the important steps to successfully carve your Halloween gnome.  

Starting your wooden Halloween gnome carving

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). 

Front guidelines for wooden Halloween gnome1. Front guidelines are drawn
Right guidelines for wooden Halloween gnome2. Right view of guidelines
Left guidelines for wooden Halloween gnome3. Left view of guidelines
Back guidelines for wooden Halloween gnome4. Back guidelines are drawn

Separate the bottom of the hat on your wooden Halloween gnome carving

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.  

Making a stop cut to separate hat brim5. Separating the hat brim
Shaping hat on Halloween gnome6. Starting to shape the hat
Image of hat in progress on Halloween gnome7. Hat is narrowed
Marked wood on Halloween wood carving8. Wood is marked for removal

Carve some details on your wooden Halloween gnome carving

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.  

Making a V-cut on Halloween gnome9. Making a V-cut
Separating the nose on the Halloween gnome10. Starting to separate the nose
Nose guideline on Halloween gnome wood carving11. Making stop cut
Wood is marked for removal on Halloween gnome12. Wood is marked for removal
Rounding the nose on Halloween gnome13. Rounding the nose

Carve the beard on your wooden Halloween gnome carving

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).  

Separating beard on Halloween gnome14. Separating the beard
Details are drawn on Halloween gnome15. Wood is marked for removal
Making pyramid cut on Halloween gnome16. Starting a pyramid cut
Carving mouth on Halloween gnome17. Carving the mouth

Add some details to your wooden Halloween gnome carving

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). 

Halloween gnome beard cuts18. Details are drawn
Halloween gnome arms are drawn19. Arms are drawn

Carve some details on your wooden Halloween gnome carving

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. 

Halloween gnome carving bat line20. Separating the bat
Halloween gnome carving separate21. Removing wood in layers
Separating beard on Halloween gnome22. Carving beard segments

Separate the arms on your wooden Halloween gnome carving

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).  

Making stop cut on Halloween gnome23. Separating the arms
Separating Halloween gnome hands24. Separating the mittens

Refine your wooden Halloween gnome carving

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.  

Front view of carved Halloween gnome25. Front of wooden Halloween gnome carving
Right view of carved Halloween gnome26. Right side of Halloween gnome carving
Left view of carved Halloween gnome27. Left side of Halloween gnome carving
Back view of carved Halloween gnome28. Back of Halloween gnome carving

Carve a pumpkin for your wooden Halloween gnome carving

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). 

Carving Halloween gnome pumpkin29. Rounding the corners of the pumpkin
Halloween pumpkin guidelines30. Segments are marked
Carving segments on Halloween gnome31. Carving the pumpkin segments
Unpainted Halloween pumpkin32. Unpainted pumpkin

Decorate your wooden Halloween gnome carving

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:

  • Nose: Create a wash with 4 drops of Ceramcoat tawny medium and 1 drop of Academy burnt sienna. Let dry. Then, highlight the bottom of the nose with a very diluted wash of Winsor & Newton cadmium red light.  
  • Hat: Ceramcoat pumpkin wash. Mix in some Academy burnt sienna to brush highlights in your V-cuts and under the hat brim. 
  • Mittens: Ceramcoat pumpkin wash (use a little less water than you use for the hat). 
  • Beard base: CraftSmart ivory wash. Second coat is an Apple Barrel dolphin gray wash. Dry brush with Artist’s Loft titanium white and Apple Barrel dolphin gray. 
  • Bat and body: Ceramcoat black wash. Outline the bat with fine point black magic marker to make it stand out. 
  • “Treat” lettering: I used a CraftSmart white paint pen. You could also use 100% white paint.  
  • Polka dots on the body: 100% Ceramcoat pumpkin applied with various sized dotting tools. You can also use toothpicks and the end of a pencil.  
  • Pumpkin: Ceramcoat pumpkin wash. A Micron 05 brown magic marker pen was used for lettering and highlights between the segments. You could also use brown paint.   
  • Finish: Allow carving(s) to dry completely for at least 24 hours. Brush with Howard’s Feed ‘N Wax. After 20 minutes, use stiff brush (like a shoe brush) to buff and polish.  
Front of painted Halloween gnome carving 33. Painted front of wooden Halloween gnome
Right view of painted Halloween gnome carving34. Right view of painted wooden Halloween gnome
Left view of painted Halloween gnome carving35. Left side of painted wooden Halloween gnome
Back of painted Halloween gnome carving36. Painted back of wooden Halloween gnome
Painted trick or treat gnomes37. Painted pumpkin is visible

Summary of wooden Halloween gnome carving tutorial

  • This little wooden Halloween gnome carving is easy to make and carves up fast.
  • You can add a Halloween saying (a paint pen or magic marker makes it easier) or leave the body bare.
  • You can vary up the colors and designs to add interest to your wooden Halloween gnome carving. 
  • Group a few gnomes together to create a festive Halloween scene. 


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