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Happy Christmas Gnome

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Easy beginner character can be carved as Santa's helper or a garden gnome

This happy fellow started out as a project in a beginner's carving class. The compact figure is easy to carve, but provides essential practice in carving faces and texturing hair. Intermediate and advanced carvers can quickly carve one as a last-minute present.

You can create any number of variations by changing the hat and color scheme. Turn the figure into a Santa by carving a traditional Santa hat and adding a ball to the top.

Follow the dotted line around the outside of the main pattern when cutting the gnome blank on a band saw. Leave a little extra wood to personalize and modify the carving. The buffer zone also prevents me from amputating the gnome's nose or toes if I slip when cutting with the band saw.

Materials & Tools


  • 2¾" x 2½" x 7" basswood block
  • Acrylic paints: yellow ochre (hat, pants, and mittens), green (coat, iris), white (hair, beard, mustache, eyebrows, eyes, eye highlight), flesh (exposed skin), light red (lips), burnt umber (boots), black (pupil)


  • Band saw
  • Carving knife
  • #9 gouges: 2mm, 5mm, 6mm, and 10mm
  • 10mm 90° V-tool
  • 12mm 90° V-tool
  • 8mm 75° V-tool
  • 5/8" #3 gouge
  • ¼" #5 gouge


Carving Wooden Santas, Elves, & Gnomes

By Ross Oar
Woodcarving Illustrated Books presents its latest how-to guide for carving the jolly man in red and his crew of friends–elves, gnomes, reindeer, and much more! Includes more than 20 delightful patterns and two complete step-by-step projects from accomplished carver Ross Oar.
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Comments (20 posted):

Blake Lunsford on 11/04/2008 13:38:04
Nice looking little gnome....I'm looking forward to trying this one! Blake
Kenny_S on 11/04/2008 16:46:04
Nice one. When I get back into carving will try this one. To many Honey dos to get done before the Holidays. The little bride wants the the house remodeling to completed. Sure is a demanding little woman fer sur.
Anthony Filetti on 11/05/2008 09:16:02
Thanks Bob, should be an interesting carve!
Robert Cahill on 11/06/2008 05:02:58
My wife loves gnomes and I love caring things for her so this one I will certainly do. Just finished a gnome door had to make it for inside no trees on our property and only one gnome so far. No camera so can not send picture Thanks for the posting
catbird on 11/06/2008 14:57:06
Thanks Bob, he is a nice one! I actually think I could do that! LOL!
Keoma on 11/06/2008 16:33:13
Ohmygawd-he's So Cute!!!
chuckt on 11/11/2008 09:08:32
I am looking forward to trying one of these little guys. And I'd love to do a female to match. I have the old Gnomes illustrated book from back in the 70's and I've always thought that I'd like to carve a couple from it. This pattern looks very much in keeping with those illustrations. ChuckT
Mike_B-NY on 12/30/2008 07:37:47
Chuck, You mean "Gnomes" by Wil Huygen and illustrated by Rien Poortvliet? My favorite. I ran into other illustrations of Mr. Poortvliet in an A.C. Moore of all places. It was a packet of DIY colored pencil art. One of the scenes was of a gnome couple in a rustic travel trailer being pulled by a chicken. The one I ended up carving was the gnome on a mushroom playing a flute (Yeah, imagine that, gnomes and flutes and I NEED to carve it ). Found out later it was the cover art for a small book he illustrated called "Gnome Music". BTW, Ross Oar, the author of this pattern/article, is a fellow NYer... Buffalo area last I knew. And he has a great pocket knife he designed for carving. Just had to squeeze that in there :D.
Hi_Ho_Sliver on 12/30/2008 09:38:38
Kenny...if your missus didn't direct you, you would be running around bumping into things! LOL ;)
Anthony Filetti on 12/30/2008 10:09:40
Kenny...if your missus didn't direct you, you would be running around bumping into things! LOL ;) ...see and I was just thinking he ain't got both oars in the water...Jester
chuckt on 12/30/2008 14:41:11
Heh heh - LOVE the carving Mike. Yep - if it involves a fantasy creature and flutes - Mike will be there! Yes - that's the book I was referring to. Great book. btw - Merry Christmas and Happy New Year to you Mike. Still haven't had a chance to try the flute blanks. I am soooo bad. Oh well. Eventually I WILL make my NA flutes. I want to have one to bring to NEWR. Cheers ChuckT
Jeannesue on 01/24/2009 22:06:58
Here's my attempt at the Christmas Gnome. Haven't decided if I will paint him as shown in the article or my own way, but he sure was a pleasure to carve. Thanks for looking, and thanks for the pattern!
rickm on 03/03/2009 09:18:28
is there a book or something t hat shows how to do these? Like maybe tom wolfes book? Everytime I try and carve one it turns out completely wrong, I must have some difficulty in carving it from the picture.
BobD on 03/03/2009 09:23:56
Hi Rick, Ross Oar wrote a book on carving these guys. Here's the link to the book Carving Wooden Santas, Elves & Gnomes: 28 Patterns for Hand-Carved Christmas Ornaments & Figures Bob Duncan Technical Editor
Thomp on 03/03/2009 10:30:33
bobd, i carved one for an orniment, put in the screw eye and painted it, sorry i didn't get a picture of it finished but it was took out of town before the paint got dry, my sister in law just had to have it... it was a real fun project, i carved mine small out of a 2x2 section of practice stick....
Jeannesue on 03/03/2009 12:34:25
Glad to hear someone else is working on these little guys. Here's my first one painted. I'm working on another one now.
oldbearx2 on 03/03/2009 12:45:04
Great looking Gnome. I have two of ROss Oar's books the one Bob mentioned and another Christmas carving one. I think they are both excellent books.
chmjudoka on 10/31/2009 05:36:33
Thank you Bob for a great looking design! I think this little guy will be my next project, but will probably increase the size. P.S. Good group of people on this forum - I am glad to be a member! ____________________________ Don't ever stop dreamin' Charles
leavyc on 10/31/2009 15:50:46
Thanks for the pattern. My niece is a gnome collector and is at Notre Dame--a homesick freshman. Have to do one up in N.D. colors. Thanks again
Melissa B on 01/28/2011 23:02:38
This gnome is a real cutie! Thank you for sharing such clear instructions and pictures. Melissa B http://alohafromarkansas.blogspot.com [CENTER]"While I am beginning to look like a caricature, I might as well carve 'em." [/CENTER]
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