7 Different Ornaments for Christmas

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The holiday season is upon us and there’s no better time to take advantage of your creative side and make some decorations. Here are 7 different styles of ornaments for any level of carpenter!

Transformed snowman

Start with a piece of wood about 8 inches long. Rough it up to about 2-1 / 2 “round diameter on the lathe. Use a parting tool to mark the three main parts: top hat, top snowball, and bottom snowball.

I used the parting tool to transform the topper into shape. So I switched to the tilt to shape snowballs. The middle one should be slightly smaller than the snowball at the bottom. If you’re wrong, just keep spinning and you’ll end up with a slightly smaller snowman.

Once you are happy with the shape and finish, drill a couple of holes for the arms and a hole for the nose, find the right twigs and glue them in place. Add some ribbon for a real holiday touch.

Andrew Zoellner • Editor-in-Chief, Popular Woodworking


Each cardinal’s body starts out as a 5/16 “thick piece of pine. I drew the shape and coarsely cut it with the band saw. Motawi Tileworks makes ceramic tiles based on Charely Harper’s designs and served as inspiration.

To add depth, the wing areas are recessed 1/8 ”using a shoulder plane. The edges of the ornament are softened with a carving knife. The facets add some texture and make it look less flat. The 1/8 inch tail (also faceted) is glued into a shallow recess on the back of the body.

The birds are painted with General Finishes’ milk-colored acrylic paint (brick red and lamp black). The body of the female and the beak of both are left in the natural pine. The straight grain of the pine shows through the paint adding pattern to the color.

Phil Huber • Executive Editor, Woodsmith Magazine

Santa Golfball

Have you ever wondered what the inside of a golf ball looks like? Most golf balls have a solid rubber core that can be easily carved. First mark the circumference of the shell using a marker and a golf ball line alignment tool. Then use a PVC cutter to make the initial cut and a jeweler’s saw to cut the shell. You may need to use a screwdriver to pry out half of the shell. If both sides of the shell come off, simply use the gorilla glue to glue half of the shell. Now is the time to carve using simple carving tools!

For the holiday season, you can never go wrong with a Santa face. Harlow Enlow offers a great step-by-step guide to sculpting various faces including Santa in his Carving Faces Workbook. All you need to do is adjust the design a bit as the carving will be done on a sphere. Once you’re done, spray an acrylic sealant to give it a sheen or use acrylic paint to help bring Santa Claus to life. Finally, add a small screw eyelet on top and a ribbon to hang and you have a unique ornament that everyone will be talking about!

Sculpted by Danielle Lowery. He is a Graphic Designer of Popular Woodworking by day and an artist by night.

Customize the ornaments with scroll saw

Looking for a way to make custom handmade wooden ornaments? Scrollsawing might be your answer. There is a wide variety of templates available online, but once you become familiar with the jigsaw, you can design your own templates. All you need to keep in mind is that a scroll saw model has two values: black (the blanks cut from the wood) and white (the wood itself). Start by Googleing your subject as a black and white vector and find an image that you like. Print the images and use tracing paper or use a program like Windows Paint, Adobe Illustrator, or Adobe Photoshop to finalize your model. Keep three things in mind when finalizing: (1) represent the size and shape of the final piece on your motif, (2) double check that all the white areas are connected to the main pattern, and (3) be careful not to be too detailed or make your model too small.

Once your template is ready, transfer it to a freshly planed piece of wood approximately 3/8 ”thick using carbon paper.

Then use a pillar drill and various sized bits to drill holes in each black void. Finally, start your work with the scroll saw by inserting one end of the blade (preferably a blade with 28 teeth per inch) through each pre-drilled hole and cut out the black blanks. After all the voids are done, use the sandpaper to smooth out the rough edges and finish with the stain / paint of your choice.

To get you started, here are three templates we’ve created [PDF]: a cat playing with snowflakes for my sister who loves cats, a Dalmatian with a dog bone for my brother who owns a Dalmatian mix, and a bunch of woodworking tools for me, the chart for Popular carpentry. The cat and dog ornaments are 4-inch hoops and the woodworking tool set is a 6-inch hoop. Now it’s your turn. With holidays just around the corner, we’re sure there will be plenty of loved ones that you’ll miss this season. Put a smile on their face by sending them a custom ornament they’ll want to keep all year round!

Created by the father / mother / daughter team, Larry, Ellen and Danielle Lowery. Ellen and Danielle create the designs and Larry cuts the model.

Drop of tear

A basic little ornament that is a great lathe practice project. Combine a cove cut and a beaded cut. The end of the bay is first cut with a spindle gouge. Then, the half bead is rolled over the top of the bay. The small left and right beads are cut to create the ball on top. After separation, a cut fish hook eyelet is used to attach the string.

Logan Wittmer • Assistant Editor, Woodsmith Magazine

Urchin Shells

These hedgehog shell ornaments are a common design among turners. They are a great practice for the final work. Hard, dense wood is best as this cocobolo and ebony. The trick for thin and delicate terminals is to work in small half-inch sections at a time. A sharp spindle gouge is used to form all the beads and cavities on the terminals. The lower pinnacle and the topper are attached to the shell of the hedgehog with a hub mortise and coated with epoxy.

Logan Wittmer • Assistant Editor, Woodsmith Magazine

Christmas discs

The final ornament is also the easiest to make. My kids often ask me if they can help me with magazine projects, so I decided to do something they could contribute to. I simply collected a few larger branches from the trees in the family hut, cut them into discs with my miter saw and dried them briefly in the oven. After that, you can sand and decorate them as you like. My kids chose paint, while I decided to go with Budget Branding Irons’ PopWood brand.

Collin Knoff • Digital editor, Popular Woodworking

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