10 wood carving projects that make great gifts


Around here we take handmade gift-giving seriously! We’ve put together a round-up of Christmas past and present and the very best gift ideas from Woodcarving Illustrated Magazine.

Show off your carving skills and surprise your loved one with a one-of-a-kind gift made by you with the ideas below.

Enter our Winter Woodcarving Package Giveaway! One lucky winner will receive Pfeil Carving Knives from Woodcraft, the Little Book of Whittling, Carving Small Characters in Wood, Carving Undercover Santas, Relief Carving Techniques, and the Joy of Chip Carving. Click here to enter! Ends January 20, 2020. 

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10 wood carving Gift Ideas

Wood Carving a Fish - Step 01

Rosette Box

By Robert Kennedy

A gift box might sound like a simple gift but you can place gift cards, jewelry, or any other trinkets in this keepsake! This floral motif has roots in ancient architecture. Rosettes in sculpture have been around since antiquity. They can be found decorating statues, temples, churches, molding, furniture, and even military awards. The design variants are numerous and largely floral in nature, consisting of leaves or petals radiating from a central hub. You can attach the applique to any object you prefer, but in this instance, Robert applied his cherry wood rosette to the top of a keepsake box. Robert has over 15 years of relief and in the round carving. With his guidance in the Woodcarving Illustrated Magazine, Winter 2019, you can impress your giftee with your gift wrapping carving skills! 

Wood Carving a Fish - Step 03

Chip-carved Picture frame

By Marty Leenhouts

Display photos (and your artistic talent) in this elegant project. Give your loved one a unique frame for a print,
diploma, or photograph, chip-carved by you to
make it extra special. Chip carving is easy to learn and
you can complete most projects with one knife.
Whether this frame will hang on your wall or be
given away as a gift, knowing that you handcarved it
will make the item inside even more meaningful. With Marty’s tutorial and pattern in the Woodcarving Illustrated Magazine, Spring 2019 issue, you can make or purchase a frame sized for the pattern or adjust the pattern to fit your frame. 

Wood Carving a Fish - Step 03

North Woods Animal Puzzle

By Nancy Borson

Puzzles have always been a favorite pastime in my family. Because I love to carve, it was a given that I would make puzzles for the grandchildren. We have used these puzzles to teach the children the names of animals, birds, and flowers of the north woods. I have purposely cut the pieces so children can hold single animals for play and  identification. Cutting a puzzle in this manner is called “color line cutting,” and it is a common ploy to increase the difficulty of a puzzle. Embellish your own puzzle with relief carving techniques with Nancy’s step-by-step tutorial and pattern in Woodcarving Illustrated Magazine, Spring 2016.

Wood Carving a Fish - Step 04

wooden Measuring Spoons

By John Niggemeyer

Carve this functional project from a single block of wood! “My first attempt at whittling the spoons using only a knife was a failure. Then, I drew a pattern that allowed me to use a band saw, drill press, gouges, and knife. That version was easier to carve and looked much nicer.” John’s detailed pattern and tutorial can be found in the Woodcarving Illustrated Magazine, Summer 2017.

Wood Carving a Fish - Step 03

Maple Leaf Carved Earrings

By Kenny Vermillion, Photographed by Carl Saathoff

A popular gift item, these earrings are a great way to brush up on your carving skills! Not every carving has to be a complicated composition. This is a wonderful exercise for developing both power carving and painting skills. These earrings are also attractive and a popular sale or gift item. Almost everything I carve is from tupelo because it has ideal qualities for wildlife subjects. These maple leaf earrings are made of scrap wood from other subjects. From power carving to acrylic painting, Kenny will take you through this project from start to finish in the Woodcarving Illustrated Magazine, Fall 2005. 

Wood Carving a Fish - Step 02

northern shoveler hen Walking Stick

By Paul Purnell 

For the outdoors person, a beautiful hand-carved walking stick can be both decorative and functional. Finding a straight shank that can be cut from a tree with a block of wood at one end is always special: it lets you carve a walking stick with a one-piece decorative head. Carving a one-piece block-stick is more challenging than making a head from a separate piece of wood. Access with tools can be awkward, but the main challenge is that while you’re carving, the stick will undoubtedly home in on any fluorescent light strip or mug of coffee within range. Clear all delicate or dangerous objects from the vicinity before setting to work!  Want a realistic bird you can carry everywhere? This step-by-step tutorial by Paul fits the bill in the Woodcarving Illustrated Magazine, Summer 2019 issue.

Wood Carving a Fish - Step 04

Chip-Carved Coasters

By Barry McKenzie

Coasters are a practical gift that you can create in an afternoon! “I’ve adapted a variety of quilt patterns to create this set of coasters. You can create an entire set using one
design or mix and match the designs for a complete
set. Each design uses a combination of standard chip carving techniques. Learning to convert a variety of patterns into chip carving patterns will open up a whole new world of opportunities. Nearly any image can be converted into a free-form chip-carving pattern, but quilt patterns are especially well-suited for geometric chip-carved designs.” Learn Barry’s technique for finding patterns from quilts, his chip carving hacks, and get the pattern in Woodcarving Illustrated Magazine, Fall 2008.

Wood Carving a Fish - Step 04

Handcarved Magnets

By Fred Wilbur

These nature-themed designs are a wonderful way to hone your skills. They make delightful gifts and add a touch of Gothic flair wherever they are displayed. Be warned—the carved magnets may attract more attention than the pictures or artwork they support! The designs presented here are 2″ square, although this dimension is somewhat arbitrary. A smaller blank is more difficult to carve and you run the risk of carving into the recess for the magnet. A larger blank may require a  larger magnet and could obscure the material being held. Any easily carved wood can be used. I recommend cherry, walnut, basswood, pine or white oak. The carving procedure for both the square and round designs is very similar.  Fred will walk you through traditional carving techniques as you create these beautiful floral decorations in Woodcarving Illustrated Magazine, Spring 2009.

Wood Carving a Fish - Step 03

Whittling Whimsical Bookmarks

By Jack Lund 

These little bookmarks are easy to carve and make great gifts. The simple designs provide a lighthearted break from more serious carvings. Keep a sketch pad handy because once you get started, you’ll come up with several new ideas for designs. Let your imagination run free as you brainstorm different ideas for figures climbing in or out of a book. Keep the design small enough to fit on a 1″ to 1½ ” blank. An elastic cord runs from the carving to a small block on the other end. Slide the cord between the pages to mark your place. Carve these playful bookmarks with Jack in the Woodcarving Illustrated Magazine, Summer 2010. 

Wood Carving a Fish - Step 04

Cute & Easy Caricature Animals

By Wayne Shinlever

Whittled animal creations can be a great gift for a child! Each year you can build their barnyard with new animals. From live-action pigs like Wilbur and Babe to animated ones like Porky, our curly-tailed barnyard friends are beloved the world over. This little piggy can be crafted with just six tools! Wayne will show you the ropes as you carve and pain this little porky friend in the Woodcarving Illustrated Magazine, Summer 2019. Also try this free Whittle a Little Piggy tutorial from our special Whittling Magazine!