The following is a tutorial on how I carve a Moravian star ornament. Some of you may have already seen it when it appeared on my Instagram page @carverbobk during April 9-14. I am posting it again here on my blog for the first time. I hope everyone enjoys it and carves along with it!
Although it may seem complicated with a whole lot of carving there are really only 6 basic steps involved in creating this beautiful ornament.
Step 1: Start with a 1.5″ x 1.5″ x 1.5″ block of basswood (Photo 2). Draw diagonal lines from corner to corner on all 6 sides of the block (Photo 3). Measure 3/4″ in from every corner to find the center of every edge of the block and make a mark at those points (Photo 4). Draw lines across the block from these center points on all 6 sides as shown in the photo (Photo 5). The block is now divided into many small triangles (8 triangles per side).
Step 2: Look at one of the edges of the block and you will see there are two triangles attached to each other (Photos 6 & 7). Use your carving knife and make a deep cut on the lines that attach the two triangles (Photo 8). The cut must go deep enough so that your knife blade stops at the points where all of the lines cross at the centers on the sides of the block. You may want to complete this cut as you carve Step 3 but remember to cut exactly on the line and do not cut past the center points! If you cut off the lines and past the centers your star will not have crisp edges. Now start at one of the triangles and carve straight in towards the line where you made the deep stop cut (Photo 9). Begin at the top and work your way down but be sure not to cut below the lines marking the edge of the triangle (Photo 10). When you get to the bottom be sure you make it perfectly flat. When you look at it from the side it should look level with no hump.
Step 3: Turn the block around to work on the opposite triangle. You will carve this triangle the same way as you did the first one. Begin carving wood away from the top and work your way down to the lines marking the edge of this triangle (Photo 11). Again, make the bottom perfectly flat (Photo 12). Note: The two bottoms should meet perfectly in the middle forming a perfect 90o “V” when seen from the side (Photo 13).
Step 4: Turn the block to an adjacent edge. Make a deep cut on the lines that attach the two triangles on this edge (Photo 14). Follow the instructions from Step 2. Work on the triangle adjacent to the one you carved before (Photo 15). Start at the top and work your way down as before but be sure not to cut past the edge of the triangle you carved previously (Photo 16). Again, the bottom of this triangle should be perfectly flat, and the edges where two triangles meet should be sharp and perfectly straight (Photo 17). Carve the opposite triangle as you did in Step 3 (Photo 18).
Step 5: Continue turning the block and carving the triangles as you go until you have carved away all of the triangles on the block (Photos 19 & 20). Go back over the block and make sure all of your triangle bottoms are flat and the edges where one triangle meets another are sharp (Photo 21).
Step 6: If your knife was sharp and you made clean cuts your Moravian star should not require any sanding. Choose one of the star points and cut the tip off with your knife (Photo 22). Brush a coat of boiled linseed oil onto your star. Blot off the excess with a clean paper towel. Then lay the carving on another paper towel and allow to dry overnight. Note: Dispose of the paper towels appropriately; boiled linseed oil soaked paper towels can spontaneously combust. Cut a jewelry eye pin on an angle to a length of about 1/2″ (Photo 23) and carefully insert it with a pair of needle-nose pliers into the flattened star point (Photo 24). Finally, add a hook for hanging (Photo 25).
We’d love to see some photos of your Moravian star ornaments when they’re finished!
Neil McGuire, president of the Charlotte Woodcarvers sent me an email and asked me to pass on the following information:
The Charlotte Woodcarvers will be sponsoring the 39th annual Showcase of Woodcarvers on April 1-3, 2022. All information can be found on their website: http://www.charlottewoodcarvers.com/showcase Information will be updated on the site as time goes on.
Keep a sharp edge and keep on carvin’!
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My wife sat down next to me as I was flipping channels.
She asked, “What’s on the TV?”
I said, “Dust.”
And that’s when the fight started.