Carve an Americana Santa – Part 1

Carve an Americana Santa                                                    

 Part 1

By: Bob Kozakiewicz

Today I am beginning a three-part tutorial series on how to carve and paint my Americana Santa.  I hope you will enjoy it and find it useful. 

Step 1. Start with a 1″ x 1″ x 6″ block of basswood then follow the pattern shown and mark out your block according to photos 1 & 2 below.

Step 2. Make stop cuts all the way around the top and bottom of the hat trim as well as around the nose.  Cut back to these stop cuts and begin to thin the hat.  Then trim off each of the four corners of the hat trim.

Step 3. First round off the top and bottom edges of the hat trim.  Then carve the hat and nose.  Finally, make stop cuts down along the outside edges of the beard from the hat to the elbows.  Also, make stop cuts along the top and bottom of the forearms from the tips of the hands back to the elbows.

Step 4. Starting one third of the way down from the hat on each side of the beard cut back to the stop cut on the outside of the beard on both sides cutting up toward the hat.  Then from the one third point continue to cut back to the stop cut along the inside of the upper arms down to the elbows.  Cut back to the stop cuts along the bottom of both forearms.  Finally, round off all four corners of the robe.

Questions & Comments

Dean Bettencourt sent in a comment in respond to last week’s blog post on Walnut Oil vs. Boiled Linseed Oil.  Dean commented:

“I just bought Danish oil . Worked really well for my roosters”

Danish oil works okay but I don’t like it for a couple of reasons.  First, some Danish oils are made with boiled linseed oil and could darken your carvings over time.  Look for a Danish oil that is made with tung oil.  It’s much better.  The other reason why I don’t like Danish oil is because it polymerizes too fast and get hard.  I’ve had it harden around the can top so bad that I couldn’t unscrew the cap (not even with a pair of pliers) so I had to dispose of the whole can.  This same process takes place when you apply Danish oil to your carvings.  The oil polymerizes and hardens like plastic.  I have not seen this happen with Walnut oil.

Someone (anonymous) sent in another comment on last week’s blog post:

“Great read on oils.  Have wanted to shift from BLO and walnut is on the list to try.  Do you usually source from hardware stores?”

Thank you for your comment!  I get my Walnut oil on Amazon but you can probably also get it in grocery stores…perhaps in the salad dressing or baking aisles.  Some hardware stores might also carry it.

Cindy Stephens from Lakeview, AR also commented:

“Thank you for the great tips!

Cindy Stephens”

Happy to be of help, Cindy!

I received another great comment from my good friend Phyllis Stone from Pennsylvania regarding Walnut oil and Sassafras.  Phyllis writes:

“Good Morning my friend. I just read your blog, awesome as usual. I’m sending these pictures of a cat I’ve been carving from sassafras. I was given this wood from a lumberyard to try. I’ve had it for several years and just recently decided to try it. I did have to spray it several times with water/rubbing alcohol mix since it was a bit on the dry side. I also at times had problems with it splintering, but all in all I love the awesomeness of the grain and am glad I decided to carve the cat using the sassafras. I had considered painting it but have decided to use walnut oil instead after reading your blog about the oil. Is this bought at the grocery store in the baking aisle?”

Your cat is looking fantastic, Phyllis, and Sassafras was a good choice for it.  Once you finish it with a coat or two of Walnut oil it will look awesome.  Whatever you do, don’t paint it!

Because the sassafras sat around for several years it dried out and got hard.  Once dried out sassafras can tend to splinter, especially if your tools are not really sharp.

Walnut oil should be available in grocery stores.  As I mentioned above, check the salad dressing and baking aisles, or you may have to ask.

Carver’s Corner

“Carver’s Corner” is the section where you can send in photos of your carvings to have them critiqued by me and get my truthful opinions on what you did right and where you might improve next time.  It’s an excellent opportunity to improve your carving skills!  Send your photos to

I‘m happy to see that we have a couple of entries to the “Carver’s Corner” this week!  Douglas Rowe sent in photos of two of his carving he would like me to critique.  Douglas writes:

"Here are 2 carvings I did a while ago.  Any criticism would be well received.
Keep smiling 
Thanks so much for your photos, Doug!  As always, I'm happy to critique them and give you some pointers wherever I can.  First, let's take a look at your "Fisherman" carving.
Doug’s Fisherman
There's a lot to like about the carving, which has a humorous tone to it.  I like how you bent the fishing rod and added actual metal line guides to the rod.  You did a good job on the ear which seems to be well located on the head, in relation to the face, and the overall proportions of the carving are good.
Perhaps the biggest things that stand out for me are the hands.  The right hand doesn't look like it's actually holding the rod.  Hold a rod in your own hand and study how it looks.  See how the fingers wrap around the rod and how the thumb wraps around the other side.  Hands are hard to carve correctly.  You might want to practice carving some hands to get the hang of it.  Also, try adding more detail to your carvings, like carved hair and eyebrows, which can be done with a small V-tool or even your knife.  Try adding shirt collars and buttons, belts, etc.  It's the little details that really make a good carving a great carving.
On your next carving make the pupils of the eyes larger.  You will get a much more relaxed look to the face.
When it comes to painting, like many carvers, try to go lighter with your paints.  Dilute your paints and add them in layers rather than in one heavy coat.

Now let’s take a look at your “Golfer” carving.

Doug’s Golfer

I don’t know which carving you did first but it seems like you corrected almost everything I told you about on your fisherman.  The hands are better and carved somewhat more accurately on this one.  The left hand seems to be holding the scorecard properly, however the right hand is still incorrect.  Again, study your own hand as it holds a pencil and see how it is held between the thumb and the first two fingers while the last two fingers curl under towards the palm.

You’ve added a shirt collar and buttons this time, and I especially like the vest and pin striping on the shirt.  The hat is very well carved and is pulled down to the ears where it should be, and the eye pupils look much better.

Use a gouge to carve wrinkles into the clothing.  This kind of detail adds greatly to the appearance of a carving.  Look at examples of other carvers’ carvings.  And as before, hair and eyebrow detail, and thinner paint will make a difference. I hope these comments and tips will be helpful on your future carvings, Doug.  Thanks again for submitting them to the “Carver’s Corner”.

Photo Shop

“Photo Shop” is the section of Wood Chip Chatter where carvers can send in photos of their wood carvings for display. It’s your chance to show off your work…sort of a show and tell. The photos will only be displayed and no comments or critiques will be made.  For critiques on your carvings send them in to the “Carver’s Corner.”  Send your photos to

I’m happy to say we have a great number of entries to the “Photo Shop” this week!

Our first two entries were submitted by John Robinson who sent in photos of his mouse and moose carving, and his Barney the Bear carving,  John writes:

“Good day Bob, I’m a newbie carver and I just thought I would send out this carving as I have been carving for 1 year.  I was very reluctant to show my carvings but I thought it would inspire new carvers to keep going. Happy Carving JR.”

John’s Mouse & Moose
John’s Barney Bear

Those are both fantastic carvings, John, and your mouse and moose carving is delightful and so original.  I also like that you mounted Barney on a base.  It really dresses up the carving.  Never be afraid to show your carvings.  Always be proud of what you do.  Remember, you may not be as good as a lot of others but you’re also a lot better than many others too.  I’m looking forward to seeing more of your great work.

Our next entry is a photo of a Love Bug carved by Heath Paull.  Heath writes:

“Love Bug inspired by Betty Padden design.”

Heath’s “Love Bug”

That’s really excellent, Heath!  I can see you put a lot of work into it.

Our next photo comes from Nicky Foley who carved a baby Robin.

Nicky’s baby Robin

Our next entry to the “Photo Shop” comes from my good friend Dean Stewart who carved two ddalo style chickens.  Dean writes:

“Bob Here are a couple of pictures.  There are some chickens I adapted from ddalo_carvings.”

Your chickens look great, Dean!  Thanks for sending them in!  I’ve been wanting to carve one of those but just haven’t gotten a chance.

News & Announcements

The International Association of Woodcarvers has upcoming Zoom meetings on the following Saturdays at 3PM EST with special guest presenters.  Check them out…

Zoom:  310-460-3575

NOTE:  Beginning in June, through August meetings will be held only once per month…


6/18 – Chris Wilson – Wilson Wildlife Sculpture

7/23 – TBA

8/20 – Malcom Sharp – Twisted Sticks



The Jersey Hills Wood Carvers (JHWC) club is a small but growing group of wood carvers sharing their time, knowledge and joy of woodcarving.  The JHWC generally meets from 7:00 pm to 9:00 pm on the 1st, 3rd and 5th Thursday of each month (when school is in session) at the Jefferson Township High School wood shop classroom.

Membership is “FREE” and open to anyone interested in woodcarving regardless of their ability.

JHWC’s Upcoming Meetings and Events

Jun. 2nd, 16th, 30th

NOTE: The club will not meet during the months of July and August while the high school is not in session.

For more information contact:

Al Santucci  President

Bill Brunner  newsletter/website editor

Or visit:



Keep a sharp edge, and keep on carvin’!

Funny Bone

Published by carverbobk

I’m a self taught award winning wood carver who has been carving since I was a teenager. I enjoy instructing other carvers, especially beginners.

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