Tinkerin Day

Here on the South Shore, we had a snow day on Tuesday. I love snow days, though shoveling is getting old, especially now that I feel it more. Snow days are family days for us. Whenever I can, I like to get the kids exposed to woodworking. I was recently talking with a friend of mine saying that I am always looking for something quick to carve for the kids to play with. He asked if I had seen the gnomes. Nope, I haven’t.

We went outside and found a stick about 3/4″ diameter, it happened from an apple tree. “Much too big.” He said. Typically one would look for something about the size of your pinky finger. He brought it into his shop and cut a couple of 6″ to 8″ lengths (enough to hold on to while carving). And showed me how to do it.

Suniya and I went out the night before the storm to gather a few sticks. We found one from a maple, one from a mulberry bush and a pruning off our pear tree.


Start out about 1/2″ down by cutting around the circumference at 90°. I do this by pinching the work between my thumb and knife and rotating the top away from me. Just go through the bark a bit.


Then cut a notch out about an eighth to 7/64″ (please note the sarcasm implied). This will define the brim of the gnome’s hat.

Now shape the hat. It can be a straight up point or you can at a notch to make the hat have a bend. It’s up to you on the character of the gnome, be as crazy as you want it’s only a few minutes out of your day if it doesn’t work out. Besides it’s a tinkering day (rainy or snowy).

Cut in the gnome’s beard simply by making a swooping cut about half an inch down from the brim of the hat. Utmost control of the knife is required as a slip would take the brim of the hat clean off.

Lastly cut the gnome from the stick. Take care when doing this making sure you are cutting him square off. You don’t want a drunk gnome, they are a bit ornery.

The most fun part is allowing the kiddos to be creative in coloring these little things. They love it!


The only problem is, they add up quick.


We’ve used oil paint, sharpies, watercolors, colored pencils and crayons to color these things with.

Happy tinkering.



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