Wood Art Projects

By Wade Shaddy

Wood art can be just about anything in wood used for interpretation or an expression of creativity. It can be complicated or simple. Art is in the eye of the beholder, but it's best to start out with something that is not overly abstract. There are several styles of wood art commonly practiced.

Wizards and Gnomes

There are a plethora of patterns available on the Internet featuring gnomes and wizards. There are even books on wizard and gnome carving. All you need is a block of wood. It can be almost any size, but it's good to start with something manageable, such as a 4-by-4-by-6-inch piece of mahogany or pine. If the pine has knots in it, that's fine, it adds character. Draw the gnome or wizard on the block by hand and then use a handheld rotary tool with a cutting accessory to begin removing wood. Change cutting accessories as needed until the face of the gnome or wizard emerges.


Mosaics consist of contrasting shapes and colors of wood. They can be simple arrangements inside a frame or just glued to a flat piece of wood. Start out with between 25 and 50 pieces of 1/2-inch-thick mahogany, maple and black walnut. Using a jigsaw, cut the wood into random puzzle shapes, but keep them all roughly the same size. Using a handheld rotary tool with a grinding accessory, round and smooth the edges of the pieces. Arrange and glue the pieces on a 1/2-by-24-by-24-inch piece of plywood. Spray the mosaic with aerosol lacquer to make it shine.


One style of sunburst wood art is made from poplar wood. Go to a lumber yard and search through the stacks of poplar until you find a 3/4-inch board with purple, green and yellow colors in it, which is fairly common in poplar. Use a jigsaw to cut 1/2-by-12-inch strips from the board, tapering them on one end from 1/2 inch to 1/4 inch. Sand the strips smooth by hand with a sanding block. Starting from the 1/2-inch end of the strips, glue them together side by side, alternating the colors until you have a fan shape. Use masking tape to hold the strips in place until the glue dries. Sand the sunburst smooth using a handheld oscillating tool with a sanding accessory.

Folk Art

Wood folk art is a rustic representation of a modern object, such as a U. S. flag. Start with a piece of rectangular 1/2-inch plywood. Select some type of molding to use for the stripes. Paint the molding red and white. For the stars, use bottle caps and paint them blue. Use a pin nailer to attach the molding and caps to the plywood. If the pieces are light enough, you can use a hot glue gun to stick everything to the plywood.

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