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Carving Stick Elves

Wood whittling for beginners

You may think that knives and children don’t mix well…. However, wood whittling with kids is great fun and a good way to teach them a bit of knife safety.

These stick elves are an ideal introduction to wood carving for beginner whittlers. Easy to make and perfect for decorating your garden with!

beginner whittling
Whittling stick elves

How to carve a Stick Elf;

  1. Find a stick – any stick will do. Ideally about 1 foot long and straight.
  2. Carve sitting down, holding the stick to one side of your body and carving away from you (see safety tips below)
  3. Carve the bark off the top end of the stick where your elf face will be. Leave a smooth, clean surface
  4. You can try a few funky tricks like carving a hat brim, adding some curly hair and chipping out a mouth (see video for details)
  5. Decorate your elf with pens and sheep’s wool or cotton wool for beards and hair.

As you decorate you elves, create characters with them and make a story; then plant them around your garden or park.

children stick whittling

Knife Safety

Knife safety and responsibility is a really important lesson to teach children.

Some essential safety tips:

  • Adults will need to supervise and perhaps lend a hand, especially with the younger ones.
  • Whittle away from your hands and legs
  • Put the knife safely away when not being used
  • Keep a safe distance between each other when whittling
  • Invest in a good whittling knife, or alternatively try a potato peeler or children’s whittling knife (we have the Morakniv Pro C Safe Knife)

There are some good tips for beginner whittling, including which tools to use and more safety tips from the Woodland Trust here.

whittling for children


  • Find a good stick

Kit list:

  • whittling knife
  • Paints, pens and sheep wool or cotton wool, glue

Time needed: 1 hour

Watch this video to see how to whittle a stick elf:

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