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Santa Bottle Stopper

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  • Santa Bottle Stopper

    @GFHWoodWerks asked me to show how I attached the corks to bottlestoppers. I put together this series of photos showing how I carve a bottle stopper.
    First, I start with a block of wood. This one is 2 x 2 x 3 inches. I sketch the outline of the design on the block, then sometimes cut out of my bandsaw. In this case, I didn't need to use the bandsaw. I dampened the top of this block so the grain can be seen. I like to put the nose on the corner that has the grain lines pointing to it. Using the nose on the corner also puts the pompom on the hat in a corner, resulting in approximately 1.4 times larger carving, than putting the nose on a side of the block. I used a 1.5 inch Forstner bit for the recess (1/2 inch deep) and a 3/8 inch bit for the dowel hole (1 inch deep). I also drilled it about 1/4 inch off center as an experiment. After looking at it, I decided the 1/2 inch recess wasn't deep enough so I went back and made the recess 1 inch deep, then re-drilled the dowel hole.

    IMG_7196a.jpeg IMG_7197a.jpeg IMG_7198a.jpeg

    Here is the outline of the design sketched onto the block. The spacing of the lines for the eyes, nose and chin I learned from Dave Stetson in an online class. In the next two photos, I've begun carving off the corners and rounding the hat.

    IMG_7199a.jpeg IMG_7202a.jpeg IMG_7203a.jpeg

    Next, I used a V tool to outline the fur on the hat, then a 3/8 #3 gouge to carve the taper of the head up to the hat fur. The second photo shows the hat roughed in.

    IMG_7206a.jpeg IMG_7207a.jpeg

    Beginning to add in some details. The eyes are carved in and the roughed to shape. Then, I rounded off all the sharp corners and carved in the beard and hair texture with a 3/8 #6 gouge.

    IMG_7208a.jpeg IMG_7209a.jpeg IMG_7210a.jpeg

    The carving is complete. I textured the fur and pompom with a small Dockyard gouge. In the second photo, you can see where the neck is carved below the hidden ear. Unfortunately, using the 1.5 inch Forstner bit instead of the normal 1.25 inch one, didn't leave me enough wood to taper the neck down, making this Santa look like a weight lifter. So...I carved away the neck, as you can see in the finished photos.

    IMG_7212a.jpeg IMG_7213a.jpeg

    The recessed cork allows the stopper to be set on a shelf without tipping over. The cork has a 3/8 inch hole through it, so I glue a 3/8 inch dowel into the cork using Elmer's white glue. After that is dry, I can glue the dowel into the hole in the bottom of the carving, using the same glue.

    IMG_7220a.jpg IMG_7221a.jpg IMG_7222a.jpg

    It covers the mouth of the bottle quite well.

    IMG_7224a.jpg IMG_7225a.jpg IMG_7226a.jpg

    Lessons learned:
    1) Off centering the recess and dowel hole can be helpful. I could have carved Santa's beard to curve back toward the bottle, but chose to not do so on this one.
    2) Don't use the 1.5 inch Forstner bit; the 1.25 will allow more wood left to carve the neck.

    I hope this helps you all to carve some Santa bottlestoppers for the coming holiday season.

    Attached Files
    Last edited by Claude; 11-06-2021, 05:48 PM.
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  • #2
    Thanks for this great tutorial.
    If you don't like to call me wasserretter call me Dirk


    • #3
      Terrific tutorial, Claude! I know how much work went into it… taking all those photos while working is painstaking, but very instructional! Great job!
      My Website:


      • #4
        Great job Claude, should really help
        . . .JoeB


        • #5
          Thanks for the tutorial pictures. Very helpful, plus the work is excellent. Thanks for posting.
          Living among knives and fire.


          • #6
            Great tutorial Claude!..... Well presented and easy to follow . Thanks for sharing your time and talents
            If you're looking for me, you'll find me in a pile of wood chips somewhere...


            • #7
              I enjoyed and learned from this tutorial, Claude, Thanks.


              • #8
                Claude, thank you very much for explaining your technique so wonderfully. Also thanks for th he advice on the bit size. I look forward to trying this out myself.
                Novice Carver
                Exploring all I can in this artform.


                • #9
                  Claude, great tutorial and a excellent job on the Santa.
                  Mark N. Akers
                  My Etsy Store:


                  • #10
                    Wow, that’s awesome, well done.


                    • #11
                      Hi Claude
                      Think Mark nailed it with his comment Very well done