How to Carve a Wood Spirit

Updated March 23, 2017

Wood spirits are figures featuring a combination of human features and the elements. These figures are believed by Native American Indians to protect the owners from dangers lurking in the woods. Wood spirits are typically carved into hiking sticks. Carving wood spirits is a fun hobby and can also be a way for the wood spirit enthusiast to earn extra income. Here's how you can begin carving your own wood spirit collection.

Find a suitable stick. It should be thick and sturdy, suitable for hiking. You can purchase a stick, but it's more fun to go into the woods and pick one up. Don't worry about trying to find a perfectly straight stick. A crooked, weathered-looking stick will add character to your creation. Do try to find a stick that's wide enough for you to work on.

Sketch an idea for your wood spirit on paper. Decide what elements of nature you will combine with human features to create your own wood spirit character. You can also find patterns online free of charge at

Find a solid surface to work on. Place your stick on the surface and clamp it down so it doesn't move as you work. Use a small hammer and chisel to notch out the general features of your wood spirit. You're going for a bas relief look that will give your wood spirit a 3D effect.

Use a carving knife to finish the details of your wood spirit. You want a knife that has a small, sharp tip. This will allow you to detail the elements of nature you've decided to include in your spirit. Try forming the human features first---eyes, nose, mouth---then adding wind, fire, leaves, or whatever natural elements you're including.

Sand your finished spirit with a piece of sandpaper until all of the features are smooth. You can leave the wood spirit raw or add a coat of clear varnish. If you like, use acrylic paint to add some colour to the spirit.

Things You'll Need

  • Pencil
  • Paper
  • Walking stick
  • Knife
  • Small hammer
  • Chisel
  • Sandpaper
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About the Author

Carl Hose is the author of the anthology "Dead Horizon" and the the zombie novella "Dead Rising." His work has appeared in "Cold Storage," "Butcher Knives and Body Counts," "Writer's Journal," and "Lighthouse Digest.". He is editor of the "Dark Light" anthology to benefit Ronald McDonald House Charities.