Canadian Woodworking

Christmas ornaments and wooden gift wrapping

Blog by Rob Brown
Christmas ornaments

Christmas always sneaks up on me. It’s a situation where I’ve got too many things to do and only so much time to do them in.

A few Christmas ornaments

A few days before Christmas I realized I wouldn’t be able to build many presents, but I could easily make a few ornaments. I also realized if I made them simple enough the kids could also make some. Without even asking them if they were on board (it’s sometimes hard to pry them away from their video games to do something else, so I just told them what they were doing later in the day), I made a bunch of maple and cherry disks a few inches in diameter in my shop. I brought the disks, as well as my pyrography pens, home and called in the kids. I guess they had played enough video games that day, as they didn’t put up much of a fuss. They also know from experience that I would badger them until they decorated a disk or two.

I made a small one first to give them some ideas. It only took me about 10 minutes or so to cover both faces and the 1/4″ wide edge with a pattern. I mentioned to them how it might be nice to add the initial of the person who was going to receive these ornaments to them. My son did one face of his, then my daughter took over. She quickly penciled in a very simple and small letter “A” on hers and was about to burn it into the wood before I stopped her to suggest  she might make a more elaborate “A”. After some groaning, she searched the internet for a something a bit fancier and got to work. I thought she could have done something even more elaborate, but I also know when not to push things too far.

I told her to not rush, and that if she had even a small amount of patience she’d end up with an ornament that she’d be more proud to give to someone. She listened, and after 10 minutes or so had the first face complete. They both finished the other face of their ornament, then we strung string through the holes in each ornament and admired our work. These weren’t amazing ornaments, but they present nicely, especially as a group. It’s these smaller, simpler projects I get a lot of satisfaction out of. Not only because we can put a smile on someone else’s face, but also because my kids were able to do a tiny bit of woodworking with me.

Quick Ornaments

A few quick cuts on the bandsaw, some sanding, drilling a hole and these wooden disks were ready for some pyrography. We added the initials of the recipients to them to add a special touch.

Christmas ornaments

Random Pattern

A handmade pattern is so much more pleasing to me than an even, machine-made pattern. It doesn’t have to be perfect. The only part of this pattern that was laid out beforehand was a circular pencil mark to help guide one of the thin lines near the perimeter of the ornament.

Christmas ornaments

Wooden Gift Wrapping

It was December 24, about 3 in the afternoon. We were just about to give some good friends a bottle of tequila. I was at the shop and realized that I could spend one minute “gift wrapping” this bottle, as opposed to dropping it into a small gift bag. I grabbed a piece of maple, secured it in my vice and peeled off a few thick shavings to test them out. I wrapped the shavings around the neck of the bottle, intertwined them slightly and headed out to play Santa.

Storm warning

A week ago, I wrote about an approaching storm and how I was a bit worried about my boat rack. Wet snow is heavy and, coupled with strong winds, was going to be a strong dynamic force on top of the roof of my poor project. I’m happy to report everything is still standing. Part of this was because the amount of snow and strength of the winds they were calling for never materialized. We still got about 6″ of snow, but nothing major. The wind was strong for over two days, but it never really hit that hard at any one point. I guess the weather forecast was wrong yet again, but I’m certainly thankful for that, as I had less shovelling to do and my boat rack is still in one piece.

Wooden Gift Wrapping – As you can see, wrapping a bottle in wood takes a lot less time that wrapping even a small gift in wrapping paper. Mix species for a fancier, more exotic, look.

Last modified: January 5, 2023

Rob Brown - [email protected]

Rob is a studio furniture maker and the editor at Canadian Woodworking & Home Improvement. Instagram at @RobBrownTeaches


  1. Hi Rob, I always wait until the last week to really get into making gifts for Christmas. I found a snowflake pattern in Wood Magazine, 1997, issue #97. Make a fantastic 3D snowflake.

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