An angel ornament for your holiday tree

Put your scrollsaw to work and create an ornament—or two—for your tree or as gift toppers

By Gary Walchuk

Photo by Roger Yip

Many woodworkers start  their workshop careers at the scrollsaw. In many ways it’s the ideal starter tool: it’s a quiet, relatively safe tool that doesn’t require expensive wood to make great projects with. I made this ornament out of scrap wood I had lying around my shop—the best stock for learning and making mistakes. This Christmas ornament is the perfect project to hone your workshop skills in time to thrill your family. Feel free to alter the design.

Besides making sure your blade is sharp and properly attached, there isn’t much else to setting up a scrollsaw. Usually, the finer the pattern, the thinner the blade required. I used a #2 fine blade for this project.

1 Hour





The first step is choosing your wood. I picked 1/8"-thick Baltic birch plywood, but any stock will do as long as it's reasonably thick. With wood in hand, decide on a cutting pattern. If you're new to scrollsawing, begin with a cookie-cutter approach: simply cut an outline along a pencil line as if you're sewing a thread around a piece of fabric on a sewing machine. Cut several pieces at once by stacking pieces of wood on top of each other. To do this, temporarily stick them together using double-sided tape strong enough to hold the pieces together so they don't slide when you're cutting them. Before taping, sand all sides of the wood with fine sandpaper.

Next, take your design drawing (scale it to full size) and attach it to the top piece of wood with spray or rubber cement. Then it's simply a matter of following the line. Take your time. The slower you go, the less likely you'll make a mistake. It doesn't matter where you start. I tend to push the wood through clockwise because I'm right-handed and find it more comfortable.


Many scrollsaw designs include inside cuts that add detail and dimension.

To make these cuts, you'll need a drill bit small enough (1/16") to make a starter hole. This drill hole allows you to thread the scrollsaw blade into the hole to make the cut. A basic handheld drill works fine. Go slow and make the hole in the centre of the area you'll cut away. Saw these inner holes first and then cut the outline. angel ornament

To make a three-dimensional ornament, carefully and slowly separate the two pieces of wood, keeping the double-sided tape flat and intact. Give one piece a 180º-degree turn and press the two parts back together. In other words, one part should be exactly upside-down on top of the other. At this point you should notch the two parts together along the vertical centre, as wide as the stock thickness (1/8") but only half its length so it slides together. One piece will be notched at the top half; the other notched on the bottom half. Again, separate the two parts, remove the tape and sand to remove any leftover tape fibres. Apply glue to the notches and slide the parts together so they interlock. Set aside to dry.

Your handmade ornament is also ready to paint. Depending on the stock or style you choose, you may decide to leave it as is.

Tools & Materials

Part Material Size (T x W x L*) Qty.

Angel 1/8"-thick Baltic birch plywood 1/8" x 3 1/2" x 3 1/2" 2
String to hang

* Length indicates grain direction

Recommended Tools

Scrollsaw with #2 fine blade

Double-sided tape

Fine sandpaper

Spray or rubber cement





An angel ornament for your holiday tree

Illustration by Len Churchill

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