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This article was published in the November 2017 edition of More Woodturning

SnowPeople as 8 page pdf


Main Photo 

Main Photo


Some time ago (according to the capture date on a photo I have it was 1999) I made a set of snowman ornaments.  This year I thought I would revisit snowmen, but I wanted to upgrade them.  I thought I could do better than puff paint for the nose, eyes, and buttons.  I wanted sturdier assembly methods than hot-melt glue.  Although the twigs I used for arms looked cute they proved sub-optimal at surviving storage.  But mostly I wanted to do themes.  I thought I could change the hat, make posable arms of 12 gauge black aluminum wire, and add various accessories to change the look.  I started with sports themes such as baseball and football players and skiers.  I branched out into occupations, avocations and even horror movies and hula dancers.  I ended up with quite a few, as you can see if you visit my SnowPeople Gallery.  Even if I staged a coup and took over the whole magazine there wouldn’t be room to detail how to make all of them, so I’ll just show making a baseball SnowPerson at bat.

The article will begin with making two mandrels.  The first is sort of a blue tape assisted jam chuck for turning hats.  Experience suggested an integral knock-out rod would prevent cracked hats.  The second is a long-nosed mandrel with a screw on the end for turning the SnowPeople bodies.  The long nose lets you lighten the snowman body by drilling out a lot of the core.  It’s helpful to make a narrow (1/8” or less) tenon gauge and a pattern for turning the body and setting calipers.

The body blank is drilled, mounted on the mandrel, and turned to shape.  Then the hat is mounted and turned to shape and the brim sawn to baseball hat shape.  A collet chuck is used to hold small stock to turn a tenon mounted nose and a baseball bat.  Arm wire is cut to length and hands formed (actually they look more like opposable llama hooves).  Various sized black pins are clipped short and pilot holes drilled for them and the arms and nose, and then the SnowPerson is assembled.

Drill Sample Blanks

When I first started this set of snowpeople I planned on an over-all size.  This size turned out to need an admittedly rare 15/16” Forstner pattern bit to allow the hat to fit properly.  I liked the pattern and didn’t mind buying an extra drill bit.  However I thought this might deter some readers from trying the project, so I also scaled up the design to fit a 1” Forstner pattern drill bit.  The former requires blanks 1-3/4” square, the latter 2” square.  Decide which one you want to use and download Drawing A for the 15/16” hat size or Drawing B for the 1” hat size.

When making the mandrels it’s a good idea to fit them to actual drilled blanks rather than to a theoretical size, so the first step is to cut a hat blank and a body blank and drill them for mounting.  For a baseball cap you need a blank 2”x2”x7/8”.  Choose the wood by color.  I’m using maple in the photos.  For the body blank, check the Drawing for the size needed, which will be either at least 1-3/4”x1-3/4”x3-3/4” or 2”x2”x4”.  For tree ornaments weight is an important consideration.  Basswood turns easily, is light in color, and is light in weight.  Pine is also a possibility.  For table ornaments where weight isn’t an important factor you could choose maple or holly.

You can drill the blanks on a drill press or on the lathe.  The photos follow drilling on the lathe, as the 2x2 blanks fit nicely in #2 jaws, which is also the jaw size the mandrels are designed for.  For hats with a narrower brim you can use smaller stock, which would be easier to drill on a drill press rather than swap jaws.  Either way I suggest cutting the blanks on the table saw or carefully on the bandsaw so that the blanks are cut square.  Mount the body blank in the 4-jawed chuck and a 7/8” drill bit in a tailstock mounted drill chuck.  I’m using a Silver and Deming pattern marked for depth with tape.  Drill 2-5/8” deep as in the top image of Figure #1.

Remove the body blank from the chuck and mount the hat blank.  Mount the appropriate sized Forstner bit in the tailstock mounted drill chuck.  Drill 3/8” deep as in the bottom image of Figure #1. 


Figure #1:  Drill sample blanks for sizing the mandrels.

Turn the Hat Mandrel

When I first started experimenting with the SnowPeople I hoped to turn both hat and body on the body mandrel.  But the 7/8” hole was too small to let the hat sit far enough down on the head, and I had to make the screw too short, causing it to strip out in the weak end grain of the basswood body.  So I made a hat mandrel.  It’s essentially a jam chuck with blue tape temporary joint assistance.  Except for long hats (like the Wizard) I can usually turn the entire hat without stabilizing with a tailstock center.  After cracking a thin walled hat (for the Knitter) I added a knock out rod.  Maybe I should call it a tap out rod instead.

Cut a mandrel blank 2”x2”x1-3/4” out of a sturdy hardwood like maple.  Be sure to make right angle cuts.  Draw a line 3/8” from one end across a face to indicate the length of the mounting tenon.  Mount the blank in the 4-jawed chuck with the end with a line out as in the left image of Figure #2.  Mounting this way is fine for a single mounting, but as it bottoms out in the chuck jaws and has no shoulder it’s not good for consistently centered repeated mountings.  Make a pommel cut using the line as a guide, then reduce the tenon to about 2-1/8” diameter as in the right image of Figure #2.   This will leave small flats.  I use a Oneway Stronghold chuck which has a minimum outside hold of about 2” with #2 jaws.  If you use a chuck that grips a smaller outside diameter, or if you start with larger stock you can turn the tenon completely round.


Figure #2:  Mount the hat mandrel blank and turn a mounting tenon.

Reverse the mandrel blank in the chuck.  Align the points of the corners with the middle of the jaws.  Draw a line across one face 1” from the exposed end.  Make a pommel cut at the line, leaving the 3/8” next to the chuck jaws square.  Then reduce the diameter between the pommel cut and the end of the blank to 1-1/4” as in the left image of Figure #3.  Then make a 1/2” long tenon on the end of the blank close to a diameter of 15/16” or 1” depending on the size pattern you selected, as in the right image of Figure #3.  As you reach the final diameter, check frequently with the hat blank test piece until you have a snug fit if you plan on using tape assistance, or a tight fit if you don’t.


Figure #3:  Reverse the hat mandrel blank and turn a tenon to fit the test hat blank.

Mount a 25/64” drill bit in a tailstock mounted drill chuck and drill a hole 1-1/4” deep in the hat mandrel as in the top image of Figure #4.  Then mount a 5/16” drill bit in the drill chuck and drill the rest of the way through the mandrel.  Mount a collet chuck (or swap out the #2 jaws for #1 jaws on your 4-jawed chuck) on the lathe.  Cut a piece of 3/8” dowel 4” long (you may have to adjust the length of the dowel depending on how deep your chuck is and how long your lathe’s knock out rod is) and make a mark 1-1/8” from one end.  Mount the dowel in the collet chuck with the unmarked end barely exposed and make a dimple with the tip of a skew or with a stub drill.  Choking up on the end of the dowel insures that the dimple will be centered.  Remount the dowel with the 1-1/4” mark exposed and support the other end with a cone tailstock center inserted into the dimple.  Turn the dowel between the 1-1/8” mark and the end to a little less than 5/16” diameter as in the lower image of Figure #4.  Check with the hat mandrel to make sure it can easily slide onto the dowel.  Remove the dowel from the chuck and insert the 5/16” end all the way into the hat mandrel and make sure the 3/8” end doesn’t stick out past the face of the hat mandrel.


Figure #4:  Drill a hole for a knock out rod and turn the knock rod.

Turn the Body Mandrel

Cut a 2”x2”x3-3/4” piece of hardwood such as maple for the body mandrel blank.  Begin the same way as for the hat mandrel except use tailstock center support.  Drawing a line 3/8” across a face from one end of the blank and mount the other end in a 4-jawed chuck.  Make a pommel cut at the line and reduce the end to a 2-1/8” tenon.

Reverse the blank in the chuck, again lining up the corner points of the blank with the middle of the chuck jaws.  Make a dimple in the end of the blank with a skew or spotting drill and bring up the tailstock center for support.  Draw a line across one face 2-3/4” from the end and make a pommel cut at the line leaving the area between the line and chuck square as in the top image of Figure #5.  Reduce the diameter to a little larger than 7/8”.  Turn the nose of the mandrel to approximate the end of your 7/8” drill bit.  Remove the tailstock center support and alternate light cuts with testing the fit of the test body blank as in the bottom image of Figure #5.  The blank should fit snugly but not require great effort to slide on.


Figure #5:  Turn and fit the body mandrel.

A screw at the end of the mandrel will allow you to remove tailstock support before sanding the body so you can clean up the tailstock nub if your SnowPerson won’t have a hat.  Or just because.  Select a suitable screw and the appropriate sized both drill for it.  I used a 3” #10 square drive screw.  Robertson pattern screws have deeper threads than regular wood screws which hold better in end grain.  Cut off the head of the screw.  Layout a ruler, the screw, and the body drill on a work surface.  Align the tip of the screw at the 3/4” mark (basswood is weak so anything much shorter would tend to strip) of the ruler.  Align the body drill at the end of the ruler and use blue tape to mark the drill at the end of the screw as in the inset of Figure #6.

Insert the drill bit into a tailstock mounted drill chuck and drill to the tape mark as in the top image of Figure #6.  Remove the drill bit and insert the screw, point first, into the drill chuck.  Loosen the tailstock clamp.  Turn the 4-jawed chuck by hand while pressing on the tailstock assembly and screw the screw in until it bottoms out in the drilled hole as in the bottom image of Figure #6.  Figure #7 shows the completed mandrels.


Figure #6:  Prepare and insert a screw into the end of the mandrel.


Figure #7:  The completed mandrels.

Make a Pattern and Small Tenon Gauge

While not strictly necessary, I find it helpful to use a pattern when turning.  When I wing the design on the lathe projects tend to come out somewhat flat.  In this case in particular it’s nice not to have to figure out the correct size hat for every individual SnowPerson.  Print out the pattern (Drawing A or Drawing B), after making sure that “actual size” is selected in the print dialog box. 

Cut out the SnowPerson pattern including the truncated pyramid on the right side leaving a margin around the outside.  Glue the pattern to a suitable substrate such as thin plywood or matt board.  The material should be thick and stiff enough to dependably set your calipers on.  Covering the pattern with clear packing tape will keep it from getting dirty in use. 

Cut out the pattern using a scroll saw, fret saw, or bandsaw with a fine toothed blade.  It’s easier to transfer marks to the turning blank if you make V-grooves with a small triangular file.  It can be difficult to locate the triangular file precisely because the opposite face obscures the vertex from view.  You can easily overcome this by making a short (1/8” or so) cut perpendicular to the side at the mark.  Then you can locate the vertex of the file precisely by feel.  The truncated pyramid on the right side lets you set your calipers directly for each SnowPerson segment.  The largest segment on the bottom is for the base snowball, the middle segment is for the middle snowball, and the smallest segment is the head diameter

I think a turned nose looks better than built up puff paint.  Also, a mortice and tenon is more dependable as well as neater than hot melt glue for attaching the nose.  Small tools put less stress on small items than big tools.  This includes parting tools—a 1/16” narrow parting tool is less likely to produce chatter (or outright destroy) a small turning supported at one end.  When using a gauge with a parting tool, the gauge must be narrower than the parting tool which rules out spring calipers. You can make a small (1/8” is good for the nose, but some accessories may do better with smaller) tenon gauge out of suitable metal stock as shown in Figure #8.  The lower tenon gauge is made of 0.050” thick brass while the other tenon gauge is made of a worn out reciprocating saw blade after grinding off the teeth.  A Dremel tool with a small cutoff disc is a quick way of cutting the slot for the tenon gauge.  Alternately you could use an appropriate sized drill followed by a small saw and then file to size.  An alternative to filing to the size tenon you desire is to form the tenon gauge to what looks right and then figure out what drill size for the mortise suits it.  Which brings us to the work-around for avoiding making the tenon gauge at all if you’re only planning to make a few SnowPeople:  Simple cut a tenon on the nose and use a drill sizing gauge to figure out what bit to drill the mortise with.


Figure #8:  A narrow parting tool and two tenon gauges.

Turn the SnowPerson Body

Mount the body mandrel in your 4-jawed chuck.  For consistency’s sake align the points of the square portion with the middle of the jaws as you did when turning the mandrel.  Slide a drilled body blank onto the mandrel until it hits the screw.  Lock the lathe spindle and screw the body in as far as it will go.  Unlock the lathe spindle and bring up a tailstock center for support.  In Figure #9, which shows the mounted body blank, I’m using a small homemade cone center which limits penetration while not getting in the way much.


Figure #9:  Mount the body blank on the body mandrel.

Rough turn the body blank round with a spindle roughing gouge as in Figure #10.  Place your pattern on a flat surface such as the lathe bed and set your spring calipers to the largest diameter step as in Figure #11.  Spring calipers are easier to adjust if there is no tension on the screw.  Open the calipers wider than needed, squeeze the calipers closed on the segment, and spin the screw until resistance is felt.


Figure #10:  Turn the body blank round.


Figure #11:  Set the calipers to the largest step of the pattern.

Use a full size parting tool and the calipers to determine the major diameter of the body as in Figure #12.  Then use the spindle roughing gouge to turn the entire blank to that diameter.  Use the pattern and a pencil to mark the divisions between segments as in Figure #13.


Figure #12:  Set the major diameter with calipers and parting tool.


Figure #13:  Mark the segment divisions.

Reset the spring calipers to the middle step on the pattern.  Use the calipers and parting tool to make a cut to the tailstock side of the line between the bottom and middle segments to that diameter.  Reset the calipers to match the top step on the pattern.  Use the calipers and parting tool to make a cut to that diameter to the tailstock side of the line between the middle and top segments.  Then use the parting tool to make a cut down to a nub on the tailstock side of the line marking the top of the head as in Figure #14.  Reduce the middle and top segments to the diameter of the parting tool cuts with a spindle roughing gouge as in Figure #15.


Figure #14:  Make parting tool cuts to define the major diameter of each segment.


Figure #15:  Turn all segments to their major diameter.

Now select a large skew (or whatever tool you use to make V-cuts).  Make a half V-cut at the base of the bottom segment so that about 1/4” is left square.  Then trim up the square bottom.  Make a V-cut at the division between the bottom and middle segments.  Avoid cutting too deep and cutting through to the mandrel by comparing the minimum diameter of the V-cut to the diameter of the exposed mandrel by eye.  Make another V-cut at the division between the middle and top segments.  Then make a half V-cut at the top of the head as in Figure #16.


Figure #16:  Make V-cuts in between the segments.

Now use a spindle gouge to round over all three segments as in Figure #17.  Sand the body smooth with progressively finer grit abrasives.  Cut off the nub and back away the tailstock center.  Then sand the top of the head.  You can finish the body with friction polish as in Figure #18 if you wish.  Basswood is highly absorbent so you may wish to apply a coat of sealer first.


Figure #17:  Round over all segments with a spindle gouge.


Figure #18:  Sand the body and apply friction polish if desired.

Turn the Hat

Mount the hat mandrel in your 4-jawed chuck with the points aligned with the centers of the jaws.  Insert the knock out rod.  Put a 1” square piece of blue masking tape (original, not edgelock) on the end of the mandrel.  Put another 1” square piece of blue tape on the bottom of the drilled hole of the mandrel blank as in Figure #19.


Figure #19:  Put blue tape on the inside of the hat blank and the end of the mandrel.

Put four small equally spaced drops of CA glue on the tape inside the hat blank.  Place the hat blank onto the mandrel.  Wind in the tailstock ram (without a center mounted) as in the left image of Figure #20 to press the hat blank squarely onto the mandrel.  Let the tailstock ram clamp the blank in place for a few minutes.  Then back off the tail stock and use a spindle roughing gouge to turn the blank round as in the right image of Figure #20.  The tape should hold for all but tall hats as long as you don’t have a major catch.  If you don’t wish to use the tape and glue trick  you can shim the mandrel with tape (or turn the mandrel tighter to begin with) to serve as a jam chuck, using tailstock support as long as possible.


Figure #20:  Mount the hat blank and turn it round.

Use a skew or spindle gouge to make a V-cut defining the brim.  I think it looks best slightly angled.  Reduce the rest of the hat blank round, while comparing the diameter you’ve cut by eye to the exposed part the mandrel to make sure you don’t cut too deep as in the left image of Figure #21.  Now use a spindle gouge to round over the top of the hat, leaving room to turn a small button at the top as in the right image of Figure #21.  Sand the hat with progressively finer abrasives.  As you have to cut most of the brim away and sand off the lathe friction polish would be largely wasted effort.


Figure #21:  Turn the hat.

Use your lathe’s knock out rod to tap the mandrel’s knock out rod and remove the hat from the mandrel.  Draw the shape of a baseball hat bill on the brim of the hat as in the top image of Figure #22.  Cut along the line and around the rounded body of the hat to remove the excess brim with a scroll saw, fret saw, or fine-toothed bandsaw as in the bottom image of Figure #22.  Sand the cut edges blending them into the body of the hat.  Optionally use a drum sander to give a concave surface to the under side of the bill.

You can feminize the SnowPerson by adding a ponytail to the hat.  Select sewing thread for the hair color you want.  Wind the thread around two fingers and slide the loop off.  Tie a short length of thread around the loop at one point.  Then wind the short thread around loop behind the knot and tie again forming a “tenon”.  Harden the tenon with CA glue.  Then drill a suitable hole in the back of the hat and glue the “tenon” in.  Cut the loop opposite the tenon and style as desired.


Figure #22:  Draw the bill and cut away the excess brim.

Mount a 1/8” drill bit in a portable drill.  Align the bit with the dimple left by the Forstner bit and drill in about 1/4”.  You can measure how much thickness is left with double ended calipers and mark the drill depth less than that with tape if you want to be sure you don’t drill through.  Use the pointed end of a 1/8” bamboo skewer to spread a drop of wood glue in the hole and then insert the square end.  The skew will be cut shorter when mounting the hat, but for now leave it full length. Use the skewer as a handle so you don’t spray your fingers with lacquer and give the hat a couple of coats as in Figure #23.  You can clamp the skewer in a vise or place in a hole in a wooden block while waiting for the lacquer to dry.


Figure #23:  Spray lacquer on the cap.

Turn the Nose and Bat

The nose and bat are quite small (1/8” and 1/4” in diameter respectively).  I think a collet chuck is the best method of holding stock to turn them, as the chuck itself is small so as to not get in your way and is finger friendly as well.  However they don’t have a large range with any one collet, which makes it difficult to cut square stock precisely enough to mount it without turning a tenon or turning the stock into a dowel.  There is, however, a quicker way.  A 3/8” turning square is a little over-size for a 1/2” collet.  You can quickly trim short lengths to fit by tapping it through the 1/2” hole of a drill sizing gauge as in Figure #24.  Set the gauge on a flat surface with the 1/2” hole over a hole in the surface and tap the square through.  This constitutes abuse of the drill sizing gauge so don’t use Starrett.  You can also make a sizing tool by drilling a 1/2” hole in a suitable piece of steel.


Figure #24:  Trimming 3/8” square stock to fit a 1/2” collet.

If you don’t have a collet chuck you can mount the nose and bat stock in a 4-jawed chuck with #1 jaws (or with no top jaws).  Just watch your fingers.  The photos will follow mounting the stock with a collet chuck.  Mount a 3/8” square of cherry (which is fairly close to carrot colored) in the collet chuck.  If your lathe spindle is bored to only 3/8” you’ll have to use a short turning square as you can only choke up about 4” or so.  Mount the turning square so that about 1” is sticking out from the face of the chuck.

Pardon a short sermon, but this is an excellent time to practice with the skew regardless of your confidence level.  The stock is so small that even if you do get a catch it will be of such low energy that it shouldn’t startle you. I tried to make a 1/4” skew catch, and even jamming it in randomly only chewed up the wood a bit.  You can easily make a round 1/4” skew from a 1/4” HSS drill blank.  Or for that matter a #2 Phillips screwdriver—it just won’t stay sharp as long.  Except for forming the tenon do all the turning of the nose with the skew, including roughing the stock round.

Reduce the diameter of most of the cherry square sticking out from the chuck to a little larger than 1/8” as in the top image of Figure #25.  Then taper the end to a point and make shallow grooves every 1/8” or so as in the middle image of Figure #25.  Then use the 1/8” tenon gauge you made and a narrow parting tool to form a tenon about 1/2” from the end as in the bottom image of Figure #25.  You can run the tenon gauge back and forth on the tenon to even out any irregularities in diameter.  Sand the nose and apply fiction polish if desired.  Then cut off the nose with the narrow parting tool or skew.  If you can hold onto the tool with one hand and the nose with fingers of the other when cutting off it will prevent having to search for it.  If your shop is one tenth as messy as mine it would be a good idea to place the easily lost nose in a safe place, such as taped to your work bench, or in a jar lid, etc.


Figure #25:  Turn the nose.

Prepare another turning square for the baseball bat.  I used holly, as it’s fine grain is truer to scale, but maple would also do.  Make a pencil mark across one face of the square 3” from the end.  Mount the blank choked up to less than 1/2” proud and use the long point of a skew or a cone tailstock center to dimple the end.  Then re-chuck the blank so that the 3” mark is about 1/4” from the face of the chuck as in the top image of Figure #26.  Again, this could be good skew practice.  Reduce the diameter of the blank from the mark to the end to 1/4” as in the second from the top image of Figure #26.  Mentally divide the blank lengthwise into thirds.  The third closest to the chuck stays 1/4”.  The third closest to the tailstock is reduced to 1/10” or 1/8” except for the knob at the end.  The middle third tapers between the other thirds.  Turn a knob on the end, leaving a short nub as in the third from the top image of Figure #26.  Sand the bat with progressively finer grits and then cut off the nub as in the bottom image of Figure #26.  Sand the cut off end and apply friction polish if desired.  Then cut off the bat.  You can sand and finish the end of the bat off of the lathe or reverse mount it in a 1/4” collet.


Figure #26:  Turn the bat.

You can, if you wish, wind 1/8” art tape in a spiral on the handle of the bat.  Alternately, while still mounted on the lathe you could scorch the handle by applying a 1/8” thick piece of Masonite to the spinning handle to simulate rosin.  If you’re good with a micro carver you could carve a logo onto the barrel of the bat.

Prepare the Arms and Pins

I used 12 gauge black coated aluminum craft wire for the arms.  12 gauge bare copper electrical wire painted brown or black would do if you have some laying about and don’t wish to buy craft wire.  Cut two pieces 2-3/4” long.  Use cutters that leave a square edge if you have them.  It will aid in glue adhesion if you lightly sand the last 1/4” of one end of each wire—pinch the wire in a fold of abrasive and twist.  So that the SnowPerson can grip the bat (and so that the ends of the arms look like hands) place a half inch or so of wire on an anvil and strike the wire with a hammer until the end is flattened.  Cut about two-thirds of the flattened portion in half with a scroll saw or diagonal cutters.  Use needle-nose pliers to fold the sides in opposite directions and then use round-nose or bailing pliers to curl the “fingers” inward.  Figure #27 shows these steps.  You could make the cut that divides the flattened area off center so one side resembles a thumb.  I think the survival rate would be low if you tried to make five fingers.


Figure #27:  Make the arms.

I tried lots of things for making the eyes, mouth, and buttons.  Puff paint is probably the quickest, even though it often ends up resembling Hershey’s Kisses more than lumps of coal.  A hiking friend heats with pea coal and she gave me some to try.  I found some black hot-melt glue to attach it with.  The attachment wasn’t as secure as I’d like.  I tried turning at least the buttons of walnut, and it was time consuming.  I tried breaking up Meow Mix into the size I wanted, drilling for a pin, hardening with CA glue and painting it black.  Despite hardening with CA glue I still had trouble with breakage, and it was only practical for the size of buttons.  In the end I settled on using straight pins.  I used fairly large pins for the buttons, smaller ones for the eyes, and regular sewing pins with small metal heads for the mouth. 

I had difficulty finding pins in all black.  Map pins do come in all black, and are shorter, but I found the heads didn’t always stay on.  If you’re only making a few SnowPeople you can probably find enough black pins out of a box of assorted colors.  If not, just paint them.  You’ll have to paint the metal straight pins anyway.  While you’re out getting pins, some “pearlescent” pins work well as earrings if your SnowPerson is supposed to look feminine.  I found the quickest and easiest way to paint the pins was to stick them into an array in upholstery foam.  I cut a small piece of foam to use as a brush to apply black enamel paint.

It is much easier to insert the pins if you drill a hole slightly larger than the pin first, else you may find yourself rubbing the paint off.  Drill bits in the size required are hard to find, very fragile, and impossible to sharpen.  But a straight piece of hard wire cut straight across works fine as a drill bit for this size.  And you can “sharpen” it by snipping a little off the end.  You could use music wire, or a larger pin such as a hat pin, for the drill.  A pin vise will make it easier to mount the wire in a hand drill.

A cutting awl works nicely for countersinking the pins slightly.  You can make one by grinding facets on a hardened steel rod such as a masonry nail.

Before mounting the pins, clip them shorter, roughly 3/8”, with diagonal cutters.  Wear eye protection.  You can prevent the end from flying off by holding the head of the pin between thumb and ring finger, and the other end between index and middle fingers.  You could also fold a piece of masking tape over the pin and cut through the pin but not the whole fold of tape.  This method is more time consuming than just using your fingers, of course.  You’ll need to prepare three large pins for the buttons, two medium size pins for the eyes, and three or five small pins for the mouth.  Figure #28 shows the cut pins, a pin vise with a wire “drill”, and a cutting awl.


Figure #28:  The cut pins and tools.

Attaching the Accessories

Mark the positions for the accessories.  You can try making the positions erasable by using a pencil but it’ll have to be a very soft pencil if your SnowPerson body is basswood.  In the photos I used an awl.  Make a mark in the middle of the head for the nose, then for the eyes and mouth.  A batter’s head is turned towards the pitcher so about 45° from the nose mark the positions of the three buttons.  Then locate holes for the arms 90° from the buttons.  Locate a hole for mounting the hat about 1/8” rearward of the top of the head.  Figure #29 shows the SnowPerson with drilling locations marked. The eyes and buttons will look more like lumps of coal thrust into snow if you countersink the mounting holes with a countersink or the cutting awl.  The inset in Figure #29 shows the difference—the lower button was countersunk.


Figure #29:  Mark the locations for the features.

Now drill holes to mount everything.  Drill a 1/8” hole at the mark for mounting the hat and the nose.  Experiment to find a snug fit for the wire you’re using for the arms (I used a #45 drill bit) and drill holes for the arms.  Use the cut wire or pin mounted in a pin vise to drill holes for the eyes, mouth, and buttons.  Place a drop of CA glue on a piece of tape to protect your work surface.  Dip the pin or accessory you’re mounting in the glue and then insert it in the drilled hole.  Start with the face.  You should insert the nose after the eyes and mouth.  After completing the face, you can mount the hat.  Clip the bamboo skewer shorter with diagonal pliers.  You can use wood glue to mount it instead of CA.  Mount the buttons and the arms in the same fashion.  If you gave the hands thumbs they should point upwards.  Figure #30 shows the SnowPerson with the accessories mounted.  Let the CA glue holding the arms cure and strengthen for a few minutes before bending the arms to hold the bat.


Figure #30:  Attach the accessories.

Assuming you’ve played baseball at some time in your life you can determine how to bend the arms by assuming a batting position and then mimicking yourself.  Bend the wire with needle-nose pliers (smooth jaws preferred) at the shoulders and elbows.  Close the hands around the bat and adjust the positions of the bat and arms until it looks right.  Then use a drop of CA glue at each hand on the bat to hold it in place.  Reinforcing the shoulder joints with a drop of CA glue would be prudent.  The completed Baseball Batter SnowPerson is shown in Figure #31.


Figure #31:  The completed Baseball SnowPerson.

If the SnowPerson will be a tree ornament you can add a hook eye or hanger.  I like homemade hangers of brass wire made as shown in my 6 Window Ornament.

Other Themes

You can dress up the basic SnowPerson as most anything, although they do seem to look better with a hat.  You are welcome to browse my SnowPerson Gallery  for inspiration or even imitation.  Searching Google Images is helpful once you decide what theme you want.  I generally use about 1/10th to 1/12th scale for the accessories.  This is based on the size of the head, not the total height, as SnowPeople are shorter than people because they don’t have legs.

You can make the SnowPerson into a Snow Woman by adding earrings.  “Pearlized” pins work well for this.  You can also use small gauge craft wire bent into loops or spirals for ear rings.  I did add a coconut shell bra to my Hula Dancer, but I think adding breasts would otherwise be difficult to do well.


DrawingA for 15/16” hat size:

DrawingB for 1” hat size:

SnowPerson Gallery:

Hook instructions are near the end of:

Homemade points for Oneway pattern tail stock centers: