Introduction: Cow & Bull Garden Ornament

About: A bit of a dabbler by nature with a bent towards working with wood for fun and with technology in the day job, I like to try and make things that allow me to explore the best of both worlds. I write abou…

I had a Great Uncle who was what people would consider a bit of a folk artist.

He would make little whimsical creations from bits of scrap wood and put them together with very basic wood working tools and some paint.

My Great Uncle passed away many years ago, but I found my self very fortunate to have acquired some of the patterns that he used to make his creations.

As far as I can determine, this Cow and Bull Garden Ornament are one of his original designs (a quick google search seems to prove that since I can't seem to anything similar out there) so I thought it would be a great tribute to Great Uncle Wilfred to pass this along to you.

This Cow and Bull pair can really brighten up a garden, and I have actually made a number of these over the years as gifts

They can be easily made over a weekend with any scrap wood that you may have around.

If you find this little tutorial useful - please take a moment to check out my adventures puttering around in my shop at my website -

Step 1: Materials and Pattern

To create the cow and bull you'll need the following:


  • Scroll Saw
  • Screwdriver (Robertson preferably)
  • Drill / Drill Press
  • 3/16 inch drill bit
  • 1/4 inch drill bit
  • Awl or sharp point
  • Wood Glue
  • Fine tipped paint brush
  • Fine tipped sharpie marker


2 - 0.75 x 10" x 24" wood boards - wood could be pine or exterior plywood

2 - 16 inch pieces of 1X2 wood (pine or pressure treated would work)

8 - 1.25inch wood screws

1 - Spray can of white paint (exterior lacquer)

1 - Small can of exterior black exterior paint

1 - Small can of Antique White paint

1 - Small can of "peach" colored paint

1 - Small can of light blue paint

1 - Small can of brown paint

1 - Spray can of clear lacquer

2 - 6 inch pieces of 1/4 inch white nylon rope

Download and print the attached full size templates of the heads and bodies of the cow and bull

Step 2: Cutting Out the Patterns

Cut out and place the body and head templates on the boards that you will be using for the cow and bull.

With a pencil, trace the out lines of the templates on the boards and cut out the bodies and heads with a scroll saw.

Step 3: Drilling Holes for the Tails

When the heads and bodies have been cut out, put the body templates
back on the cut out wood body pieces and mark the location for the tail with an awl or some other sharp object.

With a drill press, drill a 1/4 inch hole at the tail location you marked on the cow's and bull's bodies.

Step 4: Painting the Herd

Next step is to paint the bodies and heads of the animals

First start by applying a base coat of while exterior paint to all the pieces. Make sure to coat all sides of the pieces, including the edges. I would apply a couple of coats in order to make sure you have good coverage. Let the pieces dry overnight

Once the white base coat is dry, using the template as a guide, draw outlines of the body and face details that you want on the cow and bull. I found that a small tip sharpie works well for this.

Once you've drawn the outlines, using a small tipped brush and black paint, paint the areas of the bodies and heads that you want to be black. At this time also paint the outlines for the eyes with the black paint.

Next paint the noses with Peach paint and the horns with Antique White. Allow the paint to dry.

Once dry, use the fine tipped brush to paint in the eyes with light blue paint and the nostrils on the noses with black paint.

Step 5: Putting Them Together

To attach the heads to the bodies, first drill 2 3/16 inch holes along the base of the necks of the bull's and cow's heads. These holes will act as pilot holes for the wood screws (and reduces the potential of splitting the wood)

Once the holes have been drilled, do a test fit of the heads on the bodies. Place the heads to the top right sides of the bodies. Please note that the heads are attached to the back of the bodies in order to give the impression that the animals are looking over their shoulders.

Once you are satisfied with the positioning of the heads, carefully flip the heads and bodies over and attach the heads to the bodies with 2 1.25 inch wood screws.

The cow and bull are now complete! To further protect the paint from the elements I would suggest at this point applying a coat of clear lacquer to them.

Step 6: Adding the Stakes

Cut 2 16 inch stakes out of 1X2 pine or pressure treated wood. At the bottom of each stake mark the mid point of the stake (or 0.75 inches since 1X2 is actually 1.75 inches in width)

Using a saw, cut a 45 degree angle on each side of the mark on the bottom of the stake so that you get a point at the bottom of each stake.

Paint the stakes brown and allow paint to dry,

Drill 2 3/16 inch pilot holes for the wood screws on the stakes The first hole will be drilled 1 inch from the top of the stake with the second hole drilled 4 inches down from the first hole.

Attach each stake to the back of the bodies of the cow and bull. Make sure the stakes are centered on the bodies and that the top of the stakes are at least 1 inch down from the base of the heads. Attach the stakes to the bodies with 2 1.25 inch wood screws

Step 7: Finishing Up

To make the tails for the Cow and Bull, cut 2 6 inch pieces of rope from the 1/4 inch white nylon rope

Using wood glue, glue the tails into the tail holes that have been drilled into the bodies earlier.

Once the glue is dry. you can put the cow and bull out into the garden by inserting the stakes into the ground.

I've found that I can make several of these at once over a weekend - why not make a herd for yourself too!

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