Carved Viking Chess Piece




Here I will show you how to make a simple small carved figure. My inspiration is the chess pieces found at Lewis island.

Teacher Notes

Teachers! Did you use this instructable in your classroom?
Add a Teacher Note to share how you incorporated it into your lesson.

Step 1: Tools Needed

You only need a saw and a knife to make this pieces.
A small whittling knife or a chip knife is the best suited for the carving. But any small sharp knife will do the job. And a bigger knife is needed to split the wood into the 4 pieces needed.

I use my hand forged knifes and a pull saw.

If you don't have a suitable knife already I recoment you buy a pfeil or a flexcut I have used both brands and they a both very good. And they are available many places online.

Step 2: Preparing and Splitting the Wood

Cut a length of green wood. I use a branch of hassle I have just cut down a few days ago. When you use green wood the carving is much easier because the wood is softer.

You can use any kind of green wood. I can recommend alder, hassle and willow for beginners. They are easy to come by, they are soft and grow straight, and therefore are easy to carve.
For the more skilled and experienced you can go for the harder kinds of wood like black cherry, apple, mayflower or maple. Or yew if you can get your hands on some.

Yew and alder are even soft and easily carved after they dry and the wood have cured.

Step 3: The Rough Cuts

I start to shape the face and beard of the viking. I keep the cuts coarse at this stage.

Step 4: The Fine Cuts

In the last steps I smoothed out the square impression and ad details like eyes and mouth.

Step 5: More Inspiration

Here are some other carvings I have made using similar technique.

I hope you enjoyed this instructable. Feel free to write me with comments and questions.


2 People Made This Project!


  • Furniture Contest

    Furniture Contest
  • Reuse Contest

    Reuse Contest
  • Hot Glue Speed Challenge

    Hot Glue Speed Challenge

20 Discussions


3 years ago

When I saw this I immediately went out and into the bed of my dads truck and grabbed an old oak stake I found and carved a little effigy of a viking with a bunch of runes.


Reply 5 years ago on Introduction

Nice work, I see you have a dragon head in there. You should make an instructable about making dragon heads for the prow of ships. Also I have never heard of a hassle tree, is it another name for a lime or linden?


Reply 5 years ago on Introduction

I misspelled that, it is Hazel. But you can use all kind of fresh cut hardwood. I use red alder and birch to. The carvings I just posted are from birch.



5 years ago

great work

The Metal One

6 years ago

I am a big fan of your work! i tried one of these pieces yesterday with just a 4 inch fixed blade knife, it turned out ok but now i have many tools to do better ones

I will post how to make a viking stool. I have taken the fotos I just need to put it together and write the rest of the text.
I can't forge an axe I'm not skilled enough in smithing to do that.


6 years ago

Any chance you could do a video of carving??

1 reply

Reply 6 years ago on Introduction

I can try. I'm not so good at the video stuff. But I can give it a shot.

Awesome! I have been wanting to make my own chess pieces for a while, and I like the hand carved Viking look.