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XO Chain

Posted by Chelsea Place on

XO Chain

Turn a classic whittling project into an expression of love

By: Jack Proseilo
Originally published in Wood Carving Illustrated


  • Basswood, 2" thick: 2" x 2"
  • Masking tape
  • Acrylic paint: black


  • Knife
  • Table saw or router with a straight bit
  • Paintbrush

The idea for this project was borrowed from Rod McLean of Spokane, Wash. I met Rod a few years ago at a carving rendezvous. The XO is a great self-contained project that you can carry with you to whittle away extra time. The X and O are durable enough that you can work out the carving process without
fear of breaking them, unlike some delicate chains.

Getting Started

Cut the blank to 2" by 2" by 2". Remove 5/8" from each corner to turn the view from the end-grain ends into a cross shape. Then, use the pattern (download here) to draw the X and the O. If you plan to make several XO sets, create a half moon template and a half X template from cardstock to trace the design onto the blank.

Carving The Letter Links

Step 1: Rough out the X and O

Use a knife to carve the outside shape of the letters. Then, carve the valleys in the middle of the X.

Step 2: Hollow the O

Use the tip of the knife to remove the wood inside the O. Be careful not to gouge the X, but remove as little wood as possible from inside the O to keep it tight around the X.

Step 3: Free the pieces from each other

Continue removing small amounts of wood until you can carefully snap the X free from the O. Again, keep the O tight around the X.

Step 4: Refine the X and O

Carefully round the O, spinning it as needed. Then, reduce the thickness of the X. For contrast, I leave the X relatively square and just remove the sharpest points of the edges.

Step 5: Finish the project

Sand the O smooth. Cover the O with masking tape, and paint the X with black acrylic paint to provide contrast.

Show Off Your Work!

We'd love to see your finished projects. Share them with us on social media!

About The Author

After Jack Proseilo and his wife, Elaine, sold their grocery business in Saskatchewan, Canada, Jack joined the Arizona Wood Carvers (where they spend winters). The pair moved to British Columbia, and Jack attended several carving events, including the Spokane Carvers Rendezvous.

Template downloads are provided courtesy of Fox Chapel Publishing.

Shop Whittling Knives

Knives best suited for whittling have multiple blades to be able to make a variety of cuts and carve outs without needing to switch tools.

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