Patterns / Winter Scrolling

Box of Elves

Festive linking elves have their own handy storage box

By Carl Hird-Rutter

Decorative painting by Donna Lloyd

What’s more fun than a barrel of monkeys? A box of elves, of course! Put a fun holiday spin on the classic Barrel of Monkeys game with this Christmas version. The object of the game is to use one elf to pick up a second elf, then use the chain of elves to pick up another elf. The winner is the person who can make the longest chain before dropping any elves. Alternate between the two elves for an added challenge.

Step 1: 
Cut the elves. The patterns are aligned so you can fit both elf designs onto a 23/4″ x 4″ blank. Stack three 1/8″-thick blanks together and wrap masking tape around the stack. Create two of these stacks and attach the patterns with spray adhesive. Drill blade-entry holes for the frets and an additional blade-entry hole just outside the perimeter of each elf. Cut the frets first, then feed your blade up through the remaining hole to cut around the perimeter of the elves. This keeps your stack together longer and makes the cutting easier. Bevel the hands and feet with sandpaper to make it easier to hook the elves together.

Step 2: Cut the box. Cut the perimeter of the sides, bottom, and lid blanks. Stack two to three side layers together and wrap masking tape around the stack. Drill a blade-entry hole for the center cutout. Cut the center using a #5 skip-tooth blade.

Step 3: Assemble the box. Glue the bottom onto one of the side pieces. Glue the rest of the side pieces in place. Allow the glue to dry overnight, then sand the box smooth. Place the lid in position on the box and drill two 1/16″-diameter holes through the lid into the sides, where indicated on the pattern. Cut two pieces of bamboo skewer or dowel long enough to fit through the lid and reach 1/4″ into the holes in the sides. Glue the pieces into the lid.

Step 4: Cut the embellishments. Cut the flat ribbons to shape. Fold the bow pattern along the dotted line and align the corner of the blank with the fold of the pattern. Drill blade-entry holes for the bow and cut the side profile. Wrap clear tape around the blank to hold the piece in place and cut the top profile.

Step 5: Paint the box. Use acrylic craft paints to give the box a festive look. You can use the photo as a guide or design your own paint scheme. The elves can be left natural for a simpler version.

Step 6: Attach the ribbons. Glue the flat ribbons in place. The cross-shaped ribbon should cover the lid pin holes and overhang the lid to create a butt joint with the flat ribbons on the sides of the lid. Then glue the bow in place on the top ribbon.


• Pine or Baltic birch plywood: 6 each 3/4″ x 31/2″ x 31/2″ (sides and lid)
• Pine: 3/4″ x 1″ x 25/8″ (bow)
• Baltic birch plywood: 1/8″ x 31/2″ x 31/2″ (bottom)
•Baltic birch plywood: 1/8″ x 33/4″ x 33/4″ (top ribbon)
• Baltic birch plywood: 4 each 1/8″ x 1 x 41/2″ (flat ribbons)
•Baltic birch plywood: 6 each 1/8″ x 23/4″ x 4″ (elves)
• Bamboo skewer or dowel
• Sandpaper: assorted grits up to 220 grit
• Acrylic paint: yellow, red, blue, white, green, and flesh tone
• Spray adhesive
• Wood glue

• #2 reverse-tooth blades and #5 skip-tooth blades or blades of choice
• Drill with 1/16″-dia. drill bit
• Assorted clamps

CLICK HERE to download the Box of Elves Patterns.
CLICK HERE to download the Box of Elves Color Transfer.