How to Make a Tiki Totem Pole

By Lynn Hartz

The four main Tiki gods Ku, Lono, Kane and Kanaloa represent the gods of war, fertility and peace, light and life, and the sea. While Hawaiian legend speaks of these gods keeping the islands safe, Native American legend claims that Tiki poles are utilized for family and clan history marking. Inhabitants of the Polynesian islands use the Tiki poles to ward off evil spirits and negative energy. Tiki poles of the current era aren't necessarily purchased to ask for assistance from the gods or to ensure protection but most often for their decorative value. While tiki poles can be purchased from many island stores, they can in many cases be made at home.

Things You'll Need

  • Safety goggles
  • Secure table
  • Large piece of paper
  • Pencil
  • Tree trunk
  • Finishing nails
  • Chisel
  • Wood scorer
  • Hammer
  • Medium sand paper
  • Wood stain
  • Exterior polyurethane

Step 1

Locate a piece of wood or a tree trunk the size of the desired pole.

Step 2

Construct the desired tiki pole design using the pencil and paper. Ensure at least 2 inches of border remains around the entire drawing.

Step 3

Place safety goggles securely over eyes and adhere the paper to the tree trunk or piece of wood using finishing nails.

Step 4

Trace the lines of the tiki pole onto the piece of wood or tree trunk using a wood scorer.

Step 5

Place the piece of wood on a secure table at the correct working height.

Step 6

Chisel along the scored lines to make the tiki design.

Step 7

Gently sand the edges of the chiseled lines to prevent slivers.

Step 8

Complete the chiseling and sanding of the tiki design.

Step 9

Stain complete piece of wood according to instructions on the can of stain. Allow stain to thoroughly dry.

Step 10

Apply polyurethane to entire piece of wood, ensuring complete and even coverage.

Step 11

Allow polyurethane to dry and lightly sand any rough spots.

Tips & Warnings

  • The mouth is the focal point of the tiki pole.
  • Ensure the wood is healthy and dry prior to beginning.
  • Allow stain to completely dry prior to applying polyurethane.
  • Ensure the chisel is sharpened for proper operation.
  • Use extreme caution when chiseling and using the hammer to prevent injury.
  • Plan ahead allowing enough time to complete the project.