These blocks are simple to make, great beginner wood project that will be a great keepsake for you and your family. Makes great inexpensive presents for your friends or your kids teachers at school.
Here is what you need:
4x4 post (not pressure treated) you can find these at lowe's, home depot or your local hardwood store. You need to look for one that is relatively strait with no cracks or blemishes. You will have to buy an 8 foot piece so you will have a lot left over, that is why I say this is a great opportunity to make a bunch all at the same time for gifts. If you are only interested in making one, you might find a wood shop that will cut and sell you individual blocks. I just used plain pine or fir but you could probably use cedar but cedar is much more expensive.
2x4 fir board look for one that is strait with little or no cracks or blemishes. Once again you have to buy these in 8 foot pieces. You might be able to find a small piece in the scrap bins at Home Depot or Lowe's or cruise around looking for construction sites. Most of the time the builders will let you haul home any of the scrap lumber you want.
Down load the number squares I provide: and have a way to print them either onto photo paper on your printer or have them printed at the photo lab. Or you can make your own with the steps provided later on.
Green acrylic craft paint
Foam brushes for stain and to apply Mod Podge
Step 1: Step 1: Cut Out Your Wood
Actually your first step is to let your wood dry properly. You need to prepare ahead of time and get your wood at least 1 or 2 weeks in advance of your project. The 4x4 is notoriously wet when you purchase it and needs lots of time to dry out. If you don't allow the wood to dry fully it will continue to dry after you apply the paper and the paper will wrinkle and look horrible. You can go ahead and cut the wood but don't proceed to the next step until it is dry.
If you don't have time to dry it or don't want to cut it yourself, you can look for a local wood shop that most likely will sell these individually already dried, cut and sanded or you can order them from this site: 4x4 square blocks Also the places that sell the wood often will cut it for you for a small fee.
For those of you making your own it's time to cut it. Measure your wood, a 4x4 isn't truely 4x4 inches it is actually 3.5 x 3.5 inches. So when you measure you need to measure and draw a line at 3.5 inches. Cut down the line you made on your chop saw (miter saw). If making several at the same time make sure to cut and measure and cut again. Don't measure a bunch at the same time. The chop saw cuts out a 1/8 inch chunk out of your wood, so if you just measure them all at once you will end up with short pieces after the first cut. Whenever I am cutting several at the same time I make a guide on my chop saw so that I don't have to stop and measure every time.
Now make the measurements on your 2x4. This needs to be big enough to hold 2 blocks. Measure 71/4 inches and make your line to guide your cut. Once again if making several at the same time be sure to measure and cut each time or make a guide.
Now that your wood is cut remember to allow it to dry. Put it in a warm dry place and let it dry for at least a week. The 2x4's are usually fine and don't need to be dried but the 4x4's will almost always be wet.
Step 2: Step 2: Sand Your Wood
I have a nice table belt saw that I use for all of my sanding, but if you don't have one a palm sander will work great. If you don't have either one, then you will have to put quite a bit of elbow grease into hand sanding each block.
Do a quick once over on each of the flat sides of your block and 2x4 piece.
Now round the edges and corners of your 4x4 block and 2x4. Some of the sides will already be rounded so you just need to make your cut sides match. I also like to round the corners like shown in the photo.
Use a grit of sandpaper that will allow you to round the corners easily.
Step 3: Step 3: Paint and Stain Your Wood.
The 2x4 block needs to be painted first. The 4x4 blocks don't need paint since we will be covering them with photo paper. Use craft acrylic paint in a nice Christmas green or even a red if you prefer. Re-sand each of the corners again to leave a bit of unfinished wood exposed. This will give it a nice look when you stain it.
Once your paint is dry and sanded it is time to apply a stain. Apply a coat of your favorite stain to both the 4x4 blocks and the 2x4 block. Have a rag handy to wipe the extra off and let dry. My favorite color of stain is Minwax dark walnut.
Let the stain dry for at least 24 hours before proceeding to the next step.
Step 4: Step 5: Make Your Photo Template or Cut Out Your Scrapbook Paper.
Now you need to decide what method you will use for covering your blocks. If you are downloading the zip file that I created this step will be easy. Simply click on the zip file below. It will instantly download the file to your computer. Now click on the file and unzip it. Now you should be able to access each photo, put them in a file, and print them however you would like. These are 4x6 photos be sure to select that size when printing. Remember: These files are for personal use only and can't be sold in any way. When you get your files printed they will need to be cut out.
If you prefer to customize your blocks and make your own paper here are two different methods you could use:
Digital scrapbooking method. This is my favorite method because it is cheaper and the photo paper is perfect for mod modge and won't wrinkle when you apply it. There are many sites out there that offer digital scrapbook paper for free. Once again please remember these sites are free to personal use. If you plan on selling these blocks you will need to make your own digital scrapbook paper or pay for it. My favorite place to get digital scrapbook paper is from here: Summer Driggs free for personal use paper. Once you download the paper you would like, you need to resize each paper to 3x3 inches. Then add a text box with the number on each photo. Cut and place each template you make onto a 4x6 new document. You will also need to make the lettering for your 4x6 block. Choose the digital paper you like and crop it to 1 inch tall by 6 wide. Add a text box with your lettering for "Days until Christmas" Place on a 4x6 new document for printing.
Using your own scrapbook paper and a vinyl cutter method. Make sure to use heavy scrapbook paper. Thin stuff will wrinkle when you apply the mod podge. Once you have your paper selected, cut out 3x3 squares. You will also need to either print a number on each paper before cutting them out, or use a vinyl cutting machiene to cut out numbers to attach to the paper after applying the mod podge
Whatever method you choose make sure to refer to the chart I created above. The chart shows you what you will be getting if you choose to download my zipped file. It also is a good reference if making your own so that you know what numbers you need and which numbers go on which block. Remember the 6 doubles for the 9. You will be able to count down from 32 but most people start at 25, for the first day of December.
Step 5: Step 6: Mod Podge Scrapbooked Squares to Blocks
Once you have your paper cut and ready from either method, you are ready to start gluing them to the blocks with mod podge.
Cover the surface you will be working on with aluminum foil. Work on one side at a time allowing them to dry before turning and working on the next side. This will take some time so work on them in an area that you can leave and go back to them as they dry. Apply a coat of mod podge to one side of the wood block. Take your scrapbook square and press it onto the glue and center it. Once it is positioned in the right spot, apply another layer of mod podge. covering the entire piece of scrapbook paper. Allow to dry and then flip to the next side and repeat until all of the sides are covered.
Refer to the chart I showed you in the last step to know what numbers go on each block. If you are cutting out vinyl letters wait until the mod podge dries and use the chart to place the numbers on the correct blocks.
Now you are done!!! all that is left is a cute package to put them in to give as gifts to all your friends :)