I am so happy that I actually pulled through with making this Advent calendar. It's so often I see something I love, but can't justify the price, and then believe it could be something I could make myself. Pretty sure the last time this happened was when I made our toddler teepee, and while I really would love to make the girls a new one, it's still brings me so much pride seeing how much they enjoy it. I hope I get that same feeling using this family Advent calendar year after year.
(2) 1x4x6, we used poplar -- this can be changed see details below
25 clothes pins
25 Muslin bags
120 grit sandpaper
Martha Stewart Vintage Decor paint in Linen
Martha Stewart Vintage Decor wax in Clear
Wood glue/Hot glue
Wooden Star (optional)
I started the process by using the dimensions the PBK item description gave and drew up a little blue print on some of Ashlynn's roll of easel paper. The description stated it was 24.5" wide x 45.5" high, however the image shows that the tree is mounted to a vertical piece of wood. I'm not sure if the height included that piece, if it was and actual stand or wall hanging only. I actually called their customer service to find out and they didn't know either. So I just went with what I got.
I first measured out 45.5" on paper. My paper was only 24" wide, so I dropped the extra half inch. I then grabbed a clothes pin I had (I had enough on hand from other projects), and measured it at 3.5". Knowing I wanted the wood planks the same height, and that I needed 5 planks with 3, 4, 5, 6, 7 pins on each, I marked out all five rows. After that I worked from the center line outwards how many inches the top and bottom of each plank would be, and it was actually pretty simple.
From top to bottom
1st - 6" and 8"
2nd - 10" and 12"
3rd - 14" and 16"
4th - 18" and 20"
5th - 22" and 24"
Then, I sent the Husband out with Ashlynn one morning with instructions to pick up a 1x4 in at least 80"in length. I had looked up the night before on Lowe's website that 1x4s were 3.5" in true measurement - perfect. Instead he came home with two planks 6' each. He said we need some scrap for room for error, etc. Turns out we had plenty leftover that I could make the vertical stand like the PBK version, but I choose to go with my version since it could collapse and would be easier to store away.
Since we don't have a table saw, I marked my measurements (with my fairy assistant) and sent the planks back off with the Husband to his buddy's house to cut them for us.
Then I needed to paint. I originally planned on white washing the boards, but since the wood was so light in color I wanted to use an off-white or tan paint. While searching at Michaels, I came across the Martha Stewart Vintage Decor line and remembered a project Courtney from A Thoughtful Place completed a few weeks ago and knew it was perfect. It's basically a chalk paint with a matte finish. I would be able to distress it with sandpaper and apply a wax finish to protect it and give it a finished look and feel.
Note: The instructions on the paint suggest using 220 grit sandpaper, but I had trouble getting anything to show through when I tried so I moved on to rougher 120 grit and was happy with the result.
I painted each piece with one coat and let dry completely for 2 hours before going at them with sandpaper for some distressing to allow some of the wood grain show through. The paint suggests using the Martha Stewart Vintage Decor paint brush, but it was seriously like over $20, so I just figured I'd use one of our many. I had a small brush that had similar harder bristles like the branded brush and it worked great. I probably would suggest a true paint brush over a fine art/craft paint brush with finer bristles, but I'm sure anything will really work.
I actually used a small craft brush to paint the clothespins. Then I allowed everything to cure over night. I made sure I was happy with look and then applied the wax (to the boards only, not the clothes pins). The directions for the paint and wax are pretty easy and clear on the bottle, but I did watch this video just to make sure I wasn't going to screw anything up.
Once I polished up the wax finish after letting it cure for 24 hours (the reason this post is later in the week than I planned!)
We drilled holes for the eye hook screws and attached the planks together with twine. We used 1-3/16 eye hooks and a 9/64 drill bit. Admittedly, I tested this out on a scrap piece of wood, but couldn't screw the hook in myself.
I measured 3" in both directions from the center of each board for the hooks to be place so they were vertically even. I had the Husband drill the holes about 3/4 of the way and then screw the hooks in and he used pliers when it really got stuck. He was able to get them all in flush and facing parallel to the boards. You could also use a sturdy (grosgrain) ribbon and staple to the backs of the boards with a staple gun, burlap would look cute too. Or of course use the scrap wood to make it like the PBK version above and either nail, screw, or glue the planks to attach.
Tip: Use a piece of scrap wood in between the rows for equal distance between the planks.
Once all the planks were attached, I laid out where I wanted the clothes pins and started glueing them on. I wanted to use wood glue since I assumed that was my best option, but I couldn't find it in the house. So I just heated up my hot glue gun and got to work.
I screwed a picture hook at the top center of the highest plank.
Then it was ready to hang.
I am so happy with the result. I love the Martha Stewart Vintage Decor paint and think it was definitely my best option for the project.
I'll re-share this post when I receive the countdown bags and get a few pictures in it's complete state.
Will you use an Advent calendar this December? Did you DIY one or buy, and what does it look like?