Monday, January 11, 2010

Re-purpose Wooden Alphabet Blocks As DIY Photo Holders

DIY alphabet block photo holders
My fifth wedding anniversary was last October (yes I know, I can't believe eM has put up with me for five years either).

The traditional gift material for the fifth year is wood.  I decided to use some of the kids’ wooden alphabet blocks to make magnetic picture holders, one for each of the kids' first initials, that eM could stick on the fridge or on her file cabinets at the office.

I thought about buying new blocks for this project but I like the worn, played-with look of the blocks we have around the house. The kids haven’t played with these for a very long time so I'm hoping that removing a few of the letters from their collection won't permanently effect their spelling ability.

Here’s what you’ll need to make your own:
  • A ¾ inch spade bit – they’re cheap and you can buy them at any hardware store. They fit into any standard drill.
  • A vice or something to hold the block while you’re working with it.
  • A coping saw – also pretty cheap.
  • ¾ inch flat magnets – found at most craft stores.
  • Really strong glue.
  • Fine grain sand paper.
TIP: Create a prototype block first using a letter that you don’t care about.

Make sure you have the block facing the right direction with the letter right side up and place it into your vice.DIY alphabet block photo holders
DIY alphabet block photo holders
DIY alphabet block photo holdersCarefully drill a hole into the center of the back side with your spade bit. After a few revolutions of the bit, stop drilling and put the magnet in the hole to make sure you’re not in too deep. You want that magnet to lay level and you want it to slightly protrude from the hole.

Next, use your coping saw to create your photo opening. You want to create a slit that is parallel to the front surface and about halfway between the front and the middle of the block. The cut’s depth should be about ¼ of the block's total height – enough so that the picture will be snugly held in place but not so deep that a large portion of the picture will be obscured.

TIP: Have a photo handy while making your coping saw cut. After every few strokes, blow out the saw dust and insert the photo to make sure your cut is level.

Once you’re satisfied with the cut, insert your sandpaper into the slit and slightly sand down the side edges. Don’t sand too vigorously!
Take your block out of the vice, use a rag to wipe out the hole you made with the spade bit. Use your glue and insert the magnet into the whole. Place a weight on it or put it back into the vice and let it sit overnight.

TIP: These look cute and all but you may not want to make these the only gift you give your wife on your fifth-year anniversary.

I mean eM isn't materialistic but when your wife’s friends ask her, “So what did he give you on your anniversary?” you probably don't want her to have to answer, “He gave me two used blocks of wood."

I may be a sillyDaddy but I'm not a crazyDaddy ;)


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