Homemade Wood Blocks

When I was a kid, one of the all-time best toys we had was a bin full of wood blocks that my grandfather had made for us. Maybe I’m just being nostalgic, but I remember spending hours building cities and towers with them. We decided every child should have their own set of blocks and Christmas is the perfect excuse to make a set for our 2 year old nephew Hank.  We tried to replicate my memory of the blocks my grandfather made and I think we did a pretty good job. Here’s what we did in 5 easy steps:

1. Sand down the 2 x 4s. Our goal of the first sanding was to get the major stuff sanded down while the pieces were still long and easy to set up on the saw horses.  

Tip: Fingerless gloves are a must have if you plan to do projects in an unheated garage in December in Minnesota!

2. Cut boards to length.

Can't you already imagine the possible towers you can build with these?

If you are interested here are the lengths we used:  

  • Short rectangle:  1.25 in.
  • Square:  3.5 in.
  • Rectangle: 7 in.
  • Long rectangle: 10.5 in.
  • Super long rectangle: 14in.

3. Route – we used a simple roundover/beading bit along all the edges to make sure there were no sharp corners or edges.

Reuben is awesome at routing!

4. Final sanding. Once the pieces were cut and routed we turned our belt sander upside down and mounted it on the saw horse for the final sanding. It was much easier to hold those routed edges up to the belt than try to keep the block stationary and maneuver the sander.

5. Shellac. We debated if this was necessary or not. I don’t recall the blocks I had as a kid having anything on them, but then again I haven’t seen those blocks in…um… let’s just say it’s been a while.  We finally decided to spray them so that they would be protected against damage and to make sure the little hands that would be playing with them would have a nice smooth finished surface to grab. We laid them out in our basement and used semi-gloss finish spray polyurethane. Each side got a couple coats and then a final brush down with steel wool once they were dry so we had a nice smooth and shiny surface. 

Tip: It's always better to do several light coats of finish and let it dry between each coat. We were able to leave these out and go downstairs every night and flip and re-spray them.

That’s it- Done!

Ready for play time!


So pretty!

We put a bow on the bin (we’re way too lazy to figure out a better way to wrap them!) and they’ll sneak under the tree on Christmas morning just like this. We’re really excited with how they turned out and we hope to have a follow-up with how they were received

Merry Christmas Hank!