Introduction: Rustic Wood Pumpkins From a 4x4 Post

This project is a great way to use scrap timber if you have it, if not, buying a cedar post never hurt anybody and then you can make more for others! I had to make a bunch more for family members after I made the first couple sets. The construction is easy, and you can make them as big or small as you want, and they have plenty more customization options, be creative and have fun!


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Step 1: Cut and Prep

To start we need to prep the wood. Measure and cut your 4x4 posts to whatever lengths you want your pumpkins to be, or whatever will use your scrap wood efficiently. For myself, I used my scrap, but I also wanted my pumpkins to have a height that wasn't too big for the size around, I wanted it to look good to the eye as well. My short pumpkin is 4" tall, medium is 7" and the tall one is 10". You can cut your 4x4 with whatever saw you have and feel comfortable using, I used my miter saw, but you can hand saw them or a circular saw would also work. Then I cut a 1/2" dowel to a bunch of 3" lengths for the stems. After that I gave the posts a quick sanding with 120 grit sandpaper so smooth it out, then I sanded the edges smooth and slightly round by hand with the same 120 grit. Make sure to sand the top and bottom edges smooth and slightly rounded over, as well as clean up the edges of the dowels.

Step 2: Add That Colour!

For paint you have a couple options. You can use a latex paint if you want a very solid colour and don't want to spray it. For myself I wanted to use a spray paint for a couple reasons. It dries crazy fast so there is no waiting, it sands very easily, and I can really control how little or much I wanted on them. I used a rustic orange matte finish from Rustoleum and I even made some in a antique grey satin finish. We will be putting a matte finish clear over them, but the flatter sheen of paint you get the easier they tend to sand.

Apply 1 coat of paint to them for the finish I went with. Make sure to apply just enough it has colour, but not so much that it runs or starts to hide the wood grain. If you want a more solid colour apply a second, or even 3rd coat, don't try to get it done in one heavy coat. After 30 mins the paint has dried plenty. Now to create the rustic finish we need to sand it back. Using 80 grit sandpaper or sanding sponge sand it down until it looks good to your eye, making sure to go up and down the post in the direction of the grain and not side to side. For the edges go softer on them as they will sand back faster. We aren't trying to remove all the paint here, just exposing some wood in places and thinning it out and scratching it to create a aged look.

Once they are sanded, wipe them down with a dry shop rag to remove the dust. Once they are clean spray them with a matte finish clear coat, I did 3 coats. I used Rustoleum again because you don't usually want to mix brands and I have had great experiences with them. This will protect them, it will also seal them so they don't get coloured dust on things, and it will give them a great matte finish for a authentic look.

Step 3: Stem Time

For the stems, you can just use a twig if you want a natural look. I wanted to make one to continue the craft and rustic theme. You can just hot glue it straight down if you want, the problem with that is it will not be very strong, and will be the first thing to snap off if it's hit. A better method is to set it down inside a bit and glue. Using a 1/2" drill bit, find the approximate center (I wasn't worried about exact because pumpkins aren't exact), then drill down 1/2" or so deep. Again, you can get technical and use a drill press but stems are never perfectly up and down so if it has a slight tilt to it that's fine, perfection will actually look off here. Test fit it in the hole, if it's tight you can ream out the hole a bit more or get a drill bit a slight size larger. Once it fit snugly, but goes in, fill the hole with wood glue and press it in and let it dry. Clean up any extra glue that squeezes out.

Step 4: Add a Face (optional)

I only added faces to my largest pumpkins, you can add more or less depending if you want them to be fall or Halloween décor. All I did was just freehand with a pencil very lightly on the pumpkin, then I filled it in with 2 coats of a black acrylic. After the acrylic was completely dry, I gave the face a quick spray with the matte finish clear coat and let it dry.

Step 5: Create the Stem Design

There is a couple different ways that it could be wrapped here, tight or loose wrap. If you go with a loose wrap, I'd paint the whole stem in brown acrylic, hot glue a piece or the jute cord down at the base, and then wrap loosely and hot glue again at the top. I did a tight wrap so I only painted the top 1/2" or so brown. Then using a piece of approximately 9" long jute cord, wrap and tie it once around the base, adding a small dab of hot glue between the knot and stem to hold them in place and stop the knot from coming undone. Then another the opposite direction. Try not to get too much hot flue everywhere so we can keep everything fitting tightly, I also pressed down on the wrapped part to make sure I didn't have gaps before I applied the glue. Once that's done, flare and untwist the jute cord to open it up and create strands. Grab the florist wire and a pencil and wrap it around the pencil, I went between 7 and 8 wraps but you can do more or less depending on how long you want it, then pull it off the pencil, leave about 2" and wrap another 7 or 8 wraps and cut it off. Now take that and wrap it around the stem once, so the 2 ends come forward and hot glue it down as well. From there add a drop hot glue and add the end of the jute, start your tight wrap till you reach the top and add another drop of hot glue, cut the jute to length and press it into the glue. Once it was dried I added a small amount to the tip again to smooth it out and stop it from fraying over time.

Step 6: Make a Burlap Bow (optional)

You can buy burlap bows pre made if you choose, but there is so much leftover material and it is easy to make them. Cut a strip about 12" long and 1.5" wide. Then grab one end and fold it back towards itself about a inch off center and down at a 45 degree angle. Then grab the other side and do the same thing. Then pinch the center together and flatten it as needed till it looks like a bow in your hand. Then use a small piece of the jute cord, wrap it from front to back and tie a knot, and glue the knot together. Then cut the tails off and add a large blob of hot glue to the knot and press it into the stem however you like.

Step 7: Done!

I hope your project turned out awesome! Let me know what you think, or if you have any questions and I'll get back to ya! You can tag me or email me directly!

Thanks for stopping by and have fun!


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