Introduction: Stained Wood Cube Mario

About: Mad scientist, woodworker, creative evil, artist, tinkerer, father of five creative hooligans.
If you're looking for a simple weekend project to decorate your gameroom, give this stained wood cube Mario project a try.

You'll need:
  • 3/4" square dowels (poplar will work)
  • Dark and stain (check your local hardware store for scratch and dent deals!)
  • Red and black acrylic paint
  • Loctite All-Purpose Adhesive Caulk in One (Clear)
  • 24" x 48" hardboard panel
  • Krylon Satin Finish
  • Table saw (handy if you can't find dowels cut to size)
  • Mitre saw
  • Jig saw
  • Safety goggles (important!)

I based my Mario off of the Tanooki suit in Super Mario 3. You can find plenty of sprites by searching Google Images. Attached is an Open Office Calc file.

Check out my Princess Peach instructable for another way to do it!

Step 1: Rip the Dowels to Size

If you already have wooden dowels cut to 3/4" x 3/4", then you can skip this step. I decided to use some spare ash that I had sitting around the shop.

I set my fence on the table saw to 3/4" and then ripped all of my dowels to size. Be sure to use a thin push stick and keep your hand as far away from the blade as possible. Remember, never reach over the blade to remove the stock after the cut; be sure to turn off the table saw and let the blade spin down first.

Step 2: Cut the Cubes

It would be impossible to manually measure and cut the 400+ cubes necessary for this project. Use a stop block to measure 3/4" from the blade, that way every cut is accurate. Lay 3 - 4 dowels side by side and cut them all at once. Rinse and repeat.

Step 3: Paint and Stain

Once you have all of your cubes cut to size, it's time to break out the stain. Use neoprene gloves so that you don't end up with stained skin. I found my stain in my local hardware store in the scratch and dent section for under $2.00.

Carefully dip each cube in the stain and lay them out on a couple of sheets of paper to dry. Keep in mind that the stain will go through the paper -- you may want to lay down some plastic first. Do this for both the red and black cubes. For my Mario, I left the "white" areas unstained. You will need:
  • 227 black
  • 87 red
  • 109 white
I tried ebony and red oak stain but the color difference was not enough. Instead, I watered down some red and black acrylic paint and added it to the stained pieces. The result turned out great and gave a lot more contrast.

Once everything has dried, take all of your cubes outside and hit them with some Krylon Satin. This will help to give a nice even finish. Do this for all of the pieces: black, red, and unstained white.

Step 4: Glue It All Down - Finish!

I'll have to admit that I made a mistake on this step. Not only did I measure incorrectly, but I also slacked off on taking pictures.

I recommend laying everything out on a piece of hardboard to ensure that it looks right. I assumed that my measurements were perfect and removed the cubes and manually measured and cut the piece. Not good. Once you lay out all of your cubes, trace the outside with a pencil. Then, using a jigsaw, cut around the edge on the inside of the line. This will help to hide the hardboard. Paint the edge of the hardboard with black acrylic.

Apply adhesive caulk to the back and inside edges of the cubes and push them into place. Be sure that you don't shift anything too much in the process. I laid out my cubes row by row and found that the first row had dried by the time I was three rows in.

Let the entire piece cure overnight. The next day, take the entire thing outside and hit it with some Krylon Satin again to ensure a good even coat.

An that's it --attach a picture hanger to the back and enjoy!

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