Introduction: Thanksgiving Minions

My first set of plywood standees...

After making plywood headstones for Halloween, I decided to do something cute for Thanksgiving. These three minions are the result. The downside was, my wife loved them so much... she wants minions made for every holiday. No good deed goes unpunished :)

Step 1: Parts and Tools

  • 1/2" Plywood
  • Wooden stake or the following:
    • 1/4"-20 x24" Threaded rod
    • 1/4" conduit clips
    • Small screws
  • 1"x 1/2" strip of wood (to reinforce the back)
  • Wood glue (Gorilla wood glue works great)
  • Wood filler
  • Primer
  • Paint (assorted colors)
  • Helmsman Miniwax Indoor/Outdoor Spar Urethane, clear satin
  • Paint brushes
  • Carbon Paper
  • Pencil
  • Clamps
  • Jig saw and blades
  • Sanding block
  • Source image, Computer, and a Printer

Step 2: Enlarge an Image to Use As a Template

Pick an image to use as a template. For this project I found three great Thanksgiving themed minions. I used Poster Printing software this time.

Print an enlargement or poster print of the image in order to tile it across multiple pages. (I shot for around 3 feet tall). Some print drivers have a poster option under the printing properties. Or you can download a dedicated application to print poster size. Adobe Acrobat also has an option to print as a poster. I cut and tape the tiled pages together. (In this project I've printed using optional 1/2" overlay/cut-lines between tiles, but I now find it easier to use 0 as the overlay. It simplifies cutting and taping together).

Step 3: Trace the Image on to the Plywood

Using an appropriately sized 1/2" plywood (considering the poster size and your intended final size), tape the assembled poster pages to the plywood.

Slide a piece of carbon paper in between the plywood and poster template. Using a pencil, trace the outline of the image.

Step 4: Cut the Outline Into the Plywood

Remove the printed poster template.

Using a jigsaw, cut around the outline that has been traced onto the plywood. When cutting is complete, use wood putty to fill in any surface defects and the edges of the plywood (this will help prevent rain penetration).

Sand the surfaces smooth.

Depending on the size of the plywood, I try to reinforce the back to keep it from warping. A 1" x 1/2" wood strip works well. Apply wood glue and clamp in place (wipe up any excess glue) and let dry for 20 minutes. The Turkey Minion was wider than the clamps I had available so I improvised with a heavy bucket of salt.

Optionally, glue a wood stake to the back. Lately I've been using threaded rod and conduit clips, as they cause less damage to the lawn. The wooden stake would be applied at this step, the conduit clips I would apply after the painting and sealing.

On this project I traced the inner details before priming... whoops. Do that after priming.

Step 5: Apply Primer

Paint adhesion on plywood (in my experience) is poor. Apply a primer to the surfaces of the plywood (I do the edges too). Give it a light sanding with the sanding block.

Step 6: Trace the Finer Details

Trim the printer poster to remove everything past the outline. Re-tape the poster to the plywood. Slide the carbon paper underneath, and using a pencil trace around the details of each color you will be applying.

I find it easier to focus on the larger blocks of color first, and than come back to this step after painting, to trace additional details or freehand. For instance, paint the large blocks of yellow, than trace the details for the face.

Step 7: Paint

Paint the larger color areas first.

Than go back and paint the finer details. In some cases I reuse the poster and carbon paper to trace fine details, in others I just free hand it. Craft paints are easy enough to work with, but on later projects I've also used cans, spray, and what ever I've had laying around. I now know they sell outdoor, water resistant acrylic craft paint; wish I knew that before.

Step 8: Seal

When painting is complete, I use a clear urethane to weather/rain proof the paint and the plywood. Craft paint will fade and plywood will swell from moisture. The urethane has been holding up pretty well (might need to reapply every two years). I've been using two coats. Be sure to stir frequently, or it will leave a yellowish tint.

Step 9: Final Steps

Some of the photos don't reflect the changes I've made.

I eventually opted to cut the wooden stake off, and replaced it with a threaded rod and conduit clips. This causes less damage to the lawn (and is easier to stake into the ground). Line up the threaded rod, place two or three conduit clips over the rod, and screw them into place (pre-drilling a pilot hole is helpful).

One of them suffered some minor damage, probably water penetration. To fix I added some wood glue into the split, and clamped it in place for 20 minutes.

Step 10: Christmas Minion

As soon as the Thanksgiving Minions were complete, my wife exclaimed "we need a Christmas Minion too!".