Wife likes us to decorate for the holidays. We don't have much of a yard. Plywood standees have been my solution lately. Last year I went with Snoopy's decorated dog house from the Peanuts Christmas special.
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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
Step 2: Enlarge an Image to Use As a Template
Pick an image to use as a template. For this project I chose Snoopy lying atop of each dog house decorated with Christmas lights.
Print an enlargement or poster print of the image in order to tile it across multiple pages. (I shot for around 32"x21").
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 the past I've printed using an optional 1/2" overlay between tiles, but I now find it easier to use 0 as the overlay. It simplified 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 a 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.
Optionally, glue a wood stake to the back. Lately I've been using threaded rod and conduit clips, as they 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.
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.
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 other projects I've also used cans, spray, and what ever I've had laying around.
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: Light It Up
For the dog house I opted to add LEDs behind the painted Xmas lights.
For the size of LEDs I used, I drill 1/8" holes in each painted ornament. I than poked an LED through each hole and used a hot glue gun to keep them in place. I eventually used conduit clips to hold the battery pack in place on the rear (and used a plastic sandwich bag to provide some water resistance).
Step 10: 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).
I used the same conduit clips to securely hold the battery pack in place.
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