Recently, I was brainstorming Christmas gift ideas for my kids’ teachers. I have ran across numerous variations of photo blocks on Pinterest for months now. I knew I wanted to make one for our kitchen counter, but had yet to find a tutorial that was exactly what I was looking for. I eventually decided to put my own twist on the DIY Photo Blocks floating around the internet. These make great gifts, especially with Christmas coming up! These can be made with scrap wood, and you can do any size you want. Not only are they great for holding pictures, but they also work well for holding recipes while you are cooking them. If you are like me, I usually end up losing recipe cards while I am in the middle of cooking, so these have been helpful!!Materials needed for DIY photo blocks:
- I used a 1x8x6 cut down for my block ($9 at Lowe’s- this 1 piece can make 6+ photo blocks, depending on your measurements). See below for cuts.
- Wooden dowel. I’ve used a 7/16 inch and a 1/2 inch dowel for these blocks (Around 97 cents at Lowe’s or Hobby Lobby). Make sure you have a drill bit in this size also!! Mine was 48 inches long(makes 6+ blocks also). See below for cuts.
- Elmer’s Carpenter’s Wood Glue
- DEWALT Cordless Drill& DEWALT Drill Bit Assortment
- Clamp-on Vise (optional but will make dowel cutting so much easier!)
- sand paper
- wood stain of your choice. My favorites for this project were Minwax Wood Stain in Espresso and
Minwax Wood Stain in Provincial.
- Jute Twine
- Staple Gun
- I had the 1x8x6 cut at Lowe’s into 10 inch sections. I had 6 pieces that were 10 inches long, and 1 piece 11-12 inches long. This size block can easily hold a 5×7 or 4×6 picture.
- I used a hacksaw and a Clamp-on Vise to cut the 48 inch long wooden dowel. You can cut 3-5 inch sections off, depending on how much you want the block to lean… the longer the dowel is, the more it will stand upright. I did the majority of my blocks with dowels at 4 inches. I just discovered vises a few weeks ago while working on a project in my dad’s shop, and let me tell you, they are major time savers, especially for cutting the wooden dowels. I ended up buying the one mentioned above, and I LOVE it. It clamps perfectly onto my kitchen counter.. haha! A proper set up is in the works. It’s super easy to install and remove for cleanup. I see myself using it a lot for future projects!
- After the wood was cut, I made 2 templates. 1 for the bow and 1 for the wooden dowel. To make these, I traced the shape of the block onto construction paper and cut it out. You can do this on 1 sheet, I did 2 small sections. For the bow holes that are at the top of the photo block, I cut out 2 holes with a hole puncher that were centered and about 3/4 inch from the top of the page. For the dowel hole, I punched a hole 1 inch from the bottom that was centered. Having these templates made the drilling much easier, especially when making more than one photo block.
- Once the templates were made, I placed each one on the block and marked the holes. For the bow holes, I found they worked best when drilled from the front of the block, so use your template to mark the FRONT of the block. The dowel hole will go on the BACK of your block. As far as which drill bit to use for the top holes, just make sure that your Jute Twine will be able to fit through the hole. Some twine is thicker than others. The bow holes must be drilled completely through the wood. I say to drill from the front because where the drill bit drills through (the back), some wood pops off as shown in the second picture. Once stained, you can’t even tell, but I chose to put it in the back.
- For the dowel hole, mark it on the BACK of your photo block using the template (shown in the above picture, on the right). The templates make it so much easier, because all you have to do is line up the paper edges with the block and mark the spot. Much quicker when you are making a lot at once! Now, make sure you have a drill bit in the same size as the dowel you bought. When you drill this hole, DO NOT GO ALL THE WAY THROUGH THE WOOD! I only went about 3/4 of the way through the wood. You want to make sure the dowel fits snuggly in this hole.
- Before attaching the dowel, I sanded over the entire photo block, smoothing out the edges where the wood was cut and where the holes were drilled. I used whatever sandpaper or sanding block I had on hand. I also lightly sanded both ends of each cut dowel.
- I wiped down each piece of wood really well with baby wipes (so many more uses than just wiping baby bums, y’all!) and let it dry. Now it was time to put the dowels on! For this, I laid the photo block down with the back facing up. I put a small amount of Elmer’s Carpenter’s Wood Glue in the dowel hole and then placed the dowel in. If you need to use a hammer to tap it in, have at it. You want it to have a snug fit. Once this is done, I let the photo blocks sit like this over night.
- After letting the glue set, I wiped off the blocks again and started staining them. I tried a few different stain colors, but my favorites were Minwax Provincial and Espresso. I applied the stain using a foam brush and followed the instructions on the can.
- Once the stain was completely dry, I distressed the edges and front of the blocks with some sandpaper. Next, I added the twine. This is what will hold the pictures in place. I added a section near the top and another at the bottom of each photo block. You can find twine in most craft sections of major stores, and even the Target dollar bin usually has some in various colors; although, it is only a small amount. I like to order mine from Amazon(link above in material list) or buy it from Ollie’s. To attach the twine, I tied a small knot in the end and then stapled it to the BACK of the wood block. I wrapped the twine around the block 6 or so times, then cut the twine and tied another small knot, and stapled right before the knot. The knots help keep the twine from sliding through. You want the twine to be wrapped tightly around the frame. If you don’t have a staple gun, you can also use a hot glue gun to hold the twine in place.
Materials needed to make the bow: The bows are super easy to make, and I am by no means a bow making professional…. These blocks are easy to switch out the bows any you time want.
- ribbon of your choice. I prefer the wire edged burlap ribbon, as the bow keeps shape better and it is easier to work with. The Hobby Lobby near me has a decent selection near their floral department. Wal-Mart had 5 or 6 to choose from also.
- Hot glue gun and glue sticks
- Cut a strip of your ribbon about 14-16 inches long.
- I then folded the ribbon in half and make sure to press the wire edges in once folded. I spread the ribbon back out (pattern facing down) and used the fold marks in the wire edges as a guide to glue. I folded one side over until it touched the halfway mark, like below. I placed 2 drops of glue along the wire edge indentation to hold the folded piece down. I do this for both sides, slightly overlapping the second side with the first.
- This next step, I have done 2 ways. The way I describe below as well as by using twine. I prefered the outcome of using the hot glue vs twine. I originally learned this method from the Shanty 2 Chic girls, and have been using this one for over a year now for craft bows. I pinched the middle of the bow in between 2 fingers like below with the seam I just glued previously facing down. When holding it, I pinched the middle so there was 1 ‘valley’. This will be the front. On the back, there was 2 ‘valleys.’ I placed a dot of glue into the ‘valleys’ on the front and back of the bow and then pinched it for a few seconds until the glue dried. If you have any clothes pins or food bag clips, you can clip them in the middle where you were holding to give your fingers a break.
- I cut another 4-5 inch section of ribbon and folded one edge over to the middle.I folded the other edge over the first section so that it looked like this.
- Now, I turned the open edge of this last piece facing down so that the above picture is the front and will be showing on the bow as the center piece. I placed a small dot of hot glue onto the first piece of the bow I made and put the center piece so that the end is facing the front of the bow like below. I wrapped the center piece around the bow until it reached where it was first glued down. I placed a small dot of glue here again to hold the wrapped piece down.
- Next make sure you are working on the back side of the bow. I added an 8 inch piece of Jute Twine. This is what will hold your bow to the photo block. In the picture below, where my fingers are at the top is where I glued the center piece down after wrapping it around once. Next, I used a strip of hot glue right where the twine is placed in the above picture. I dotted a little bit of glue on top of the twine also, because lastly, I placed the center piece on top of the twine to hide where it was glued down. If your center piece is longer than this, just cut it down once you have it glued all the way. And this is how the bow looks from the back.
- To attach the bow, all I did was string the twine through the previously drilled holes on the front of the photo block.Once the twine was through the holes, I tied it tightly on the back so the bow would not move around.
- The last step I did was fluffed the bow to get the look I wanted and readjusted the twine if needed.Thanks for reading!