Tutorial + How-to Wooden Building Blocks

Published on May 19th, 2010 | by Julie Finn

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Five Crafty Things to Do with Wooden Building Blocks

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I own a lot of wooden building blocks. Seriously, I own a LOT of wooden building blocks. Some I’ve bought new, some I’ve dumpster dived, most I’ve thrifted, but it all amounts to a hell of a collection for my little kids, who can build themselves a hell of a building block fort over the course of a rainy weekend, thanks to me.

But wooden building blocks do not have to be solely your child’s provenance. Whether they’re alphabet or standard, painted or bare, wooden building blocks offer a lot of possibilities for the average crafter.

And for the average eco-warrior craft god/goddess? Well, you guys can see the extra benefits to crafting with a natural material like wood, especially if it’s recycled from some kid’s old playthings.

Maybe you’re a scrapper. Maybe you create altered art. Whatever you do, wrap your head around these five new uses for what you’ll soon see as the champion of the craft room: the ubiquitous wooden block:

  1. If your block has any kind of raised image on it (old-school alphabet blocks often have their letters and pictures done in relief on them, instead of being painted on) then you can print your own woodcuts from them, as easy as stamping.
  2. Speaking of stamping, Chasing Cheerios has a project for turning wooden blocks and foam letters (an excellent way to get rid of them!) into multi-sided stamps. Efficient on space!
  3. Photojojo offers a brilliant tutorial for turning several cube blocks into a photo puzzle. You could totally put a different puzzle on every side of the block, and drive yourself NUTS!
  4. This tutorial for a geometric art puzzle from Mer Mag technically calls for cut hardboard, but it’s easy to imagine how you could substitute in any uniform wooden building block such as triangles, rectangles, planks, and squares. They can all be interestingly tiled.
  5. And if you’re going to paint your building blocks, why not decorate them elaborately? My girls and I have a tradition of decorating wooden Easter eggs with Sharpies instead of dyeing chicken eggs, and you could create similarly elaborate designs on building blocks. Architectural detailing? Animals or aliens? Graffiti? The possibilities are endless.

Have you ever done something crafty with a kid’s toy?

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About the Author

I'm a writer, crafter, Zombie Preparedness Planner, and homeschooling momma of two kids who will hopefully someday transition into using their genius for good, not the evil machinations and mess-making in which they currently indulge. I'm interested in recycling and nature crafts, food security, STEM education, and the DIY lifestyle, however it's manifested--making myself some underwear out of T-shirts? Done it. Teaching myself guitar? Doing it right now. Visit my blog Craft Knife for a peek at our very weird handmade homeschool life; my etsy shop Pumpkin+Bear for a truly odd number of rainbow-themed beeswax pretties; and my for links to articles about poverty, educational politics, and this famous cat who lives in my neighborhood.



  • http://www.tegu.com Brandon Straub

    Thanks for the ideas Julie! This really gets me thinking about future possibilities for Tegu blocks. We haven’t explored any of the ideas below but I think in the future we certainly will. In terms of other uses, since Tegu blocks are magnetic I’ve used them for a variety of fun things: desk toy/sculpture, key holders, picture frame, refrigerator magnets, garage organization, etc.

  • Lisa

    Great ideas for blocks! Almost 25 years ago, I made a fun revolving musical Xmas tree with wooden alphabet blocks for my then-infant daughter. I was given the instructions from a lovely lady named Terri, from Indialantic, Florida. It had a ceramic “lamp” base ring (greenware)and a plastic lazy susan, with a music box mechanism inside.(Very easy, as I have NO mechanical skills!) Piled the blocks into a tree shape, glued them on, and added all sorts of small trinkets, toys, and small decorations. Had to balance out the decorations so it would revolve properly. Worked for many years…was so cute! I should really try making one for my new grandson! Hope this gives some ideas to a whole new generation of crafters!

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