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So one day my sister sends me a text, and I quote, “gnome doors are going to be huge this year.” I had absolutely no clue what she was talking about and so it was explained to me carefully so that I could make her one.
Basically it is a fake door that is placed at the base of a tree, rock wall or other interesting outdoor thing to look like it might be the home for a gnome. How had I never heard of this? It’s too freaking cute. But luckily Jen had so here we are with me spending lots of time creating a door that doesn’t work for a creature that does not exist. Such fun!
For this project you will need:
- Oval wood plaque (one end cut off)
- Balsa wood strip (1.5 inch here)
- Cabinet hardware that looks like a doorknob
- Wood stain
- Acrylic paints
- X-acto knife
- Repostionable spray adhesive
- Wood glue
Somewhere I have pictures of my dad cutting this for me but I can’t find them. But this is what it looked like after he cut it! I did go around for a while holding the big part up by my head and the bottom part just below and moved it up and down when I was talking. I thought it was great but my dad didn’t even notice. Bah!
First we’re going to give the door some texture so it looks less like a plaque I had my dad cut up for me. To do this you’ll need strips of balsa wood. Balsa is great because it is soft and you can cut it with an X-acto knife. Now, if you’re cool with other cutting things, like maybe a Dremel, you can instead purchase and use craft plywood sold in the same area of the craft store.
Cutting the wood in a straight line is very simple. Take a ruler and follow along for the first cut. Go over a time or two to finish cutting through. The wood will easily snap apart. If you have any wonky edges where the wood didn’t snap perfectly, you can clean those up with your knife.
Cutting on curves is really easy, too which might surprise you. Draw your shape into the wood using a ballpoint pen. Now you’ve already got a divot in the wood where you need to cut. Follow along that groove with your X-acto knife being very careful to stay in that groove. Go over with a few more passes until the wood easily snaps apart.
To get pieces for the front that are well sized, grab some repositionable spray adhesive and hit the backside of your balsa wood and attach to the plaque where they will be when done. Be sure to leave easily visible gaps in between your planks to make that great front door texture!
Flip over and trace where the cut needs to be with your ball point pen. The wood easily stays in place for you to properly mark without any sliding around. When removing the pieces to trim with your craft knife be a bit gentle with the wood just to be safe.
To make sure our planks on the door are highly visible, go over just the flat part of the plaque with some black paint. Leave the edges untouched. Allow to dry.
Use wood glue to permanently attach the balsa to the plaque for just the sides.
This little wooden embellishment came from the craft store in the woodworking aisle. Take a small amount of acrylic paint on a very dry brush and rub the paint into the different areas without fully covering and leaving the cracks bare. Allow to fully dry.
To make an area for your medallion you can glue on top, or you can sink it in for an even better look! Trace the shape where you want it to go…
Trace just outside of that mark and cut with your knife. Be careful of any pieces where you are cutting close to the edge (like at the edge of the circle close to the edge of the balsa) because these areas will be more prone to breaking.
Glue down these pieces and your medallion. Any areas that aren’t perfect can be trimmed up. I decided to leave mine as I thought it gave my door “handmade by real gnomes” kind of a vibe to it.
Stain the wood a simple brown color. Brush the stain on and quickly wipe away. Be sure to cover the planks and the surrounding edge of the plaque.
Age your center medallion with the same stained treatment, making sure to rub the exposed areas very well so that the paint still shows through brightly.
Drill a hole for your hardware (this is my dinky battery operated jobbie that I get along with just fine thank you very much.)
And seal your door with polyurethane. I used a satin for a little sheen but not too much.
When dry add your knob (mine is from Hobby Lobby) in place and that’s that!
It took some time to find an area of the tree flat enough to look like it could accommodate my gnome door. In real life it will be on my sisters very, very large cottonwood so there won’t be such an issue. But once I found a good spot I was so pleased with how well this little cutie turned out!
Even Ollie is quite interested in this magical little door! All in all this little door was a labor of love taking a whole morning to craft. It was so worth it, don’t you think? I know my sister is going to love it!