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Tips for How to Stain Wood and DIY Wood Craft Fair Display Inspiration

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Hello and welcome back! I’m glad to be able to write up a tutorial, of sorts, again this week after last week’s break. I was working all day, every day to get ready for my first craft show since moving to Hawaii! This week’s “tutorial” contains a bit of instruction and a bit of inspiration. It has advice for how to successfully stain wood, as well as photos and ideas for a DIY wood craft fair display that’s easy to use with bracelets, earrings, brooches, hair pins, or basically anything else that you can display on a card. I don’t have step by step photos for cutting the wood (because stopping to take pictures in the middle of a crowded wood shop seemed both dangerous and rude to the folks waiting to use the equipment), but I hope the pictures provide some inspiration!

Wood Staining Tips and a DIY Craft Show Display

Wood craft fair display

I’ve always had trouble with wind at craft fairs. Both in South Carolina and Hawaii, most craft fairs are held outdoors because “it’s nice.” That may be, but sea breezes wreck havoc with my lightweight items and purchased cardboard/cloth displays! I knew when I started doing shows in Hawaii that I’d need something far more substantial. I’ve already shared photos of my new wood headband display, and we’ve made three wood necklace displays and an earring rack, as well. For all that, I still needed more pieces and my display desperately needed height. This tiered display shown above is what we designed, and I decided to share my project in the hopes that it can help someone else. When I was looking for plans and idea for DIY craft fair displays, I was pretty disappointed by the results! I usually prefer to post very accessible tutorials that don’t require many pieces of specialized equipment, but I thought it was worth breaking tradition today.

We used a combination of a radial arm saw, a table saw, and a bandsaw, but you could accomplish it with a table saw and a hand saw. I created my template in Silhouette Studio and cut it with my Silhouette Cameo, but you could draw it by hand with a ruler and pencil. My tiers were each 4″ deep and 4″ tall.

Materials needed

  •  12″ board
  • Pencil
  • Tiered side template
  • Aforementioned saws

1. Measure and mark off two 12″ sections of board, one 2′ section, and two 4″ sections. The 2′ section is for the stands shelves, so feel free to make it longer or shorter, according to your needs. The 4″ sections are for the stands bases and can be made larger, if you’d like. Here is a screenshot of the Silhouette template I created:

tiered side pattern

2. Trace the tiered step design onto both of the 12″ wide pieces and then carefully cut along the lines using a bandsaw or hand saw.

tiered sides

3. Decide how wide you want your shelves to be and mark them off on the 2′ board. I chose to create 3.5″ wide shelves. Once the shelves are marked, cut them with a table saw.

4. Use multiple passes on the table saw to create grooves down the center of both 4″ sections. Ensure that the tiered side pieces can fit into the grooves, but that they don’t have too much wiggle room. This is probably the trickiest part of the whole project!

slotted base

4. Use the table saw to create one or two cuts partially through each board. The cuts in my shelves are about .5″ deep and angled slightly back.

5. Assemble and admire!

If you don’t have access to a table saw, I recommend choosing a 4″ length of board for your shelves and having it cut into multiple pieces when you purchase it. Virtually all hardware and home improvement stores offer one free cut with each board purchase and are willing to do additional cuts for a few cents. Then use a handsaw (and a lot of arm work!) cut cut the supports by hand. Skip the grooves in base pieces and glue/screw them in place, instead.

Wood staining tips

Preparing your wood is key to a successful stain. Oh, and not using poplar – poplar doesn’t stain well!

Materials needed

  • 150 grit sandpaper
  • 220 grit sandpaper
  • Wood stain
  • Stain brush
  • Plastic bags or other protective layer
  • Paper towels or a rags

1. Using the 150 grit sandpaper, sand every part of your project, paying special attention to edges, corners, and any smudges or stains along the flat surfaces.

places to sand

2. Use a soft rag or very slightly damp paper towel to wipe away any sawdust.

3. Sand everything again using the 220 grit paper and then clean away the sawdust.

4. Protect your work surface with plastic trash bags or whatever else you prefer.

protective plastic bag

5. Check your stain for any specific instructions.

6. Apply the stain, working with the grain instead of across it. Make sure the coat is complete, but don’t brush on excess stain.

apply the stain

7. After 10-15 minutes (or as directed by your stain), use paper towels or a rag to wipe away any excess, pooling stain.

8. After the stain is completely dry to the touch (usually 4-6 hours), lay out a new protective surface, flip your project pieces onto it, and stain the other side. Placing down new plastic is important if you had any drips or leaks while applying your first coat. This accumulated stain can gunk up your pretty work!

9. If desired, apply a second coat to further darken the wood.

10. Enjoy your new, beautiful project!

stained wood

If your items need help staying in place, cut tongue depressors in half and place one behind each display card. This not only takes up extra space in the groove, but also offers support and something for your cards to lean against!

Have you ever don’t any woodworking or ‘serious’ construction for a craft fair booth or display? How do you combat windy conditions at outdoor shows?

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{ 6 comments… add one }
  • Edi May 9, 2014, 01:34

    Your display looks great! I’m very impressed with your handiwork here 🙂 Something like this would be nice for my guest books or wedding invitations as well…thanks for the inspiration!

    • Natashalh May 12, 2014, 11:05

      I bet it would work! You’d just need slightly larger slits, is all, for the books. The invitations would probably fit perfectly with a single table saw pass.

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