tree blocks - momgineer

Wednesday, March 30, 2011

tree blocks


Spring is the perfect time to make tree blocks. The bark is easiest to get off of the branches in spring, and since this is the most time consuming part otherwise, it really makes sense to make them now. If you have any trees that need trimming or can get a few branches off your local freecycle, and you don't mind putting in some time and effort, you will end up with a beautiful set of tree blocks your children can play with for many years, and maybe even pass on to their own children!

We had an abundance of ash trees on our property last year, which were too crowded and not very happy. They worked well for this project, and we get much more enjoyment out of them as blocks than we did when they were trees.

What you need:
  • tree branches
  • a saw
  • an oven or a warm spot in the sun
  • a putty knife or box cutter
  • ample time and patience
Select your branches.  I chose a mixture of thin and thick. You will want to cut them to various lengths, but I tried to cut several the same length so they would work well for building structures. You will probably want to keep them as flat as possible, too, so that if you are building towers they aren't topsy turvy. I used a miter saw, but you can use whatever you have and are comfortable with.

After you cut them you will want them to dry out a bit; this should help get the bark off. I sun dried mine but you can put them in the oven on the lowest setting for a few hours instead. If you are really lucky, you might get a branch where the bark just falls right off. One of our maple trees just lost a branch and I thought it would be nice to make some more tree blocks to add to our ash ones. The whole bark-removing step, which was the most time consuming of our ash tree blocks last year, took me all of 2 minutes to de-bark an 8 foot long branch. It probably took me about 2 minutes per block last spring to de-bark the ash tree blocks. The other option is to leave the bark on, for a more natural look, and then all you need to do is cut them and sand the exposed surfaces!

before de-barking
drying in the sun
A year later, they still look great!
These blocks have so many uses and if you can find the wood for free and have the tools (or can borrow them), this is such an inexpensive project. Sets like this you can buy can run $40! Eek! To de-bark, I cut into the bark with a blade and then peeled it back with a putty knife or my fingernails. It was fairly time consuming, but I'm really happy with the result. After all of the bark was removed, I sanded all of the block first with coarse sandpaper, and then with fine sandpaper.
momgineer Meredith Anderson

STEM education is my passion!

No comments:

Post a Comment