Saturday, November 13, 2010

Here comes two-dimensional Santa Claus

Back in August I picked up a 55-year old Douglas Fir Plywood Santa pattern that you glue to plywood, cut out and assemble to make an outdoor Santa.  He looks something like the old Santa in the Coca Cola ads of the 1950s and 60s.

Here's my cheat sheet to tell me how and where to attach the pieces when it's ready to assemble.  Two arms, the head, a bag o' toys, and a mustache have to be attached.

I put off buying the plywood until I got the correct glue to use with the paper pattern.  I  ended up finding this stuff through Amazon.

 So today I bought a sheet of half-inch treated plywood to use as the backing (the big box stores don't usually have doug fir plywood, so treated will have to do).  First I got out the sawhorses and used some leftover white stain on what will be the back of the Santa.  I did this to make the back more presentable when it's finished.

The stain drys quickly, so after about 90 minutes I flipped the plywood over and used my belt sander with 120 grit paper to smooth out the surface I wanted to glue the paper onto.  I used compressed air to blow the sawdust off and then moved the sawhorses and plywood into the basement for gluing.

The glue comes in a powder that you mix with warm water.  I guessed on the amount, and ended up with a good bit left over.  Unfortunately, I don't think it will keep for use some other time.  But, better to have too much than run out in the middle of the gluing process.

I cut out the Santa pattern pieces, then laid them out on the plywood and traced around them quickly with a pencil.  I think this was a smart move, because it allowed me to spread the glue onto the plywood only where I needed it.  I also rolled glue onto the back of each piece in turn, then pressed it down onto the wood.

It's always good to have all your materials and tools ready before you start.   I don't always remember everything, and this time was no exception.  I had a small paint roller for spreading the glue, but after I pasted down the main two-piece Santa body, I realized I needed a clean roller to smooth out the paper and get it to make better contact with the plywood.  I was lucky I had another small paint roller nearby and used that along with a clean paint stirring stick.  I also ended up using a small paint brush to get glue under a few edges that didn't get enough glue from the roller.  It all went together reasonably well, considering this 1956 pattern has been folded for at least 50 years, so I couldn't get all the creases out even with using the roller.  But hey, we'll just pretend this Santa has seen a lot of snow and cold, and we'll say he's held up pretty good!

So here's where I am with it.

After the glue sets up, I'll move it outside and spray a couple coats of clearcoat over the paper parts, then get out the jigsaw and cut out the pieces, then attach them with screws and figure out how I'll prop Santa up.  I'll do an update when he's done or when I get him out in the yard.


  1. What a great looking Santa! I'm looking forward to seeing the finished product. I also hope you have better jigsaw skills than I :)

  2. Now that's a handsome Santa! I love how patient and diligent you are with your projects. I wish I could say the same of mine! Please show us the final product. ;-)

  3. Thanks ladies, final was just posted this morning! He goes up in the yard after Thanksgiving

  4. I was wondering if you would happen to have the pattern, if so could you email me it, I would be very grateful.

    Merry Christmas

    1. Sorry, I do not, but you can still buy these, they show up often on eBay - try searching for "douglas fir Santa".

  5. I have three of the old patterns that I was going to make. This post is super helpful! Thanks for sharing.