I Built Sixteen Houses in a Month!

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Project by Lenny posted 12-11-2016 01:50 PM 1674 views 0 times favorited 11 comments Add to Favorites Watch

I built 16 houses in about a month! OK, so they’re very little houses. There’s not much here by way of woodworking skill or difficulty. Still, there is a fair amount of tedious and repetitive work.

These are 16 maple Christmas tree ornaments in the shape of a house. The story behind these is as follows. Hurricane Irene hit the east coast in 2011 and it was a pretty destructive storm. We still owned my parents’ home at the time and the maple tree in the back yard lost a significantly sized limb. As I cut the limb into manageable logs, something moved me to keep three of them. I brought them home, band sawed them into rough boards and stored them (stickered) in my shed for two years. When a moisture meter indicated the boards were at about 7%, I milled them into finished lumber boards. As you can imagine, the yield was not great (photos #5 and #6) but still, I knew I could make something from them and during the “drying years” I had decided to make a small gift for each of my parents’ 16 grandchildren. I kept putting off the project until, this year, I resolved to do it. I have two daughters. I asked both of them, independently, what I might make, given the limited supply of maple. They both suggested a tree ornament.

Knowing how much the grandkids enjoyed family gatherings at the old homestead, I came up with the idea of a house ornament and thought it might be nice to include the house number. I made a template of the house shape from 1/8 inch Baltic birch and cut most of the house shape at the band saw and the numbers at the scroll saw. I ran into a snag when I realized I would lose the center of the zero! Plan B was to use the template for the shape of the house and then temporarily glue printed numbers on the pieces for scroll sawing. To save time and effort I used double stick tape to do the sawing in pairs. I used the disc section of my belt/disc sander to refine the rough cuts as well as some hand sanding and filing. I added a thin piece of maple behind the zero and glued the centers to it. I then sanded that support piece even thinner.

The finish is several coats of spray shellac and a coat of Howard’s Feed n Wax.

My siblings and I have fond memories of growing up in that house and our children have similar memories of time spent visiting Nana and Grandpa. With these little ornaments, they will always have a piece or a part of that home to cherish. And, they can pass them on to their children, etc. I presented the ornaments at a family Christmas party yesterday and they were well received.

-- On the eighth day God was back in His woodworking shop! Lenny, East Providence, RI

11 comments so far

View Alongiron's profile


654 posts in 3937 days

#1 posted 12-11-2016 02:06 PM

That is what I would call “Labor of love”! That is really awesome.

Every year when they put up the tree they will remember and tell fun filled stories of their grandparents.

Your he best Uncle they could ask for Lenny. Christmas is not about receiving, it is about giving!

Thank you for sharing this story and your talents with us

Merry Christmas to you and all your family!!


-- Measure twice and cut once.....sneak up on it! Steve Lien

View Tooch's profile


2016 posts in 3120 days

#2 posted 12-11-2016 02:31 PM

very nice work, they will enjoy those ornaments for years to come.

-- "Well, the world needs ditch-diggers too..." - Judge Smails

View Roger's profile


21055 posts in 4048 days

#3 posted 12-11-2016 02:31 PM

Gr8 story and momento’s Lenny.

-- Roger from KY. Work/Play/Travel Safe. Keep your dust collector fed. [email protected]

View littlecope's profile


3132 posts in 4746 days

#4 posted 12-11-2016 03:07 PM

Very Thoughtful Project and Gift Idea Lenny…
Well Done, and a Very Merry Christmas to You and Yours!

-- Mike in Concord, NH---Unpleasant tasks are simply worthy challenges to improve skills.

View Diggerjacks's profile


2330 posts in 4383 days

#5 posted 12-11-2016 06:45 PM

Hello Lenny
you are a fantastic builder !!! 16 houses in a month Woaou !

Nice work and great story

Thanks for sharing

-- Diggerjack-France ---The only limit is the limit of the mind and the mind has no limit

View Lenny's profile


1721 posts in 4771 days

#6 posted 12-11-2016 06:45 PM

Thank you Steve. Merry Christmas to you and yours. Thank you Tooch and Roger. Thank you Mike and Merry Christmas to you also.

-- On the eighth day God was back in His woodworking shop! Lenny, East Providence, RI

View blackcherry's profile


3349 posts in 5067 days

#7 posted 12-11-2016 07:09 PM

Great story Lenny, nice work on saving apart of family history. It goes to show that trees can talk.

View Cathie Zimmerman's profile

Cathie Zimmerman

103 posts in 2057 days

#8 posted 12-12-2016 07:46 AM

Wow, what an awesome gift. I always thought the idea of using wood that was from your own land would be amazing. Great work friend.

View Lenny's profile


1721 posts in 4771 days

#9 posted 12-12-2016 04:21 PM

Many thanks Wilson and Cathie.

-- On the eighth day God was back in His woodworking shop! Lenny, East Providence, RI

View Napaman's profile


5535 posts in 5321 days

#10 posted 02-11-2017 04:10 PM

Fun project. These will be treasured for a long time.

-- Matt--Proud LJ since 2007

View Lenny's profile


1721 posts in 4771 days

#11 posted 02-11-2017 06:08 PM

Matt, my daughters and nieces/nephews were genuinely touched by these gifts.

-- On the eighth day God was back in His woodworking shop! Lenny, East Providence, RI

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