One of the happy “side effects” of our big, fat, never-ending house renovation project is that we have lots of lath board around the farm. I’m going to show you how I repurposed 100-year-old lath board to make these super simple DIY Reclaimed Wood Christmas Ornaments.
What is lath?
In today’s modern construction, we use sheetrock or drywall to form the walls of our homes. But when houses like ours were built over 100 years ago, they used plaster and lath to form the walls. Lath is a thin strip of wood that was used to make a frame of sorts on which the plaster would be spread. It gave the walls a form. Here’s an example of what it looked like in our home:
You can see under the stairwell where the lath board was framed and the plaster spread on to it. This is the view from the “inside” of the wall. You can see how the plaster would ooze in between the lath boards. We have gutted all but two rooms in our house to replace the plaster and lath with drywall. It would be great to keep the old walls, but we needed to re-insulate. And you can imagine how much the plaster walls cracked over the years in a house where the foundation was settling. In this case, a full house restoration wasn’t in the cards. We just went into full renovation mode.
My husband insisted that we removed the nails one by one from the lath board. He really hated flat tires and especially those that happened because of a nail in the tire. In his mind, that was preventable. He didn’t want to drag all of the lath to the burn pile and risk spreading nails all over the yard.
So we chipped all the plaster off the boards and pulled the nails out. As a result, we have bundles and bundles of lath board here on the farm. And believe it or not, we’ve found ways to repurpose it.
Reusing Old Lath
I do enjoy repurposing items. It has been a hobby of mine for quite some time. Over the years, we’ve used that lath for various projects around here. My kids made several projects from the lath. Among them were a snowman, a star wreath, and this flag my then 10-year-old made out of lath. He’s 21 now and I’m sure he really appreciates this picture of him trying to perfect his staining technique.
I had to include this picture just because there is just too much cuteness in this picture not to share it! He received a purple ribbon on this one and was awarded outstanding junior, just in case you were wondering. 🙂
A “Fresh” New Bundle Of Lath
We’ve recently gutted our old laundry room/office area. So that means I had a fresh, new bundle of lath with which to work. I’m not sure how fresh 100-year-old wood could be, but it’s new to me. The bundle was close by and not tucked in the barn. I decided I would make some Reclaimed Wood Christmas Ornaments out of the old lath.
The best thing about lath is that it looks beautifully rustic. It has bits of white on it from the plaster and it has a wonderful rough sawn look. Can you imagine the work it was back then to saw that lumber into thin little strips? Nothing was powered back then except for the men who handled the saws.
So now that you have an understanding of what lath is and how I got my hands on so much of it, let me show you how I made Christmas ornaments with reclaimed lath board.
|Here’s what you’ll need to make these Reclaimed Wood Christmas Ornaments
Lath Board – I understand it’s very likely that you do not have 100-year-old lath in your craft stash. You can still buy lath board today at Lowe’s, Home Depot and Menards. There’s a great chance your local lumber yard has it as well. Believe it or not, you can buy reclaimed lath board from eBay! Another alternative: pre-cut wooden pieces
12mm Screw Eyes: like these
Oramask 813 stencil mask
DIY Reclaimed Wood Christmas Ornament Cutting Files – found in the Craft Your Happy Resource Library
Sanding the Lath
When I work with reclaimed wood, I give it a good sanding. I don’t do this step as much to sand it smooth as I do to knock the 100 years of good old Iowa dust and dirt from it. I bought a Black and Decker Mouse Sander about 17 years ago. It has proven to be very valuable (and durable) over the years.
You could sand it for hours and it probably would never be completely smooth. I like that it stays rough. It adds to the rustic quality.
Cut Into Squares
The lath board is an inch and a half wide. So I cut them into inch and a half squares with my power miter saw. I again used the Mouse Sander to knock the sawdust off the squares and smooth out the edges.
Stenciling The Design
I cut out my stencils using my favorite Oramask 813 and my Cameo Silhouette. (A Cricut works just as well.) Since these designs were small enough, I could just weed them with my fingers. I found that I could create two different types of designs with one stencil.
See how I was able to take the middle out of the stencil and put it directly on the reclaimed wood? Then I had an “extra” stencil to place on the lath board like this:
This way, I could have some variety in my design. I could have a positive space effect and a negative space effect with one cut design.
Reclaimed lath wood is not the ideal “substrate” on which to stencil a design. To paint the design, I used a makeup sponge and chalk paint (as always) for this step. Because it is so bumpy and rough, as you can see in the picture above, it’s impossible to get a good seal on it. I could have probably used Mod Podge to seal the edges, but I really wanted a rough, stamped kind of look. The reclaimed lath is perfect for this.
This is one of those projects where if perfection is your thing, you’re not going to like the end result. The paint WILL smush under the edges no matter how light of a coat you apply. If you’re using brand new lath board, this will not be as much of a problem for you. This particular snowflake design did have little cut out bits. I just carefully took those up with tweezers and placed them where they needed to go.
Not perfect, but it was totally the look I was going for!
Adding the hook and Baker’s twine to hang
After the paint has dried, which will take about a minute or two if you’re using chalk paint, take the eye hooks and screw them into the top of your ornament. These screw in easily with your finger. Run some baker’s twine through it, give it a knot and hang on the tree! I love the look of baker’s twine at Christmas time. It’s probably because I’m a peppermint girl and what looks more Christmas than candy cane stripes?
These couldn’t be any easier to make!
MAKE YOUR OWN DIY RECLAIMED WOOD CHRISTMAS ORNAMENTS
I’ve created four free cutting files for you to use if you want to make your own Reclaimed Wood Christmas Ornaments. There are three different snowflakes and a Christmas tree. You can find them in the Craft Your Happy Free Resource Library. You’re going to need a password to get in, however. If you don’t have the password, you can request it by signing up down below:
What will you do to Craft Your Happy, today?