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Create a miniature cityscape from colorful wooden blocks and moulding. Make a set for the kids to play with, or use them on a shelf as decorations.
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The materials listed are enough to make about 22 blocks of various sizes. Add quantity and variety to your blocks by experimenting with different sizes of square stock and moulding shapes. For woodburning tips and techniques, see Woodburning Basics.
Cut the 3-in x 3-in x 36-in poplar board (actual measurements are 2-1/2-in square) into a variety of lengths. We cut three pieces 5-in long, three pieces 3-1/2-in long, and three pieces 2-1/2-in long. From a 2-in x 2-in x 36-in poplar board (actual measurements are 1-1/2-in square), you can cut two pieces 5-in long, four pieces 3-1/2-in long, and five pieces 2-1/2-in long.
Glue and clamp together pairs of inside corner blocks with their profiles aligned. Then glue those pairs together to form square shapes with a profile on all four outside faces.
Sand the faces and ends of each block with 120-grit and 180-grit sandpaper. Wipe clean. Pencil in windows, doors, and details on the blocks. (Some blocks were decorated to work standing on end or on their edges.) Use a woodburning tool to go over the pencil lines and burn the images. Experiment with different tips on scrap blocks and use the ones you like to add variety to the designs.
Plan which blocks you want to stain -- you don't need to do all of them -- and apply colors where you like.
Avoid the temptation to stain all of the blocks. A few with a natural wood finish add contrast if you plan to display your blocks in a group.