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Outdoor Hanging Sculpture

Turn a dull wooden fence into a backdrop for this colorful work of art you can make in a weekend. It also works as indoor wall art.

Sculpture of wooden slats mounted on a fence.

Project Overview

Skill Level


Estimated Time

1 weekend

Estimated Cost


Tools & Materials


  • Drill and bit set
  • Screwdriver or driving bits
  • Carpenter’s square
  • Combination or try square
  • Clamps
  • Tape measure


  • 24 - 3/4 x 36 poplar square dowels, #27835
  • 1 x 2 x 96 poplar board, #1078
  • #8 x 1-1/4-in deck screws
  • HGTV Home by Sherwin-Williams paint, sample sizes: Sierra Pebble, #HGSW1101; Optimistic Orange, #HGSW1111; Amber Wave, #HGSW1132; In For A Penny, #HGSW1131; Mod Yellow, #HGSW1161; Woodland Strawberry, #HGSW2051; Cobble Brown, #HGSW3082

Items may be Special Order in some stores. Product costs, availability, and item numbers may vary online or by market. Paint colors may vary slightly from those shown. Availability varies by market for lumber species and sizes.

Missing anything? Shop Online


Step 1

Mark hole locations on the dowels.

Lay the 24 dowels on a flat work surface and mark the back face at the top of each to identify the tops and backs of the dowels. Separate them into two groups of six dowels and one group of 12. To duplicate the look shown above, find the center of one dowel on the back and measure 9 inches up and 9 inches down from the center, or 18 inches apart (Wooden Fence Ornament Drilling Guide, Vertical Slats). Arrange the group of 12 dowels with the ends flush. Use a square to transfer the marks on the one dowel to the rest, which will be the centered dowels in the arrangement.

Good to Know

For a less structured look, group all of the dowels together and stagger the dowel placement to create the pattern you like. Then clamp them together and draw two parallel lines 18 inches apart across all of the dowels. Number the dowels from left to right to preserve the correct order while you paint them (without covering the numbers).

Step 2

To duplicate the pattern shown, find the center of a dowel on the back and mark it 6 inches down from the center. Measure 9 inches up and 9 inches down from this point and mark the dowel. Assemble this dowel and five others with the ends flush. Then transfer the marks to the other five dowels. Repeat this for the last set of six dowels -- the lowered dowels in the arrangement -- only this time making the starting point 6 inches up from the center.

Step 3

Set the drilling depth.

Tape a 1/8-inch drill bit 1/2 inch from the tip to set the drilling depth. At the marks on each dowel, drill centered pilot holes.

Step 4

Decide the color sequence you want and arrange the dowels as shown in the photo with the holes down. Paint the dowels in the colors of your choice (Sierra Pebble, Optimistic Orange, Amber Wave, In For A Penny, Mod Yellow, and Woodland Strawberry shown). You should end up with four dowels of each color. Paint the two mounting boards (Cobble Brown shown) and let dry.

Good to Know

All of the paints shown here are interior latex in sample-size containers. If you plan to leave this project outdoors permanently, prime all of the parts and then paint them with an exterior latex.

Step 5

Drill holes in the horizontal mounting boards.

From the 1 x 2 board, cut two pieces 35-1/2 inches long. Mark one of the boards with hole locations shown on the Wooden Fence Ornament Drilling Guide, Horizontal Mounting Boards. Then tape the boards together with the ends flush and the markings on top. Drill 5/32-inch holes through both boards at each dowel-mounting location. Then drill 1/8-inch holes through the boards where you’ll mount the finished artwork to a wooden fence. (Omit these holes if you’ll hang this project indoors.) After the holes are drilled, separate the boards and drill countersinks for each dowel-mounting hole.

Step 6

Screw the horizontal mounting boards to the painted dowels.

Arrange the dowels in the pattern you want (or a mirror image of the photo shown above) with the holes facing up -- an alternate arrangement is shown here. Lay the horizontal mounting boards across the dowels so that the mounting holes in the boards are above those in the dowels. Screw the first four dowels to the boards, and check that the boards are 90 degrees to the dowels using a carpenter’s square. Then attach the remaining dowels.

Step 7

Liven up a dull wooden fence with this colorful piece of art made from painted square dowels. --Lowe’s Creative Ideas

At the location where you’ll mount the finished artwork, screw through the mounting holes in the horizontal boards to attach them to a wooden fence.

Explore more DIY artwork and garden decoration ideas:

Good to Know

If you plan to display the piece indoors, drill 1/16-inch mounting holes about 6 inches from the ends of the top horizontal board. Screw two large D-ring hangers to the board. Then install wall anchors spaced the same as the distance between the hangers.