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Antiqued Advent Calendar

Distressed finishes give this decorative Christmas advent calendar the look of a folk art classic. Make it your own holiday heirloom.

Advent calendar with magnetic numbers

Project Overview

Skill Level


Estimated Time

1 weekend

Estimated Cost


Tools & Materials


  • Handsaw or miter saw
  • Drill with 3/32-in bit and driver bits
  • Hammer
  • Awl
  • Tin snips or heavy-duty scissors
  • Random-orbit sander
  • 80-grit and 120-grit sanding discs
  • Painter’s tape
  • Wood glue
  • Epoxy adhesive
  • Utility knife
  • Straightedge
  • Iron


  • 2 - 1 x 4 x 4 whitewood boards, #938
  • 6 - 4-in x 8-in galvanized step flashing, #88763
  • 12-in x 48-in red oak veneer, #40380
  • 4 - 3/4-in ceramic disc magnets, packs of 8, #176644
  • 2 - 1-1/2-in birch discs, packs of 22, #423476
  • 5/8-in 18-gauge wire nails
  • Large D-ring hangers, #264575
  • Valspar spray paint: Frosty Berry, flat white, black chalkboard
  • Valspar Signature, Asparagus (#6008-8C)

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.



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Project Resources


Build the Wood Back

Step 1

From the 1 x 4 boards, cut six pieces 15 inches long. Follow the tips in our video on distressing wood. Instead of using a wood file as shown in the video, you can also sand the edges at the ends. Other than the long edges on the top and bottom boards, avoid sanding the long edges you’ll glue together later.

Good to Know

Don’t worry about uniformity when it comes to distressing wood. The more random the distressing, the more realistic it will look when finished.

Step 2

Tape boards for the back
Wrap tape tightly around the boards being glued to pull them together.

Group the boards into three pairs. For each pair, apply glue to the long edge on one board and press the edge of another board against it, leaving the ends offset by about 1/4 inch. Wrap tape around the boards near both ends to hold them together, and wipe off any glue that squeezes out. Repeat for the remaining two pairs.

Step 3

After the glue dries, remove the tape from the pairs of boards. Then glue and tape the pairs of boards together to form the back.

Step 4

Dent and snip flashing for a distressed look
After hammering the flashing flat, add smaller dents using the edge of the hammer head.

Hammer each sheet of flashing until it’s flat -- the slight crease left behind doesn’t matter. Cut notches at random locations with tin snips or heavy-duty scissors. Then use the edge of a hammer head to dent the surface of the flashing.

Step 5

Spray the face and edges of the wood panel with a thin coat of flat white paint. Then spray the individual pieces of distressed flashing flat white. Spray the 25 birch discs with a base coat of Frosty Berry paint. After they dry, spray the discs and wood panel with a top coat of chalkboard paint in several light coats.

Assemble the Calendar

Step 1

Wipe paint over the entire veneer piece
Wiping lets you apply a finish thin enough to let the wood grain show through.

For the tree, cut a 20-inch-long piece of veneer. Use a soft rag to wipe on a thin but even coat of paint (Asparagus shown) over the entire veneer surface. Then put it aside to dry.

Step 2

Sand the calendar back to distress the finish
Avoid pressing too hard on the sander as you work. It���s better to take off too little than too much.

Lightly sand the chalkboard paint finish of the wood panel to expose the flat white paint underneath. Avoid sanding through to the raw wood as much as possible and make the sanding pattern look random.

Step 3

Lightly sand the birch discs
Do this sanding by hand to avoid exposing bare wood.

Use 80-grit sandpaper to hand-sand the edges of the birch discs only until you begin to expose the paint below. Then lightly sand the face. Avoid sanding through to bare wood.

Step 4

Nail flashing to the back panel
Nail flashing to the pine back.

Center two pieces of overlapping flashing with the painted side up on the wooden panel. (The overlap should leave some of the wood exposed near the ends.) Nail the flashing in place. Then nail pairs of flashing above and below the ones in the center so that part of the metal overhangs the edges of the top and bottom boards. It’s okay to overlap the edges of the metal slightly or leave hairline gaps so the wood shows through.

Good to Know

To avoid accidentally banging your fingers with the hammer, hold nails in place using a pair of needle-nose pliers when you begin hammering. When nailing through an area in which two pieces of flashing overlap, start the hole by hammering the tip of an awl through the metal.

Step 5

Sand the painted flashing
Use a light touch with the sander to leave paint inside depressions in the metal.

Bend the overhanging pieces of flashing around the top and bottom edges of the wood and nail the ends in place. To create a mottled look, sand the metal with 80-grit sandpaper to remove about half the paint. Leave an unsanded band about 4 inches tall at the bottom. Wipe the sanded metal clean.

Add the Veneer Tree

Step 1

Alternate the grain direction
Place patterns on the veneer so the finished shapes will have alternating grain directions.

Download the tree pattern and cut out the three shapes. Follow the grain orientation directions on the pattern as they’re placed on the painted veneer. Lightly trace the shapes on the veneer.

Step 2

With a utility knife and straightedge, lightly score the pencil marks on the veneer. Make several passes to cut through the wood and adhesive backing for each section.

Step 3

Cut a piece of clean, soft cloth about 18 inches square. Center the bottom of the tree on the bottom of the flashing (the unsanded 4-inch band on the metal). Place the cloth over the veneer and heat with an iron on the high setting until the adhesive begins to bond to the metal. Make sure it bonds to the metal from edge to edge.

Step 4

Iron veneer to bond it to the metal
A cloth over the veneer protects the iron from picking up any adhesive that squeezes out.

Center the middle section above the bottom one and iron it in place. Then center the top section and heat it with the iron.

Step 5

Screw the hanger to the calendar
Heavy-duty D-ring hangers can bear the weight of the finished calendar.

Center a D-ring hanger on the back of the wood panel at the top and drill a 3/32-inch pilot hole. Then screw the hanger to the wood.

Step 6

Mix epoxy and glue a magnet centered on the back of each birch disc. Set these aside until the epoxy cures.

Step 7

Wipe a piece of chalk across the face of each disc to condition the chalkboard paint. Then wipe them clean and number them from 1 to 25.