Rustic 4x4 Pumpkins Tutorial
A ton of maker's fall line at one point or another carried the mega-popular 4"x4" rustic pumpkins. If you do a quick Etsy or Pinterest search for 4x4 pumpkin you'll see an array of different styles, decorative ideas and sizes. It's a no-brainer to add them to your line, they're quick, easy to make, and this style will offer a bit more appeal to your competitors. I'll also share some time-saving / mass production tips to make sure you're making money and not wasting time!
Material / Tool List
**Untreated** 4"x4"x8' (check Lowe's)
Miter or Circular Saw
Torch - You can also find them cheaper at Harbor Freight
Brass Cup Brush
Nyalox Flap Brush
¾" paddle bit or forsner bit
Dap Rapid Fuse Wood Glue
4 - 4"
4 - 8"
4 - 12"
Lumber – It is super duper important you get untreated lumber. Why you ask?? Even though the pressure treated sort is cheaper, it has a bunch of chemicals in it and 99% of the time the moisture content is so high, it won't even char. I'm not a scientist but I would imagine those compounds preserving the wood wouldn't be too good to inhale either.
** Includes a production Tip** We want to maximize material with zero excess.4"/8"/12" gives us 24" per set 4 sets per 4"x4"Since we are setting this wood on fire and the overalls are going to shrink. We aren't going to concern ourselves with the blade kerf width per cut. Simply measure and cut. I marked mine at 4-12-24-28-36-48-52-60-72-76-84-96"
(If you're going full blown mass production.. You could set up stop blocks on a miter station and very quickly 4's, 8's 12's without measuring or do the same thing with a table saw and a cross-cut sled utilizing stop blocks.)
Looks like a tiny wood city! To get an even burn and to preserve a level base we are going to stand all the pumpkins up vertically and space them about 8 inches apart so the excess flames touch the opposing ones and we aren't wasting BTU's.
Starting from the top char the end grain then work your way around the sides. Some will catch fire, you can blow them out or if you went a bit pyro… just do the old kick them over and roll them around on the ground. Don't worry too much about them smoldering, it will add a bit of character later. Now if this is your first burn, just focus on one until it gets the alligator scale then brush it off. You'll get an idea of how much you need to burn. The knots need a little more attention and if you find a sap pocket, let it burn out and then hit it again, it may reignite, you want the sap to burn away if not you'll have a gooey mess. If you do get sap everywhere, I kid you not, regular mayonnaise will remove it from anything!!! <--- I might need to make a video proving it haha!
Wire brush. Some people opt to skip this test, the wire brush is way more durable and vastly less expensive than the nylon ones so I try to use it for the bulk material removal. You'll get a longer life out of the nyalox if you use the wire brush here, not to mention if the wood is hot, you will straight up damage the nylon one, trust me!!
After that mess, it's time to clean up the grain. The 4x4's I used we're douglas fir and a bit softer than the spruce I typically use. I switched from the 40grit gray brush to the 120grit orange because I was getting deep brush gouges. No to prolong brush life, you're going to let the brush do the work, you don't want to jam it down on the wheel, the tips are where the abrasive is. You'll see what I'm talking about just lightly run it on there and you'll notice a world of difference and a greatly extended brush life.
So the little ones suck… I clamped the drill to the table then clamped the trigger on and cleaned them up that way. It was easier on the small pieces but the larger ones seemed to go quicker with the drill in hand.
Once the tool marks are removed like the one on the left you're good to go. Now the cleaner you make it without exposing the next cambium layer the more color it will retain. The dark spots will subtlety bleed through the paint so try to make it uniform or at least blend it.
If the wood is still warm from the burning I suggest you wait until its cooled or the paint will dry super fast and you wont have time to wipe it down. Folk Art Orange Paint, a Brush, babyjar with some water and a clean cloth. Mix up the paint and water in approx. a 3 parts water one part paint. Then go wild like the video shows. When before it starts to dry quickly wipe it down with the cloth!
** Production Tip** To find the center take a straight edge, quick square anything and mark a small x in the middle. Dont get too crazy just a dot works.
Alternatively you can make a template (the actual size of store bought 4x4's are 3 ½ x 3 ½ ) find the center and drill a " " hole. Now you can simply put the template on the top and mark. (Shown Below)
You can use a paddle bit or a forsner, I used both. You'll want to drill down roughly 1" keeping the drill as level as possible.
Go find some branches that have a diameter of roughly ¾" if you have a cloth tape measure you can use it to quickly size up branches. ¾" = 2 ½ around
If its too big you can trim it with a razor. We want to make sure they're pretty snug since most people will pick them up by the stem. Put a good dab of Dap Rapid Fuse glue in the hole, you can use other glues but since these things could be flying out the door we're not going to wait around for traditional wood glue to cure!! That's it guys! Hope you enjoyed! Hit me up on Instagram @keddiewoodshop with feedback! Thanks so so much!