Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Tutorial: Alphabet Block Menorah

For the past few years I have been on the hunt for a new Chanukah menorah. I want it to be simple, pretty, and fairly inexpensive. But year after year I come up short. Now I have two kids and while we have a few menorahs, none really thrill me. So this year I gave up my hunt for a simple and pretty one and decided to make one for each of us.

We have dear friends who have a menorah for each person in their house and regardless of age, they get to each light their own. I thought that sounded like a great idea but knowing my kids that would turn into eight nights of fights over who gets to light which menorah. So what better way to make sure there is no fighting than to make everyone and identical name menorah.

This was an easy craft that was just the slightest bit time consuming. But it was worth it in the end!

To make this I used:

  • Chanukah Menorah Candle Cups (you need 9 for each menorah) and you can buy them HERE
  • Alphabet Blocks by Melissa and Doug found HERE
  • Nine 1/2" screws to screw the Candle Cups to the Blocks (I just took a block and a candle cup onto a local hardware store and asked one of the employees for the correct size)
  • Craft or Wood Glue (to glue the blocks together and to glue them down to the board)
  • A wooden board at least 11" long (I think mine was 12")
  • OPTIONAL: a clear varnish, sandpaper, mineral spirits, a brush, cheese cloth - if you want the block and wood to have a clear coating on them

Now some nice person on Amazon reviewed the alphabet blocks and was a dear to tell which block had which letter on each side. Of the 50 in the set, 38 are letter blocks. There is a different letter on both sides: the "A" block has "N" on the bottom, etc. Of the 38 there are:

5 A/N blocks
4 B/O blocks
2 C/P blocks
2 D/Q blocks
5 E/R blocks
3 F/S blocks
3 G/T blocks
2 H/U blocks
4 I/V blocks
2 J/W blocks
2 K/X blocks
2 L/Y blocks
and 2 M/Z blocks.

Step 1: Lay out your blocks to make the letters of the person's name. If the name is less than 9 letters, you can use the picture blocks to fill in as shown below. Since a menorah has a shamash candle, the helper, that has to be higher than the rest, you'll want to make sure to put a block on a second row to raise the shamash up. Using your craft glue, glue the letter together and let it dry.

OPTIONAL STEP: if you decided, as I did, that you want your wood and blocks to be protected, you'll want to paint them with a clear coat of varnish. To do this you'll want to sand your wood base a bit with some fine sandpaper. Then dust it with a clean rag that is damp with mineral spirits. Using some cheese cloth and moving in one direction, you'll want to apply the varnish by placing some on the cheese cloth and rubbing it over the wood board (in the same direction). You can do this all over the name blocks too. Let them dry. Then sand the board again (lightly) dust and reapply. Repeat this over and over again until you get just the right amount of varnish. If I did this all over again I'm not sure I'd go through all this trouble to varnish it as it didn't really make any difference.

Step 2: Glue your name blocks to the wood board and let dry.

Step 3: Screw your candle cups to the wooden name blocks (you could glue them of course but I liked the security of wood).

And that's it! You're done! Grab yourself some candles and have a wonderful holiday (and we got our candles from HERE when we ordered the candle cups)


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