Easy Gingerbread Door Trim From Toy Blocks

7 Materials
$45
1 Day
Medium

Practically child's play, we used children's building blocks as a shortcut to making gingerbread trim for our old porch. The full video is on our YouTube channel here and, to see how we made the easy matching fretwork from spindles, click here.

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There's an infinite number of ways you can combine children's blocks to make ornate trim for a doorway. We'll show you exactly how we made ours in this short video and in the longer one at our YouTube channel.

We painted the 1970's era fiberglass gable dark green to hide lots of damage and stain. The color really makes our hand-made gingerbread stand out beautifully on this old back porch.

Here's how the entry looked before we added the gingerbread. To make work safer, we set up a scaffold to make the top easier to reach. We nailed a 1" x 3" across the top of the entry. This is what we will attach our gingerbread to. It's the unpainted piece at the top of the entry.

— after —

This is how the entry looks now. You can finish a project like this in just one day!

This is the brand of children's blocks we bought for the project. We also bought two 12" wood brackets and a 4" finial … also known affectionately as the 'juice extractor' because of its fluted shape. We bought it on eBay in a set of two. We can always use the spare for making lemonade.

Color-Coded Diagram for Assembly

This chart may help you make the same gingerbread design that we made.

A - Wooden brackets

B - 1" x 2" to fit between the brackets

C - Wooden doll's heads at base of brackets

D - Triangle block inside of bracket

E - Rectangle Block 

F - Cylinder Block

G - Wooden doll's heads on rectangles and cylinders

H - Bridge Shaped Blocks

I - Rectangle Block

J - Square Block

K - Triangle Block

L - Half cylinder Block 

M - Cylinder Block 

N - Finial

First, we made a small pilot hole in then end of a rectangular block with a nail and screwed in the finial. The screw goes into the soft wood easily but the pilot hole helps keep it straight.

We used the brackets (corbels) shown in red to determine how long a piece of wood was needed for the center crown of gingerbread. The piece was 20" … shown in green. We'll call this piece the base.

Most important is to plan ahead where nails and nail guns can be used to attach pieces to your door. We used our favorite glue, Titebond, to glue the blocks to the base. We also glue small wooden doll's head balls to the brackets. Titebond sets up very quickly!

When the glue was dry we propped the gingerbread base on some bricks and nailed through the blocks for extra strength.

The brackets are attached to the door first. We placed nails in the posts to help support the brackets (there is a hole in the back for hanging). We put glue on the top of them and nailed through the thinner edges.

We glued and nailed the crown piece next. There about an inch of space on each end of the base where we could fit the nail gun for that purpose.

We added these decorations next: the bottom trim under the brackets and two cylinders on the curved edges of the brackets. Those were glued and taped until the glue partially set. The nails went through the tape, then the tape was removed. Titebond glue really holds quickly!

To trim the bottom of the posts, we used ready-made skirts from HomeDepot. One side of the skirt is removable so that you can fit it around a post before nailing it. We placed a skirt 11" up from the base, flipped to reflect another skirt at the bottom. For an old house like ours, putty and lots of shims were necessary for a good fit.

The skirt trim was the most difficult part of our porch upgrade, but well worth the effort we think!

We used DAP DryDex spackle to tidy gaps and cracks. DryDex goes on pink and turns white when it's ready to paint in a couple hours. If you smooth it well with a baby wipe or damp rag, you won't need to sand it later. We used Rust-Oleum Ultra white for the final fresh touch to this project.

There's a lot more to do at this old house. We'll probably be working on it for many more years to come. We're already imagining this porch decorated for the holidays in the future. Why not! Check out our blog to see more of our old house projects and join in on the fun. -- Stephie.

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Stephie McCarthy

Want more details about this and other DIY projects? Check out my blog post!

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Have a question about this project?

3 of 5 questions
  • Martha Knight
    on Jun 29, 2020

    No safety handrails by the steps?

    • Stephie McCarthy
      on Jul 6, 2020

      I want to thank you all, Cindy, Becky, Benita, and Lisa! I am such a safety nerd myself, I can say for certain there are no stairs or dangerous heights at this entry. It's a couple of giant low cement blocks like you'd see under a statue or fountain. Barely 6" high. They definitely don't need railings. Of course it's not a wheel-chair ramp, but it's the next safest thing. Where ever there are real steps here, there are rails to hold onto. I believe when people obsess about something in a photo with no real perspective, it's the sign of something wrong 'upstairs'. Lisa, it's a dream come true fixing up this old place, but it's unbelievably shabby still. But now I can walk on this porch and feel really good about it. Gingerbread can be really practical that way, lol! -- Stephie

  • Cathy Hays
    on Jun 30, 2020

    Stephie, this is so smart and creative I am just amazed! I wouldn't have ever in a million thought of using children's wood blocks as architectural pieces, but why the heck not! One question the wood blocks did you use any kind of a Poly on them? Or do you feel like the paint is enough?

    My gears are literally turning with ideas! Thank you for sharing. It turned out so nice.

    • Stephie McCarthy
      on Jun 30, 2020

      Thanks for the feedback, Cathy! I really look forward to seeing what you come up with. The possibilities are endless. I think the Rust-Oleum finish is enough based on what I've learned here on HomeTalk. I used to think I needed to varnish wood trim outdoors, but learned that it will stay whiter without varnish. But if I think it needs more waterproofing, I like to use Waverly clear wax outdoors on trim that is not directly coming into contact with pouring rain. I used wax a year ago on some gingerbread and it still looks very good after Winter and Spring. But, if wood were going to come into contact with a lot of splashing, I probably would use at least two coats of spar varnish. -- Stephie

  • Connie
    on Jul 6, 2020

    I’ll be honest, my first thought when I read “high end” and “children’s blocks” in the same sentence was “seriously?????” But oh my goodness, this is amazing!! Of all of the projects I have seen on here, this has to be not only the most original, but the coolest!! It turned out amazing! Kudos to you to be able to see the possibilities. Also, my grand babies are now going to have to give up their blocks!

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