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How to Make Wooden Shelf Sitters for Fall

How to Make Wooden Shelf Sitters for Fall main article image
Posted on September 13, 2022 by Julie Richards

One of the easiest craft projects I do for every craft show is making shelf sitters for the fall and winter holidays. I make them in a variety of sizes, colors, and subjects. These cute decorative items go together quickly with a minimal number of supplies. You can get the entire family together for a night of crafting so everyone can create their own unique scarecrow, ghost, scary pumpkin, or even a skeleton. Read on to see just how easy it is to make some wooden fall shelf sitters for your home.

The Wood

I start out with a piece of a 2×4 piece of lumber. I find these in the scrap box at my local lumber yard for free. I also have friends and family who bring all their unused wood scraps to me since they know I use wood in many of my craft projects. You may want to use children’s building blocks to make the shelf sitters. Tumbling blocks from games like Jenga work very well if you glue them together to make a square or rectangular shape. You can even use tiny blocks of wood that sit silently, waiting to be discovered by a curious child. It doesn’t matter what type of wood you use as long as you can make the bottom of the shape flat so it can sit on the shelf. To make the wooden shelf sitters, I need the wood to be at least 3- to 4-inches wide and about the same measurements as long.

Other Supplies

Paint is an absolute necessity to make these wooden shelf sitters. Even if you only use the paint as the base coat for the wood, it hides imperfections and can help with adding color to the character you make. I use acrylic paints and chalk paints. I love that the chalk paint dries quickly and covers in one coat. I use it quite often in my craft projects. You can even use spray paints if you have them on hand.

You need fabric, felt, or ribbon to make the arms and legs of the wooden shelf sitters. You can even use pipe cleaners if you want. The pipe cleaners are easy for kids to twist and shape if they are helping you make these fall decorations. You can even use heavy cardboard to create all kinds of funny arms, legs, and accessories. For instance, if you choose to make a Frankenstein wooden shelf sitter, make his neck bolts out of cardboard. A witch’s hat can be made from fabric or cardboard. Use your imagination to create any character that reminds you of fall, Halloween, Thanksgiving, or even Christmas (You know that comes up sooner than you are ready for it, right?).

Besides a hot glue gun, staple gun, and wood glue, I have various sizes of buttons and googly eyes. Additionally, I have felt, a selection of other fabrics, and raffia on the craft table while making the fall shelf sitters. Strips of dyed cheesecloth are great to make a mummy. White, filmy fabric creates that flowing wispy look of a ghost. You can even use fake fur and a wooden bead to make an adorable gnome. Gnomes sell really fast at the craft shows, too! And speaking of wooden beads, I use small ones to make hands and shoes for my wooden fall shelf sitters.

Let’s Get Crafting

The first step is covering the worktable to protect the surface from the paint and glue you use. I have a roll of craft paper that I roll out across the table. This gives me a place to work, a place to sit the wood to dry, and a place to create the embellishments I use to finish the wooden shelf sitters.

I run the project like an assembly line. I paint each block and set it aside to dry. Once I am done painting the last one, the first one is dry so I can start putting the face on it. After giving the shelf sitter its face, I move it to the next spot on the table. Creative Fabrica has so many great artists who create awesome face templates for scarecrows, monsters, pumpkins, and many other characters. I have used many of them to make faces on my wooden shelf sitters. I simply print out the faces, put a sheet of carbon paper between the wood and the printed face, and go over the drawing with a pencil. The carbon paper transfers the image perfectly onto the painted wood. I paint the faces with a paint marker or a fine-tipped brush.

To make the arms and legs, I cut a section of fabric or felt, roll it into a long tube, and glue the fabric along one side to keep the tube shape. I make two short fabric tubes for the arms and two longer ones for the legs. I add small wooden beads for the hands and slightly larger beads for the feet. Sometimes I paint the beads and other times I keep them their natural color. It all depends on what wooden shelf sitter I am making.

I attach the arms to the sides of the wooden shelf sitters. Just a quick note, if you choose to make a spider shelf sitter, you need three sets of arms and one set of legs. Plan the placement of the character’s arms and legs according to what you are making. I use a staple gun to attach the appendages. I place the shelf sitter on its side and place the arm so the “hand” is above the top of the wood square. I staple it in place and let the fabric tube hang down. I add a bit of hot glue where the staple is located and firmly push the fabric tube, so the staple is covered and held in place. I do this on both sides.

I attach the legs to the bottom of the wooden block with the staple gun. I keep the legs close together with about a half-inch space between the two fabric tubes. These will dangle down over the edge where the wooden shelf sitter is placed. You may prefer to space the arms and legs differently depending on what character you make as your shelf sitter.

Once the face is done and the arms and legs are attached, it is time to decorate your wooden shelf sitter. You can add hats, scarves, little flowers, leaves, or any other thing you think would look good on your character. You can make them funny, nostalgic, or spooky. The choice is yours. Have fun crafting!

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