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Wooden Fish Decor

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rustic fish in whites and blue

A quick and easy DIY project that doesn’t cost a lot!

I call these Picket Fish because they come from the top of a picket fence. However, not everyone has access to an old picket fence as I did, so I’ve made a free pattern to go along with this wooden fish decor tutorial.

Hello and welcome to The Old Tree Cottage. I’m Lisa, and creating simple DIY projects for a quaint cottage feel is my jam. Today I’m sharing how to make these rustic fish. Keep, sell or gift. That is the question you’ll have to figure out. They also are great projects for children. Think birthday parties! They’re also an excellent way to use up wood scraps if you have any.

Gather your supplies

Each wooden fish is 5 1/2″ long, so how much wood you need depends on how many you want to make. I typically group them in sets of three at different heights.

This post may contain affiliate links, which means I may receive a small commission at no cost to you if you make a purchase through a link.

Let’s make some wooden fish decor!

Supplies for DIY rustic fish
Not shown: small washers for the eyes. The middle fish is from the pattern. The other two are from a picket fence.
  1. Trace the fish pattern on a 1×4 board and cut it out with a jigsaw.
  2. Sand off any rough edges.
  3. Cut the 1×2 to 1 1/2″ long. This will make the piece for the base a square.
  4. Mark the centre of the base & drill a hole that is the same or slightly larger than your dowel. Drill at least halfway down (3/8″).
  5. On the fish’s underside, drill a hole about 1″ deep.
  6. Mark where you want the fish eye to be and drill all the way through.
  7. Mix the 5-minute epoxy (or E6000 glue) and glue the larger washer to the base.
  8. Glue and attach the dowel to the fish and the base.
  9. Lastly, glue the smaller washers onto the fish’s eyes.

Time to give this wooden fish some personality

At this point, if your fish seems steady enough, go ahead and paint. If not, let the glue set because you don’t want to break the glue’s bond. Full disclosure: I am not an artist, so my painting is simplistic. I’m happy with the look because I like the primitive style. Below I share how I did it, but I encourage you to do it in a manner that calls to you.

  1. Use this homemade stain recipe to age the wood.
  2. I use metal dowels for my fish, but that’s not practical for everyone. Wood dowels are an excellent replacement. Remember to include them when you age the wood in step one.
  3. If you’d like the paint finish to crackle, spread an even coat of Elmer’s glue and allow it to sit for a few minutes before painting. The thicker the glue, the bigger the cracks. The thinner the glue, the smaller the cracks.
  4. Paint the fish, and don’t worry about getting paint on the washers; you can leave them on or wipe them off after. I also add a little paint on the dowel to make it look old.
  5. Once completely dry, take 100-grit sandpaper and give the wooden fish some old, worn character!
yellow and white wooden fish
You’re done! Is this little fishy going to the market or staying home? Oh wait, those are piggies.

I’d love to hear how you painted your wooden fish; leave a comment if you’d like to share!

So what will be your next project? If you’re anything like me, there is always a “next project!”

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