Time: 30 minutes, plus drying time
Materials: Wood, Drill, Natural Wood Stain, Oil Paint
I loved the idea of having a little balance beam in our backyard for Leo to practice her balancing on! She always loves to walk on curbs or logs or anything other than the ground, so it seemed like a backyard toy she might enjoy. And with the weather starting to get so nice, I want to encourage as much outside time as possible!
I figured a balance beam would be pretty easy, and I was mostly right! The trickiest part was the rainbow wood stain. But I've really been wanting to experiment with home-dyed wood stain so this seemed like a great chance to try it out!
Get the wood! I chose a 2x6x8, plus some scrap pieces for the footer things. I wanted it to be a bit wider since she's still learning to balance, but in retrospect, I think I should've gone with a 2x4x8. The 2x6 is just a bit wobbly and I ended up having to add some extra supports.
Mix up the colored stain!!
I have been wanting to practice with dying wood stain for awhile and this seemed like a great opportunity. It is surprisingly easy, you just need wood stain in Natural and some oil paints (I got mine for like, $5 at Michaels).
I separated a little bit of wood stain into 6 different plastic cups and added the paint, one per cup! You'll need to do some trial and error and testing on this part to decide what your paint-to-stain ratio should be. I added a bit more paint to each one because I wanted the colors to be really bright! Then just mix it up, I used a plastic knife for that part.
The trickiest part is applying the colored wood stain in each section. Stain isn't like paint, where you can use painters tape to get crisp, clean lines. Stain bleeds like crazy, even under tape. But I'd read that if you use a knife to make some score lines it keeps the stain from spreading.
So the first thing I did was measure out 6 equal parts on the board and mark them with a pencil line. Then I followed up with a little saw thing, because our box cutter knife didn't have a blade in it haha The saw made a pretty rough cut. It worked, but didn't look pretty. I'd definitely suggest using a sharp knife or razor blade instead.
Once you have all your lines marked and cut, it's time to stain!
I still used tape just to the side of the cut mark, for extra protection against my messy staining skills. I used a cheap foam brush to apply the stain.
I decided to paint every other section so they had time to dry and hopefully didn't bleed into each other.
My plan worked! I managed to stain each section with my DIY dyed stain and none of them bled into each other! I was so happy! I let the stain dry for about an hour and then wiped off any excess with a paper towel.
Once the stain was dry I applied a topcoat specifically designed for exterior use, it said it would help keep it protected from weather and from fading, so we'll see!!
I used some scrap wood for the feet. I stained one red and one purple, to match the ends.
I pre-drilled some holes in these and then screwed them on to the beam!
That was literally it! It was a ridiculously easy project and a great chance for me to practice my stain-dying skills!
Leo got a chance to try it out and she absolutely loved it! She loved to yell out the colors as she walked on them and then jump off the ends. She would do something else for a few minutes and then yell out, " I go walk colors!" and do it again haha
All in all, totally worth the 30-ish minutes this took to make!
This project's imperfections: I should have used a sharper blade or knife to make the cuts, the cuts I made with my saw were way too rough and jagged. I ended up adding another support in the middle because it got a little saggy, the 2x6 isn't really meant to hold a lot of weight! I'd suggest either planning on extra supports or using a 2x4 or 4x4 instead. I also don't love how the purple came out, I should've messed around with that a bit longer!