Making a Kaisercraft Advent Calendar – Part 1

We’ve had a few requests from customers to provide instructions on the best way to make the Kaisercraft Advent Calendar so we’ve painted and assembled one and written this (rather long) post – hopefully you will find it of use.

Actually, this is the first of two posts on this subject – this one describes how we have assembled the main part of the Calendar and drawers. The next post describes how we decorated it.

There are probably other ways to assemble the Advent Calendar but what we’ve written below certainly works for us. If you have any further suggestions please feel free to get in touch.

  1. Once unpacked the Kaisercraft Advent Calendar will contain one sheet of chipboard numbers, 25 chipboard drawers (24 for the calendar and one spare), a large MDF base (or back) board and a number of other MDF parts as shown in the picture below. The two parts marked A below are joined by tabs and are 32.6cm long – just a few millimetres longer than the four parts marked B which are 32cm long. There are two shorter parts marked C and 20 parts marked E (joined into two sheets of 10).Some of the parts of the Advent Calendar
  2. We would recommend that the parts are painted before they are separated since they are much easier to hold that way. If you are using Kaisercolor Acrylic Paint then, for dark colours, you will probably need to apply only two coats while lighter colours such as white may need three coats. You should not paint the tabs since they will then be more difficult to insert into their respective slots. The part marked D on the picture only needs its edges painted while all other parts should be painted on both sides (although, as mentioned, tabs should be avoided). The picture below shows the same parts after painting.Advent Calendar pieces after painting
  3. The backboard is also best painted at this stage. You should paint all around the edges but you do not need to paint the back or the centre if you intend to cover it with paper. Try to avoid getting paint inside the slots in the board since it will make assembly more difficult.
  4. The best way we have found to separate the tabbed parts is using the Tim Holtz scissors but you can also use a strong, sharp craft knife (in which case it’s best to make a V-shaped cut from one side and gently separate the pieces). Tidy up the cut edges, especially on either side of each of the small pieces (marked E on the image), using a sharp knife or a file.
  5. We’ve found that the tabs can sometimes be very tight to assemble – they are tight fit to start with and, unfortunately, the paint can cause the MDF to swell slightly making them even tighter. We would recommend using a sharp knife or file along each side of each tab to make them into a wedge shape (as shown in the picture below) – this makes them much easier to put together.Cutting the tabs into a wedge shape
  6. The next image shows the painted back board and indicates where each tabbed piece goes on the board. Place the back board flat on a strong desk or table and insert the tabbed parts carefully before pushing them home firmly. You may need to place a piece of scrap wood (or something like a strong coaster) on the top edge of the parts to push them home (but make sure you don’t push them over sideways and break the tabs). We would recommend assembling parts C (marked in yellow) first, followed by parts B (marked in green) and then parts A (marked in red).Assembing parts onto the back board
  7. The small tabbed parts (E) should be inserted after A, B and C. Again, place the back board on a firm surface and push the parts in firmly using a scrap piece of wood if necessary, making sure that they are all aligned vertically and the individual gaps for the drawers are all the same size.
  8. If the tabs were particularly tight to assemble then glue may not be necessary. However, we would recommend that you apply a little wood glue or PVA glue to the back of each of the tabs to fix them permanently (and to the corners of the Calendar if necessary). We use Evo-Stik Wood Adhesive (available from Homebase) for this because it is very strong, dries clear and is extra fast acting to save time.
  9. Because the back board is slightly larger than the main body of the Calendar, it may cause it to lean forward slightly. The part labeled D in the first picture can be glued to the front-bottom edge of the Calendar to correct this lean if required.
  10. After gluing it may be necessary to touch-up some areas of paint (for example around the outside edges) – now is the time to do this. Once the main part of your Calendar is completed it should look something like the image below :The completed Advent Calendar frame
  11. There are probably many ways to make the drawers for the Advent Calendar but the best way we have found is by sticking each corner of each drawer together with short strips of double-sided tape. The same tape can then be used later to stick the paper onto the drawers.
  12. To cover each drawer you should cut a strip of paper the same height as the drawer and long enough to wrap around three sides plus a few millimetres at each side of the front. Squares to fit the front of each drawer can be cut from the specially designed Kaisercraft 12×12 papers (e.g. the Believe paper from the December 25th collection or the Milk & Cookies paper from the Silly Season collection) or from other papers of a suitable colour. To cut the finger hole into the square, turn it over and use the drawer as a template to mark the shape of the finger hole before cutting it out with a small pair of scissors (curved nail scissors work especially well).Making the drawers for the Advent Calendar
  13. The cover each drawer, remove the backing from the double-sided tape on the drawer, optionally use a glue stick to dab a little extra adhesive onto the chipboard and then wrap the paper around the drawer before sticking the square on the front. The next image shows each stage of this process.The stages in making the Advent Calendar drawers

At this stage you should have a fully assembled Calendar and 24 fully assembled drawers. From this point onwards there are many ways to decorate your Advent Calendar to make it unique. In the next post we’ll describe how we decorated ours.

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