Advent Calendar for 2021

Switzerland got a snow cover, with more snow coming the next days. December started, and so did the Advent season. Similar to last year, we wanted to create a special advent calendar, which is then is given to families in the neighborhood who deserve it, because they did so much for our community this year.

Last year it was a special house created mostly with a laser cutter. This year I took advantage of having a desktop CNC down in the basement. The result is a ‘tree’ filled with small boxes made of oak wood:

The original plan was to build 3 large ‘tree-like’ calendars. But with underestimating the time needed, we ended up with just one large tree, but with three ‘star-shaped’ boxes instead. More about this later.

The tree is 130 cm tall and about 100 cm on its base. In the tree there are 24 wooden boxes (heart, candle, Christmas bauble, angel and star) plus one big star on the top. All the items are cutout of 20 mm oak wood sheets.

tree cutout of oak wood sheet

Each one is about 10×10 cm in size, and is a box with bottom and lid, to put something inside. The wood gets an oil treatment to protect the surface. And because it looks better that way.

added wood oil

The wood oil needs to dry for about 24 hours.

Each item has enough space to store some items: chocolates, best wishes, etc:

We used the space to store sweets plus small scrolls with a story (more about this later).

The boxes get ‘sealed’ with cotton strings like blow. The strings are used to hang the items on the tree too.

The round ones were a bit challenging, but it worked out well.

Initially, I wanted to laser engrave the numbers and plate them with thin gold metal foil sheets. I created a few test pieces, below the laser engraving part, which was looking good:

But the gold plating did not work out clean enough:

It worked OK on flat surfaces, but not well enough on the laser burned wood. This was a failure, and that idea was abandoned. Instead, I have cut some star shaped numbers with the laser cutter:

For each day, a number is attached using a copper wire. Below a final piece:

To open it, you can simply pull the strings, take it from the tree and hang it up again.

For the top, a larger 20×20 cm star has been cut out of the wood;

The big star is put on top of the tree:

Finally, USB/5V powered LEDs get added to the structure:

Because building up this tree took much longer than expected, an ‘Advent Story Box’ was designed. Basically the same shape as the big star on the tree, but more space inside, to be able to put 24 scrolls inside. Below is how it ended up:

The boxes are made of the same oak wood:

They get some wood oil treatment too:

Each box is filled with sweets and 24 scrolls, one for each day in December (1st to 24th):

Each scroll contains a part of a story which combines at the end:

I wanted the story text written with golden letters. I had it printed with a laser printer, then a gold foil applied on it it, using pressure and high temperature: the laser toner acts as a glue and the foil sticks to it. For the pressure and temperature, a normal laminating machine has been used. The gold foil gets placed on the text, then put into a paper pouch and passed through the machine:

It took me a while to get the process right, and it worked very well at the end:

gold foil applied on text
golden letters ๐Ÿ™‚ after removing the foil

The text is then cut into pieces, rolled up and placed into the advent calendar.

To build the tree, we used some hazel wood:

The rods get combined with Jute strings on the side.

Finally, warm-white LED wires get added to the structure, and everything can be hung on the wall:

It took much more work to make that build than expected, but I think it looks great. For me it is a great addition for the winter season. If you want to build your own calendar: you can find the files in the links section below.

Happy Adventing ๐Ÿ™‚

4 thoughts on “Advent Calendar for 2021

    • Thank you! I wanted to create something which can be re-used, either a next year or as tree baubles. I only wish I would have started the project earlier. I started mid of November, I better would have started it early November.

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