How to Make a Wooden Desk Calendar

It's no surprise that vintage, industrial items are popular additions to any home: they're easy to incorporate into all types of decors, from farmhouse designs to modern layouts. However, these timeless pieces are often accompanied by hefty price tags. Thankfully, not every classic accessory has to break the bank. This wooden desk calendar has a vintage aesthetic, and it can be made for a fraction of the cost. You also have the ability to customize the size and finish – which is an option most likeminded treasures can't provide.

Mark the Side Posts

Begin by marking the one-by-one side posts for the location of the cross-rails (the pieces of window-stop molding) that will run between them. First, measure down one inch from the end of a side post, and make a mark. Hold one of the rail pieces with the top edge flush against this mark, and make a second mark, outlining the position of the rail (the outline should be 1-1/4 inches wide). From that point, measure down two inches further and make another mark on the post. Position the top of the second rail piece against this mark, and make a second mark, outlining the position of the second rail. Now, measure down yet another two inches, and outline the position of the third rail in exactly the same fashion. Repeat this process for the other side post.

Cut the Notches (Optional)

For a more custom look, you can create notches in the side posts for a flush profile. To do this, use a circular saw set to the depth of 1/4-inch, and make cuts along the outline marks on each post. Pry out the outline for the rails, and then smooth the bottom of the notches with a sharp wood chisel. Test-fit the rails to make sure they will fit flush with the face of the posts.

Attach the Rails to the Posts

Place the three rails over the marked locations on the side posts, or in the notches created in optional second step. Drill pilot holes through the ends of the rails and partway into the posts, using a 1/8-inch drill bit. Now attach the rails to the side posts by driving the ¾-inch brass screws through the pilot holes and into the posts.

Attach the Sides to the Base

Place the side posts upright and centered on the base. Mark the position with a pencil. Using a 1/8-inch drill bit, drill pilot holes in the center of the marked squares on either end, completely through the base. Also drill pilot holes into the ends of the posts. Now position the posts against the base, and drive 3-inch wood screws through the bottom of the base and into the ends of the posts, through the pilot holes.


If the corners or edges of any part of the calendar are sharp or splintered, sand them with 220 grit sandpaper. Wipe the dust completely off with a clean cloth before applying the stain.

Stain the Wood

Apply the wood stain to the entire calendar, using a small sash brush or chip brush to get into the corners and grooves. Wipe the excess liquid off with a cotton rag and let the calendar dry completely, or for approximately six hours.

Make Metal Sliding Brackets

Place a 1/4-inch wide brass metal strip across the top of the first rail with about a 1/4-inch overlap. Using needle-nose pliers, pinch the metal where it meets the edge of the rail, and bend the strip down over the back of the rail. Then, use the pliers to bend the metal vertically down the front of the rail, then sharply across the bottom of the rail, so it extends straight to the rear. Clip off the strip at a point about 1/4 inch past the bottom rear edge of the rail. The goal is to create a modified "C" shape, that matches the shape of the rail, as shown below.

Repeat the above step to make another five more sliding bracket sides. Set these pieces aside. They will be used for the sliding brackets that mount the card label holders.

Attach the Brackets to the Card Label Holders

Apply hot glue on the longer, flat side of the bracket. Place it on the backside of the card label holder, on one end. Do the same for the other side, then repeat for all three card label holders. All six sliding brackets should be attached, forming three sliding card label holders.


To hide the screw holes on each side of the card label holder, cut off the head of the holder's tiny screw with the wire-cutter pliers. Use a tiny dot of hot glue to adhere the head onto the front of the label holder.

Measure, Mark and Stamp the Rails

The top rail will show the days of the week, the middle rail will show the months of the year and the bottom rail will show the days of the month. Measure and mark the top rail every 2.5 inches, and the middle rail every 1.5 inches. For the bottom rail, measure and mark one inch in on either side of the rail, and then make marks every 1/2-inch to 5/8-inch in between.

Now use the medium-size letter stamps and black stamp pad to make abbreviations for the days of the week, centering them over the marks you've made on the top rail. Start with the middle letter stamped directly above the mark, then do the adjacent letters. Use small letter stamps to designate the abbreviations in the months of the year.


To eliminate the risk of having the square edges appear when stamping the letters or numbers, carefully wipe of the ink off the stamp edges with a paper towel before you stamp on the wood.

For the bottom rail, the card label holder will first need to slide all the way to the side. Mark where the center point on the label holder is, so that you know where to place the first number. Do the same for the other side. Use the small number stamps to stamp 1 to 31 above each mark. Let the ink dry completely on the wood for a few hours.


Although it is not essential, you can coat the piece with a matt finish (low-gloss) polyurethane to seal the stain before sliding on the brackets.

Attach the Sliding Brackets to the Rails

Attach the sliding brackets to the rails by placing the hook part of the bracket over the top of the rail. Then, rotate the bracket down. Use your thumb to bend the extending metal ends around the back of the rail, making sure they are still loose enough to slide back and forth. Do the same for the other side. All three sliding brackets to all three rails should be attached.


Because the numbers have to be placed so close together along the bottom rail, you can narrow the view window on the bottom sliding brackets by gluing two pieces of 1/2-inch wide metal brass strips on either side of the window (they come in the same package as the 1/4-inch brass strips). This allows for a smaller opening that shows a maximum of two digits.

The finished product is a functional and stylish addition to your desk, or can even be used more decoratively in a display vignette.

About the Author

Studying and excelling in art from a very young age, Rachel Pereira now employs her artistic passion through hand-painted furniture makeovers, budget-friendly interior design, and DIY home decor and crafts. Pereira has been selling her furniture creations locally and across the nation for four years and is the author of the blog, Shades of Blue Interiors.