Beach Decor – Reclaimed Wood Whale Art

Reclaimed Wood Whale Art Summer Mantel

I realize it is very late in the season for a summer mantel.

But this is really not about a mantel.

It is about several stories coming together and resulting in a  reclaimed wood whale.

And this whale is special.  She even has a name.

Glenda the Happy Whale.

Reclaimed Wood Whale Art

And while she is very happy living on my mantel for now, this is her temporary home.  She is really destined to live on Long Beach Island, NJ.

Last year during Hurricane Sandy, my parents small beach placed took on so much damage that it had to be gutted.  And while they did get some insurance coverage, the rebuild has far exceeded what they received.  So, I am trying to help out by creating budget friendly items – and Glenda is the first one.

Salvaged Wood Whale Art

And, because as always, I am a sentimental girl, I used the wood from my Grandfather’s house to build her.

Two destroyed homes coming together to make a happy whale.  I know a stretch.  But like I said, I am a sentimental girl.

Summer Whale Art Mantel

In the meantime, she is bringing us some summer happiness.  When she is in LBI, she will hang on the wall, but Hubby made a small stand for her for now.  I simply added some beachy accessories and covered the fireplace opening with my stenciled barn wood.

She actually was quite easy to build and as long as you are comfortable using a jigsaw, you can make one too.  Here is how I did it:

Step 1:

Draw your shape on a piece of 1/4 inch plywood.  We used scrap that we had laying around.  I drew it freehand with a picture as a guide.  When I didn’t like something, I just redrew and kept track of the lines I liked.  I did a whale, but really this process could be used for any shape.

Salvaged Wood Whale Tutorial

This is what mine looked like once it was all cut out.

Wood Whale Template

Step 2:

Using a jigsaw or miter box, cut your scrap wood down so that it falls at least 1 inch wider all the way around the template.  I went straight across where the tail curved it and just added shorter pieces at the end of the tail.

Reclaimed Wood Whale Tutorial

Our wood was tongue and groove but that is not necessary.  Any type of scrap wood will work – even pallet pieces.  The approach here is more of a “use what you have”.

Step 3:

Place another piece of plywood over the top of the scrap wood to steady it and flip the whole thing over so that the template is now on top.


Flip over the template and apply wood glue generously to the backside.  Place it back down on the backside of the scrap wood.

How to build a reclaimed wood whale

Nail in small brad nails throughout adding extra security to each of the boards.  We also chose to add some small screws to the edge pieces and the tail so it was extra secure.  Place something heavy on top to weight it down and leave over night to dry (or at least several hours).

Step 4:

Using the plywood whale as your template, cut the the scrap wood into the shape of the whale.

Wood Whale built with jigsaw

Step 6:

Use a palm sander to smooth all of the rough edges.  I also ran it along the front edge to round the edges.

Step 7:

This step is a personal choice.  I chose to coat it all with a dark stain that was quickly wiped off.  Then I applied a coat of clear wax.  After that, I decided it was a little too dark and shiny so I used steel wool to knock it back down to the original color.  This process kept enough wax on it to keep it sealed and smooth.

I also stained the back and edges since they were raw wood.

This whole process was right up my alley – nothing has to be perfect and precise.  I love the way it came out so much, I think I might use the same process for some other projects.

Reclaimed Wood Whale Art from Finding Home

And when our sweet friend Glenda has made it to her new home, I will be sure to share pictures.

Wishing a great day and many blessings.

Sharing at Savvy Southern Style, Whipperberry, Funky Junk Interiors and Lil’ Luna.

Thanks for reading!


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About Finding Home

Welcome to Finding Home where we share our favorite DIY and decorating ideas and inspiration. We believe your home should be a reflection of you and your family. Our blog is the story of our journey - and what we find along the way. Thanks for joining us!


  1. Michelle says:

    I always love your mantel displays. Makes me wish I had one. Glenda looks perfect in her temporary home. Sorry to hear about your parents home but what a blessings it must be for them to have such a sentimental girl.
    Have a great day.

  2. Diane Hinnant says:

    Glenda is simply adorable! I’m sure, with your wonderful talents and loving heart, your parents new home will be even better than the last!

  3. Cheryl Porada says:

    I love it!! Really think you should’ve reclaimed more wood and made two, as she really looks great on your beachy mantel

  4. I always love your mantel displays too. This one made me tear up a little. I think it is great that you created something for your parent’s new home out of something from your grandparent’s home. Glenda is so cute!

  5. Karen says:

    This is awesome thanks for sharing!!! I don’t power tool but i will defiantly show the husband. i love the whale shape it’s so old story book.

  6. Glenda looks great, I always love something that’s been made from something reclaimed. It’s so nice
    that it has a story with so much meaning go along with it, I love that. I ‘m sure it’s going to look great in your parents beach house.
    Have a great day.

  7. Laura, this is just beautiful! I love Glenda, the whale. It has a lot of character with the old wood boards. I also like your fireplace screen. Pamela

  8. Glenda turned out great and how neat that you made it from wood that was Grandpa’s. I am sure your parent will treasure this very much. I hope their home gets finished soon for their sake. I know that Hurricane Sandy was not kind to our NJ coast line and it is such a shame that anyone has to go through this. We wpent many, many summers their and I have so many memories!


  9. Julie Eberhardt says:

    I love, love, LOVE this one and for so many reasons! It is definitely going to look amazing in that Mantle Book you are going to write some day…..xoxo

  10. Love it!!! And love the sentiment behind it!

  11. I absolutely love this idea. But my favorite part is that you are sentimental. That makes any project so much sweeter. I love that. Great job. Lori Lucas

  12. Laura, I LOVE this! It looks so great! I lusted after many a whale art in the Hamptons last fall but came home empty handed because of the price. You are inspiring me my friend!

  13. i don’t know which I love the most about “Glenda” ……the fact that she is beautiful or the beautiful sentiment that she represents…love the new addition to your family…gorgeous job Laura.

  14. Love this! I want one! You always amaze me. :)


  15. LOVE this! I so want one for my house too, jigsaw hmmm, I think I can swing that :) Such a sweet meaning behind it too.

  16. Glenda is beautiful, and the story is even better. :)
    I can’t imagine what your parents went through in trying to rebuild after the storm.

    What a sweet thing for you to give them!!!

  17. Oh my goodness, I love this! What a special art piece! Pinning and featuring! beautiful!

  18. This is just incredible Laura! You’ve really outdone yourself!!!!

  19. Love this! I can only image how much time that took to cut out the pieces. I’m not quite brave enough to use the jigsaw. :( Maybe sometime soon! Stop by my Friday’s Five Features and link up this post (and others)!

  20. I love this piece! Thank you for the tutorial. I want to make one of these for my children’s bath. WAY FUN!!

  21. Wonderful work! I am loving Glenda the Happy Whale!

    Navy Wifey Peters @ Submarine Sunday Link Party

  22. I love your whale art, so cute, I would love to feature it , if that would be ok please let me know

  23. That is such a beautiful design! You are quite talented! :) I found your project at the Monday Funday party.

  24. I love it! I may need to get over my power tool fear.


  25. Samantha says:

    This is so beautiful. I seriously love it. Love that you used your Grandfathers old wood too. I have pallets out back waiting for a project – this would be perfect. Great job.

    The Kitchen is My Dance Floor

    (found you on Monday Funday linky)

  26. Beautiful piece! I’d love if you’d link up to The DIY’ers:

  27. Love it! We made a plywood whale for my son’s nursery awhile back; ours is named Martha :). I love the planks on yours!

  28. Thanks for such a great idea. I love the whale. It is absolutely gorgeous!!! Love, love,love!!!!

  29. Great imagination :) Great job!!! :)

  30. Goldi says:

    Glenda is gorgeous! I am so happy you got to use wood from your grampas house!! That’s just amazing! Ok, I love the piece holding Glenda up. Did you make that holder?


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