DIY Ombre Abacus

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How to Make an Ombre Abacus
How to Make an Ombre Abacus

In case you’re looking for a cool DIY project for a little one, I thought we’d share this DIY abacus we made for Henry! I’m so pumped on how it turned out I kind of want to hang it on my wall as art and not let my one-year-old gnaw on it, but c’est la vie, right?

It involves a couple of little power tools but don’t be scared! It’s crazy simple and the finished product is so worth it. Let’s do it!


  • 3/4″ square hobby wood board
  • 1/4″ x 3/4″ hobby wood board (find both of these at a hardware store)
  • 10 brass tubes
  • drill with 1/8″ bit
  • saw (optional)
  • 1/2″ screws
  • 100 5/8″ wood beads
  • craft paint (non-toxic if you’re giving this project to a baby!)
  • paintbrushes
  • wood skewer
  • sandpaper

Make Time: 2 Hours (Plus Drying Time)

How to Make an Ombre Abacus

Step 1: Cut the 3/4″ board into two 11″ pieces. If you don’t have a saw, they’ll do it for you at the hardware store if you ask nicely.

Step 2:  Cut the 1/4″ board into 12 1/2″ pieces.

Step 3: Sand all the edges of the boards so that the ends are rounded and smooth for little fingers.

Step 4: On both 11″ pieces, make a mark with a pencil at every inch, making 10 marks total. Drill into the marks with a 1/8″ drill bit, drilling about halfway through the wood.

Step 5: Paint all of your wood beads. It helps to string them onto a skewer while you’re painting and suspend the skewer somewhere so that they can dry. Use 10 different colors and paint 10 beads in each color.

Step 6: Once the beads are dry, insert a brass tube into each hole in one 11″ piece of wood. Put 10 beads on each tube.

Step 7: Insert the other ends of the tubes into the other 11″ piece of wood. Push the two pieces of wood firmly together.

Step 8: Hold one of the flat pieces of wood against the top of the abacus, flush with the ends of the two 11″ pieces. Drill a pilot hole into the top of either side. Screw the wood into place on either end. Repeat with the other flat piece of wood and affix to the bottom of the abacus.

A fun idea: If you have leftover beads, try creating a quick wood bead garland for some easy boho home decor!

How to Make an Ombre Abacus
How to Make an Ombre Abacus

Now count, count, count to your heart’s content! Henry is obsessed with it and I love watching his fat little fingers shoving those beads around. Sometimes, though, he gets tired of counting and just chews on it for a while. Either way, it’s adorable. Hope you try this one out. And if you do try it (or any other of our projects!) be sure to share it with #thelovelysquad so we can see your awesome work. Yay! xoxo

P.S. Find more DIYs for kiddos right here!

How to Make an Ombre Abacus
How to Make an Ombre Abacus
How to Make an Ombre Abacus

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  1. I honestly love love love this DIY so much. I’ve been wanting to paint an Ikea Abacus forever and just didn’t know how to paint it already assembled… I should have built one all along! And the colors are my favorite part, pinned the heck out of this one! xo

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  3. These are very very lovely! The perfect gift for new parents! I really love how they feel authentic and even old-fashioned, rather than all the technology that we expose kids to these days, this is a lovely game for kids, and a great accessory to a living room for adults! thanks for sharing your techniques on how to make this!

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