wide closeup of two wood buoys hanging on a blue front door

How to Make Easy Wood Buoys for Your Lake Decor

Here’s a fun, easy way to make wood buoys for your decor. Celebrate living on water, or welcome your guests with a bit of lake life attitude.

Do you live on water too? Aren’t we the luckiest? There’s truly something magical about having water right outside your home!

So why not celebrate it? 

Whether you have a beach house or a small beach cottage, or have a lake house or a lake cabin, a bit of nautical decor seems almost required. 

It’s a fine line to tread between paying homage to this lake lifestyle and being overrun with “trite tourist treasures”. And that line is different for each of us.

If it makes your heart happy and brings a smile to you and your special ones, why not?

Personally, for me and my house, a little bit goes a long way. I keep my lake decor rather minimal, but I do like to pay homage with a few select items that tend to be seasonal, rotating in and out.

Two buoys that say Ahoy Friends on a blue front

If you prefer to Jump right to the How-To, click here.

If you prefer to Jump to Styling Tips, click here.

Why Wooden Buoys

Why I love using buoys has a lot to do with functionality.

If you’ve been around here long, you knew I was going to say that, right?

Buoys can hang or stand tall or lay low. They can be brightly colored or rather soft and neutral. They play nice with so many other decorative pieces. Such as mingled in with plants and lanterns on a porch or as a centerpiece.

Check out all the ideas down in the styling section.

I made my first set of buoys for a Christmas mantel I was styling to compliment the Coastal Christmas stockings I had designed that year. I was inspired by images of lobster buoys hanging on the sides of old fishing shacks in Maine.

I continue to receive feedback and compliments on those. Soooo . . . .

Well, you know those great fitting pants you get compliments on. That’s like permission to buy them in every color, right?

I guess it’s also true for wooden buoys. But here, I didn’t even have to make more. I just rolled them over, cut new stencils on my trusty Cricut and broke out some craft paint.

closeup of two buoys that say Ahoy Friends on a blue front

Instead of “Merry” “Peace” and “Joy” hanging in a pine wreath, I now have “Ahoy Friends” hanging from a branch and summer greens on the front door.

And buoys are one of those diy projects that is so easy to customize with your choice of paint colors to match your home decor and add a coastal or nautical vibe. And then add text for any season or occasion.

How to Make Your Own Buoys

Materials & Supplies Needed to DIY Wood Buoys:

  • Wood – we used a 4 x 4 post
  • Paint – I used some leftover chalk paint and several colors of craft paints
  • Tape measure or ruler
  • Compound Miter saw
  • Safety glasses (yep, keep it safe)
  • Drill and drill bits
  • Sander and Sandpaper (sandpaper alone will work, just takes longer)
  • Painters Tape
  • Stencils
  • Paint brushes
  • Nautical Rope or sisal rope

This post may include affiliate links which is a great way to support my business. You pay nothing more, but I may receive a small commission.

short lengths of a 4 x 4 wood post
woman's hand drilling a hole into the top of a wood buoy
finished cut buoys sanded and ready for paint

Step 1) Cut the Buoy Height From the Post

(Left Picture) We bought a four foot post and cut three buoys, 11-inches, 10-inches, and 9 1/2-inches. Yes, we have lots of post left for more buoys!

Step 2) Angle Cut the Top

On each buoy, decide how long you want your angle to be and how far in you want it to come at the top.

For example, our tallest one (Peace), I ended the angle cut 3-1/4-inches from the top and I wanted the peak to come in 3/4-inch on all sides. So  I marked 3-1/4 inch down at all four edges and then on the top, I marked 3/4-inch in from the corners. Then connect each pair of dots with your ruler and that is your cutting line. 

HINT: Try to get those first marks as accurate as possible and then the lines should line up. Keep in mind the thickness of the blade!

If you have trouble with the cuts meeting perfectly, don’t sweat it too much. A good sanding should camouflage some “discrepencies”. Embrace it as character and vintage charm.

Step 3) Drill the Rope Hole

(Center Picture) Now time to drill the rope hole. They wouldn’t be buoys without the rope, so don’t skip this step!

HINT: Use a block of scrap wood under the peaked top to support it so you can drill vertically.

Also, take it slow starting with a smaller bit and working you way up to the size you need for your rope. I finished with a 3/8-inch bit.

Step 4) Sand Your Buoy Thoroughly

(Right Picture) Don’t skimp on this sanding. Be sure to soften all the sharp edges, disguise any mismatched cuts a bit and get your buoy ready for paint.

Oh, and keep the sandpaper handy. You’ll be using it again.

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Thanks bunches. Now back to our buoys:

Step 5) Color blocking Your Nautical Christmas Buoys

closeup of three wood buoys with painters tape blocking off different colors

The colorful lobster buoys of Maine are known for their distinctive color blocking. Each trapper or fishing crew has their own color combination. This is how they identify their traps.

HINT: Use exterior grade craft paint to help minimize the fading if you plan to use these outdoors.

Pick your colors — mine were determined by the Coastal Skies Christmas Stockings I was making them for. I also knew that I wanted to add the Christmas text instead of coordinates or a family name or address. So I planned for that when I planned my color blocking.

Start with your base coat. I used some leftover white chalk paint for my base and gave them two light coats back to back. By the time I finished the first coat on the third buoy, I went right back to add the second coat to the first one. That was plenty of time between coats.

Let that dry thoroughly before applying painters tape for your color blocking.

HINT: Just like with stenciling, for crisp, clean lines of color blocking, use a pouncing motion with your sparsely loaded paintbrush, rather than a swiping potion with a heavy loaded paintbrush.

Step 6) Add Text — Or Maybe House Numbers — Or Geographic Coordinates — Or Family Name

Stencils are perfect here. I used my Cricut to custom cut my stencils. I used stencil standard font and sized my words, loaded my vinyl and set it to cutting, 

HINT: If you plan to use these as part of a tablescape, think about adding text to multiple sides. Or as I did, Christmas was on one side and my Summer version is now on the opposite side. 

They can also bring fun style to a nautical party as part of a centerpiece, buffet table or another display. 

Styling Your Wood Buoys

How to Use Your Decorative Wooden Buoys

  • on your front door
  • As your address number
  • on your front porch
  • hang on a fence
  • outdoor centerpiece
  • on the outdoor bar
  • on your mantel
  • part of a display
  • in bookshelves
  • indoor centerpiece
  • decorate a buffet table
  • as table numbers for a large event

These buoys are heavy so it takes quite a gale force to blow they over. They pair so well with many other decor items like books, candles, lanterns, trays, potted plants and more

closeup of two wood buoys hanging on a stick with faux boxwood on a front door

To hang these on my door I drilled two holes. in a 6-inch sturdy stick I found. in our yard. I slipped both buoys on the stick and then threaded stripe ribbon through the holes.

No, it’s not really that hard if you use my trick for “How to Thread a Big, Fat Ribbon Through a Small Round Hole”. You can read it here.

I knotted both ends of the ribbon and suspended the ribbon from the top of the door. I felt like it needed a bit of greenery, so I wired a few branches of faux boxwood onto the stick. Done!

There are more pictures of how I used them in the Christmas Buoy block post right here.

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Please pin this to remember it.

It will help you (and me, too). Oodles of thanks!

Pinterest pin with an image of the wooden buoys on a front door titled: "How-To Wooden Buoys"

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As always, I truly appreciate you being here. Your time is precious and I work to bring you content that is of value — my way of saying thank you, I appreciate you!

Don’t hesitate with any questions or comments!!!

Here's to Joy-Filled Living, Diane


  1. Wendy McMonigle

    These are just darling Diane! And perfect for your lake house.

  2. Joanne

    Those are so cute!!

  3. Cara

    These are too cute Diane! I have been looking for something with a nod to the ocean for our foyer, and these would be perfect.

    • Diane

      Exactly, a nod is perfect. I’ve never been one for a full blown theme.

    • Diane

      I so appreciate the share Nicolle. And YES, yes, indeed, you need a lake (or beach) house!!!!!

  4. Julie

    These are beautiful, thank you so much for sharing with us at Handmade Monday 🙂



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