Begin by painting a blank basswood plaque with two coats of semigloss, allowing one hour of drying time between coats (from left: Valspar paint in Schooner, Mystified, and Montpelier Wedgewood, $2.98 for 8 oz.; lowes.com). Let dry overnight.
Step 1: Download our rabbit, horse, or steer template, resizing as necessary to fit your plaque (from left: 12"W x 16"H, $12.99; 9"W x 12"H, $8.99; 13¾"W x 18"H, $15.99; woodcrafter.com). Print and cut out.
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Step 2: Center the shape on your plaque and tape it down. Following the marks indicated on the template, hammer 3/4-inch brass nails 1/4 inch deep into the plaque (you'll need between 50 and 80 nails for each animal); then tear away the paper.
Step 3: Double-knot the loose end of a spool of 0.035-inch waxed cord ($5.97 for 210 feet; mainethread.com) to the bottommost nail. Working clockwise, stretch the cord to the next nail, loop around once, and pull taut; repeat for all nails to form the animal's