Safari Bookends

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These are all over the internet, but I think they’re totally badass anyway.  They’re quite cute, if you make them right, but it was late and we were tired so we made them a little wrong.  But I like ’em even so.

We start with some plastic animals I got at Target, and which I sprayed copper because I thought we were going to do this differently than we did.

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Then you take your animals, clamp them solidly to a surface, and saw those kitties in half.  This ain’t no magic trick.

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Use a file to smooth out the rough edges.

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Then you measure your podiums.  We made our bookends out of this nice solid, heavy piece of wood, so it would actually hold books up and stuff when stuck together in an L shape.  Remember: measure twice, cut once.

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The Pie is afraid of table saws, so he stood at the other end of the garage while I risked life and limb to get these pieces of wood cut.

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But the only thing I cut was the wood, which is a bonus. We used a fine sandpaper to smooth off the rough corners.

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Here we are checking to see if we measured correctly.  Turns out that we didn’t, and the tiger ones were a total failure.  No matter: let’s press on.

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Here’s what they will sort of look like when they’re done.

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Using a drill press to start off the screw holes.  I’m wearing mittens because it was like -29°C outside and my garage isn’t heated.

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Screwing in the screws.  Because the wood was so thick we used decking screws, which are super long.

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Spraying.  I decided I wanted gold animals, not copper, so they got another coat of spray paint.

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Ready to glue.  I used GOOP, an all-purpose adhesive that dries clear and is super strong.

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You lay the glue on and give it 2 minutes to cure before attaching it to the other surface.

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I left these overnight to dry.

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The next day I cut little felt squares for the bottoms so they didn’t scratch any surfaces.

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And here it is completed.  Please ignore the fact that the one side is taller than the other. And that they’re currently not holding up any books.  Late.  Tired.  Cold.

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Rustic Pencil Holder and Homemade Pencils

Rustic Pencil Holder

I saw this about a year ago, and I remember thinking at the time that it was such a simple yet elegantly nifty project I would have to make it sometime.  What better time than the present?

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I wrangled a log out of the mildewed pile in our dilapidated excuse for a shed and got to work.  You can of course use any form of windfall or anything you find lying around.  I’d love to try this with driftwood, if I still had my beach handy.  As it was a pretty long chunk of wood, I figured I’d make three pencil holders, just to spread the love amongst my Christmas gift recipients.

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I also thought I might make them slightly angled, so that all the pencils or pens could be viewed from one side, instead of them all being on the same level. So I sawed them accordingly, in varying thicknesses.  Actually, the Pie did most of this because I took too long.  But we didn’t really try too hard to get things level or straight — the crooked adds to the charm, and I swear we did this on purpose.

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And then the bark, which had been sitting and drying out over our kitchen heater for two months, just peeled right off so easily.

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I used a butter knife to get the thinner inner bark off.

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Now you drill your holes.  I used 3/8″ and 1/2″ drill bits, to accommodate skinny and fat pens and pencils. You know, like the fat ones you pick up from the bank or that you get in swag bags at conferences and stuff.

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You can space them out evenly or put them in randomly, whichever floats your boat.

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To make sure that all your holes are uniform in depth, use a bit of tape around your drill bit to mark how deep you want it to go.  When the line of the tape touches the wood, you’ve gone far enough.

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In addition, if you are pursuing an angled approach, make sure that your drill is going in perpendicular to the surface upon which the wood is sitting, not perpendicular to the surface of the top of the disk.  Although I suppose you could do that, too, if you wanted your pencils to stick out at an angle.

Rustic Pencil Holder

Then I sanded, to smooth out the edges and to make the top nice and even.  You don’t want splinters in something you’re going to be touching all the time.

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I stained one of them as well, again for kicks.

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To go with the pencil holders, I thought I would include some pencils I made myself.

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I got the idea from here, but modified it so it was easier for me (because I found this actually quite difficult).  You need some 2mm pencil leads, the kind that go into architectural drafting pencils (also known as clutch pencils).  They tend to come in small plastic boxes of 10, and you can find them at art supply stores or on the internet.

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Then you need some thin paper.  I used a combination of newspaper flyers and origami paper for this, with the cheap newspaper on the inside and the nice origami pattern on the outside.  Cut the paper into squares that are the same length as the leads, which is usually about 5″.

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Take a paint brush and some glue and paint some onto the edge of one of the pieces of paper.

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Lay your lead onto the glued surface, just a little bit from the edge.  Fold that extra part over the lead and tuck it in.

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Now start rolling, carefully, putting even pressure on both ends of the lead.  You want the paper to be tight around the lead but you don’t want to put too much pressure on it that the lead breaks.  I definitely broke a few.  And go slowly, so you can make sure that the lead rolls straight in the paper.  Many of my pencils came out crooked and had to be trimmed later.

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When you reach the end of the paper, add some more glue and fasten the edge securely on your roll.  Repeat with more paper until you get to the thickness you like, with some nice patterned stuff on the outside.

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Put some glue on the outside, just to seal it all in.

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Allow your pencil to dry, then trim the pointy end of the pencil with a knife or a pencil sharpener, and you’re all set.

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Rustic Pencil Holder

Rustic Pencil Holder

Twig Trivet

Here is another nifty gift idea from Martha Stewart.  Next time you’re in the park on a nice day, pick up some straight, strong twigs and take them home with you.Once you’ve got them home, saw them or cut them to the desired length (a trivet is generally between 6″ and 9″ square, but go with what you prefer.

Grab yourself some waxed thread, like sail thread or whipping twine.  We had some old stuff lying around but you can pick it up from a marine supply store.  Waxed string is handy for all sorts of things because once you tie a knot it won’t slip or loosen and will stay pretty much wherever you put it.

Take a length of the twine and fold it in half, slipping your first twig into the loop in the middle.  Double-knot the twine and attach another stick.  Knot again and so on.I reinforced mine by winding the twine around the twigs a few more times.  Then knot the twine so that the knot will be on the bottom of the finished trivet.

Wrap and tie the twine on the other side as well.Cut a piece of felt or wool cloth to fit the trivet and glue it firmly to the bottom to protect whatever surface you put it on.Let the glue dry and then that’s it.  You have it made!

Peony Hoop

Peonies have to be one of my favourite flowers, and I am pleased to have a rather successful peony growing in my backyard.  I rescued it from the wind ravages of the front beds two years ago and it’s doing great.  It probably would do better in full sun, but it’s nice and sheltered where it is.

But peonies have very heavy flowers in comparison to their delicate stems, and peonies fall over.  Often.  In fact, almost all the time.

You can buy peony hoops for about $40.

Obviously I’m not going to do that.  I’m a make my own.

For this wee project you will need a wire coat hanger (the only wire hanger in my whole house) and a scrap of wood (this is a piece of flooring).

You will also need a power drill and some pliers. My power drill belonged to my grandfather.  It is OLD.Oh, and a saw.

First, I drilled two roughly even holes near the top of the scrap of wood.

Then I used the saw on the bottom to make a bit of a point so it would be easier to bury.

I took the pliers and opened up the hanger.

Using the support to my porch, I bent the hanger round to form a loop.

I used the pliers to straighten out some of the kinky bits.

Then I used them as a fulcrum to bend the ends of the wire at a right angle.

Now I have my loop.

I stuck the loop ends through the holes in the scrap of wood.

I wrapped the loose ends around the wood.

Dug a hole.

Buried it.Sure, it’s not the prettiest of jobs, but it took me ten minutes, cost me nothing, and it works.  Can’t beat that.