Tuesday, 31 January 2012

Handmade buttons ... ...

Buttons are great, and you'd be surprised how easy it is to make your own, I'm not talking about the plastic ones, I'm talking chunky wood buttons, great as a feature on a knitted hat or some other item.

It's easy to do, you need a saw (a hack saw is easy to use)

Bit battered, but works okay
 You'll also need a drill of some kind and a drill bit (I normally use a 3mm bit)

My post drill.
I use a post drill for making the holes in my buttons, but if you don't have one a cordless drill will work just as well, but be careful when drilling, and if you don't have an electric drill then a hand drill is just as good, but you will need a vice or some way to hold the button still whilst drilling.

Hand drill -

You can buy these quite cheaply.
And obviously you need some kind of wood, sticks are easiest to work with, but if they are freshly cut it's best to leave them in the house some where to dry out a bit first.

Then all you need to do is slice your stick up into sections as thick or thin as you want, although the thinner the sections the harder it is to grip them for sanding.

Ready for slicing -

Gripped tightly.
Now if you don't have a vice you could use a strong clamp to hold the wood, but I'd recommend a vice of some kind, it doesn't have to be expensive, I have a hobby vice I use in my work room at the back of the house, it was less than £10 and is great for small jobs like this.

Once you have some slices of wood it's on to the next step, and this is where things get personal, it's up to you how many holes you drill, where they are and such like, I tend to drill 2 holes in each button.

Ready for drilling -

They look a little rough, but they will turn out nice.
With holes drilled -

4 or 2 ? it's up to you.
You don't have to drill the holes first, I do things this way because if the holes are a little rough they'll get sorted out when I finish the buttons, saves time and extra sanding.
The next bit depends on what sort of equipment you have, if like me you have a variety of power tools then you may well have a belt sander or orbital sander, these will do for finishing the buttons as long as you use a fine grit (like 180) sanding sheet/belt if not then you can use a sheet of sand paper (again use a fine grit) and a wooden block, this will take longer, and probably make your arms ache a little, I use my lathe sander to finish the buttons, takes about 2 minutes (give or take) to finish a button.

I built a sanding wheel for my lathe, I made a short video of me using it, please remember to watch your fingers if your using a power sander of some kind, gloves might be an idea, and a mask as things will get dusty.

Sanding video -

Mind your fingers !

As you can see it doesn't take long, and apologies for the video quality, it wasn't as easy as I thought sanding and filming at the same time.

So once all the sanding is done you should have some nice smooth wooden buttons, they might be different sizes and thicknesses, but that just makes them more unique.

I tend to either give my buttons a coat of beeswax to protect them without affecting the colour, or I use linseed oil, which brings out the grain quite well, but you could wax them,varnish them, or paint them.

Finished buttons -

All done, 5 cypress & 2 pear wood.
Here's a picture of a cypress button and a pear wood button coated with linseed oil -

The pear wood is the darker one.
You can see from the picture above that you can make the buttons as round as you like, or leave them a little less finished for a slightly more rustic look, and if this all seems a little like hard work then I know a chap who sells them in his shop ;-) which you can find here (opens in new window) I'm also working on a lathe jig that will allow me to make sets of buttons the same size and decorate the buttons with simple designs.

Thanks for reading.

Inspire Me Beautiful

Thursday, 26 January 2012

Homemade French knitting doll ... ...

Me again, I've been knitting (again)

For Christmas one of the things my daughter got as a stocking filler was a little knitting doll (French knitting doll) I've seen these before, as I'm sure most people have, but in all honesty I've never actually attempted to use one, so the other day I had ago.

My daughters knitting doll -

She likes it a lot by the way.

It's not as difficult as I thought it might be, apart from the wool sticking to the inside of the doll it's pretty easy to use, although I'm not entirely sure what we'll do with all the knitted tubes, I guess we'll find a use, I've thought I might be able to use them in the garden some how.

I have found a use for the smaller tubes made with the actual knitting doll, it would seem they make good snakes :-) it's just a shame I'm not that good at this kind of thing.

Aaarrrhhhh snake ! -

Sort of snake like (ish)

My daughter is currently using it as a draft excluder for her dolls house.

Now as usual after using the knitting doll, I started to wonder how easy it would be to make my own, so that I can make larger tubes, this normally happens with a lot of things, I play about with them and then I start thinking I wonder if I can make one of these ?

As it turns out they are very easy to make, and you can use more or less anything tube like, I roughly turned a piece of scrap plywood into a circle shape on my lathe, then I cut the middle out, for the pegs I used some thick garden wire, so the pegs wouldn't bend very easily, and I pre-drilled holes all round the plywood circle them glued the pegs in.

This is what I ended up with -

Complete with knitting.

Not sure why I spaced the pegs in the way I did.

Pretty simple really, the principle is the same as the actual knitting doll, the main reason I made this one is that I intend to try knitting with string and thin wires, and I didn't want to break my daughters one.

I mentioned earlier that you can easily make one of these with more or less anything tube like, and so I thought I'd make another just to prove it.

For this one you'll need an old plastic bottle, some plastic plant labels and some sticky tape. Basically you just need to cut the top and bottom off the bottle, and then stick the plant labels round one edge, the more labels the more stitches.

Ingredients -

Ooops I forgot a picture of the sticky tape.

I decided I wanted 8 stitches so I cut my 4 labels in half, then taped them round one edge of the tube I'd made out of the bottle.

Like so -

Easy :-)

And that's it, one homemade (in about 10 minutes) and it works just as well.

I thought I'd try it out -

Kind of like a spiders web.

You don't have to sacrifice any pant labels either, just use some pencils or tape a few bits of dowel around the bottle, or what ever you use as a tube, the point is that you don't always need expensive equipment to have a go at some crafts, you can more often than not make some of the equipment yourself, you don't actually need anything to knit with, you can just use your fingers ;-)

Thanks for reading.

Sunday, 22 January 2012

Allotment update (Happy New Year) ... ...

Happy New Year ! (what do you mean it's a bit late ?)

Yes it's the start of another year, and here's to hoping it's a good one for all.

I've been meaning to post but haven't quite found the time to be honest, I've been busy making plans for the year, and I've also started on the allotment already, plenty to do there this year, I was mainly concerned with getting some kind of compost bin going and clearing the top section of the plot which we left last year.

So I set out a few mornings ago with a load of wood and some other stuff and finally got the compost pile in order, we just dumped all the stuff we'd cleared last year in a pile, so now it has a nice wooden front to it, which can be taken out so the compost can be turned, unfortunately I didn't take quite enough wood with me so on the next visit I need to add a little to it.

Here it is -

No prizes for top class wood work, but it'll do

It's made from the old floor boards I acquired last year for making the chicken coop, which is another job I really need to make a start with. You can see where I ran out of wood, but it doesn't matter just as the pile isn't that big (yet)

All finished and ready to be a productive compost bin -

My son is hoping some grass snakes might make a nest in it.

Other than the compost bin it was the usual business of clearing, luckily it wasn't that bad, I had expected things to be a little wilder than they were because it's been very mild weather wise.

I also made a start on re-locating the many raspberry plants we seem to have inherited, perhaps not the the best time to be doing this, but never mind.

Sorted into a nice row (sort of) -

Not the greatest of pictures.

We will most likely end up with at least another row once I've located them all and dug them up, might as well make use of them, we like raspberries :-)

My lovely wife got me a book on allotment gardening for Christmas, which I've been reading, it's a very useful book and has some great ideas for growing different plants in different ways, I'm all for experimenting, my advice to anyone who wants or has an allotment and isn't used to getting the best out of one is get a good book or two, they'll come in very handy.

And that's about it really, there isn't too much clearing left to do, so when it's planting time we should be ready to go without having to do very much prep work at all (unlike last year)

The allotment once I'd finished, there's something deeply pleasing about newly dug earth.

Looking good ? -

Nice and clear.

Thanks for reading.