Since I’ve been working on a reclaimed walnut desk for the past couple of weeks, I have some extra pieces of really beautiful lumber lying around. This week, when I hit a snag on my desk, I decided to keep the power tools out and make something out of the scraps!
You could make this out of any wood, with any finish that suits your decor. Some ideas: polished buttery smooth and oiled like mine, painted in a flat color, finished with shellac or polyeurethane, painted then aged and distressed, stained … the possibilities are endless. If the wood you have isn’t pretty enough to display on its own, like pine, don’t worry! Even the lowly pine, one of the cheapest and softest woods available, stains nicely: you could do an eye-catching pattern in two different stains, like a chevron.
TIME: about an hour (unless you can’t find your spirit level like me)
a piece of wood
a saw (chop, jig or circular: whatever you feel most comfortable with)
an orbital sander + sand paper (medium 100 and fine 150 or 200 should be just fine)
power drill + a variety of drill bit sizes
wood or rubber mallet
decorative upholstery nails, rivets or roof nails (see note)
2 screws or nails for mounting on the wall
paint, stain or mineral oil, depending on the finish you’d like
NOTE ABOUT NAILS
There are lots of ways to go, depending on the look you want. I loved the warm tones in the piece of walnut that I was working with, and I already had some copper leatherworking rivets on hand, so I decided to use those. This would also look great with a dab of paint on the head of each nail, whether the color makes a pattern, covers all of the heads, or is a little bit random. If you’d like a look similar to mine, buy copper roofing nails at your local hardware. Decorative upholstery nails like these are also a great idea: they’re hammered with designs on the head, and could add a nice touch to your piece. Of course, you could use any nail that strikes your fancy!
Cut your wood to the size you’d like. I chose to make mine 18″ long, which fit best visually above my dresser. I was working with a piece that had live edges (the raw edge where the bark had been sheared off), which I also left on the desk I’m making. I liked that the pieces would be cohesive, with raw and organic edges. Those edges are so much nicer than anything I could cut freehand!
Marking with a pencil, divide the wood in half horizontally, so you have a line going the length of the piece. Depending on the design you’d like to make with the nails, make evenly-spaced marks above and below the line.
Sand all sides of the wood with the orbital sander until they feel smooth to the touch. By hand, run a piece of sandpaper over all the corners and edges. No need to have a heavy hand, this just adds a slight beveled edge and makes your final piecelook more polished.
Finish the wood the way that you’d like! I just used mineral oil, and I can’t keep my hands off of it. Make sure to test the finish on a piece of scrap wood, to make sure that the stain or paint soaks into the wood grain the way that you want. (p.s. here’s a great way to age painted wood, if that’s your thing.)
On your scrap piece of wood, test your drill bits to find a size that’s right for the nails you chose. You want the holes to be very snug, since you’ll be tapping the nails in with a mallet anyway. Once you’ve found the right size, make a practice hole to see how deep to drill on the real thing. You want your nails to be deep enough that they won’t come loose, but you don’t want to drill all the way through your board.
Once you’ve practiced, we can do the real thing! Make sure to drill slowly and perpendicular to your board, or the nails will stick out at odd angles. It probably looked really funny, but the way I did this was to sit on the ground with the board in between my legs, with the drill in my right hand at eye level. That way, I could make adjustments if the drill wasn’t at the right angle.
On the back side, make two depressions with a 1/2″ drill bit or so (no need to be picky, as long as your mounting screws fit). These are for the nails or screws you’ll use to install the piece on the wall, so give yourself a little wiggle room but don’t make them too deep.
Once your holes are drilled, put a dab of wood glue in each one and pop the nails in. Push them in as far as you can with your fingers, then gently tap them with the rubber or wood mallet. You don’t want to use a metal hammer here, because using a harder metal to hammer them in will disfigure and bend the softer metal. Unless, of course, that’s a look you’d like! Make sure to wipe up the wood glue if any oozed out of the holes. If you’re planning to, paint the nails now.
I stuck two pushpins in the mounting holes on the back and then pushed them into my wall, so that I’d know exactly where to put the screws. Make sure you use your spirit level to get the piece straight. Put your mounting nails or screws in the wall, and hang up your beautiful reclaimed necklace holder!
Thanks for reading my first post, guys! Did this tutorial give you any great ideas for your own bedroom remodel? Come back for more tutorials, recipes, and the unveiling of my matching walnut desk!