Every year Christmas arrives on December 25th (duh!) Every year I tell myself I’m going to get a jump on gifts. Every year I’m scrambling and wishing I had taken more time to be prepared.
Well, I’m determined to do a better job this year, even though we’re already half way through October. There’s still enough evenings and weekend days available to spent some time in the shop making something unique for that special someone. After all, gifts are supposed to be meaningful, right? I can’t think of a better way to show another person you care than to make something for them with your own hands.
If you’re like me and want to do something a little more inspired this Christmas, you might like this country flower jar. It’s easy to make, and there’s no reason to spend money at the store for something you can put together in a weekend.
To get started, you’ll need just a few things: Your choice of wood, mason jars (I used pints), one hook for each piece, twine, a few 1 inch wood screws, paint and a alligator picture hangers. I used my planer, jointer, chop saw and table saw, but you can do this project with just a few basic tools.
You can use any wood you like, but I chose to use some of the reclaimed siding I removed while renovating the wood shop. It’s yellow pine, easy to work with and I’m stoked to be able to put it back to use. I was going for a rugged, weathered look and the siding made that part easy too. I’ll show you how I took it from rough to renewed.
You can see that this wood started out with a lot of character. That’s over 80 years worth of weather abuse you see here. Maybe not so good for siding anymore, but what’s underneath?
I started with the planer. This wood is certainly rough, but it hasn’t moved (warped) much over the years since it was originally shaped. So a couple passes through the planer to clean it up was good enough. If you don’t have a planer, no worries. An orbital sander and some elbow grease can accomplish the same thing.
Next, I took the wood to the jointer where I straightened up one edge on each piece to allow for a clean, straight cut on the table saw. I set my width at the table saw to 4 inches.
After a few easy steps, I now have a small pile of cleaned up wood.The next step is to start putting the wood together to see how you want the final project to look. This is where your creativity comes in. The sky is the limit. Play with different designs to get the look you want to achieve and go for it.
Ultimately, I decided I liked the more narrow look. This would allow me to make a couple of these to hang side by side on the wall. You could go large or you could go small, its really up to you. At this point, you’ll want to make sure you have your hooks. I got mine at Costco, but you can find unique hooks in all shapes and colors almost anywhere.
At the chop saw, I cut my wood to the dimensions I chose (roughly 18 inch verticals and 7 1/4 inch horizontal slats). Again, I wanted a rugged look in the end, and so I chose to keep the misshaped ends where I could on my vertical pieces instead of cutting them all at ninety degrees. I allowed an 1/8th inch variance on each end of the horizontals so they didn’t quite come flush with the edges of the vertical pieces. Then I dry fit it all together to makes sure it looked good before putting it together.
Once I was happy with how it looked, I glued and screwed the vertical and horizontal pieces together. Only a little glue is needed. You don’t want it to squeeze out and weaken the joints. If you plan on hanging these outside, make sure you choose the appropriate wood glue (type 2). And if you do get a little squeeze-out, just clean it up with a scraper.
After the glue dries its time to sand. It did all my sanding by hand with a 150 grit paper, knocking off the splinters from the chop saw and smoothing over the edges on all pieces. I didn’t do much sanding initially on the front or back of the piece because I wanted it relatively rough before painting.
You can choose whatever kind of paint you’d like. I wanted to experiment with chalk paint, which is mixed with plaster of paris to give a richly aged and textured look. But I didn’t want to spend the money on a quart of white paint ($30 at Lowes) for such a small project. So I opted for the spray can version, which was still $10, but convenient. I think next time, if I choose to spray paint a project, I’ll just use regular matted latex paint. I didn’t notice much of a difference with the chalk paint on this project.
I applied a couple thin, even coats to the wood and let it sit over night to dry.
Once the paint dried, I took a piece of 150 grit sand paper and began to distress the edges. You can do this to taste, being as aggressive or conservative as you want. There’s really no wrong way to do this. I made sure the edges were all nice and smoothed over, getting down through the paint to bare wood in some areas, to give it a nice aged appearance. I also took the time to lightly go over the face and the back of the wood, knocking down the rough grain and making everything smooth, but still being careful not to take too much of the paint off.
I used large alligator hangers (used for big picture frames) on the back. One was good enough. Then I flipped it over and added the hooks.
Now its time to make the mason jar flower pots. I used pint sized mason jars and good old fashioned twine as a hanger.
I started with one long piece of twine that I knotted around the lip of the jar. Then I cut another piece for the handle, looped one end through the piece already tied around the lip, and knotted it together. I went back to my hook and adjusted the length of the handle to taste, making sure the jar didn’t hang too low, then I cut it and knotted it on the other side. I then took the original piece of twine I had already knotted around the lip (you’ll want to make this piece long) and tightly wrapped it around the jar. I threaded the end piece underneath the others and knotted it to make everything snug.
I like the twine because it adds to the country (or beachy) look of the whole piece. But there are other ways to accomplish the same thing. You can actually buy a kit to hang mason jars, complete with lid and chain. They come in different colors and styles but can be a little spendy. Check out Michaels or Hobby Lobby or Amazon for ideas on what’s available.
Or make your own!
This project was easy and fun and a great way to repurpose some old wood. Let me know what you think. And if you decide to make your own, share your results! I’d love to see how they turn out.