October 5, 2009

DIY: Homemade Buttons

I have a fascination with making basic necessities that a normal person would just buy: deodorant, crackers, ketchup, paper, pickles, butter, lip balm, yogurt, soap... you get the idea. It makes me feel all Laura Ingalls Wilder-esque, like I could survive out on the prairie or through peak oil. So I thought I'd start highlighting some of these DIY projects for building a handmade life -- just in case you ever end up living on the prairie and then run out of crackers.

I'm interested to know what you think: What basic necessities are you making? What would you like to make but haven't tried yet?

How to: Make Wooden Buttons
Thanks to my man for being the hand model/saw operator and inspiration. Note to all the single ladies: do try to marry a man with calloused hands, it'll make your life so much easier and more interesting!

1. Gather your tools and supplies. You'll need: a drill, a saw (I used a skill saw but a hand saw would work at least as well), sandpaper (100 grit and 220 grit), a wooden block, and oil (I used sesame, but olive or mineral will work too.)



2. Choose a nice branch for your button. A few things to keep in mind:
  • The branch's diameter without bark will be the size of your button
  • Use a hardwood such as oak
  • Avoid rotten wood
  • Using downed branches that have already "cured" while they were lying on the forest floor will prevent your buttons from cracking and make it easier to remove the bark.


    3. Cut rounds from the end of the branch. They should be between 1/8 and 1/4 of an inch in width.


    4. Remove bark from the button rounds.


    5. Drill 2 or 4 holes in each button, using your wooden block to drill on so that you don't damage your work surface. It's not important to get the holes perfectly spaced as the buttons are meant to look rustic and homemade.


    6. Sand your buttons. Start out using 100 grit sandpaper and then finish with 220 grit.


    7. Rub the buttons with a little bit of oil and then polish with a clean cloth. All done!



    Now take some photos of those buttons in action.  Congratulations, you're one step closer to self-sufficiency and that homestead on the prairie!




    57 comments:

    1. Jazmin- Beth pointed me towards your blog and I'm totally in love with it. I'm a huge fan of making my own stuff...I made some butter this weekend- make my own household cleaners - BUT you mentioned deodorant! I'm looking for a good recipe. I have one from whole foods that I like, but I'm pretty sure it's just alcohol based with some drops of lavendar.
      Thanks for all the fun tips, ideas, and recipes:)

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      1. I think more updates and will be returning. I have filtered for qualified edifying substance of this calibre all through the past various hours. Judi Bola

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    2. Hi Katie, thanks for visiting! For making deodorant, I used this recipe: http://angrychicken.typepad.com/angry_chicken/2008/07/homemade-deodor.html
      For the essential oils I used lemongrass and something else citrusy. I can't exactly remember, maybe lemon or grapefruit? I like the deodorant, it's very moisturizing, which means that it can sometimes leave a greasy residue on clothes. But it smells wonderful and I have the softest pits around!

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    3. Wow! What a fantastic idea! I am going to try this for sure.

      Your little man is so sweet!

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    4. Thanks for posting this tutorial! I hope to give it a try soon. I've really enjoyed reading through your past entries - I'll be following from now on :)

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      1. Lack of skill and ability is another cause of unemployment. An unskilled labour cannot be successful in any work. If a chance of employment is

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    5. Love this and have posted a link on our Facebook page. I can't wait to try this. One question: sesame oil? It has such a strong aroma that I would worry about it growing rancid and smelly. Is there a reason to use sesame oil or could I use a more "neutral" oil like grapeseed?

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    6. I love the buttons. I'm going to have to get my hubby to make some for an outfit for our grandbaby due in April.

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    7. This is wonderful. Thanks for posting with such great pictures. What kind of oil do you use?
      (also loved the advice on marrying a man with calloused hands, wish someone had told me that 15 years ago... though I wouldn't trade mine for anything, soft hands and all).

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    8. Wow, those are gorgeous! I just clicked over from Craft. Your blog is so, so pretty! I'm off to explore the rest of your posts.

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    9. What a great idea! Thank you for sharing the process you used.

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    10. Hallo from Australia! Here via craftzine. What a beautiful blog you have here. Your images and words resonate all the ways across the oceans.

      Re making basic items. I now make all my wash cloths- crocheted undyed cotton. They feel good on your skin.

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    11. Hi Jazmin - I came across your blog as many others have. The opening words of your most recent post made me think "yay! someone else who likes Little House on the Prairie (the book) as much as me!". I too got all excited about making my own stuff (bread, cheese, clothes etc) after reading it, and also got interested in peak oil. My favourite book is Animal, Vegetable, Miracle by Barbara Kingsolver, I only mention it because it might be of interest to you too (if you get a chance to read in amongst everything else).

      Love the snaps of both the little man and the sweetie dog.

      Stitchybritt

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    12. Cornelia and Mojave Momma,
      My husband swears by sesame oil, I'm not entirely sure why. It was probably all we had around when he finished some project (living in the country has downsides, like the hour-long drive to the hardware or grocery store) and since then it's been his oil of choice. The odor fades really quickly, I haven't had any trouble with it getting rancid, and I like that it's completely edible since Finn's already putting everything in his mouth. To be safe though, Linseed or food-grade mineral oil would probably be the best.

      Stitchybritt,
      Thanks for the book suggestion. I've been meaning to get to this one, but between short naps (10 minutes?! Does that even qualify as a nap or is he just messing with me?) and lots of parenting books, my pleasure reading has been limited. I'm moving Animal, Vegetable, Miracle to the top of the list though!

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    13. This is really good idea, I'll try it if I can. Your blog seem exciting, I am following you. Love from Turkiye (Turkey)

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    14. I believe I am in Blog Heaven!!! I love your Creative spirit and amazing Momminess!

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    15. Wow! I have been thinking about how to go about making my own wooden buttons all week! Thanks for a fantastic tutorial.

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    16. Wonderful buttons! Love your blog.

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    17. I make as much as I can at home but I haven't made buttons ... yet. What a lovely baby boy you have. I love his hats and the dog who models them.

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    18. This comment has been removed by the author.

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    19. How cool! Making buttons!
      Cute baby you have! Love his name

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    20. I have known for 16 years that I have the most crafty sister-in-law. Now the world knows it...you are amazing and I love you very much. Great job...now will you make me some buttons?

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    21. Awesome buttons. I am just getting into making my own things too. I love the sense of pride you get from having made something yourself, you treasure it more than things you buy. Best of luck with the napping!

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    22. Those buttons are lovely!

      I saw the sweater close-up and immediately recognized the pattern. I made the same one for my son! Those buttons are the perfect compliment to that awesome green color. Nice work, love the blog!

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    23. Hi there, I love the buttons so sweet! I was wondering though where the sweater pattern is from? I'm thinking it would look lovely on my twins!

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    24. Anonymous,
      The pattern is the Seed Stitch Baby Jacket from Exercise Before Knitting and can be found at http://exercisebeforeknitting.com/seed-stitch-baby-jacket/ or via ravelry.com. Happy knitting (times two!)

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    25. hello again,
      i am in paris in an appartment so no sawing for us, etc...
      are you interested in a swap with me? i'd love buttons and twice drilled acorns :-))
      check my blog for something you'd like.

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    26. Awesome tutorial! I can't wait to start mine. One question, is there a reason you use hardwood and not softwood? I have a great branch (actually the main stem) from a small pine xmas tree that is the perfect diameter and that I would like to use but it is a softwood. Thanks!
      -Oscar

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      1. Oscar: I've tried using pine for a number of crafts and it's fine as long as you can dry it for a LONG time (I'm talking years!) If it's not cured, most of it will lead sap. Ick.

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      2. I've actually had good luck with Sycamore, Apple, and some Desert Willow sent to me from my brother in Arizona. I try to pick wood that's meaningful to the people I'm "building" for--for example, I've made a lot of buttons for the ladies knitting and crocheting group at my church made from rounds cut from Sycamore trees that grow on our church property.

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    27. Thanks for your post, I like this post very much.Wonderful buttons!

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    28. Oscar: I don't know that much about woodworking but I'm thinking that hardwood buttons would stand up to regular use better than softwood. But try out the pine and let me know how it turns out!

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    29. Those buttons are lovely!

      Thank you for sharing the info. I found the details very helpful.

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    30. Technology is nothing. What's important is that you have a faith in people, that they're basically good and smart, and if you give them tools, they'll do wonderful things with them.

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    34. Thanks for the button tips. You can use beeswax too instead of an oil. Non toxic.

      BTW...when I was a single lady, I was the one with the calloused hands, and I married a man with soft hands...and it's still that way...and we're happy! So please remember there are plenty of us ladies who like using tools, and working hard outside. I'm one :)

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    35. Is there anyway to do leave the buttons natural colored?

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