old timer

Sunday, August 2, 2015

How To Make Plant Markers with Metal and Wood PLUS a Winner

Hi guys!!!

Let's start with a winner.  It's always fun to get the good news first ... right?   Our new friend Susan was kind enough to give me a few new ideas for some goodies to make using those funky plasma cut pieces of metal.  Remember those???  I'm going to get some of those goodies in the mail to her real soon!!!  THANK YOU SO MUCH!!!  Your ideas were so much fun!

Well, she's given me a few fun ideas... so, let's start with the easiest (to me) first.  One thing she and others have asked for is a tutorial or two using tools.  I grew up in an area you would consider country.  I was lucky enough to have a father and 2 grandfathers who loved to make things using power and hand tools.  Someone was always building something.  So, while they were gone, I got out their tools and built things too.  I was a lucky little girl because I never cut off my fingers using the power table saw.  I had to stand on something in order to reach the blade!!!  OOPS!  If I caught my kids doing that ,,, they wouldn't sit down for a week after the spanking they would have gotten.  My daughter was older when she finally found my tools.  You see she didn't clean up her messes as well as I did as a kid!!!   EEK!!!!!  She just couldn't believe that I knew she'd been in the garage.  She did good though!!!

SO!  Let's make what I would call the easiest for using tools.  She would like to make plant stakes using the metal cut outs. 

Let's start with wood stakes.  Maybe later I'll show you how to use a metal epoxy to "glue" metal to metal so you don't have to have a welder.  There are basically 3 steps to each stake we are going to build.  

First ,,, figure out what the wood "stake" should be. 

Second ,,, how are we going to mount the metal to the wood? 

Third ,,, how to drill a hole in the wood and/or metal.


Nails - a couple
Screws - a couple - if that is what you want to use
Screw Driver - the same type as the screw head has (flat or Phillips)
Twine - if you'd like to try making this type
Metal Wire - if you'd like to try making this type
*Saw (MAYBE!)  If you can find wood that's just the right size,,, you won't need a saw.

FIRST:   Here are a few different wood "stakes" I'm using.

I have so many different types of stakes ,,, so we'll use 5 different types.  This way you might see something you have in your garage.

SECOND:  Here are a couple ways to mount the metal on the wood.

We can use nails or screws ...

or wire/twine you have hanging around. 
This is my metal recycle bucket. 
I'll use the wire in it.

We can use screws, nails, wire or twine.  SORRY!  I DO NOT USE GLUE.  I rarely to never use glue for anything except mounting glass on glass.  I do use glue in wood joints that are put together with dowels, but those have nails or screws that go through the wood and dowels.  The glue is just a little extra help for that joint.

THIRD:  Let's "drill".        

I know drilling means one thing to you,,, but, to me.... it means putting a hole in something.  There are a couple different ways to do that.  I will show you 2 ways to "drill".

When you drill holes you have to feel the metal you are going to put a hole in.  If it's thick ... you can not use the nail method.  You must use a drill.  It can be a drill press or a hand drill.  The thicker the metal, the more you need the drill press.  If you can bend the metal ... try starting with a nail.

Get your hammer out.  I set my work on a
large wood board.  It's easier for this job.

Hit the nail HARD once.  You should find a nice little
hole in it.  Make a second one below it.

Did I measure?  NOPE!  We'll work on that later!

OR!  If you have a drill press, it's much easier!!!

This is what the bottoms of the holes look like.  The
top 2 are from a nail.  The bottom 2 are from
a drill press.  Either works great.

NOW!  Let's figure out what you want your piece to look like.  If you use a large stake, you will need to use a larger metal piece.  The balance of small to large pieces shows up at this point.  I'll show you what I mean in a few pictures.
Larger wood, larger metal.

Large wood, medium metal.

Large wood, small metal.  HMMM???

Large wood, tiny heart.  ICKY!

Smaller wood, large metal heart.

Smaller wood, smaller metal,,, but it's wide!  not bad!!!

Let's put one together!
Let's use this "dowel" (it's the handle of an old mop). 
See how the nail is too long.  Usually I would
cut the nail off.  Not this time!

2 nails.  One used, one new.
You can see how it will look from the front.

The nails were too long.  I just hit them all the
way through, then I hit the ends at an angle
so they would lay down.

Now let's make one where we wire it on.  You could use twine.  I had wire sitting right there, so I used it.

I used a fancy turned spindle, a metal cut
out and some scrap wire.

I used a piece of wire about 12 inches long.  I bent the
end like shown on the left.  I put it around the spindle
so the ends came out the other side.  
Think from the back to the front.

I wrapped the wires down the sides of the metal heart
and then pulled them to the back of the spindle.

Then I twisted the ends together and
cut off the extra length.

The finished look.  FUN!!!

Here are a few pictures of 5 finished plant markers.

Tall.  Short.  One metal piece on a stake.  
3 metal pieces on a stake.
Click on the picture to make it larger!

Tall with lots of room.  So, I used 3 pieces
of metal.  I would use a felt pen or chalk
 to write on the middle one.

There's a heart on each side.

I added 2 skinny hearts for leaves.

I love this little guy.  He's my favorite by far!!!

I hope you learned something here.  It's hard to tell you how to do something without taking page after page to explain things.  Remember one thing.  Art like mine is meant to be "sloppy".  I want these old pieces to look like a real vintage piece once I put it together.  I don't just want it to look old ... I want it too look ancient!

If you have any questions ... PLEASE ASK!!!  I'll tell you everything I know.


  1. Those turned out great. Good idea Susan.

  2. Now that is very creative! Plant markers are usually made from planks and a stick, and you’ll be fortunate to see something that has a legitimate print on it. But with your work is quite creative in many ways. Anyway, Thanks for sharing this with us. All the best!

    Rosemary Bailey @ Wabi Iron & Steel Corp.

    1. Why thank you. To me art is about making the same things others do ... only do it differently. The challenge is will it still look okay. Hopefully! You just never know. Thanks for the note. I appreciate it!!! Take care! Shelley

  3. I love the way these turned out - exactly like I envisioned!!! I'm so glad you liked my ideas :)

    1. Thank you. I loved your idea. I think I should make a wind chime next (give me a couple weeks) ... I'll have some hearts in the mail to you by Wed. :)