I am planning on giving my family room a mini makeover so I began perusing the internet for fun things to add to the shelves I will be adding. I came across a set of charred wood bookends from Anthropologie and to be honest, at first I was not a big fan. I thought they were ok but not the first thing I would have thought of when wanting a new accessory. I think the price tag played a role in my opion at first. Then I looked at them again and I could tell they were growing on me. I liked the whole idea of something having been through something traumatic, having been scarred, and then given new life. Haven't all of us been through fire at some point? I thought it would be a good reminder, as it sat on my shelf, that I may have had trials but I came out of it. Now, I do not have $348 to blow on a pair of bookends so of course I began to think of a way to DIY some that were similar.
Here are the ones I came up with. And they were MUCH less expensive!
- Redwood (untreated!) 4x4
- Miter saw or table saw (or have the employees at Home Depot cut it for you)
- Foam brush
- Leather gloves
- Heat Gun
- Butane lighter (optional)
- Bucket of water (just in case)
- Metal or concrete work surface preferably
I always have a hard time deciding on what to say I built a knock off project for because like this example, I only used 1 foot of the 8 foot long 4x4. I saved the rest for another project I am working on. If you already have scraps then you wouldn't even have to buy a board. I already had the polyurethane on hand. But I guess if you had to buy the 4x4 ( around $8), the foam brush (less than $1) and the polyurethane ($8-10) you are still spending a lot less than the $348 for the other pair. If you have all the supplies on hand then it would be free :) Cut the untreated 4x4 into two 6 inch sections.
Use a jigsaw to cut a chunk out of one edge on each of the 4x4s. Angle the guard on the jigsaw and it will be much easier to cut.
I should have taken the time to sand them at this point. But I was excited to get out the heat gun. I ended up sanding later. I put the digital heat gun up to the hottest temp of 1020 degrees. I found that the second setting was better. If I had it on three, it blew all over and the heat was not as concentrated. If you are going to hold the 4x4 while heating it, you should wear thick leather gloves. I just sat mine on the metal desk top and heated it so I didn't have to touch it.
(I used a metal work surface for this project and just put it on the white table for the photoshoot)
The next step is optional. I wanted the wood to catch fire a little just along the edges. I wanted the cracks that come from wood being burned. The heat gun never caught it on fire. It just blackened it. Which I guess is a good thing if you think about it! I grabbed a lighter and carefully went along the edges. When the wood caught on fire it was a super tiny flame and was easily blown out. The lighter would never have been able to blacken the 4x4 all over beautifully, but it served it purpose to char the edges.
Keep using the heat gun until you get the amount of blackened wood you want. Allow them to completely cool. When it has cooled down it is time to seal the wood. Sealing the wood with polyurethane not only protects the wood and keeps the black from rubbing off, but it also brings out the rich red color of the wood. Pour the amount you think you will need into a plastic container. You don't want to contaminate the rest of the poly by dipping your brush into the whole can. I considered covering it in resin since I have some on hand and am familiar on how to do it. But I decided against it because I wanted the tutorial to be simple so more people would want to do it. If you do want to use resin you would need to build a box out of something smooth (like plexiglass), coat the sides with petroleum jelly, place the wood inside, and add the resin in layers according to the instructions on the box of resin. Once all the resin is hardened and cured, you should be able to take off the plexiglass or the container you used because of it being coated with the jelly.
I did two coats of polyurethane and I love how it has a bit of a shine!
This is just one of the many uses for the heat gun. To see more projects and ideas visit my blog!
Please login to post a comment.
Ready To Get Your Digital Temperature Heat Gun?