Copper Pipe Hi-Fi Shelf

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The steel pipe fixture craze was cool, but sometimes over-kill for small spaces and also fittings can get expensive. If you’re looking for a smaller scale shelf, love the look of copper and playing with fire… here’s your DIY.

My friend (and W&F alumni), Ali Brislin, was in need of a small shelf setup for her Hi-Fi. She’d looked at some vintage cabinets, but nothing was perfect. I’d told her of my idea for a simple copper pipe shelf unit and she was intrigued. Since we have a very similar aesthetic, she trusted me and agreed to accept whatever creation was in my head. I tried to sketch it out, but nothing beats filling a basked full of copper fittings and just going for it.

Part of the fun here is playing with a torch. You’ll want to review some how-to videos on sweating copper pipe. It’s pretty easy to do, but seriously an art form when done by an experienced plumber. There’s a lot steps involved to make it clean and water-tight, however, since we won’t be using it for a pressured water supply, you can make it a little messy. With practice it’ll look better and better with each fitting.

Tools involved are a propane torch, solder and flux (or instant solder), pipe cutter or hacksaw, sandpaper, measuring tape, sharpie marker. You’ll need some half-inch copper pipe, plenty of fittings and some boards.

  • six t-fittings and eight elbow fittings
  • six 14” cut copper
  • six 1.5” cut copper
  • two 7.5” cut copper
  • two 5.5” cut copper
  • one 28” cut copper (determines your width)
  • wood to create two 14”x30” shelves

The first step is to cut all your copper pipe down into pieces using the pipe cutter. This can also be done with a hack-saw, but for the cost, a pipe cutter is a cheap investment. The cut list I’ve provided will be plenty large enough for a vintage receiver and more, but it can always be customized for your own needs.

After all parts are cut, test fit everything. Make sure all your fittings are correct, then disassemble and prep your pipes by cleaning/sanding all the fitting areas. Once prepped, add your flux (or instant solder formula) and re-assemble. I soldered things in sections, and that might make more sense unless you have lots of clamps and a metal bench to do everything at once. I soldered up the sides, leaving the cross piece loose until the end, so it can be assembled square. Copper does bend easily, but it’s always good to have your pieces square before forcing into shape later.

Once the assembly is done and cooled, I drilled some mounting holes for wall attachment. For strength purposes, I drilled though fittings. Also, since copper is soft, use washers on your mounting screws where necessary. Four screws were enough going into a thick plywood backed wall, but if you don’t have that, try and find a stud.

Lastly, it’s time to slide your shelf boards into the frame. You can drill through the copper to screw your boards in place, but I decided to just leave them loose. There’s not much danger at Ali’s house of them being knocked. Once the stereo is in place, put on your favorite records and load the rest of your shelf up with plants and tchotchkes!

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Key Sleeve DIY

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In my pursuit to cover everything in leather, here’s a fun and frivolous one. It looks cool, requires almost no material and is quite simple. PURE KEY LUXURY.

You’ll need a small scrap of leather, I’m using some from our bag production. It’s from SB Foot / Red Wing and about 4.5oz weight. Also some waxed thread, a couple needles, a hole punch, scissors, straight edge and an awl.

I’ve created a downloadable template with a design that should work for most house keys. If you’ve got something different, or want to really wrap to the profile, you can draw something up custom. Have fun with it… Would be cool to wrap an alarm fob or something too.

Print out the template, and cut it out with scissors. Use the template to trace on your piece of leather with a needle or awl. Once traced, cut the leather with a straight edge and knife, or heavy scissors. Next, punch the holes for stitches with a punch or #00 size tube. Punch the keyring cutout with a #6.

Stitch together with the double needle method that I’ve shown here. You can put it in a stitch pony, or hold by hand. It’s a little more precarious, but can be done with some patience. After stitching, you can wax the leather edges with a little bees wax to smooth it and you’re ready.

For those who don’t have time to stitch, we’ve done something interesting this time and are releasing our own key sleeve at the very same time as the DIY. You can make your own, or check ours out in the store.

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Simple Strap Planter

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Since we’ve moved into a larger workshop, there’s so much more room to breathe. As a side-effect, new plants keep showing up. Beth, one of our designers, came up with a sharp idea to make a svelte plant hanger DIY. Using some leather straps, some brass hardware and a terra cotta pot, this is what she came up with.

Assemble your parts – you’ll need three Chicago screws, a long strap of leather, a loop for the hanging point, a terra cotta pot. For tools, gather a drill, masonry bit, leather punch, water jug, scissors, and leather dye if necessary.

You’ll need to cut your leather strap to 48″ long and a width of half an inch. This makes a long, dramatic hanger, but can also be cut to whatever length you need. Beth decided to dye the leather edges to keep it cleanly all black. If you’re going for a natural look or using a lighter leather, you can skip the dye.

Next, grab your drill and a masonry bit and some water to drill out slots into your planter. It is helpful to have a friend pour some water during the drilling – it keeps the dust down and seems to help the bit cut cleaner. Drill two holes next to each other and then you can steadily push the drill bit into the side and cut through the middle of your slot. It takes a little patience, and don’t put too much force on it at once, since the terra cotta can break. After both slots are drilled, rinse off the dust and bring it back inside to your bench.

Feed your leather strap though the slot and measure where you’d like the Chicago screw to be on the ends. These are about 3/4 inches from the slot. Add your hanging hardware to the strap (Beth chose a brass loop and ring combo from Oregon Leather Co.) and attach the other side to the pot. After both ends are attached to the pot, you can find the center point of the strap and add the third Chicago screw to secure the hanging loop.

Lastly, mount to your ceiling or a wall hook and get to plant shopping.

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Campfire Starters

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The season for campfires is upon us. Whether you’re in the forest or in your backyard, a simple DIY fire starter is super helpful. Tiandra, of the W&F family, is sharing her fire starter recipe today. Tiandra is a camping master and knows tons of simple tricks like this to prove it.

You’ll need an empty egg carton, about five handfuls of sawdust and some wax. Beeswax, paraffin or even discarded candles can work for this. Try looking for cheap candles at the thrift store or paraffin in your grocery store baking supply aisle.

Start with the empty egg carton and remove the lid. Fill the carton voids with sawdust and pack it down a bit. Heat up your wax over the stove using a double boiler method. Make sure you’re melting wax in a vessel that won’t be affected by the wax and will be easy to clean. Once the wax is melted completely, slowly pour over the sawdust and completely saturate. If it looks like wet oatmeal, you’re doing it right.

After drying, you’ve got a dozen little fire starters ready for your next burn. Carve some shavings to cover and then build your wood structure around it.

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camera mini-strap

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Here’s about the simplest strap you could make… but as with most of my DIYs on here, it was created out of a certain necessity. I recently purchased a solid pocket shooter – testing my theory that I might just take more photos if I had a smaller camera. The size is certainly more convenient, but I still am not used to having such a lack of grip. I didn’t want to use a long strap all the time, so I came up with this.

It provides just the right amount of handle, but still be very pocketable. You’ll need a small strip of pliable, yet strong leather. I’m using a small piece of the leather we use on our bags, from SB Foot tannery in Red Wing, Minnesota. About 4.5oz weight works really well for this.

Cut your piece into a 3/8″ strip, about 22 inches long. If you need a longer or shorter grip, adjust to your preference. One one end, we’ll use an oblong punch to create a slot – about 5/8″ from that end. I also cut that end at an angle for decoration.

On the opposite strap end, I thinned the overall width with a rolling blade and ruler. We’ll be tying an overhand knot here, and it looks more elegant with less weight. I thinned about 5.5″ length of this end, to have some overhang after tying the knot.

If your camera has loops like shown, you’re set. If you have a lugged camera, you can buy some small rings to attach first. Make sure your knots are big enough to keep from slipping through the rings. Or, if you’re using detachable rings, you can use the slotted end on both sides.

Feed your piece though the slotted end first, and smooth out the curve. Insert other end though the second ring and knot to the appropriate length. Then cut the overhang length to whatever looks/works best for you.

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Western Fringe Brogue DIY

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Most of the time, I feel like my style is straightforward. I try to be simple, but I have been known to veer to the dandy side with certain details. This DIY is going to be one of them. I grew up in Kansas and remember wearing lace up Justin Ropers about 20 years before UO carried the awkward knock-offs. The Justins were certainly more of a statement than my regular ropers, but I liked them… Especially when really worn in. I wore holes in them, had them resoled and they just got better.

Jump to present day and I’m wearing a pair of Red Wing Brogue Rangers. Somewhat fancy with the brogue details, but just the right amount. Then I’m goofing around on the internet and see a pair from Red Wing Amsterdam’s blog and knew I had to push it a little further. If you’re daring, maybe you’ll want to make them too.

I’m working with black boots, added brown laces and will use brown leather for the fringe. It’s a subtle contrast, but won’t jump out too much. Start with a small scrap of material, you’ll need only a 3x5inch piece to cut both. I even made you a download-able template. These are sized for a 9 boot, so you might need to modify the size for a larger or smaller boot.

You’ll need a sharp knife, cutting surface, an awl for tracing and a hole punch. Print the template out, and cut the outer shape. You don’t need to cut the details, instead just trace and mark them into the leather with the awl. Once the shapes are traced onto leather, cut the details out with a sharp knife, then mark your holes and other cuts with the awl. Lace holes are punched with a #6 tube. You can punch relief holes in the lace slits if you have a really small punch, but they’re not necessary.

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Compass Pouch DIY

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No one wants to get stranded outside in the winter, right? Here’s your chance to sew up a handy compass pouch before you embark on any winter treks. This idea was sparked after talking projects with Michael Williams from A Continuous Lean, who recently visited our shop. He’s published the full post here, and it’s incredibly exciting to be on ACL.

I don’t get too crazy on my adventuring these days, but there’s a few canoe spots near Portland that you could easily get confused and not realize where you put the boat in. Throw in some bad cell reception and maps won’t save you either. What’s a better way to not get lost? Having a compass and mini light on your belt should help. I made this with a small piece of Horween Chromexcel and some simple hardware. The template is provided and should snugly fit your AAA sized flashlight and a standard sized compass. I’m using a Suunto MC-2 and a Fenix E01.

Start by printing out the template file at 100%. It won’t fit on a single page, so you’ll need to select the tiling option and then add an inch of printing overlap. Tape the pieces together securely and trim them out. Find a piece of leather large enough to cut both panels from and trace them out with an awl or pencil. Be sure to mark all your inner holes indicated on the template as well.

Cut the pieces and punch the holes for snaps and the belt loop. I’m using a #3 sized punch tube. Once your parts are cut and inner holes punched, it’s time to mark your stitch holes.

Using a #5 overstitch wheel and a ruler, I marked location of all the stitch holes. Make sure to start at the bottom of each size in the same place, so when folded, your stitch locations will line up.

After marking the stitch holes, I like to punch them out instead of using an awl while stitching. It makes things a little easier and I can stitch faster this way. I’m using a hand-sewing leather punch, but you can also use regular tube style punch or even a thick awl.

Once every sewing hole is punched, you’ll need to assemble all the hardware parts. Add your snaps, then using copper rivets, you can attach the belt loop.

Now you’re ready to sew the pouch together. I’ve made some stitch ponies for the shop that we use, but you can easily purchase a simple one from leather hobby shops as well. The stitch pony will hold your pieces together securely, keep your holes lined up, and make sewing so much easier. The hand sewing method is detailed on my post here if you want to learn.

After stitching through your piece, give it a couple back stitches and tie off your threads inside. Then you’re ready to attach to your belt and get lost!

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Archer’s quiver DIY

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You’ll need some tools:
  • sewing machine
  • leather punch
  • rotary knife
  • ruler
  • cutting mat
  • rivet setting tools
You’ll need a few materials:
  • 8oz. strap leather
  • heavy canvas (vintage army tent here)
  • 5oz. garment leather
  • copper rivets

I took up archery not too long ago and realized it can be super relaxing when things get stressful. The bad news is, I’ve been pretty busy in the shop and haven’t shot much lately. However with all this shop time, I have been working on a quiver. When I finally do make it out to the range again, I won’t have to carry my arrows in a rubber band.

Here’s the instructions to make one for yourself. Like all my experiments on here, there’s lots of ways to do this, and modifications for your own use too. My plan went like this:

Start by cutting your main material into three parts for the body. Two pieces 6”x26” and one pocket piece at 6”x12”. Cut a piece of leather or other thicker material for the bottom at a dimension of 6”x7.5”.

Lay the pocket piece flipped and reversed onto one of the body panels and sew the bottom of the pocket to the body. Then flip the panel over into place. I added a top-stitch on as well to match the original army tent material’s construction. Sew your leather bottom panel to the bottom of the first body panel, and then the other size to the second body panel. I used tape to align panels before sewing. You can use double-sized tape too, if you want them stuck in place.

After all the panels are together, fold the panels in half, inside-out. Make sure your pocket is in the correct place and then clip or pin everything together. Sew down the side seams, stopping 2.5 inches from going all the way to the leather bottom. While still inside-out, make a tube and push the leather bottom seam to spread the open area and flatten and then sew a stitch perpendicular to the side seam. After sewn, cut the extra material off.

Last steps are to attach hardware to the quiver body. I used copper rivets, leather bits a d-ring and a small buckle to make strap attachment points. Where it attaches to the opening, I folded the end of the strap over, with a d-ring in the fold for extra utility. My strap is adjustable with the buckle at the other end, either hang on my belt loop when I’m shooting or over my shoulder when walking to the range.

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Knotted Keyring

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I was in the shop the other day and Jocelyn (of Beam&Anchor) said, “I love the long keychain thing that’s on the desk.” I realized later she was referring to the shape of the camera wrist strap, but that instantly put an idea in my head of making a key carry with a longer, maybe lanyard-like component.

So, I was playing in the shop with ideas and knots and leather scraps and leather lace and came up with a few attempts. Posting them on Instagram, I realized that folks might like one and why not do a DIY too?

It’s similar to the camera wrist strap, but with a twist. I wanted to get the ends on either side, while keeping a long loop in the middle, but having it tied flat with itself. The purpose of the loop is two-fold – one to be very visible when thrown in a bag or backpack, and two to be able to tie though a belt loop and stick in your pocket.

Start by cutting a 3 1/2″ piece of strap that’s 5/8″ wide. I’ve used a belt punch to round both ends, but you can trim with shears too. Punch a series of six holes that are large enough to easily feed your lace though.

Before lacing, feed a split-ring though the leather and fold in half. If you add the split ring later, you will mar up the leather. Once folded in half, you can start the lacing in the top left hole with a knot in the lace. Pull though to the knot. Turn the piece over and you’ll let the lace form the loop handle and come back up to the other side, top right hole. Once though there, you’ll spiral it down on one side, while creating horizontal loops on the other. These loops will wrap around your long handle segments and keep them flush and straight with the leather body. Once you pull it though the last hole, tie a knot at the very end and then tighten the whole assembly with all your extra forming more of the long loop.

You can customize with with more loops on the body, or a rivet like shown in the last pic, or use d-rings and feed split rings through them… Or any number of options.

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Folding Tripod Camp Stool

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You’ll need some tools:
  • Sander
  • Center-finder (optional, but helps)
  • Drill
  • Screwdriver
  • Small socket wrench to fit acorn nuts
  • Rags
  • Knife
You’ll need a few materials:
  • Three 1 1/8” Birch hardwood dowels - enough for three 24” pieces
  • One steel 2.75” bolt - UPDATED, the brass is too soft for structural stress
  • One 1.5” eyehole bolt
  • Two brass acorn nuts
  • Three brass washers
  • Three brass finishing washers
  • Three brass 1” wood screws (big enough not to slip through the finishing washer)
  • Finish - I used Osmo PolyX-Oil
  • Leather or other heavy material for seat

In honor of this month’s Design*Sponge theme of the outdoors, how about we build an old-fashioned camping stool? First of all, have you seen modern folding tripod stools? They are ugly as sin and your grandpa would be ASHAMED if you bought one. With the help of some hefty dowels, a little hardware and a piece of leather or heavy canvas – you’ll be sitting by the campfire in style. Also, the materials will only set you back about $25.

In addition, I’ve got to give proper respect to the super creative Kate Pruitt at Design*Sponge for sparking this idea… It’s great to work with her and the D*S crew.

Instructions:

1. Start by cutting your dowels to 24” or closest to that. I bought two 48” dowels, so each leg is about 23 7/8 after the saw blade’s share. Drill a hole completely through each one, 10.5” from the top of each leg. Find the center of each leg’s top, and drill a small pilot hole for your seat mounting screws. You’ll need this pilot hole to prevent your legs from splitting. Sand each of the legs smooth, and a little around the edge of the tops, and a good amount on each bottom to round it out more. It doesn’t have to be perfect, just make sure you don’t shorten any leg with too much rounding.

2. After the legs are cut, drilled and sanded, apply your choice of finish and set aside to dry. As they are drying, you can work on the seat material. I’m including a downloadable template for you to create your seat with. I chose leather because I have plenty of it around, but you could sew up a heavy canvas seat or any number of materials. Make sure it’s heavy and sufficiently reinforced since there will be a good amount of stress on each corner.

On one corner of the seat, I left a tab for the carry strap, but this is optional. Mine’s attached to a closure strap, which I recommend having regardless of a carry strap. It’ll keep your stool from popping open in storage or carrying. I edged my leather pieces and treated the smooth surfaces with carnauba wax.

3. Once the legs are dry, assemble the structure assembly by threading two of the legs together with the bolt, with the eyehole bolt in the middle. Use washers on both ends, and attach the acorn nut. I actually cut my bolt down a little bit with a hacksaw, so it fit close. You’ll need a little play in the assembly to move, but it shouldn’t be gaping. Once those two legs are secure, feed the eyehole bolt (which I cut down a little too) into the third leg and attach with a washer and acorn nut. Tighten both acorns securely with a socket wrench.

4. After the base is complete, attach your seat to each leg using a large finishing washer and the wood screw. Don’t over-tighten and strip out your holes, for you’ll need all the strength on these mounting points. After everything is secure, you can take a seat. The main bolt might bend a little to the stress, but that’s fine, it keep its bend permanently and that shape will aid in the folding-up state. Now you’re ready for your next campfire sitting in distinguished comfort.

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