Handmade Wood Tree Branch Shelf DIY

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Handmade Wood Tree Branch Shelf DIY

My favorite homemade Christmas gift this year was this handmade wood tree branch shelf that my son made for me. I actually had discovered a similar handmade white birch forest wall shelf via etsy and pointed out to my son how awesome it was and that I’d love to have one made for me. He didn’t disappoint. It’s perfect for holding a few books and knick knacks. I added a felt rose brooch I had to the tree branches to personalize it and give it a pop of color. I think these would look super cute with several of these grouped together either in a square format or stacked vertically.

To make your own you’ll need two 18″ L x  3.5″ W boards for the top and bottom of the shelf and one 10.5″ L x 3.5″ W for the side. (You can probably get a large home improvement store to cut the boards for you if you don’t have access to a power saw of some type.) Then cut an assortment of three tree branches so they are 10.5″ tall and piece it all together with a bit of wood glue and finishing nails. Customize the final look by staining or painting the wood to suit.

For more great home accessory and home decor ideas that you can buy as well as DIY, be sure to follow my For the Home board on Pinterest.

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DIY Soap Cutter – A Simple Guide for Cutting Your Soap into Bars

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How to Make a Soap Cutter - DIY Soap Cutting Guide for Homemade Soap

If you’re looking for a way to consistently cut your homemade soap loaves into bars so that they the same size every time, then you need a soap cutter! There’s no need to purchase expensive equipment to do this, especially if you’re just starting out. Instead, craft your own handmade diy soap cutter.

How to Make a Soap Cutter - DIY Soap Cutting Guide for Homemade Soap

The measurements for this soap cutter are made to pair up with my tutorial on how to make wooden loaf soap molds. It can be used for both melt and pour glycerin soap and homemade cold process soaps. To get started you’ll need either craft wood or plywood that is 3/4″ thick, some screws, wood glue, an electric screwdriver and a saw in order to make your cuts. If you aren’t able to cut your own wood, you may be able to find a friend, neighbor or parent to give you a hand. (My dad made mine for me.) I have also heard that if you purchase wood from Lowe’s that they will cut to your specifications.

How to Make a Handmade Soap Cutter DIY

The two sides of your soap cutter should be cut to measure 6 1/2″ long by 5″ high. The bottom piece to your soap cutter will need to measure 6 3/4″ long by 3 1/2″ wide. The front stop – which keeps your soap from sliding out to ensure bars are all cut the same size – should measure 5″ long by 2″ high.

Assemble your soap cutter so that the bottom fits in between the two sides. The sides should rest flat on the surface with the bottom in between. Apply wood glue to hold the sides together and clamp until dry. Then put several screw into the side for extra hold. Now glue the front stop to the front of the soap cutter and screw in. Finally, use a saw to cut guides down the two sides and slightly into the bottom piece of wood. These cuts determine the size of your bars. About 3/4″ in make standard size bars in width. Make the cuts further out – 1″ or more – for thicker bars. Make sure the cuts are wide enough that the tool of your choice you’ll be using for cutting will fit into these slits. I use a Chef’s knife to cut my soaps with this soap cutting guide.

Making homemade cold process soap for the first time? Be sure to check out my DIY Soapmaking Tutorial as well as my Beginner Cold Process Soap Recipe.

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How to Make A Wooden Cold Process Loaf Soap Mold

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How to Make a Wooden Loaf Soap Mold for Cold Process Soap Plus Where to Buy Lye

I’ve had some people ask me how to make a basic wooden loaf soap mold for cold process soap, so I thought I’d share a tutorial on how to make your own soap molds. This wooden cold process loaf soap mold is so easy to make and it will last forever. My dad is handy with wood and power tools so he made me a bunch of these, however, if you don’t own power tools, it’s possible to get the pieces for the molds cut at no charge.

DIY Wood Soap Mold for Cold Process Soap - How to Make Your Own Loaf Soap MoldsEach of these homemade cold process soap molds will hold approximately 2.75 lbs. of (cured) soap and will make approximately 10-12 4oz. bars depending on how large you cut them. If you’re having trouble figuring out how much your soap will weigh once cured, my average recipe for one of these molds uses 36oz.  in oils & butters (fats) prior to adding the lye/water, and fragrance.

How to Make a Wooden Soap Mold - Measurements and Instructions - Works for Cold Process and Melt & Pour Soap when Lined - Plus Where to Buy LyeTo create one mold you’ll need to use wood that is 1/2″ thick. I used craft wood from Lowe’s. I have been told that if you are buying wood that an associate at Lowe’s will cut it down into the dimensions you use if you ask. For the two long sides, you’ll need to cut two pieces of wood that measure 12″ x 4″. The two short sides should be cut to 3 1/2″ x 4″ and the bottom piece of the mold should be cut to 3 1/2″ x 11″. The final dimensions of the soap mold will measure (from the outside) 12″ Long x 4 1/2″ Wide x 4″ High.

You’ll need to use wood clamps and wood glue to assemble your mold as pictured above. The two short sides fit on the inside of the two longer sides to form a rectangle and the bottom piece of the mold fits on the inside bottom of the mold. Use glue and clamps to hold the pieces together until dry. If you don’t have clamps or want to add extra reinforcement, you can use a cordless screwdriver to place screws where the sides connect.

Making a lid for these is optional. Honestly I’ve never needed to use a fancy lid as cutting cardboard to fit on top of the molds works just fine during the curing process. I simply place cardboard on the top of the filled mold and then cover with towels to insulate during the 24 hour saponification period.

How to Line a Wooden Soap Mold for Cold Process SoapLining your soap molds before use is essential to being able to get your soap out of the mold. If you don’t line your mold, your soap will get stuck. I used to cut parchment paper to line my molds as demonstrated in this the same process that this tutorial by Inner Earth blog uses with contact paper. Basically you fold the paper in a way that is similar to wrapping a present but with an open top. However, parchment paper and contact paper can be expensive and the process for lining molds this way can be tedious and time consuming especially if you are making multiple or large batches at once. Because of this, and due to the stiffness and occasional pain in my hands from the fibro, I use trash bags to line my molds. If you’re practical and don’t mind a few minor creases on the sides and bottom of your soap, then this method may be the one for you.

I got this ideas from another local soapmaker who I used to sell alongside at our local Farmer’s Market. She used large 20 gallon kitchen trash bags to line her molds, then once she unmolded the soaps, she’d re-use the trash bags for actual trash. (Plus the soap gave them a nice, fresh scent.) What I use are thin, clear office trash bags. I bought a huge box of 1000 10 gallon light duty commercial trash bags to line my molds with as they a lot less expensive than parchment paper and can be used again for my office trash. (They are super cheap at Sam’s Club and office supply stores.) To line a mold I simply unfold the bag – but don’t open it – press it into the mold and then tape the outer edges where the bag folds over the outside of the mold to keep it in place. This method is gentle on hands and super quick. I can now line all nine of my molds in 5 minutes or less. Of course, how you choose to line your molds is personal preference. I recommend doing whatever works best for you.

Once your soap has set you simply lift the soap from the mold and peel off the liner, cut into bars and allow to cure a minimum of 3-4 weeks.

To use these molds for melt and pour glycerin soap, simply line with trash bags as indicated for cold process soap.

Looking for lye?

On a side note, I wanted to share with you where to buy sodium hydroxide (lye) for making your soap. You used to be able to buy Roebic brand lye from Lowe’s. 2lb. ran $8.99. Several months ago I noticed that their price for a 2lb. container of Roebic lye had gone up to $16. Recently, they stopped carrying it all together. I imagine this has something to do with the illegal meth labs that seem to be sprouting up everywhere. Therefore what I recommend is to look in your local yellow pages for a local chemical supply company. I am lucky enough to have one in my hometown called ChemSolv. ChemSolv sells 99% pure sodium hydroxide (which is suitable for soapmaking) in 55lb. bags. These bags with tax – in case you don’t have a resale license – runs $38 and change. They currently have locations in Roanoke, VA (my hometown), Colonial Heights, VA, Piney Flats, TN and Rock Hill, SC. I purchase what they call caustic soda beads.

If you don’t have a chemical supply store near you, you can buy 2lb. containers of Food Grade Sodium Hydroxide from Amazon. Even with shipping, these containers run cheaper than 2lb. containers of Roebic brand lye from Lowe’s – assuming your store still carries it. Plus, currently if buy 5 2lb. containers of lye, you receive $5 off your purchase. You can also find Potassium Hydroxide Flakes for liquid soapmaking available through the same company through Amazon with the same deal. Other brands of lye you can use include Red Hot Devil Lye Caustic Soda Beads and RED CROWN High Test Lye.

If you are just venturing into making homemade soap and want to learn how to make soap, be sure to visit my DIY Cold Process Soapmaking Tutorial. Or if you’re looking for skin conditioning bar of handmade soap, check out my Skin Loving Natural Cold Process Soap Recipe. (It will fit into one of the wooden soap molds described above but will make large square bars – about 5 1/2oz. – 6oz. each – rather than rectangular bars of soap.)

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DIY Valentine’s Day Gift Idea – Personalized Handmade Name Custom Name Sign

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Want to give a special, personalized gift for Valentine’s Day this year? Create a custom handmade name sign for someone special in your life! My son, Cody, made a personalized name sign for a girl he knows at school. Here’s how he did it.
DIY Valentine's Day GIft Idea - Personalized Handmade Name Sign
Start by selecting a piece of wood that is around 3/4″ to 1 1/2″ thick. This will allow your name sign to stand on it’s own on a surface or at the top of a door or window frame. This is a great use for any scrap wood you may have on hand. Then draw your design onto the piece of wood you’ve chosen to use. Next, carefully cut out the name using a jigsaw.
DIY Handmade GIft Idea - Personalized Handmade Custom Name Sign
Once you’ve cut out the letters for your sign, you may want to sand the edges so there are no rough edges.
DIY Woodworking Craft Project - Personalized Handmade Custom Name Sign - DIY Valentine's Day Gift Idea
Once you’ve cut out and sanded the sign, it’s time to decorate it. Cody opted to stain the sides and the back of his sign.
DIY Woodworking Craft Project - Personalized Hand Painted Custom Name Sign - DIY Valentine's Day Gift Idea
For the front of the sign, Cody applied purple, gray and white non-toxic acrylic paints. He painted the bottom base of the sign with gray paint and the letters of the name with purple paint.
DIY Valentine's Day Craft Project - Homemade Gift Idea - Personalized Wooden Name Sign
Finally he painted around the edges of the letters with white paint and added a row of dots in white paint to the base of the sign. Who would you make a personalized name sign for?
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