Introduction: How to Make a Wooden Flip-Flop Paper Weight / Notepad Holder

This instructable covers how to make an easily replicated wooden flip-flop paper weight / post-it note holder. They make great gifts for friends and cute desk ornaments. 

Show off your woodworking skills by making one yourself :]

Difficulty: Beginning - Intermediate

A good project to gain experience with band saws and to learn the concept behind router templates

What you'll need:

Flip-flop
Paper, pencil, sharpie
Clamp
Three 3/4 inch screws (and a matching bit)
Drill
Band saw (or a reciprocating saw)
Sandpaper (80 grit or 100 grit)
Router
Wood for a template (roughly 1/2 inch thick)
Wood for the flip-flop (around 3/4 inch to 1 inch thick)
Cloth for straps (a nylon dog leash works well and can be picked up for a few bucks)
Glue
Adhesive notepad (Post-its)

Optional:
Adhesive felt pads
Steel wool and finer grit sand paper
Wood stain or lacquer

Ready? Let's begin

Step 1: Trace a Flip-flop

Get a sheet of paper
Place flip-flop on top
Hold it steady with one hand while you trace its perimeter

There will probably be an area that curves in slightly. Take note of where that occurs

 Clean up the tracing

After removing the flip-flop, take a quick look and make sure the form is clear and that you haven't missed any spots. Notice how I marked gently where the curvature occured.

 

Step 2: Xerox the Sketch to Scale It Down

Your original sketch is probably too big to sit on your desk without taking up a lot of space. Rather than redraw the entire thing, use a xerox machine to scale down the image. Mine was scaled down to 73% using one of the machine's built in settings. Choose something that looks appropriate for you.

After xeroxing the image, I traced it with a sharpie and labeled where the straps met the base

(After shrinking the image, I thought the form looked a little long. To compensate, I used a pencil to shorten the length about half an inch then traced over it in sharpie)

Step 3: Shade Over the Image From the Backside

Remember that pencil trick they taught you in Kindergarten? The one where you shade in the backside of your paper and trace over your old lines? That's what we're going to do here.

I dislike cutting out forms with scissors and then trying to trace them over wood. It gets sloppy and distorts the form. Instead, we're going to use the pencil trick to transfer the exact image.

Flip over the paper to the side without markings. You should be able to see the sharpie ink through the paper. Using your pencil, shade over the lines of your flip-flop.

We will transfer this image to the template. But first, we need some wood.

Step 4: Pick the Wood for the Template

The piece of wood used for the template doesn't need to be big. It doesn't even need to be pretty. However, it must be flat and have a uniform thickness.

I grabbed this piece of 1/2 inch baltic birch from the scrap box. As you can see, there is an ugly spot, but this can be ignored as it will only be used for the template for the flip-flop. With a template, we can easily mass produce our flip-flop or start over if we make a mistake.

Step 5: Transfer the Image From the Paper to the Wood

Place the piece of paper (original markings facing up) onto the chosen piece of wood. Using your pencil, trace over the form of the flip-flop, making sure to press down with a reasonable amount of force.

Remember, the bottom side of the paper has a bunch of graphite smeared over it now and the goal is to get it to rub off onto the wood.

When you are finished, it should look something like this. You can trace over the image on the wood lightly with a pencil to darken it and make it easier to see.

Step 6: Cut Out the Template

Using a bandsaw, follow your markings and cut out the flip-flop. Try to trace along your markings as closely as possible without digging into the form. Take your time and be meticulous about these cuts.

(If you do not own a band saw, you may use a reciprocating saw.
If you do not own a reciprocating saw, further trim the template and then use a disk sander grind away the excess)

I chose to use a band saw because it provides a level surface and it is easy to manipulate the position of the wood

After you have finished cutting out the flip-flop, quickly compare it with the original and make sure there are no large areas you forgot to remove. It is much easier to remove them with the saw now than it will be when sanding later.

Step 7: Sand the Edges of the Template

Now that you've cut out your flip-flop template, you'll probably notice a few areas that are jagged. If you let this be, your final flip-flop will have those same jagged edges.

Take this moment to clean up the edges with sandpaper. Use something rougher if the saw marks are deep. Eighty grit should be fine for most marks unless your template is made of a hard wood.

Remember to sand evenly. Hit all of the sides and make sure to keep the paper flat against the wood, or you'll make it curved.

Making this template is important because all of your flip-flops will be copied from it.

Step 8: Drill Three Holes Into the Template

You will need to fix your template to a piece of wood in order to trace its shape later on. This will be accomplished using a router.

To bind the template to the flip-flop-to-be, we will use screws. Drill three holes through the template forming a triangle shape. It doesn't matter where you do it, as long as you stay away from the edges and away from the areas where the strap will connect to the flip-flop.

Now, we need some wood for the actual flip-flops

Step 9: Choose the Wood for the Flip-flops-to-be

Again, these flip-flops will be small, so a scrap that is 3/4 to 1 inch in thickness and looks nice (on at least one side) is adequate. No need to run to Home Depot and buy a big board.

I grabbed this piece of cherry from my scrap box. It'll be enough to make one flip-flop.

Try to pick a piece that has a uniform thickness. This will avoid the hassle of having to run it through a jointer or thickness planer to level it out.

This wood should be flat, or very close to it or your final flip-flop will be crooked. It will also be harder to use the router on a piece that does not sit flat.

Step 10: Secure the Template to the Flip-flop-to-be

On the piece of wood you've chosen, find the area that looks the best. Remember that spot and flip the wood over. Place the template on top of that spot. Clamp the template to it.

Find three screws that will pass through the entire thickness of the template and penetrate (but not pass through) the second piece of wood.

Drill the screws in, securing the two pieces of wood together firmly. Don't worry about screwing up the look of the wood. We flipped it over, remember? Trace the template onto the flip-flop-to-be and remove the clamp, but not the screws.

Use a band saw to cut away more of the excess, but be VERY CAREFUL not to cut into your template. Cutting about a centimeter away from the perimeter of the template should be appropriate. This way, you don't risk damaging your tempate, but you won't have to work as hard on the router.

If you are wondering how I got from picture 2 of this step to picture 3, read below. Else, skip

(In order to avoid damaging my template, I unclamped it and trimmed off most of the wood's excess with the band saw. Then, I clamped them back together and secured them with screws. I would not recommend doing this, as it is harder to see your pencil markings than your template, and easier to cut your wood too small, rendering it useless)
 

Step 11: Cut Out the Flip-flop Using a Router

The beautiful thing about the router is that it allows us to reproduce the same shape as many times as we want.

Remember how much time you spent sanding the edges of that template? Now your hard work will pay off.

Use the router to trace the edges of the template and cut away the excess from the piece of wood that it is bound to. When you believe you have removed all of the excess, unscrew the template from the flip-flop and face the side with the holes down. Ah, yes. It's the pretty side you chose earlier.

Note: Be careful on the end grain. You will notice later that I tried to take off the end grain too quickly and damaged my piece. This can happen very easily with hard woods if you are not careful. If this happens, don't sweat it. You have the template. Make a new one

Step 12: Optional: Fine Tune the Curvature, Sand, and Stain

Technically, the form is complete. But we don't want an ugly finished product, do we? Let's make it pretty.

Remember how we traced the area where the flip-flop began to curve in? Using either a rasp and file, or lower grit sandpaper, you may wear away along that edge until the form of the flip-flop becomes more curved.

This is also a good time to sand your flip flop. There are probably a number of burn marks along the edges of the flip flop. Starting with something rough (80 grit), sand out the burn marks and follow up with some smoother grits of sand paper.

Use a stain or a lacquer to make the wood come to life. I used both. Two or three coats of each should do. Use some steel wool to polish it up.
 

Step 13: Optional: Add Sticky Feet

Now, depending on whether or not you really used a flat piece of wood for the flip-flop, it may or may not wobble. Nevertheless, you have those ugly screw holes from when the flip-flop was secured to its template. Here's your chance to kill two birds with one stone. Slap on three adhesive felt feet. It will prevent any splinters from scratching smooth surfaces, prevent your slipper from wobbling, and hide those ugly screw holes.

Step 14: Add the Straps

Cut out two pieces of nylon strap. Fold the shorter piece onto itself with the longer piece sandwiched perpendicularly in between it.

Dab a little hot glue inside to keep it from falling apart. Pinch it to give it a narrow shape. The finished product should be shaped like a T.

Line up the three ends of the strap with the three points marked earlier indicating where they should connect to the flip-flop. Connect the straps to the appropriate points using little dabs of hot glue.

Optional: If you are worried that the straps will pop off, punch a thin, short nail (1/2 inch) through each strap to secure it firmly. Note however that by using nails, you risk splitting your wood or punching the nail all of the way through.

Step 15: Add the Notepad

There should be a nice open space between the straps where one's heel might normally rest. Put a little hot glue on the bottom of a notepad and attach it to that spot.

Step 16: Show It Off / Give It Away / Make Another One

You're finished! Give one to your mother! Give one to your co-worker! Give one to your ex-girlfriend!

But wait, you only have one. What do you do? It's simple! Just take that template (you saved it, right?) and fix it onto a new piece of wood. Repeat steps 10-15 and you'll have another flip-flop, almost identical in form. Pretty easy, huh? Aren't routers great?

Step 17: End Notes

This instructable was inspired by the first thing I ever made in a woodshop, a very similar pen-holder project. That project was designed by my shop instructor and to be created using only basic hand tools and a disk sander.

It's difficult to begin building things when you don't have experience and don't know how to start. Even if you obtain the necessary materials, how would you know what to do with them? My advice? Find someone to help you and guide you through the process.

Hopefully, this instructable inspires someone else to learn a new skill or to follow something he or she is passionate about.

A short thank you to my shop instructors, for having the patience to teach me such a difficult, but rewarding craft

Comments

author
Fredy21 made it! (author)2014-01-01

I'm itching to make one now...Thanks for the inspiration.

author
playfulplans made it! (author)2011-03-09

Nice work and clever idea.

I note you addressed the "why" here: "A good project to gain experience with band saws and to learn the concept behind router templates"

and here: This instructable covers how to make an easily replicated wooden flip-flop paper weight / post-it note holder. They make great gifts for friends and cute desk ornaments.

and here: all of Step 17

author
Mr. Potato Head made it! (author)2011-02-18

That definitely covers the "how" part. How 'bout a companion piece devoted to "why"?

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