This is an update of a how-to I did for the now-long-gone alt.gothic.fashion zine 2.0. It covers basic hairstick fabrication, painting/finishing and decoration methods. You can make beautiful, sturdy, designer/funky hair sticks for a fraction of the cost of pretty but friable plastic sticks, and they are easily made of found objects and household items, with minimal tools, and minimal skills.

For the moment, it is illustrated with my own old sketches from the article, but I plan to replace these with clearer vector graphics as soon as I can. Photos are all of sticks I've made and used, or sticks made for others. Some are still going strong after 8 years.

Step 1: Materials and Tools

Wooden sticks:

  • dowels
  • pencils
  • thick skewers
  • straight sticks
  • chopsticks - old chipped lacquered ones, disposable ones, half sets, etc.


  • colored nailpolish -cheap ones are especially good for this, as are colors you like but don't wear
  • Paints - any paint that can be covered by a clear gloss without peeling or chipping easily. Thick acrylics or matte finish paints are not recommended, but super thin acrylics, airbrush paints, modeling paints, spray paint, etc work great.
  • Clear, glossy nailpolish or clear glaze, clear spray gloss is fine.
  • Food coloring or watercolors to stain the wood if you want
  • wood filler or epoxy for filling any splits or dents.


  • Ribbons, cut strips of fabric, shoelaces, yarn, cords..
  • jewels, stones, small shells, buttons, felted beads
  • little plastic toys, knicknacks, party favors
  • decals or low-profile stickers
  • Wire - I use jewelry wire, but I've also used recycled electrical wires, floral wire, armature wire, etc.
  • glue - something appropriate to the purpose - ribbons are fine with thin cyanoacrylate glues, but heavier or irregular objects need epoxy or resin glues, or jewelry adhesive to withstand use
  • decorative garlands, strung beads, old jewelry
  • fabric paint for decorating ribbons or fabric dangles
  • whatever you can think of

Necessary Tools

  • Saw or pruning shears - for trimming your sticks
  • Pencil sharpener - for the pointy bit
  • Sandpaper or nailfile - for smoothing the surfaces
  • xacto knifeor whittling knife - alternate method of making pointy bit
  • pliers for shaping wire decorations
  • Cotton swabs for stain application
  • clothespins and line or
  • Lump of modeling clay, floral foam or small bucket of sand/rice/etc - for holding the sticks while they dry or while glues set
<p>Are disposable chopsticks made of bamboo? I'm wondering because I want to try to stain them with wood stain, but the grain of bamboo is much tighter and less porous than most other woods, so I don't know if it'll take the stain. <br><br>Also, here's another idea: if you have a Dremel, you could drill little holes in the tops to attach objects on a string. Or you could screw tiny eye screws into the tops (I found some super tiny, very cheap ones in the jewelry-making section of the craft store). Then you could string whatever you want through the eye. </p>
<p>Great question! Not all chopsticks (disposable or otherwise) are made of bamboo. </p><p>Bamboo will stain, but does take stain differently. You can take advantage of this for different effects. The only way to know how it'll come out is to experiment.</p><p>I have used the tiny eye screws, but, you must pre-drill or the stick can fracture from stress.</p>
Makes sense. That's just what I was thinking. Another use for my Dremel! I got myself one for my birthday, unsure of whether or not I'd find a ton of uses for it, but man, I use it constantly. <br><br>I do like the idea of making them look antiqued or stressed in some way. But I suppose the final coat of finish will have to be nice and smooth and solid so they don't get tangled up in the hair. I have some polyurethane spray that might work for that.
Those look sweet! I've never been able to keep them in my hair while dancing, though- any tricks?
You don't push them straight through the bun. A stick will hold your hair better than anything else while dancing if your hair is long enough. The trick is to put it through the bun, so the stick is pushing down on the outer edge of the bun, but pulling up on the hair in the middle. Hmm, instuctable topic perhaps.
I logged in (in fact I joined) especially to say that <strong>pluralmolecule</strong> is correct. If you're using hair sticks correctly, they hold more firmly than, well, anything.<br> <br> The reason I found this tutorial is because <strong>I'm looking for hair stick ideas for a pair I'm making to wear to Disneyland.</strong> Yeah, Disneyland. Yeah, I'm going on the E-ticket rides. The reason I'm wearing hair sticks there is because they so <strong>reliably do not slip out.</strong> Elastic can't compare.<br> <br> Also, in my experience, slick and arrow-straight hair sticks hold fine. Shaping them really shouldn't be necessary. It's entirely how they're inserted into the hair, and if your hair is long enough to make a bun, it's long enough to firmly hold a hair stick. The trick is in the tension and traction you create.<br> <br> <strong>You have to reverse direction during the insert.</strong> Using two mirrors, one in back so you can see what's going on behind your head, is helpful until you're practiced.<br> <br> 1. Make a loose bun and hold it with your left hand (or right, if you're left-handed). (If your bun is too tight, you'll know it, because your scalp will protest your attempting to rip it from your skull.)<br> <br> 2. Insert the stick <strong>under</strong> the bun (or if your hair is very long, you can insert it under the top-most roll of the bun) from the bottom right (or bottom left if you're left-handed).<br> <br> 3. Push the stick through <strong>half</strong> of the bun, poking the pointed end out through the center of the bun.<br> <br> 4. Lift the end of the stick you're holding, flipping the top of the bun back towards your head, until it's lightly pressed to your head.<br> <br> 5. Position the pointed tip behind the bun, where the top left was until you flipped it. (The top right if you're left-handed.)<br> <br> 6. Slide down, from top left to bottom right (or top right to bottom left, if you're left-handed) until the stick is in position.<br> <br> There are a number of videos that illustrate this on YouTube. Some are better than others. My favorite has been deleted so unfortunately I can't post it. :( Also, it's really easy to modify a French twist to use hair sticks, the process is similar and there are tutorials for that on YouTube, too.
<em>Hmm, instuctable topic perhaps.</em><br/>Indeed- with video!<br/>
<a rel="nofollow" href="http://www.bazner.com/index.php?target=pages&amp;page_id=video">http://www.bazner.com/index.php?target=pages&amp;page_id=video</a><br/>
It's very helpful not to wash your hair too much!!! I used to wash it every day and they never worked for me either. Now that I wear it up nearly all the time, I wash it less and the hair sticks work great!
I bet if you wrapped one of those clear hair elastics around the section in your hair, you would get more traction. When my hair is long I always insert hairsticks at a 45 to 90 degree angle then angle back out once I find my scalp. Good Luck! These make me want to grow my hair out again!
Try making them shaped so they hold better - shape the stick inward about 2 inches above the point, for at least 4 inches (3 if the stick is short), then out again. I need to make a picture of that, because it really helps.
Wow, this makes me want to start wearing my hair in a way that would allow me to use some. They look amazing!
Thanks so much for this instructable. It's given' me some good ideas of things to use and what I'd like to do! Thanks a bunch! :)
Excellent Instructible!
This is the best video I've seen on how to use hairsticks: directions for french twist, basic knot, long hair, and short:<br/><a rel="nofollow" href="http://www.bazner.com/index.php?target=pages&amp;page_id=video">http://www.bazner.com/index.php?target=pages&amp;page_id=video</a><br/>
Also, I saw this instructable on high-gloss polishing:<br/><a href="https://www.instructables.com/id/Appling-a-Mirror-Finish-by-hand/">https://www.instructables.com/id/Appling-a-Mirror-Finish-by-hand/</a><br/><br/>This is an excellent way to make nice smooth hairsticks. Painted or stained ones should still be sealed, but this will give you a nice professional finish.<br/>

About This Instructable




Bio: Artist, craftswoman, reenactor, costumer, mom, geek, nerd, gamer, designer. Love building props and costumes and lots of other things for fun, have gotten to do ... More »
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