I've said it before and I'll say it again- old musical organs are a treasure trove of usable parts and awesome bits. In this series of Instructables I've dissected an old organ, repurposed the rotary speaker inside, used the keyboard to control an Arduino synthesizer and even used some of the cabinet parts to dress up another small amplifier. This project will use the cool multi-colored toggle buttons from an organ to make a chunky, retro bracelet.
The cool looking buttons on old organs look like they'd be cool for using in other projects, but they are not that easy to reuse. They are usually electro-mechanical switches, actuating linkage rods to physically engage different parts of the organ. They look really neat, but they would take too much work to actually use them as switches.
I still couldn't bring myself to throw them away- they were too cool looking. I eventually decided to try making jewelry out of them and this is what I came up with.
Step 1: Removing and Preparing the Buttons
First the buttons had to be disassembled. They were mounted on steel rods in sets of four. The buttons were held in place with spring clips. I separated the buttons and removed all the hardware and excess plastic.
The separated buttons were a bit bulky, so I made a jig to hold them and run them through my table saw. I used two sided carpet tape to hold the buttons on the jig temporarily. I adjusted the fence of the saw to cut the buttons to the thickness I wanted and cut them. I carefully removed the cut buttons from the jig and removed as much of the tape and adhesive as possible. I sanded the roughness on the cut edges to prevent the buttons from scratching each other.
The adhesive from the two sided carpet tape is hard to remove. I tried alcohol first, but it started removing the ink from the buttons. I tried using dish detergent and a green Scotch pad, but the rough pad started to remove the ink as well. I ended up using dish detergent and my finger tip to gently work all the left over adhesive loose. I rinsed all the detergent from the buttons and let them dry completely.
Step 2: Creating a PVC Base
I wanted to create a solid bracelet, so I needed a base to attach the buttons to. I cut a ring from a scrap of 4" thin walled sewer pipe (NOT used!). This ring was too big, so I trimmed about 2.5" from it's circumference. I used a heat gun to soften the plastic and put it inside a piece of 3" inside diameter pipe to cool. It came out much closer to the size I needed with enough left over to trim it exactly later.
Step 3: Fitting and Attaching the Buttons
I used the piece of 3" inside diameter pipe with a bit of sand paper taped to it to sand a slight curve in the bottom of the buttons so they would sit flat on the curved bracelet base. I marked out a few buttons on the base with a pencil as a glue guide. I started about 1/2 of a button width from the cut edge of the bracelet. The last button will overlap the joint where I removed some material to make the bracelet base smaller.I used Super Glue Fix-All Adhesive. It called for both sides to be coated with the glue and allowed to sit for 10 minutes before pressing them together. I used split PVC clamps to hold everything in place while it set up. I would place and clamp a button, glue up the next one and put it on and clamp it after 10 minutes, removing the previous clamp. I slowly worked my way around the circumference of the bracelet until I came to the last button. I carefully aligned the two cut edges, trimmed a little off so they would meet in the middle under the last button and glued it on. I used clamps again and added a little tape to hold it in place. I let it sit overnight to cure.
Step 4: Final Sanding and Fitting
Yay, beach day!
We were going to the beach that day, but projects wait for no one. I hit the edges with the bench sander to even them up before we left. I brought the bracelet and a few bits of sandpaper with me and spent a little time gently sanding the inner edge of the PVC bracelet base to round over the sharp corners and smooth the joint where the PVC base came together. I started with some 100 grit paper and smoothed it out with some 150 and finally 220. I gave it to my wife/hand model and she gave it her seal of approval!
There you go- a bracelet made from recycled organ buttons. This technique would work with all kinds of buttons. Use old keyboard keys or the buttons from a broken Speak n' Spell to spell out a message. Check out broken kids toys for buttons in cool shapes and colors. Old appliances are another good source. Hit the trash and get creative!
Now I'm off to blast some doom metal until I get this out of my head-