Introduction: Wood Pendant Necklace

Picture of Wood Pendant Necklace

Turn scrap pieces of wood into jewelry. In this instructable I made pendant necklaces by sanding small pieces of wood and stained them with a non toxic stain. Use different types of wood (cherry, maple, ash etc) for different colours and picking wood pieces with an interesting grain pattern makes for unique jewelry.

Step 1: Material:

Picture of Material:
  • Wood
  • Pendant bails
  • Mineral Oil (baby oil)
  • Strong coffee


  • Wood cutting tools (saw, Dremel etc.)
  • Sandpaper (varying grits)
  • Pliers
  • Paint brush
  • Rag

Step 2: Shape Wood

Picture of Shape Wood
  • Cut the wood to the shape and size that you like with a saw or Dremel tool (one of the pendants I made was about  32mm X 25mm in size with a thickness of 5mm.)
  • Round the edges of the wood, I used 60 grit sandpaper for this.

Step 3: Sand Until Smooth

Picture of Sand Until Smooth

Sand the wood with increasing grit sandpaper until it is nice and smooth, I used 80,100,150,180, 220, then 320 grit.  Always sand with the grain, and don't skip more then one grit size.

Step 4: Drill Hole for Bail

Picture of Drill Hole for Bail
  • With a pencil mark the centre of the pendant where the hole for the bail should go.
  • Drill hole with a small bit (1/16th).

Step 5: Stain

Picture of Stain
Since I will be wearing the wood necklace near my skin, I didn't want to use a polyurethane stain.  So I choose a natural, non toxic way of staining the wood, coffee.
  • Brew some coffee stronger than you would drink, I made it about 4X stronger. Filter and let cool before you use.
  • Apply the coffee stain with a small brush, this may take several coats ( I did 5 coats), dry between coats.
  • Since it is a water based stain, it will make the wood a bit rough (it raises the grain) so lightly sand to make it smooth again.

Step 6: Oil

Picture of Oil

I used mineral oil as a non-toxic finish.  It also deepens the colour of the wood.  Pour a small amount of mineral oil on a rag, rub it into the wood and wipe off the excess.

Step 7: Add Bail and Chain

Picture of Add Bail and Chain

Put the bail on and squeeze shut with pliers and add a pretty chain.


Ray from RI (author)2017-07-11

Very cool and you could do some chip carving on the pendent and or simple wood burn design as well.... Do not for get to wax the wood for a nice final polish Minwax or Johnson Past Wax would do the job too....

BOKANG23 (author)2016-01-11

This is awesome and I want to make it for my friend, can I engrave on the wood? I want to write something on it

ChrysN (author)BOKANG232016-01-11

Sure, engraving the wood would totally work.

thedestroyer (author)2009-12-10

what about using a non toxic water based paint such as the (cheap) basic watercolors that are made for little kids? i imagine that would be cool to use for colored pendants... also if one wanted to go for a completely organic approach, you can make a really dark dye out of black walnut husks (the green shell around a black walnut). you soak the husks overnight in water, then boil them in the same water the next day until you get the desired shade. you can store extra in upcycled plastic bottles in the freezer. if anyone tries this though, you do want to wear gloves at all times when handling the husks/'s powerful dye and stains take FOREVER to get off of hands and won't come out period of carpet/clothing/hair (yes i got some in my hair) etc. This can be used for multiple purposes, not just wood staining. should you fancy a natural hair dye, there are instructions for using it for that online, as well as dying material and obviously wood...

SIRJAMES09 (author)thedestroyer2011-12-30

the problem with using water colors, is that even after they completely dry, if they get wet again(from sweating or otherwise, the paint woulld come off on you or your clothes.

this is a neat idea!! the black stain from walnuts....

Blue stain/paint from duck droppings(their poop)

Various other colors from different flowers, reeds, grass, etc...

I have never tried the walnuts, but I have made paint from roses, & from the ducks...

Instead of walnut dye, use oak gall, the ink from oak galls is what the US Constitution was written in, also there is a pretty comprehensive list here:

ChrysN (author)SIRJAMES092011-12-30

I've heard of using walnuts. Roses and duck droppings sound interesting.

SIRJAMES09 (author)ChrysN2011-12-30

just make sure the droppings are not fresh. *wink* LOL

If you tie-dye at all, the fiber-reactive dyes like you'd use on cotton or rayon also make pretty interesting stains. This guy's a massive inspiration:

I figure if the dye's safe enough to put in clothes...

ChrysN (author)Weather_blue2010-09-12

Thanks for the link, his stuff looks amazing!

ChrysN (author)thedestroyer2009-12-10

Great suggestions, I've heard of using walnut husks for hair dye before.

Atmfox (author)2015-07-01

If you were to use a laser cutter to engrave the wood with a design of my choosing, would it look better if put the finish on after or before? I have been getting mixed messages from a variety of questions about this.

Atmfox, it all depends on what effect you want, if you color the wood before engraving, whether with a dye or paint and then laser etched area will be a different color than the dyed parts, if you treat the wood after you laser etch it, then the design might be less visible, it also depends on whether your etched design is really detailed or bold.

ChrysN (author)Atmfox2015-07-01

Although I haven't tried it myself, I think it would be better to add the finish on afterwards.

mdog93 (author)2009-11-26

could you dissolve instant coffee in baby oil, then apply that to the wood?

if so, it might avoid splintering and raising the grain etc. It might also last longer.

just a thought.

bucklipe (author)mdog932009-12-03

Instant coffee  is water soluble, so the baby/mineral oil won't work as a medium.

chubby8 (author)bucklipe2014-11-08

And for a little waking up when you are feeling tired... suck on your woodent pendant. ;)

ChrysN (author)mdog932009-11-26

Interesting idea, I'll try it.

mdog93 (author)ChrysN2009-11-27

I tried it and it worked a little but not very well, the coffee didn't seem to dissolve properly, perhaps i didn't get it hot enough to start with.

Then i tried adding veg. fat or lard to make a wood wax and that didn't separate but the wood didn't take on much colour froim it unfortunately.

I think with a bit of tweaking it could work though.

tinadalton (author)mdog932009-11-28

Try putting the coffee in rubbing alcohol.  The alcohol will evaporate fast and still let the color set in.

mdog93 (author)tinadalton2009-11-29

cool, do you reckon the coffee would dissolve in rubbing alcohol then?

ThePropNerds (author)mdog932009-12-03

 Damn, this is why I love instructables. So many new ideas and nothing is too strange or odd to try. :D

(speaking of too odd to try, I'm off to see if coffee will dissolve in rubbing alcohol) ^_^

mdog93 (author)ThePropNerds2009-12-03

let me know how it works out

ThePropNerds (author)mdog932009-12-06

 A'ight, here's the verdict. There is not enough water in the rubbing alcohol to dissolve a full teaspoon of instant coffee mix (which is what was recommended), but there is enough to dissolve a little. After the alcohol absorbs all the color it's going to, the rest of the mix turns into a nasty thick sludge that's a pain to clean.
I tested the alcohol bath three times. Once with a simple dip in, then letting dry, soaking for five minutes, and soaking for ten minutes. Even after heating up the alcohol and letting it soak for ten minutes, it still did not have a usable finish. There was very little color difference from when it started.

What I ended up doing was making a tea bath for my peices by brewing a single cup of tea with three tea bags in it instead of the normal one. This concentrated the broth (and unfortunately made it undrinkable) :( 
I submerged each piece in the broth using a pair of spoons and let each piece sit for ten minutes, and that seemed to do the trick. There is a very noticeable difference in the ending color as opposed to the starting color of the pendants. It is not as pronounced as it would have been if I'd used Danish oil, like I'd originally planned to, but it still a marked difference and I think the finish is usable.

If you've got any questions about what I did or the color comparison, just let me know! :)

ChrysN (author)ThePropNerds2009-12-06

Nice, thanks for all the research!

ThePropNerds (author)ChrysN2009-12-07

 You're welcome! Also, one more thing I forgot -- the alcohol bath was a light yellowish color... um.... kinda like... *tries to think of better comparison*

...yeah, I give up. I also used maple, which is a very dense wood. I'm not sure what the effects of either bath would be on a more porous, softer wood like pine.

hoihoi151 (author)ThePropNerds2010-03-03

 linseed oil mixed with mineral oil works as a good natural sealer.

bucklipe (author)mdog932009-12-03

 Yes, rubbing alcohol has water in it. The 91% rubbing alcohol is only 9% water. Usually if it will dissolve in water it dissolves in alcohol.

mdog93 (author)bucklipe2009-12-04

cool, cheers for clearing that up. Intersting topic i thought :)

markus2102 (author)2012-06-23

extremely clever way to use coffee haha
i like it =P

KwartzKitten (author)2011-08-04

What a simple and elegant idea!

ChrysN (author)KwartzKitten2011-08-05


LoneWolf (author)2010-04-13

Example of neat pendant you can make out of wood (sorry about the horrible picture quality, only one I have on hand):

ChrysN (author)LoneWolf2010-04-13


LoneWolf (author)ChrysN2010-04-13

Thanks! I didn't make it though, it was handmade by a man that owned a small shop in the Rocky Mountains...but I tried to make one based off of it but it didn't come out real well.

Ladytiger (author)2009-12-04

There's a technique called "sand scorching" that would be neat with these, you heat some sand up in a pie tin in the oven, then dip the piece of wood into it, it gives  the look of a woodburning tool but smoothly all over. Do it before you sand, and get different shades depending how much of the char you take off.  Would also be a neat "negative" color technique - char the piece, then inscribe with dremel and get lighter letters on dark background..

flamesami (author)Ladytiger2010-04-11

or you could inscribe, char and then sand down so you have an even surface with darker bits. pyrography for people who dont have pgyrography irons

stephensmat (author)2010-02-20

Looks like a great project, but before I give it a try, there's a question mark:

Pendant bails are pretty cheap en-masse on ebay, but they come in various sizes. What size is the bail in the pictured pendant you made?

ChrysN (author)stephensmat2010-02-21

The bails that I used were 22mm.

theHERO (author)2009-12-11

 Would it be okay on skin if I were to use just a run of the mill wood stainer?
Great idea by the way!

ChrysN (author)theHERO2009-12-11

Jimofoz  mentioned below ( that most modern finishes are non-toxic once they are dry. 

theHERO (author)ChrysN2009-12-12

 Thank you!
Wow, that shows how lazy I am :/

Goodhart (author)theHERO2010-01-21
Oh, I don't know about lazy....maybe your just enervated ?
Seppuko (author)2009-12-23

This looks really nice!

ChrysN (author)Seppuko2009-12-23


Highjump44 (author)2009-12-12

 i did it on a spare piece of wood sanded it with one paper  stained it w/coffee and burned my moms intials into it for my moms b day but im just going to get a series of grits and borrow a handheld sander and good absorbing wood and do it over good idea

opanocat5 (author)2009-12-12

 I improvised on my necklace. I used an old shoe lace, Maple wood offcuts and a splash of mahogany wood stainer! Eat that Bluepeter!

AmyLuthien (author)2009-12-03

I wonder how well food coloring would work?  Then you could have different colors (red, blue, green, purple.)  I may give it a try for giggles!

ChrysN (author)AmyLuthien2009-12-04

Cool, I'd love to see how it turns out!

AmyLuthien (author)ChrysN2009-12-05

Actually, I think it turned out really well!  I used two different kinds, regular old food coloring and some soap coloring I'd picked up cheap once upon a time.  I've included a thumbnail sized picture here, if you'd like to see it full-sized, click here: 006.jpg

Oh, and that's just a scrap piece of birch I had lying around.  I also rubbed some mineral oil on it, and a very minimal amount of color came back off.  I think you'd probably want to seal this with something other than oil or it might bleed onto your skin/clothes, or perhaps it just needs to be worked in more (I didn't spend a lot of time on that!)

About This Instructable




Bio: I like sewing and crafts,and trying new things. I'm vegetarian and always looking for new recipes. My cat's name is Mirko and ... More »
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