Cufflinks make the perfect gift for the french cuff wearing men and women in your life. They are also a great project to sell on etsy (: This season I made three pairs as Christmas presents for my father, brother in law and father in law and all gifts were very well received (:
In this instructable I'll show you how to make wooden cufflinks complete with a rustic display stand. The best thing is you can do it all with a few basic hand-tools!
- Something small to use as a template for the cufflink. I used a scrabble tile.
- Cufflink blanks
- Scrap/reclaimed wood for cufflinks and the display stand.
- Small saw
- Sharp chisel
- Drill and drill bits
- Hand plane (optional)
- Small clamp to use as a stop block.
- Saw box
- Shallow planing jig
Note both these jigs are easy to make out of shop scraps, or purchased from a hardware.
- 5 minute epoxy
- sand paper
- Finishing oil, I used boiled linseed oil.
Step 1: Watch the Build Video
Watch the build video to get an idea of what's involved. If you like my video please subscribe to my youtube channel I've got lots more (:
Step 2: Order the Blanks and Find Some Nice Reclaimed Wood
Next step is finding a nice piece of reclaimed wood. I made three pairs out of an ~4"x2"x1/4" piece of scrap from my scrap pile. You want the cufflinks to be cut out of the most interesting part of the wood so be prepared to generate lots of scrap wood in this project! I deliberately choose this piece of wood because it had two tones. You can reduce the amount of scrap wood generated by making two standards of cufflinks (plane and fancy).
What to do if you don't have a nice piece of scrap wood
There are plenty of source for reclaimed wood. Look for the pieces that have character and don't be afraid to saw off some bad bits. Remember to be careful of exposed nails and avoid anything thats been used for chemical storage or is pressure treated. I got my wood from a free scraps bin at my local timber dealer. Here are some good sources for reclaimed wood:
- Firewood piles
- Ask family/friends
- Street hard rubbish piles
- Some timber dealers have a free or cheap scraps bin
- Look for hardwood pallets behind shops. Some pallets are made from hard wood and look really nice when dressed down. Just make sure you ask permission first!
- Construction sites
- Premium wood dealers often give out wood samples to potential customers.
Step 3: Plane the Wood to Required Thickness
The easiest way to hand plane a small piece of wood to a thickness of ~3mm is to use a jig like the one pictured. These jigs are easy to make out of scraps and can be reused for different projects. Just make sure the jig you make is narrower than your plane. Any nails or screws should be counter sunk so they don't damage your plane. I aways screw a wood bracket to the bottom of my jigs so it can be mounted in a vice.
Once you've made the jig, saw the cufflink wood down to manageable sizes, then plane to thickness. Mine ended up being 3mm thick, matching the scrabble tile. I find it much easier with a jig, but if you're handy with the plane you can skip it.
Note about hand planes: To get quality results from a hand plane it needs to be razor sharp. Here is a good video on sharpening planes (sand paper can also be used if you don't have lapping plates).
Alternative to using a hand plane: You could use a bench planer or jointer, just be extremely careful when dealing with power tools and small pieces of wood.
If you don't have planers of any kind, you can rip saw the wood to the approximate thickness and then sand it down.
Step 4: Saw Out the Cufflink Squares
Now it's time to saw the cufflink squares. The easiest way to saw nice squares is to use a saw box. Saw boxes can easily be made out of shop scraps. There is a good tutorial on making saw boxes here. Alternatively saw boxes can be purchased from hardware stores.
Once you have a saw box, use a clamp to setup a stop block with the scrabble tile as pictured. (In the video I use a vernier caliper, this is redundant as you can use the scrabble tile itself to set the stop block distance. Once the stop block is in place carefully saw out the cufflink squares.
Note: if your saw produces a lot of tear-out on the back of the wood wrap the wood with blue painter tape first.
Step 5: Finishing Off the Cufflinks
I used 120 grit sand paper to make a small chamfer on the sides and corners of the cufflinks so it feels nice to handle with no sharp edges. If your plane was sharp you should not need to sand the faces.
Now it's time to apply your choice of wood finish. I use boiled linseed oil because it's fast to dry and a matt finish. But you can use whatever you want. You can also apply a paste wax for additional protection.
Once the finish is dry it's time to glue on the cufflink blanks. Mix some 5 minute epoxy and glue on the cufflink blanks. Applied glue to the blank, avoiding visible dried glue on the back of the cufflink, allow the glue to dry. You're your done with the cufflinks!
In the next step you'll make the display stand.
Step 6: Optional Step: Make a Rustic Display Stand
If you want to make a display stand have another dig through your wood scraps, I used some off cuts from another project. I didn't bother removing the weathered surface of this wood as I think it made a nice contrast to the dressed wood of the cufflinks.
Using the scrabble tile, or a cufflink, mark area to chisel for the cufflinks to sit in.
About chisel safety
You could shave with a sharp chisel, hence safety is important. In fact, shaving the back of your hand is a chisel sharpness test! My rule is to always keep your hands behind the blade, never in front.
About chisel sharping
To chisel out the seats for the cufflinks you need a sharp chisel. Don't expect to use the chisel you've been opening paint cans with (: Don't stress! You can restore and sharpen it with sand paper and a flat surface. Watch this video on sharpening chisels. If you want to get serious about sharpening get a set of diamond lapping plates (see this video on using diamond sharpening plates).
Chiseling the cufflink seats
Set the chisel on the pencil line and tap a small mark line to mark out the area. Set the chisel about 3mm from the mark line that crosses the wood grain at an angle, chisel out a shallow groove along its length. Remember to only use hand pressure or light taps with a mallet. Traversing the same line, lightly tap out a deeper groove by holding the chisel perpendicular to the wood. Along the same line, place the chisel 6mm from the mark line and make another groove. Repeat these steps until you have a groove measuring about 2mm deep. Be careful to remain within the marked area, continually checking the depth. When you get close to other side, rotate the wood and repeat the process. The bottom of the seat needn't be perfect, it's a rustic display stand after all! Once you have carved the two seats drill a hole both wide and deep enough, in the middle of the seat, for the blank's stem.
Finishing the cufflink blanks
Finish the display stand with you choice of oil finish. Again I used boiled linseed oil. Note to finish rough unfinished surfaces dab the oil on with a cloth rather then wiping it on. The cufflink stand is now finished and you're done!
Step 7: Conclusion
Thanks for reading this instructable! There is no limit of how you can make different handmade wooden cufflinks. Comment below for additional ideas!
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