Give yourself a helping hand, with some hand-shaped bowls.
Made for keeping your everyday carrying things in one place when you're at home; dump your keys, phone, coins and other sundries into a pair of open hands to keep them safe. Place this hands near your front door or coffee table you're sure to have a conversation piece the next time you have visitors.

This project uses thin plywood bent with steam and shaped over large bowls, then stained with shoe polish to bring out the grain.

This Instructable was entered in the Craftsman Tools Contest and the Holiday Gifts Contest.
Check out all the entries and the winners!

Enough talk, let's make some hand-bowls!

Step 1: tools + materials

Though they sell plywood at most lumber stores, I would advise against using 1/2" or 1/4" variety commonly sold there. Thin plywood is easily found at craft stores, the plywood used for this project was 3mm (1/8"). They also sell 1.6mm (1/16") plywood, but I think it's too thin for this application.
My plywood sheet cost less than $3 CAD.

  • jigsaw (rotary tool, or laser cutter)
  • sandpaper (150-250 grit)
  • vice
  • large pot
  • steaming apparatus (bamboo basket or other)
  • bowls (various sizes, for bending)
  • safety goggles / gloves
  • pencil
  • thin birch plywood (3.1 x 152 x 304 mm [1/8 x 6 x 12"])
  • masking tape ($dollar store)
  • wood glue ($dollar store)
  • shoe polish ($dollar store)


I think I'm going to try this as it's a great idea. But wouldn't you be better off using a thin piece of lumber instead of plywood? This would prevent delaminating of the final product.
My wood selection was based on products available. Using a thin veneer of lumber would solve the delaminating that plywood exhibits. Try it out and post your results!
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I had to laugh when I read shoe polish!<br><br>Clever instructable!
They look great! I never knew you could use shoe polish to stain wood, I'll have to remember that.
Thanks, Chrys. <br>I've fixed many a ding'ed doorway with this method, saved my damage deposit a few times on rentals.
instead of shoe polish i would go with a stain and some poly...more resiliant and cleaner looking. but great idea overall!
Awesome work! Featured. <br> <br>Though it seems like a massive visual pun to the construction...
Step 7 picture 3... yep...
Thanks!<br>Hands bending hand-shaped bowls, whoa. Should I give myself a high-five?

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Bio: I'm Mike and I make crazy things at Instructables HQ. Follow me and try a few of my projects for yourself!
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