Introduction: Driftwood Amulet Necklace

About: I'm currently experimenting with hardware and woodworking projects at TechShop SF that help me to reduce anxiety.

When trees lose their limbs or fall down, they sometimes get picked up by the ocean. The waves tumble the pieces around and around, smoothing all their curves, and washing them up on the shore for us to discover. Those pieces of wood are what we call “driftwood”, and they make beautiful necklaces.

In this instructable, I'll show you how you can wear a reminder of nature’s beauty around your neck. :)

You’ll need these supplies:

  • Driftwood: Visit a beach near you to find pieces. Your best chance for finding driftwood is to visit a beach near a forest. In California, Crescent City has the best driftwood of all the beaches I've walked along.
  • Sanding sponges: Grab a set at the hardware store or Amazon.
  • (Optional) Paint or paint markers: For most colors, arylic paint works great. For gold, opt for a gilding liquid. Crayola’s Metallic & Glitter markers also show up surprisingly well. Especially if you use kids markers, you may want to use ModPodge or Polycrylic as a final layer.
  • Dremel OR Power Drill: A dremel is more kid-friendly, if you want to let kids try to drill the holes. You can get a micro dremel and this bit set. Drill with the 3/32” or 7/64” bit.
  • Necklace cord OR Chain + Jump ring: You can buy colorful pre-made cords to string through the driftwood. If you'd like your driftwood necklace on a chain, you can get necklace chains and buy jump rings separately.
  • Needle nose pliers: They'll make manipulating the necklace cord and jump ring much easier.

Step 1: Select Your Driftwood

Find a piece of driftwood that would be a good size to hang around your neck. You can select a piece that has an interesting shape or you can select a simple piece that you decorate later.

(Note: if you're worried about ocean life in your driftwood, you can boil it on the stove first. Just watch for leaking resin.)

Step 2: Sand the Driftwood

Sand any rough parts of the driftwood, starting with a course grit sanding sponge (60-80) and ending with a fine grit sanding sponge (150+). If any parts are really rough and difficult to get smooth, you can also use the sanding bit on a dremel. Brush or blow off the dust, being careful not to get it in your eyes! You can wear safety glasses during this step to be on the safe side. Safety glasses are cool.

Step 3: Decorate the Driftwood

If you’d like, you can now decorate your driftwood piece. You can use acrylic paint, paint markers, or gilding liquid. You can also use a wood burning iron if you have that. You might like to draw colored stripes onto your piece, or draw a meaningful symbol or word. If you don't like your decoration and want to start over, you can either wash or sand it off.

You can also put a stain on your piece, to bring out the grain in the wood.

Step 4: Drilling the Hole

Now you must decide where to put the hole in your driftwood. You can either drill the hole from side to side or from the front to the back. Once you decide how to make the hole, you can drill it using a power drill or a dremel with a drill bit.

Step 5: Attach the Cord

Finally, it’s time to put your driftwood on a cord! There are 2 ways to do that, depending on how you drilled your hole and what kind of cord/chain you have.

If you drilled the hole from front to back, then you will need to put a jump ring through that hole:

  • Find a jump ring that’s large enough to go through the hole and a cord, and use needle nose pliers to get the jump ring through the hole.
  • Now either string a pre-made necklace cord through the jump ring, or close the jump ring onto a link in a chain cord.

See the second way in the next step.

Step 6: Attach the Cord

Here's the second way to attach your driftwood to a cord.

If you drilled the hole from side to side, then you can string a pre-made necklace cord through the hole:

  • First use pliers to remove the bulky end of the cord.
  • Then string the cord through the drilled hole.
  • Now use the pliers to re-attach the bulky end of the cord.

Step 7: Your Necklace Is Complete!

Admire your new driftwood amulet necklace. Watch your friends marvel at the beauty of driftwood.

If you haven't actually made it yet, here's a photo of necklaces to help you plan your own necklace. :)

The top 3 necklaces are all cord chains, with jump rings going through the chain. The first piece is completely undecorated. The second is stained (bark), and the third is painted (bark).

The bottom 3 necklaces are made with pre-made cords, with side-to-side drilled holes. The first piece is stained, the second is partially painted, and the third is fully painted.