Introduction: Origami Mobile From Reclaimed Hardwood Flooring

About: I like to make things and then make videos of making those things.

Recently a youtube friend of mine issued a two part origami themed challenge. The first part was to follow his instructional origami crane video (which you can find here). As a reward for participating in the challenge he agreed to send each challenger an origami animal of their choice (I chose a penquin). The second part of the challenge was to build a display for the origami. I chose to make a mobile for my son.

In this article I will show you how I made this simple mobile. You can follow along with the steps below, and don't forget to check out the video above.

If you are interested in seeing what the other competitors came up with for their origami displays, check out this playlist.


Below are links to tools and materials I used in this article. It is either the exact tool/supply or something very close.

- Wood (I chose to use reclaimed hardwood flooring, but any wood will work)

- Table saw

- Thickness planer

- Bandsaw

- Square

- Wood glue

- Clamps

- Eye screw assortment

- Embroidery thread

- Hot glue gun

Note: The links above are affiliate links, meaning, at no additional cost to you, I may earn a commission if you click through and make a purchase.

Step 1: Preparing the Wood

A friend of mine recently re-did the hardwood in their house, and I was lucky enough to grab some of the boards (well maybe a trailer full) before they went to the dump. So the first part of this project was to prepare the wood.

I started by removing the nails. I hammered out the nails, and either grabbed them with my hand, or if they were stubborn, I used pliers.

I then used my table saw to cut off the tongue and groove section of the wood and finally I used my thickness planer to remove the side with the relief cut out and the layer of finish.

I ended up with pieces that were about 2" wide and 5/8" thick, but you could change these measurements to fit the wood that you have.

Step 2: Cutting the Wood to Length

As the wood was riddled with holes from the nails, I first started by cutting a bit off on the end just on the other side of a nail hole. I referenced this clean cut and measured 10" and made a mark. I cross cut the work piece at the mark and then repeated these steps so that I would have two 10" pieces.

Step 3: Marking the First Notch

To join the two pieces together I will be using what I call a cross lap joint, but I have heard others call it center halving or center lap.

I first made a mark at the halfway point of the width of the work piece, at the 1" mark.

I then used my tape measure to find the center of the length of the work piece (5"). As the material I am working with is 5/8" thick, I needed to make two marks 5/16" (half of 5/8") away from the center line. I then used my combination square to extend these lines from the center to the edge.

tip: Always put Xs or # marks in the area that will be cut out. That way you know which area will be waste.

Step 4: Cut the First Notch

Using my bandsaw I cut out the first notch by following on the inside of the line. I then checked the work piece against a scrap of the material to ensure that it was a nice snug fit.

Step 5: Mark and Cut the Second Piece

I used the first piece as a guide to trace out where the lines need to be be. I used my combination square to make sure the lines were nice and straight.

As this piece is symmetrical you can just cut along the line (instead of beside it) and it should work out. That being said, remembering where to cut can get a bit complicated, so it's probably easier to just measure and mark the piece the way I showed in step 3 (especially if you are making more than one at a time)

Step 6: Glue and Clamp

I added wood glue to the notched out areas and then clamped the two pieces together. I let this dry for a few hours.

Step 7: Mark and Drill for Eye Screws

On one side of the assembled piece I marked the center where the two pieces connect by drawing an X. I then drilled using a drill bit that was a bit smaller than the threads on the eye screw.

I then flipped the piece over and marked each end of the pieces. I made marks approximately 5/16" from the side and 5/16" from the end. I then drilled the four pilot holes again using a drill bit that was a bit smaller than the threads on the eye screw.

Step 8: Attaching Eye Screws and Thread

I screwed in the eye screws into the pilot holes. I chose to a larger eye screw for the center and four small ones on the ends.

I then tied embroidery thread onto the eye screws. I cut the thread on the one in the center to about 3' long (which was way to long, but I wanted more than enough so I could cut the excess once I figured out at what height it would hang in my son's room). The ones on the end I cut in varying lengths between 7" and 10"

Step 9: Sanding and Adding Finish

One of the most boring steps of any projects is the sanding so I won't bore you with multiple pictures of this process. I used different grits up to 180 and I made sure to go over the edges with a sanding block to "knock off" the sharpness so that the wood had a nicer feel to the touch.

I then added finish. I used Watco teak oil, mainly because that is the only finish I had in the garage. But also I use it because I like the colour it gives to red oak and the simplicity of the application. Any finish will work for this application as it won't be handled very much.

I like to apply it with a blue shop towel. I put some on the towel and rub it onto the surface. Once the surface of the work piece has been covered, I wait about 15 minutes and wipe off any excess. Repeat as desired.

note: I did this step after adding the eye screws, but it would be easier to do it before.

Step 10: Attach the Origami

Using a hot glue gun I attached the origami to the strings. For the crane I decided it would balance best if I attached the string on it's back. For the penguin it worked out best at the top of his head.

Depending on which animals you are using, you may want to make extras so that you can experiment.

Step 11: Hang and Enjoy!

I used a simple threaded hook in my ceiling (if you are concerned about weight, add a drywall anchor) and tied it using the thread. I was then I was able to show it off to my son. If you want to see my son's reaction to receiving this gift, check out the video at the top of the page.

This was a really fun and simple build and a great way to use up some scraps. I really liked how it turned out and my son (who is obsessed with penguins) really seems to appreciate it!

I hope you enjoyed this project. If you did, you might also enjoy following me on other social media:



If you are inspired by my origami display and make on of your own, or something similar, I would love to see pictures! If you have any questions or comments, please ask them below.

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