Introduction: The Toadstool Pin-cushion

About: Love outdoors, climbing, cycling, longboarding, kayaking/canoeing, woodworking, food, recycling/up-cycling.

What can I make for free? The eternal question for woodturners and makers alike. This is a quick project that makes a great stocking filler for your needle-weilding friends and family. All you really need is some scrap wood and some scrap material. I used some left over white beam, old scraps of dresses and hoodies and bits of stuffing not big enough to use for anything else. This is a quick and simple project, that is functional and, I think, looks awesome.

I am sorry for both the quality of the pictures and a lack of pictures in some stages, this was done on a whim, and I didn't have the foresight to document it, nor had I planned on making an 'ible on it.

hope you like it.

Step 1: Tools and Materials

You will need:

  • A nice chunk of wood (I used an old chunk on whitebeam which is easy to work but lacks interesting grain pattern).
  • A piece of cloth with a pattern or colour of your choosing. Mine was borrowed without permission from my girlfriends scrap pile but I have used old hoodie bits as well.
  • A hefty handful of stuffing (also raided from her sewing supplies).

You will also need:

  • A wood-lathe with a roughing gouge, parting tool and skew chisel OR A sharp carving knife (I find the flexcut detail knives to be pretty ace) and a steady hand.
  • Sand papers of various grits rough to fine.
  • A dish sponge.
  • A pair of compasses (for drawing circles not for finding your way).
  • Scissors
  • A needle and thread

Finishing oil or varnish (I have used walnut oil or clear varnish).

Step 2: Designing the Mushroom

There are lots of types of mushrooms each as quirky and awesome as the last so look around when thinking of how you want your pin cushion to look. I went basic for my one as it was made on a whim.

It's important to consider stability, strength and function when designing the base. The base needs to be wide enough to provide stability and weight so it doesn't topple, the 'trunk' of the mushroom shouldn't be too thin so it is durable and the 'table' on which the cushion is fixed should be wide enough to allow a good sized cushion. Other than that go crazy.

Using the lathe is fast, allows for uniform and symmetrical designs and is fun. Using a knife is slower but can allow for asymmetrical designs and quirks and is also fun.

To be honest, I find that I drew up a few options, picked my favourite and kept a vague idea of what it should look like in mind as I forged ahead in a flurry of wood shavings and sawdust.

Keep in mind, the material you choose will effect the design, hardwoods are stronger but some are more likely to tear and others get a better finish but it's a quick make so feel free to try a few of you have some scraps, gluing scraps together to make a blank is also an option that I look forward to trying.

Step 3: The Base of the Mushroom

Making the base is pretty straight forward. I've split this into two sections a lathe version and a hand carved version.

Making the base on the lathe:
First thing to do is true up the blank on the lathe using a roughing gouge, this is easy to do as spindle work so don't worry if you don't have a chuck. You want a uniform cylinder the length and the width of your mushroom design. Mine was Aprox 40mm tall and 65 in diameter. Make sure the ends are straight and even.

After truing up the blank, mark out the 'table' and base of the mushroom with a pencil, they should be approximately 5mm or thicker but if your design is taller use a thicker base to counterweight it.

Next, using a parting tool, take the stock after the table down to the required diameter, then use the skew chisel to taper the trunk to the desired design and bulge, repeat this for the base end. If you have tight corners where the stem meets the bases, you can use the skew chisels point as a scraper by angling the blade down and scraping the bevel against the wood.

Once you have the desired shape, it's time to sand.

Note: I used the parting tool to make dips in the top and bottom so that the mushroom will sit on a rim making it sit flat and stable.

Using a knife:
Smooth your wood into a rough cylinder, mark a base and table and the space between which will be the trunk, cut the ends as square as possible, cut a deep line in the wood along the markings of the base and table and shave toward these lines as this will stop you from cutting away the base and top. You can also use a saw to the same effect. Keep hacking away till you have a rough mushroom.

Step 4: Sand, Sand &, You Guessed It, Sand!

Sanding can be super boring, especially when you want a good finish. When it comes to sanding you get out what you put in, if you are willing to take your time and work through every grit known to man (or woman) you will get a better quality product.

On the lathe, it's fairly quick, work down the grits of sand paper from course to fine. I use a sponge for this and it works great. Wrap the paper around the sponge and press it against the piece, it fits to the form getting all the nooks and crannies displacing the pressure evenly. You can also burnish the wood by rubbing it with wood shavings and or steel wool.

When doing this by hand, you just have to sand sand and sand, don't pay too much attention to the top of the table as this will be covered by the cushion (You could also use a rotary tool if you're lucky enough to own one).

I'd go down to 400 grit depending on the wood.

Step 5: The Cushion

This is a bit of trial and error (and luck). I am not adept at sewing, and i'm sure there is a better way to make the cushion, mine took inspiration from a shower cap. I thought about making the cushion in sections like a beach ball but this does the job.

Using a compass, draw out a circle of your fabric and cut it out with sharp scissors. The diameter of the circle will depend on how wide your table is, and how bulbous you want the top to be. For a table 55mm diameter, I used a 16cm diameter piece of fabric (but I did trim it down as I went).

Next, loosely stitch around the circumference of the fabric, using a large stitch, the larger the stitch, the tighter it can be pulled but the fewer the stitches the larger the folds.

Fill the middle of fabric with a generous handful of stuffing and place it over the table. Pull the thread to tighten the fabric around the table and stuffing, stitch around where the table meets the trunk to secure it and tie it off.

Step 6: Done!

So thats it, a little mushroom pin-cushion, it's tiny, cheap, fun to make and functional, what more do you need? it's a simple idea and it gives you lots of room to tweak and change the design and materials So I hope to see some interesting improvements if you choose to make one yourself.

This is my first 'Ible, I've been browsing and making things from the site for a while but finally made my own, hopefully there will be more to come.

Feel free to vote for me in the leftovers and homemade gift contests if you want to, but no pressure :).

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Homemade Gifts Contest 2015

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Homemade Gifts Contest 2015