(bitter)sweet Hair Pins




Introduction: (bitter)sweet Hair Pins

About: I made a beer mug with only a knife & a hatchet. I think that says a lot about me.

Unless the fact that I prefer my wife getting her (very) long hair unpinned sometimes it might be useful to pin things up.
Usually she uses chopsticks (well that's a nice hack!) but as a maker I thought her hair deserved better.

So here's a short I'ble to show you how I transformed some pieces of hardwood a friend wanted to burn (are you kidding?!) into a bunch of hair pins.

All you need is some scrapwood, a miter saw & a belt sander.

Making wooden hair pins is accessible to every woodworker. You can make them as complex as you want or just keep it simple. I made a few examples just to show how far you can go - and if you google a bit you'll see you can go veeeeeeeery far. Mine's are peanuts, compared to some.

Bittersweet? Well, while making the one with the knife handle I was thinking this could be a severe selfdefence tool. It's completely legal - just an innocent hair pin - but in the hands of a furious women this tool could do just a little bit damage.
I'd think twice before aggressing someone in the streets...

Special thanx to member AngryRedhead to transform some of my DIY-translations into decent English ;)

Step 1: Slice It

Gather some (scrap) hardwood - I got some oak (the light one) & meranti.

Use a miter saw to cut slices of about 1/3 inch wide and 10 inches long (10mm-300mm).

Note: My wife calculated that for 'average long hair' everything between 8 & 9 inches should be okay (ornament included). This means that mine's are just a bit too long to be comfortable.

Step 2: Go Triangular

Aim is to build conical pins, so you'll have to cut some piramids.
If you want to go sofisticated: cut out your design first.

Note: be aware that this kind of precision cutting with the miter saw can be a dangerous job. Instead of keeping the slice of wood in place manually I always clamp it with a second piece of wood (visible on the picture left above). Most miter saws have ready-made side clamps so you just have to clamp a piece of wood under the clamp & on the slice. Secure the whole & start cutting in all safety.

Step 3: Round It

Use a belt sander & have fun shaping.

Step 4: Decorate & SAND

With a grinder you can do some great work. Use it, that inspiration!

What follows is sanding. A LOT of sanding...

Two things I learned:
- the oak is way much harder than the meranti
- the more brutal the sanding, the greater the collateral damage - exit one hair pin

Step 5: Finish!

You'll finish that job with natural oil - walnut stays my ultime favourite. Wipe the excess with a towel.


Hope you liked it & thanx for watching!

Step 6: Bonus: the Knifed Hair Pin

No big deal. Cut a few holes to fake the rivets, make a nice round stick, smash it with some cyanoacrylate or bicomp in the holes, cut & start sanding.

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    35 Discussions

    I love these. I'm keen to make some. Not sure what I'd use them for...

    Really nice work!

    Could you tell me what the dimensions of those pins are? I'm not familiar with them myself, but they would make an awesome gift. I wouldn't want to have a "Spinal Tap" moment and hand over some hair pins that are way too small or large! 8-)

    4 replies

    Hello again!

    I did some tests - actually my wife did - and we discovered that those pins are just a bit too long while those sold in commerce are often not as long enough. So we set a kind of 'optimal length' to those pins (for anyone with 'a lot' of hair) and that should be 9 inches, more or less.

    Hope this helps!

    They've got all the same length: 11.8 inches (30 cm)
    Width: varying between 0.6 & 0.7 inches at the base of the cone (1.5 cm - 1.8 cm)

    But... Every woman is different - fortunately ;) So are their hairs. One golden rule: the more, the longer & the thicker the hair the longer the stick has to be. The first pin I made for my wife was in olive, a thruly beautiful piece. But not long enough. So she never used it. This time I sighted longer - I'll tell you if these are right & I'll try to post some pictures...

    So if the one you've got in mind has hair up halfway her back this dimension should be right...

    bricobart and throbscottle, A "contractor" grade 'shave or one that's been bashing about in the bottom of gradpa's old tool box for the last 50-years might only be good for wagon-wheel spokes but with today's well designed models--such as Lee Valley's low-angled 'shave--set up well, these pins would be a cinch and I'd be willing to bet that I could make a toothpick (he says with some amount of hyperbole).

    Got to google 'cause I never heard that word before. Nice tool, never used it - but it seems quite difficult to me to do the finer work with it. It can replace the belt sander, I agree.

    A spokeshave is a wonderful tool and it is possible to do fairly precise work with it (though usually bigger than these pins)

    Totally dig your project. However I do have one concern. cutting wood like that on the chopsaw is dangerous, and easy way to lose a digit. I notice you using another piece of wood as a clamp by the Saw. Obviously you understand that but you didn't write about that in the instructible, and I think it's important to point out to other people.

    Cutting those tapers would be a lot safer on a bandsaw, or even with a jigsaw.

    All that being said, I think you did a really nice job on those hairpins. I believe I may be making some Christmas.

    1 reply

    You're absolutely right, I'll rectify this in the instructions. Sometimes safety precautions are so evident to me that I forget to note them for people who maybe are less aware of the danger of those tools.
    Thanx for that constructive comment!

    I think I'll attempt this for my nieces for Christmas. Did this length work out well for your wife? It just seems a bit long for me, but, I'm a guy, so, what do I know.

    2 replies

    Just in case if you'll start this project: 8 to 9 inches long is more than correct. Mine are just a bit too long to be comfortable!

    Ask them if they can do it with a pencil. If the pencil's too short, you know you have to go bigger (for my wife a pencil's waaaaaaay too short!).

    I love your hairpins and have found wonderful homemade gifts for 2014!

    2 replies

    Just in case if you'll start this project: 8 to 9 inches long is more than correct. Mine are just a bit too long to be comfortable!

    Thanx, and happy I gave you some inspiration! If everybody starts doing the same my idea will loose a lot of its originality - just kidding ;)