How to Turn Car Parts Into a Stylish Boutineer




Introduction: How to Turn Car Parts Into a Stylish Boutineer

About: Please note, some of my Instructables may contain affiliate links.

So, this all started when I couldn’t spell boutineer/boutonniere/boutonnière… I’m still not sure which of the three spellings is correct, but we’re going to stick with boutineer for now.

No, actually it started when my bride asked, “What kind of flowers do you want in your boutineer?” My answer was something like “Pretty ones?!” Since that answer wasn’t good enough we took to the internet to look at example pictures.

After looking at 1,284 different boutineer images (I’m sure a couple boutonnière images snuck in too) I was inspired by the spark plug boutineer pictures we found online. After obtaining conditional permission to make an automotive themed boutineer; I raided the garage for suitable car parts and came up with a compressor wheel from a turbocharger.

Step 1: Parts and Tools List

To make a Turbo-neer you will need:


1x Turbocharger compressor wheel

See step 2 for more info on where to get a compressor wheel

1x Plug of your choice for compressor wheel shaft

See step 3 for more info on the plug

1x Steel washer

1-2x Magnets


Hot glue




Drill bit

Hot glue gun

Cheap clamp

Masking tape

Step 2: Compressor Wheel Info

There are a couple options for how to get the turbo compressor wheel.

1. Disassemble a turbo and salvage the compressor wheel This requires extra tools and you’ll need to spend time cleaning the compressor wheel A blown turbo core can be found free to cheap at salvage yards.

2. Buy a new wheel. This is the fastest and possibly the best looking route, but adds additional cost. I found eBay to have the most options and lowest cost.

3. **I recently found a compressor wheel on thingiverse, so printing one could also be an option.

My first proof of concept was done with a salvaged wheel. However I ended up purchasing refurbished compressor wheels off eBay for the final products since cleaning and painting took quite a bit of effort.

Step 3: Choose a Plug for the Compressor Wheel

First, choose what to plug the hole in the compressor wheel with. This will determine if the compressor wheel hole needs to be enlarged or not. There are lots of options!

I chose an expanded bullet because it looked like a manly flower ( is where I got them).

A few other options I considered were:

  • A stainless steel screw (you could tap the hole instead of drilling it out)
  • A carbon fiber rod
  • A wood dowel

The options are wide open, pick something that works for you!

Step 4: Clean the Compressor Wheel

We’re going to assume the compressor is no longer attached to the turbo. Tearing down a turbo is outside the scope of what I want to cover here. There’s lots of good info on turbo teardowns online.

Cleaning the wheel took some doing. The turbo core I had was blown and was covered in years of oil and whatever else.

Here’s the basic steps I used to get the aluminum wheel clean enough to use:

1. Degrease.

2. Degrease again.

I suggest doing the following steps outside, your bride-to-be will not like this on her stove…

3. Soak/boil in water with dishsoap.

4. Soak/boil in water with dishsoap again, add simple green.

This worked for me on the first compressor wheel. The second wheel I used required steps 5 and 6.

5. Oven cleaner, the not quite so toxic kind.

6. Oven cleaner, the really nasty kind.

There are lots of other ways out there to get aluminum clean. These steps worked for me and used what I had on hand. These steps would not be appropriate for all aluminum items.

Step 5: Prep the Compressor Wheel for Assembly

To fit the expanded bullet the center hole needed to be enlarged. Most compressor wheels are made from cast aluminum, so should be no big deal to grab a drill and enlarge the hole…

But how do you hold something like a compressor wheel without damaging it?

  • A vise would crush the thin sides.
  • Holding it with just a hand, even a gloved hand, looked like an invite to the ER…

Turns out sometimes cheap tools have their place. I took a Harbor Freight clamp and drilled a hole in one of the ends. Now the turbo wheel can be clamped down to a work bench safely and there is access to the top of the wheel to enlarge the hole.

Now that the compressor wheel is secured:

1. Grab a drill bit slightly larger than your plug.

2. Use a piece of tape on the drill bit to mark the required drill depth for the plug.

3. Chuck the bit into your drill and do your best to keep the hole straight.

4. Check fit the hole plug.

Step 6: Assembly

Ok, almost there. It’s tempting to glue the hole plug in first but don’t do it! We need to be able to set the compressor wheel upside down.

1. Glue the steel washer onto the back of the compressor wheel with epoxy.

I first glued on the steel washer with hot glue, but the force of the magnet ended up pulling it off.

2. Glue in the hole plug in place using hot glue.

Using hot glue instead of epoxy allows you to change the plug if needed. I thought this was important in case I needed to swap the expanded bullet out for something more user friendly.

3. Attach to your jacket lapel with the magnets and enjoy!

Step 7: Final Thoughts

These were awesome! They were fun to make and the end product exceeded both our expectations. Our guests also had fun guessing what they were made out of, which made for an easy conversation starter.

These are a bit sharp. Take care. We had no incidents of hugging impalement at my wedding, but there are some edges that are sharper than your standard flower boutineer.

Stronger magnets might have been a good idea. The turbo-neer’s weren’t easy to pull off, but three of the five people who wore turbo-neers had them come off at one point.

In case you're curious (I was) boutonniere is French for "Buttonhole."

Thanks for reading my first Instructable!

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    3 Discussions


    4 years ago on Introduction

    Thanks for the positive comments! I appreciate how helpful and friendly the instructable community has been!

    Just4Fun Media
    Just4Fun Media

    4 years ago

    That looks like a fun project. They turned out wonderfully. Congrats on your first instructable!


    4 years ago on Introduction

    Such a fun idea! I wish my now wife let me do something like this for our wedding!