Two simple steps to upcycle wine corks into name card holders for a wedding or special event.
As with most of my projects, I made it Techshop!
Step 1: Sanding a Flat Surface
The corks need a flat surface to keep them upright. Given that I was
sanding 200 corks, I wanted something quicker than hand sanding, which certainly seems like a good option if you don't have access to a belt sander. The belt sander worked beautifully and I cranked through about 200 corks in ~45 minutes, which took a little bit longer since I was lining up the names of the wineries to face the front of the display.
Before sanding, I sketched what I thought the end result would be like and thought a bit about how I was going to hold the corks in place to sand the bottom surface flat. I had envisioned a jig with a registration pin that I would use to cradle the corks and keep them in place while I pushed against the belt sander. In the end, I used the pliers (see the photo) which were wide enough to comfortably hold the cork from wiggling side-to-side. The bottom handle served as a flat push guide to keep the cork steady against the sander and I was able to line up the text on the cork facing away from me to become the main display when the card is sitting in each one. Much faster and no prep work, but I'm glad I thought through a few options before taking a crack at it.
Step 2: Cutting the Card Slot
I drafted up a sample of what the name cards would look like for prototyping. The constraints for the finished product were:
- The corks shouldn't tip over easily (I implemented a *very* scientific 'flick test' for this)
- Name cards should be able to be picked up by the card without the cork falling loose (again, very scientific 'lift test' was administered to each cork for quality control)
- All cards should be presented at roughly the same angle
With this in mind, I tested a few cutting methods. A scroll saw wasn't quite predictable enough (at least the one I have access to). A box cutter worked but the resulting slit was too narrow and the material for the name cards would likely bend as they were applied. A dremel created a nice, clean slot but did not pass the 'lift test' and would require glue or some pin to keep the cards in place.
The perfect solution ended up being a simple hand saw. This had a small enough kerf that the cards fit in on one try with no damage to the material and the torn cork left by the blade served to hold onto the paper. It was quick, safe, and passed all my tests.
I used an angled piece of wood sandwiched between two taller pieces to extend the grip of the vice. This allowed me to register the card angle the same way and just cut vertically for each cork. Also, due to the slight compression of the corks, I was able to push each one in and out of the vice without tightening and loosening in between which was a real time-saver.
This process took somewhere around 75 minutes for all 200 corks. I tested batches as I went to make sure the depth wasn't creeping and also to give my fingers a break from the pressure. My friend created the name tags so I'm keeping this Instructable specific to the cork. You could add just about anything to these for a lovely presentation.