What I made
1165
days ago

War and Peace! Repurposed plastic toy bookend for boys (and Dads!)

Repurposed plastic toy action figure bookend

1) “Hey, who put that hole there?”

Repurposed plastic toy action figure bookend - closeup of action figure

2) “Boy, my arms ain’t half aching!

They say a good soldier never leaves his post, well, this is now true of a toy soldier as well (mainly because he’s bolted onto the shelf and couldn’t move if he wanted to!). This repurposed plastic toy action figure bookend is a great way of upcycling an old toy figure, it needs to be a decent size, but anything from an old ‘space ranger’ to a WWF wrestler will do the trick (and perhaps even a barbie). However, I liked the idea of using a soldier – it seemed a fun contrast, taking something associated with action and danger, and using it to hold-up some kids books.

How to make your own repurposed plastic toy action figure bookend

This project first appeared on Craft:, as part of their ‘quirky craft’ series. I have now reworked the instructions and made them available for download, I hope you like them. It’s worth pointing out that the techniques are very dependent on the type of toy figure you use, the basic objective is to attach it firmly to a shelf, so feel free to improvise. If you have any questions just leave me a comment below.

Easy to follow hand drawn instructions for making a repurposed plastic toy action figure bookend

Download easy to follow instructions›

Includes:
1) Collectable instructions – print them out & put them in a folder!
96 downloads so far, thanks everyone!

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I must give Steph Mantis a shout out, it was here wonderful “Pack Racks” (coat racks made from plastic toy animal heads) that were the inspiration for this project. Go check out her very cool blog.

What I made
1172
days ago

Telescopic paper floor lamp made from Christmas LED lights

Telescopic paper floor lamp made from Christmas LED lights - shown closed

1) Compact and bijou…

Telescopic paper floor lamp made from Christmas LED lights - shown extended

2) …tall and proud.

I love making gadgety things, especially when they are engineered simply and from everyday things. This telescopic floor lamp (which first appeared in Make: magazine) is a good example, on one hand it has a counterbalanced mechanism that allows it to adjust to any height, on the other hand it’s made from nothing more than paper, cardboard, coins, a bit of wire and a string of Christmas LED lights.




Interestingly, during construction I was so focused on trying to get the counterbalance working I never really thought about it as functioning light. However, the effect, when I first turned it on was pretty cool. Oh… and an added bonus was that the Christmas LED lights came with a variety of flashing sequences, one for every mood! Check out the video above.

How to make one

If you are up for a challenge try making your own one, it’s a little tricky, but the detailed instructions below should help you get there. Good luck.

Easy to follow hand drawn instructions for making a telescopic paper floor lamp made out of Christmas LED lights and paper

Download instructions›

Includes:
1) Collectable instructions – print them out & put them in a folder!
96 downloads so far, thanks everyone!

Over the years I’ve made a number of different lights, most using candles as the light source – here’s a bit of a retrospective:

No.1: Coca light!
No.2: Elegant tin can tea light holder
No.3: Marble run candlestick timer
No.4: Exhaust pipe candlestick holder

What I made
1194
days ago

6 crafty activities to keep kids quiet in coffee shops!

1) Espresso train
Keep kids quiet, technique no.1: train made from a paper cup insulation sleeveStarbucks espresso train how to

Keep kids quiet for: 15 mins
Pros: Kids love trains, enough said!
Cons: Adults will need to get heavily involved

2) Table football
Keep kids quiet, technique no.2: table football using straws and a paper ball

Keep kids quiet for: 10min
Pros: Very easy, and great for more than one child
Cons: It can get a bit noisy!

3) Checker board
Keep kids quiet, technique no.3: checker board pattern made from interwoven stir sticks

Keep kids quiet for: 10mins
Pros: Great challenge for older kids (7+)
Cons: You need a lot of sticks!

4) Wagon wheel
Keep kids quiet, technique no.4: wagon wheel shape made from stir sticks

Keep kids quiet for: 5mins
Pros: One for the young children (3+)
Cons: You can’t take it away with you.

5) Baby sick!
Keep kids quiet, technique no.5: paper coffee cup with a face drawn on the lid and a small spill of coffee made to look like vomit!

Keep kids quiet for: 8mins
Pros: You only need a pen…
Cons: …it needs to be a permanent marker

6) Stick house
Keep kids quiet, technique no.6: house shape made from stir sticksStarbucks stick house how to

Keep kids quiet for: 10mins
Pros: The perfect starter for older kids (7+)
Cons: Some parent involvement required

I love coffee shops. I have a Latte ‘to go’, most mornings – it’s part of my commuter coping mechanism!

At the weekends trips to coffee shops are more of a family affair, the kids are particularly partial to Chocolate Cream (the nearest thing to a milk shake on the Starbucks menu).

But as much as the kids enjoy these trips, they quickly become restless (and I mean quickly!). So over the years I have improvised a number of crafty ‘keep kids quiet’ activities, all of them make use of the materials available in any coffee shop. I hope you find them helpful, or should I say I hope they help you to enjoy your coffee!

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For another fun (and super simple) coffee shop craft check out the Zen Napkin on page 246 of my new book! If you are interested you can find out more here, or just pop into your local library and ask for Made by Dad: 67 Blueprints for Making Cool Stuff.

Napkin with a pattern drawn on it mimicking a zen garden

Enjoy your coffee (in peace)!

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