Making Furniture Out of Used Popsicle Sticks
As someone who enjoys working with my hands and finding creative ways to reuse everyday items, I’ve discovered that used popsicle sticks can make for great materials to build inexpensive DIY furniture projects. With a little bit of planning, imagination, and effort, you can transform these humble wooden sticks into beautiful and functional pieces to decorate your home.
Gathering the Materials
The first step is sourcing enough used popsicle sticks. This may take some time and effort, but it’s worth it for the satisfaction of repurposing materials that would otherwise be thrown away. Here are some tips for gathering popsicle sticks:
- Ask around at schools, daycares, camps, or anywhere else that gives out popsicles. Offer to take their used sticks off their hands.
- Check with craft stores. Some collect used popsicle sticks that customers can purchase for cheap.
- Put a call out on social media or local community pages seeing if anyone has been saving sticks.
- Save your own! Anytime you or your family eats popsicles, wash the sticks and set them aside in a bag for future use.
Make sure to inspect the sticks and toss any that are broken, chewed up, or moldy. Also plan on getting at least 100 sticks for even a small project, and upwards of 1,000 sticks for larger furniture like chairs or tables.
Tools and Materials Needed
In addition to clean popsicle sticks, you’ll need:
- Carpenter’s glue or tacky glue – The stronger the bond, the better. I prefer tacky glue over standard school glue.
- Sandpaper – For smoothing down finished products.
- Acrylic paint and sealer (optional) – For staining the popsicle sticks different colors if desired.
- Drill – For inserting screws.
- Screws – For joining sticks together and providing more stability.
Other general tools like hammers, scissors, rulers, and safety glasses are also handy for building with popsicle sticks.
Design and Planning
Before starting construction, think about what specific piece of furniture you want to make and sketch out some plans. Consider the purpose, size, shape, and other desired features. Here are some ideas to get you started:
- Popsicle stick picture frames – Great for displaying photos, art, or mementos. Just glue sticks together into a square or rectangular frame shape.
- Tiny popsicle stick boxes – Nice for holding trinkets, jewelry, office supplies, etc. Glue sticks into four sides and a bottom.
- Popsicle stick shelves – Sturdy enough for holding lightweight items. Use screws to hold shelves between vertical sticks.
- Popsicle stick chairs and tables – Ambitious projects that require hundreds of sticks but impress when complete. Include backrests and legs.
Remember that straight lines and right angles are easier to construct than curved or circular objects. Start simple if this is your first time working with popsicle sticks.
Glue is your best friend when building with popsicle sticks. Apply a generous amount between each stick, clamp them together using spring clamps or rubber bands, and let dry fully before moving on. Here are some other tips:
- Build one layer at a time, starting from the bottom up.
- Use screws in high stress areas like joints or weight-bearing surfaces. Drill pilot holes first.
- Sand sticks if needed to create flattened surfaces for gluing or remove splinters.
- Paint or seal sticks for decorative patterns or waterproofing. Allow time to dry between coats.
- Work slowly and carefully. Popsicle sticks snap easily under too much pressure.
Once construction is complete, your popsicle stick creation needs a few finishing touches:
- Sand the entire piece smooth, wiping away dust between grits.
- Paint, stain, or seal with acrylic sealer if desired for appearance and protection.
- Consider including extras like hinges, handles, hooks, or shelf liners as needed.
- Add non-slip pads on chair and table legs to prevent sliding and floor damage.
- Display your handmade furniture proudly and enjoy!
With a bucket full of used popsicle sticks, some basic supplies, and a little patience, you can build inexpensive statement pieces that show off your creativity. Try making popsicle stick furniture yourself and develop your skills with each new upcycled project.