Yard sticks. Three feet of give away advertising space. 36 inches of space to let people know where to shop for a new car, a bank loan, or much needed hardware. Before snazzy new ways of measuring, such as the metal measuring tape came along, these sticks of wood were the go-to for figuring out how long something was. Now, they mostly end up in the corners of pantry closets or hanging on a hook in the garage. I thought it would surely be easy to collect enough of these old, unused sticks for free to construct a craft project. Boy was I wrong! Apparently, creating furniture and art out of yardsticks is trendy right now. I had a terrible time finding them and when I came across any for sale in antique stores or flea markets, they were anywhere from $3-$15 a piece. What?!
I was on a roll after my Dad found 5 of them at his house and did NOT charge me for them. My goal was to make a yardstick tray, the full length of 36 inches by whatever height the number of sticks I found would equal. The tray was to be used for our ottoman, which is soft and difficult to put a drink on. Over my spring break, I decided to get started. Below are the materials I used.
- thin piece of plywood large enough to be the base for all of the yardsticks.
- Wood glue – I used Elmers
- a saw of some kind – I used a circular saw to cut the plywood and also a hand saw
- small tack nails, small L shaped brackets, or small screws
First, I laid out the sticks to determine which side I wanted to show. Some of them had the same info on both sides, some did not, and some were damaged on one side. I preferred the sides that had the city and State of the business. I also looked for the sides with the most character. I found that not all yardsticks are the same depth. So when they are laid flat next to each other, some of them stick up higher than others. This is an issue if you want to put a drink on the tray. I ended up having to put the thicker ones at each end.
Once the base of the tray is finished and dry, the edges need to be applied. I chose to use additional yard sticks to trim it out. You could use thin wood or a large picture frame as well. If you want to add hardware, such as handles, you will want to have wooden ends wide enough to attach them. Once the sides are attached, you may want to stain the sides and bottom of the tray if you didn’t do that to begin with.
I am still considering putting a large piece of glass on the top to make it more table top like, however, that will also make it very heavy. If you have made one of these, or anything else using yardsticks, I would love to hear about your project and how it turned out for you.