Highland Woodworking Wood News Online, No. 133, September 2016 Welcome to Highland Woodworking - Fine Tools & Education Learn more about Highland Woodworking View our current woodworking classes and seminars Woodworking articles and solutions Subscribe to Wood News
Project Idea: Wooden Cuff Links
By Paul Burri
Seattle, WA

I guess I'm a bit old fashioned but I love cuff links. I have quite a collection of them; usually bought while my wife and I are on a trip somewhere. I think they make for a much nicer memento than another set of coffee cups or a T-shirt. See Figure 1 to see what my collection looks like.

Figure 1
In addition to the cuff links, I also have a nice collection of button covers. Button covers - in case you're not familiar with them - are a simple device that snaps over the buttons on a regular (not French cuffed) shirt sleeve. I buy the button covers online and then glue small decorative items onto them - a lot of which are wooden jewelry items that I've made or small items I've found on my travels. See Figure 2 for some examples.

Figure 2
Recently I ordered a 1/2" Manual Wood Threader from Highland Woodworking to use for another project that I'm working on. I made a test piece on a 1/2" Hard Maple Dowel Rod (also purchased from Highland Woodworking) and I was very satisfied with the result. Then I got the idea of making a set of wooden-bolt cuff links to add to my collection.

Figure 2

Figure 3 shows the first operation of cutting the threads in the 1/2" Maple Dowel Blank (you may have to sand the dowel down slightly to get it to measure 1/2" diameter or a few thousandths less).
Figure 3

Following the instructions, I soaked the dowel blank in Linseed Oil for a couple of days and I used some more Linseed Oil during the threading process. The result was a nice, clean threaded blank with absolutely no broken threads.

Next I laid out the bolt head on a piece of 3/8" thick maple. See Figure 4. I drilled a 1/2" hole and sawed the head blank to size (Note: I did not drill all the way through the head).

Figure 4
Next, I cut the threaded maple blank to length and glued it into the head. Once the glue was dry, I chucked the wooden "bolt" into my drill press and carefully sanded a slight chamfer of the head to simulate a real bolt.

Next I carefully sawed the wooden bolt in half lengthwise and glued each half onto a thin piece of purpleheart. I made two sets (Figure 5); one set for me as cuff links and one for my wife to be used as button covers. For her set I glued them onto thin pieces of tulipwood.

Figure 5
Figure 6
Figure 6 above shows what cuff link and button cover blanks look like. You can easily find them on the web. Figure 7 below shows how button covers work on an ordinary shirt to make it look like you have French cuffs.

Figure 7

For any woodworkers out there looking for an idea for a unique gift, this is a great idea.

You can email Paul at pburri@cox.net .

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