How To-sday – Wooden Branch Buttons

January 12, 2010 separator DIY Tutorial

I took full advantage of winter break at my parents’ house. They have a spacious garage chock full of every tool imaginable, and I was in heaven. I took the dogs out for a walk to the park one afternoon and found a couple perfect branches, so I couldn’t pass up the opportunity to make these darling little buttons!

 
Materials:
  • hardwood branches
  • small hacksaw or table saw
  • fine-grit sandpaper
  • safety glasses
  • drill or Dremel
  • thin, sharp object or pencil
  • wood polish (such as Johnson Wax or Pledge)
  • soft cloth or paper towel
1. Begin by using a sharp tool or a pencil to mark the intervals where your buttons will be cut. You want them to be relatively thin, but they should not be so thin that they risk snapping. I found that they should be at least 1/8″ thick. I marked next to my notches in yellow so that you can see them more clearly.

 

2. Cut the end of the branch using the hacksaw or electric table saw. The project is admittedly far more tedious when sawing by hand, but I wanted to show that this could be done without any major tool investment. If you do have an electric saw, I would recommend using that for expediency. Of course watch your fingers, and wear your safety glasses!

3. Place the sawed end of the branch over the edge of your work surface, and saw through the first line you’ve marked off. Once you’ve sawed that button off, continue until you have as many as you’d like.

4. Using your drill or Dremel with a very fine drill bit, carefully position your bit just left of center and drill through the button. I drilled atop an old piece of wood to protect my work surface. Repeat with the other side of the button to create two holes for sewing. If you prefer the look, then you can drill four holes instead.

 

5. One you’ve drilled through all your buttons, lightly buff each side with sandpaper to remove any edges that could snag clothing or other fabric.

 

6. After sanding, simply polish each button on both sides with a wood product, such as furniture polish or the like. This will seal the buttons a bit and give them a more ‘finished’ look. I used Murphy Oil Soap on mine because it was all I had on hand, but it’s really more to clean than polish. I’d recommend a polish or wax for this step.

 

There you have it – as many cute little wooden buttons as you’ll ever want. You don’t need to buy any expensive tools, and you’ll save a lot in the long run over ordering wooden buttons online.

60 comments

  1. Pingback: Amazing Twigs and Branches DIY Tutorials
  2. Buenisimo, hace poco me regalaron unos botones de estos y quería saber como se hacían. GRACIAS. Eres maravillosa.

  3. i love the look of wooden buttons. i think it would be fun to do and have a nice look, but in a survival type situation i have another method. my boy scouts generally keep a small sewing kit in their packs for emergency repairs. if a button gets lost or breaks and the boy wants to replace it, we cut a small circle from a plastic bottle. usually someone has one that they have brought along on the journey or most places its not very hard to find one that someone else has tossed out along the way. after a button sized circle is cut out, then use a pocket knife or use the needle to make the small holes.

  4. I love, love, love your little buttons – what a cool idea! I’ve got this linked to my buttons DIY project post too today!

  5. LOVE THESE…I’m going to make a larger version of these and use for a crocheted ivory neck cowl i’m working on!

  6. ahh i LOVE these, such a wonderful idea!!! i want to make some, theyd look adorable on so many things! thanks for sharing! :)

  7. Since this was written a year ago, you would probably know the answer to this…..Will they dry/shrink and split as they season? I want to put these type of handmade button on my handmade crocheted items and am wondering if they would split when they dry out…..
    Thanks,
    Nicci Lynn

    1. Nicci, if you use green wood, or wood that’s not dried out all the way yet, then you may deal with shrinking, cracking, and splitting. However, if you use a really dry, old branch, then they should pretty well stay as-is.

  8. You could string them together on raffia or twine to make beautiful, rustic mini wreaths as Christmas decorations.

  9. Visiting from today’s Sew Mama Sew Handmade Holidays and as I sew and scrapbook I can now see lots of use, besides firewood, for all the small dead branches on our 400 acres. Lol, time for a quick course in hardwood recognition when it’s not attached to a tree!
    Thanks for this great idea :)
    Cheers,
    Robyn

  10. I came here from a Funky Junk Interiors post. What a timely find for me! I just priced wooden buttons yesterday in a fabric store: I was stunned at the outrageous prices! With a bad storm leaving tree limbs in our yard recently, I’ll be saving lots of money, thanks to you! I love DIY! Thanks so much for sharing this and taking the time to be so thorough!

  11. Have you tried burning the buttons with a soldering iron? Makes neat patterns and adds interesting colors.

  12. Fun! I definitely want to try this :) I saw this in Craft & wanted to stop by & let you know how fun this is!

  13. I’m glad that you practice safety precautions on your work. My father always reminds me that it is better to work with Titmus prescription safety glasses rather than losing your eyesight. Working with naked eyes is the most dangerous think to do. We are very dependent with our eyes; can you imagine how can we work without them? My father always wears Wiley safety glasses when he hunts dear during the season. He said our eyes our very delicate, so we need to protect them in any means and in whatever we do.

  14. Jenny – Thank you for the sweet compliments!!! I used branches that were already dead and completely dried out. I would definitely allow them to dry out first so that you don’t have any warping or cracking.

  15. My husband cut down a bad maple tree yesturday, in front of our house. I’ve been wanting to make some of these buttons. This tutorial is wonderful, thank you!
    I have a question, tho:
    do you let the branches dry out first, or do you cut them when they are wet? I’m assuming that you allow them to dry, as the buttons would crack, when drying, if you used the branches when wet.
    Thanks!!
    wonderful blog!

  16. Wow! Love these! I used a similar tactic to make blocks for my son, but these smaller scale buttons are a whole new twist on what to do with branches… Thanks for sharing!

  17. Wow! Love these! I used a similar tactic to make blocks for my son, but these smaller scale buttons are a whole new twist on what to do with branches… Thanks for sharing!

  18. Wonderful idea, so simple, all the tools and materials are easily available to everyone and the end product, the buttons, look really great and have loads of potential!

  19. Oh I just Luuuuuuuvs me some tools…. all kinds of tools. Those buttons are sweet ! Thanks for sharing : )

  20. Megan – I actually just revised that step. I used the Murphy Oil because that was just what I had on hand, and I wanted to clean up the buttons. I think it would better to use a polish or wax though! :)

  21. These are adorable! Well done! I didn’t know you could use Murphy oil to seal wood. Thank you for the inspiration!

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