Recycled Desk Unit

Hallo!  As promised, my 101st post is a tutorial for an awesome craft project which really fulfills the 3 Rs.  Not only is it something to Redecorate your home, but it is made from Recycled and Reused materials.  Actually, it is a project that I thought up for a contest that Earth 911 was having, to create a desk organizer out of recycled materials.  In the end I decided not to submit it, for various reasons, but now it is the perfect project to share with all of you AND I have photos of all the steps, a rarity around here, I know!   So, ta da, my recycled desk organizer:

the3Rsblog Recycled Desk Unit Final 01


Tin cans, plastic water bottles, scrap cardboard, scrap fabric and felt, wine corks, hot glue gun, glue sticks, scissors, xacto blade

Step 1: To create a nice fabric edge for each can, take a small piece of fabric and fold it over the top edge of each can, glueing it down on both sides.

Step 2: Cut a piece of felt that is the same height as the inside of the can, and long enough to wrap around the entire inside circumference.  Make sure you glue the first edge of the felt securely, and then you just need a few dots of glue along the way to adhere it to the inside of the can as you wrap it around.  You can also cut a round circle of felt for the inside bottom of the can, if you would like.

Step 3: Cut the ends off of the plastic water bottles, to serve as dishes for organizing smaller items.  To cover them with fabric first wrap a piece of fabric around the outside of the cut bottle, with the pattern facing in, and glue it onto the bottle in a tube.

Step 4: Then, trim the tube of fabric and fold it in on top of itself to cover the bottom of the bottle.  Glue the end of fabric into place.  (There is no right or wrong way to do this.)

Step 5: To cover the edge of the bottle take another scrap of material and glue it neatly 1/4 inch down into the inside of the bottle, and then fold it over to the outside.  Don’t worry about how this outside edge looks, it will be covered.

the3Rsblog Recycled Desk Unit Steps 1-5

Step 6: Once all the pieces are covered, arrange them into the configuration that you would like for your desk unit.  You can choose to use as many or as few cans and bottles as you want, it is entirely customizable.

Step 7: Using the scrap cardboard, trace the location of each cup piece onto the cardboard, so you have a footprint of the final unit.  Cut this footprint out of the cardboard.  (I made the mistake of squaring the shape off, thinking that I would make my final outer edges square, until I realized that would be much more difficult and really I want to wrap the corks around each shape individually.  So, I had to go in and cut around the footprint after I had already attached everything, which was much more difficult.  So take my advice, cut around the footprint completely at this step.)

Step 8: Glue the cans into place.  In order to have the tops of all of the cans line up, even if they are different heights, you will need to add pieces of cardboard to the underside of the shorter cans, like platform shoes.  The plastic bottles will need something more like stilts…

Step 9: Finish gluing all of the cans and bottles into place.  It helps to add a bit of hot glue in between each can as well, to make sure that they are attached securely to each other as well as to the bottom piece of cardboard.

Step 10: Start gluing on the corks, making sure to follow the top edge of the cans and bottles.  Start with this top row and glue on at least two corks.

Step 11: Add a second row of corks by gluing them end to end with the first row of corks.  You can also trim pieces of cork to wedge into any in between spaces you might have.

the3Rsblog Recycled Desk Unit Steps 6-14

Step 12: You have two options.  Option 1 is what I did, which is to add a full third row of corks and then add a few extra pieces of cardboard to the underside of your cans, so that the whole unit is now three corks high.  Option 2 is you could cut down this third row of corks to match the actual height of your desk unit.  Either way, add a third row of corks.

Step 13: Once you have your starter rows finished, keep adding corks around the entire unit.  It is now easier to add them from the bottom, because corks are all different heights and if the top row is a bit uneven it doesn’t matter, but if the bottom row is uneven then your desk unit might not sit properly on your desk, like a restaurant table with a wonky leg.  No one wants a wobbly desk organizer.

Step 14: Continue adding corks until you have covered all sides of your unit.  I designed mine as a directional unit, with a back which I chose not to cover in corks.  This is your choice.  I think a smaller 2 can unit would be cute, completely covered in corks like a fat number 8.  I think you could do 3 or 4 cans in a row like a caterpillar.  The options are endless, and up to you!the3Rsblog Recycled Desk Unit Final 03

One reason I chose to use corks for the outside of this unit is because now not only do you have a place to organize pens and scissors, but you also have a built in message board where you can pin notes to yourself, or important business cards.  Anything small that you need to have at your fingertips can now be right there, attached to your pencil cup.

the3Rsblog Recycled Desk Unit Final 02

I’d love to hear if anyone tries to make a desktop unit of their own!  Enjoy, and happy 101st post to everyone!  Ciao, Allison

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4 Responses to Recycled Desk Unit

  1. Pingback: Reuse, Repurpose, Recycle- DIY Projects |

  2. Carine Lima says:

    It’s a very smart work! The idea of making a project that meets the 3 R’s is very interesting. Besides being a beautiful decoration object, it’s also a way of reuse materials that would be discarded. It also help us organize ours tasks and the objects that will be always easy to use.

  3. Pingback: 41 Tin Can Crafts - C.R.A.F.T.

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