Making Modern Cufflinks

The other day, I made the annual pilgrimage to the Giant Sussex Flea Market.  I have been going to the event for about the past seven years and I am always amazed at the number of vendors (~900) and the size of the event (up to 100 acres).  This year, after spending about four hours walking through most of the event, I came away with three pair of outdated cufflinks for $3.50!  That is cheaper than the price of admission.  My wife Sarah only fared a little better; she scored a ceramic coffee mug and a garbage can for the bathroom.  You may think that I was skunked, but my plan was to transform/upcycle these cufflinks in to modern wonders.

The first thing I had to do was remove the outdated decorative pieces from the hinge pins.  To do that, I used two pair of pliers.  Tip:  I wrapped the jaws of each pair of pliers with electrical tape to make sure they did not leave imprints on the hinge pins.  Letting my imagination run wild, I came up with some ideas for the cufflinks:

  1. playing dice
  2. Lego blocks
  3. Lego people

To create the playing dice, I cut two dies in half using a hack saw.  I used a bench vice to hold each die while I cut it.  To avoid getting teeth marks in each die, I wrapped them with electrical tape.  As a temporary connection, I used a dab of crazy glue to attach a hinge pin to each die.  I used quick-set (5 minute) epoxy to create a stronger connection.  I used electrical tape to build a 2mm high wall around the backside of each die.  I poured/scooped the epoxy into the hollow space and allowed it to cure before removing the electrical tape.  To avoid unwanted epoxy getting on the hinge pin, I wrapped them with electrical tape in the open position.

For the Lego blocks, I removed the interior structural part on the underside using a pair of needle-nose pliers.  Once that was removed, I filled the space about half full with quick-set epoxy.  I then used hot-glue to temporarily attach a hinge pin to the underside of each Lego block (crazy glue will not work to create the temporary attachment).  The remaining hollow space on the back of each Lego block was filled with quick-set epoxy.  Again, I wrapped the hinge pins with electrical tape.  I also wrapped the outside of each Lego block with electrical tape to keep off unwanted epoxy.

For the final pair of cufflinks, I used Lego Storm Troopers.  To make sure all parts of the Troopers would stay in place, I glued each piece in place using crazy glue.  I attached a hinge pin to the back of a Trooper using a dab of crazy glue.  I created about a 2mm hollow on the back of each Trooper and surrounding the hinge pin using electrical tape and thin plastic (like a report cover).  The space was filled using quick-set epoxy.

It took me about an hour or more to create each pair of cufflinks.  The most time-consuming part was creating the moulds for building up the epoxy on the undersides of the playing dice and Storm Troopers.  Overall, I am pleased with the result.  I am looking forward, once fall and cooler temperatures arrive, to wear them out and about.  I have some thoughts for other cufflinks too:

  • salmon flies
  • beer/bottle caps
  • keyboard/typewriter keys
  • scrabble letter blocks
  • pennies
  • computer processor chips
  • angry birds
  • bolts

Penny Tile Floor

A few months back, my wife Sarah was browsing Pinterest and saw a photo of a kitchen floor tiled in pennies.  We both thought it was pretty cool and a good way to preserve our soon to be extinct (from production) penny.  I was able to find a few online sites with instructions, but of course, they were from someone in the States or living in a big city.  Therefore, I had to make several alterations.  As I was building the floor, I had many friends and family asking about how to do such a project.  I decided to document the materials I used and the step-wise procedure.

Penny Tile Floor Instructions

Ok, here are the small Canadian Town instructions on how to construct a penny floor.  Why do I say this?  The instructions I read on the internet assumed you could readily get sticky fiberglass mats, chocolate truffle coloured grout, and industrial-grade epoxy – not so where I live!

Below is a list of materials you will need to lay a penny tile floor like mine.  I have included where I purchased the materials.

  • 224 pennies per square foot (I had to visit three banks to get enough pennies for my $38 floor)
  • Meranti plywood (5/16” thick) – available at Kent Building Supplies (about $10 per 4’ x 8’ sheet)
  • Three 2 x 4s (8’ long) – available at Kent Building Supplies (about $3 per 2 x 4)
  • Tobacco-coloured Polyblend sanded grout for joints from 1/8” to ½” – available at Home Depot (about $12 per box, which does about 18 sqft for these instructions)
  • Glue sticks – available at Home Depot (about $10 per pack of 20, which does about $20 worth of pennies for these instructions)
  • Lepage PL400 subfloor and deck adhesive – available at Kent Building Supplies (about $7 per 28oz tube)
  • Stoneffects protective high gloss clear epoxy countertop coating – available at Kent Building Supplies (about $75 per kit, which does about 18 sqft for these instructions)
  • Two 2” polyester/nylon blend paint brush – available at Kent Building Supplies (about $5 per brush and it takes two brushes for these instructions)
  • One sheet of 60 grit sandpaper – available at Kent Building Supplies (about $1 per sheet and it takes one sheet for these instructions)
  • One sheet of 400 grit wet/dry sandpaper – available at Kent Building Supplies (about $1 per sheet and it takes one sheet for these instructions)

Below is a list of tools you will need to lay a penny tile floor like mine.

  • Hammer
  • Crowbar
  • Flush cut saw
  • Chisel
  • Utility knife
  • Scraper
  • Palm sander
  • Circular saw
  • Tape measure
  • Straight edge
  • Pen/marker
  • Glue gun
  • Tin snips
  • Caulking gun
  • Bucket
  • Grout float
  • Sponge
  • Microfibre cloth

Now, here are the step-by-step instructions that I used to complete the floor.

1)    Remove baseboards and trim door casings.

  • I used a crowbar and hammer to remove the baseboards.
  • I used a flush cut saw to trim the door casings.
  • It took me about 15 minutes to do this.

2)    Remove the original floor.

  • In my case, I had to remove an old imitation brick linoleum floor using a scraper and utility knife.
  • It took me about 30 minutes to remove the floor on 18 sqft primarily because it was glued down so well.

3)    Fix subfloor imperfections.

  • In my case, two sheets of plywood were joined near the centre of the floor and one was about 1/8” higher than the other so I had to trim the high one down with a chisel.
  • I had to use scraper and a lot of elbow grease to remove the old glue that held the linoleum floor down.
  • I sanded the clean floor with 60 grit sandpaper.
  • It took me about 2 hours to fix all of the imperfections

4)    Measure the space to be tiled.

5)    Cut the Meranti plywood to fit the space to be tiled.

  • In my case, the area to be tiled was smaller than one sheet.
  • If you were doing a space larger, I would suggest doing the area in 4’x8’ sheets and then filling in the spaces between the sheets after laying the floor down.
  • This took me about 15 minutes to measure and cut.

6)    Layout a grid pattern on the Meranti plywood.

  • In one direction, I spaced my lines ¾” apart while in the other direction I spaced them 7/8” apart; doing so produced a perfect spacing for the pennies when they were staggered – in one column the pennies were inside the square while in the next column the pennies startled two squares).
  • It took me about 45 minutes to layout the grid pattern.

7)    Glue the pennies to the Meranti plywood.

  • I placed the Meranti plywood atop my dining room table so that I could sit comfortably and glue down the pennies.
  • I put a small dollop of hot glue on the underside of each penny and pressed them firmly in place.
  • I did not discriminate with my pennies except if they showed considerable staining/greening or were marked up with cuts – I used Canadian pennies, American pennies, and Bermuda pennies and I oriented them face up and face down.  For a very random layout, I picked each penny from a pile of clean pennies without looking at
    it.  Then I put glue on the penny and pushed it down into place on the plywood.
  • Along the edges I used half pennies, which were created by using the tin snips to cut the pennies in half – works very well.
  • It took me about an hour to glue down about $4 worth of pennies.

8)    Apply the adhesive to the subfloor.

  • I spread the adhesive evenly across the floor using a scrap of wood.
  • It took me about 5 minutes to do this.

9)    Place Meranti plywood covered in pennies over the adhesive covered subfloor.

  • The Meranti plywood does not have a lot of self-support, so I used the 2x4s to lift the plywood off the table to the area where the floor was laid.
  • I let the adhesive between the two subfloors cure for 24 hours.

10) Grout the joints.

  • I mixed the grout as per the instructions.
  • I used my hands to first push the grout around on the floor and into the joints.
  • I used the grout float to clean off the majority of the grout atop the pennies and then used the sponge to remove the last bits of grout.
  • It took me about 45 minutes to grout the floor and wipe down the pennies with the sponge.
  • I let the grout cure for 72 hours.

11) Polish the pennies clean.

  • I used a damp microfiber cloth to wipe down the pennies and ensure that all of the remaining grout on them was off.
  • It took me about 20 minutes to do this.

12) Lay the first coat of Epoxy.

  • I mixed the epoxy as per the instructions.
  • I poured the epoxy on top of the floor and then spread it out using the paintbrush.
  • I let the epoxy cure for 48 hours.

13) Sand the first coat of Epoxy.

  • I used a palm sander with 400 grit wet/dry sandpaper to sand down little imperfections in the first coat of epoxy – some little strings of hot glue that I didn’t get off created some bumps as did some of the grout.  I found it best to mist the floor with water, sand, and then wipe down.
  • It took me about 45 minutes to sand out the imperfections.

14) Lay the second coat of epoxy.

  • I made sure the floor was good and clean after the sanding.
  • I mixed the epoxy as per the instructions.
  • I poured the epoxy on the top of the floor and then spread it out using a paintbrush.
  • I let the epoxy cure for 96 hours before walking on it.

15) Reinstall baseboards.

  • In my case I cut and installed new baseboards.

16) Enjoy your original floor!


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