Wine corks, just like their glass bottle brethren, are often saved with the best intentions. You want to save the memory, you’ll put it in a shadowbox eventually, you’ll find something to do with it, it’s a…great addition to the infamous junk drawer? Typically that’s where they’ll sit, red-stained tokens of an anniversary dinner or rosé-filled girl’s night-in, collecting dust and generally taking up space. Well, no longer — make those drinking trophies work for you by transforming them into handy tools around the house, decorations, or gifts.
The possibilities of wine cork crafting are practically endless, and if you do these crafts while drinking a bottle of wine, you’re already stocking up materials for the next project. Genius. A great place to start is a wine cork necklace holder, which only requires a scrap piece of wood, some spare wine corks, a pot for boiling water, adhesive, and a couple of hours.
Materials you’ll need:
- Scrap piece of wood
- Wine corks
- Superglue, hot glue gun, or another type of strong adhesive
- Small saucepan
- A serrated knife or small saw
- Ruler or measuring tape
- Paint (optional)
- Sandpaper (optional)
Look for any rough corners or patches on the face of the wood and lightly sand with fine-grain sandpaper (I used 220 — the higher the number, the finer the grain) until your desired smoothness is achieved. Check the wood frequently to make sure you’re not creating any smoothed-out divots along the flat surface. If you’re planning on leaving the wood bare, be careful not to sand the board so much the natural wood grain is buffed out.
First, prep your piece of wood. This can be any size you like, but for the sake of keeping your necklaces untangled and neat, we recommend sticking with a rectangular shape if possible — any overlap on the corks can cause the hanging chains to twist and tangle into one another. My partner was in the middle of building a deck for his folks, and I dug through his scrap pile and pulled out a rectangular piece approx. 19 3/8” long.
Set the board aside to dry while you prepare your corks.
The next (optional) step is to paint your masterpiece! This can be done with acrylic paint or spray paint, and the design options are virtually endless. Here are some great methods for painting ombre, flowers, or geometric designs onto the wood. If your initial design doesn’t come out as expected, roll with the punches and keep going! My initial plan for a black to purple to yellow ombre transformed into a lavender/yellow swirl that reminds me of an impressionist painting. I added white paint flecks for added dimension. Not what I intended originally, but I’m happy with the result!
- Fill a small saucepan with water and set over medium to high heat. Bring to a boil and drop in your corks. Continue boiling for ten minutes — the corks will swell up and any indentations caused by being stuck back into the bottle will pop out.
- Measure the entire length of your board. (Mine is approx. 19 3/8 ” long.)
Use a wet cloth to soak up any leaking super glue or use your hands to pull away any remaining hot glue strings. Let the corks sit for a few minutes while the glue solidifies.
Once your measurements are marked, you can start gluing! Place a small dollop of hot glue or super glue over the marks and firmly press the cut end of the cork onto the center of the dollop. Repeat until all of the corks are glued in place.
Pro tip: Your corks don’t necessarily need to be placed in the middle of your board. Placing your corks along the top or bottom length of your board leaves room for designs, additional hook options, etc. For my organizer, I marked the halfway point of the board’s width and arranged my corks along that line.
From there, measure and mark your equal increments from left to right (for me, this is 3”). If you’ve done your equations correctly, there should be an empty space after the last cork’s mark that is equal to the empty space on the left side of the board (and if it’s not perfect, it should at least be close enough for jazz).
Using a pencil, lightly mark your determined amount of “free space” from the left side of the board (in my case, I measured out 2 3/16”). This will be where your first cork is placed, and this is why you need to account for one less cork than will be on the board. The first cork is actually “point zero” from which your equidistant increments will start.
Next, figure out how much extra space that leaves you with for your edges. Subtract the new number you came up with from the board’s overall length. Divide that number by two to determine how much space each edge will have. So for my organizer, the equation looks like this:
19 3/8” – 15” = 4 3/8”; 4 3/8” divided by 2 = 2 3/16”
(I used this handy guide for converting lesser-known fractions and decimals.)
Based on these measurements, there will be 2 3/16” of empty space before the first cork and after the last cork.
Find a measurement smaller than the board’s overall length that is the highest divisible number of the number of corks you have minus one. For example, I have six corks. The highest number divisible by five (six corks minus one) that is still less than 19 3/8” is 15”, which will let all six corks be evenly spaced three inches apart over a total span of 15”.
In order to keep your corks evenly spaced, you’ll need to determine how much room they have length-wise to spread out and how much space will be between the first and last corks and the edges of the board.
Once your corks are cut and your paint is dry, it’s time to start measuring. For this step, you’ll need a ruler or measuring tape to evenly space your corks across the wooden board. Since there’s no set size for the board itself, follow this general rule:
Make sure to slice the cork as straight as possible, and always slice off a thinner chunk than you think you might need — you can always cut more cork off, but you can’t stick it back on. Once you have your first cork cut, use it as a cutting guide for the rest of the corks so they’re as uniform as possible.
Using a serrated knife, cut the cork to your desired length. Typically, at least 1” will be long enough to securely hold even a chunky necklace. I chose to cut off the sides that I used the wine opener on — it looks neater, and I like the wine-stained look of the bottom of the cork. If you’re one of those people who can use a wine opener and not utterly demolish the top of your cork, take your pick on which side you’d like to slice.
After ten minutes, begin taking the corks out one by one using tongs. The corks will cool quickly after they’re taken out of the water, so you can handle them with your hands to cut them — just be cautious. They did just take a bath in boiling hot water.
Your necklace organizer is complete! Attach to your wall using Command adhesive strips or with frame hanging wire. Adorn with all your favorite jewelry you’d like to keep easily accessible, and you’re done! Your collection of wine corks finally has a new purpose — and it’s not to remind you of that one night you drank an entire bottle of White Zin by yourself. That can stay a secret between you and your new jewelry organizer.