Chic on the Cheap: Vintage Fork Napkin Rings

Monday, November 22, 2010

With all the travel and holiday talk around here, a diy project has been long overdue. It’s a simple but good one because its relatively easy and (if you have the tools) cheap. Thankfully, I had the husband's brute strength to take care of all the hard bits.

More than a year ago, I picked up a little collection of vintage spoons and forks for a few bucks at a junks store. My plan was to make one of those cutlery chandeliers but that never quite worked out. So that flatware was staring me in the face, daring me to do something with them. It took me long enough but I finally came up with the idea to repurpose them into napkin rings.

ForksBefore
LetterStampSet
Materials needed: Old forks, metal stamp set, (I have this one but it doesn't seem to be sold anymore so I imagine this one would also work.), vice, small section of galvanized pipe, vice grips, rubber mallet, sharpie marker, nail polish remover.

I should mention at this point that the cutlery I was using was quite heavy so it made this project more difficult than it had to be. If I were to buy more with this project in mind, I'd pick a lighter weight version. Also, if you have a proper workbench with a vice screwed into it (as opposed to the jimmy rig concoction we were using), this would be even easier. We made do with what we had.

It took some trial and error before we figured out the best way to get this accomplished. First things first, imprint the forks while they are still in their original shape. LetterStampingLetterStamping2
ForksStamped

Originally I wanted to stamp in the word for 'eat' in all different languages. Mr. L was wise enough to point out that managing to get 3 letters per fork in somewhat decent shape was going to be hard enough. Ok, point to him.

As you can see in the photos, this is a three handed job. I imagine there are better ways of doing this but we couldn't figure it out. Hand stampers - do you have any tips?

So now its time for the real hard work - bending the spoon into a ring. Holding a length of 2 inch pipe in the vice, bang the spoon against it with a rubber mallet until its in a semi - ring shape. We couldn't get them into perfect circles this way but that didn't really matter. As long is it held the napkin, I was happy.
BendingFork1BendingFork2
BendingFork3

Bang Bang Bang. Bang. Bang. Bang. You get the idea. You'll want to start with the end of the fork so that you can turn it without hitting the tines.


DarkeningtheImprintSharpie

At this point they are functional but the imprint is a bit hard to read. Enter a sharpie marker. Have a little cotton ball with some acetone on it standing by. Rub the imprint with the sharpie, let sit for a minute and carefully wipe the excess away with the acetone. This takes a bit of a finesse to get the ink off the face of the fork without removing it from the letter grooves but eventually I mastered it.

DarkeningtheImprint3
The ones on the left are about to be sharpied, the two at the right already got their treatment. Makes quite a difference.

After that was all done, I had 12 lovely vintage forks turned napkin rings. Or as Mr. Limestone calls them, Frings.
FringsinUse2FringsinUse
FinishedFrings

Next step is to have a matching set of 12 napkins and Ill feel much more like a grown up.

66 comments:

  1. Awesome. You go girl with your tools and stuff! Love the addition of the imprint!

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  2. Love the imprint idea. I've seen the napkin rings in antique stores, but could never figure out how to bend them. Of course you had the solution. Brilliant!

    -Rene

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  3. What a neat idea. Such a great post. If only I had tools like this in my arsenal.

    http://mrgoodwillhunting.blogspot.com

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    1. The vice that she mentioned I bought one from Harbor Freight Tools years ago still have it. Mine isn't real big sits on my work bench in our garage. You could maybe order one but they are heavy and the SH charges might be high. The vice itself wasn't that expensive. Check your Home Depot,,Lowes,,etc.

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  4. what a clever idea!!!

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  5. Love this! I have always wanted to try this with spoons. Thanks for sharing your tips.

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  6. Maybe I copy that idea:))Funny and nice:)

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  7. Oh I love that , and I have the stamps too , I am so going to do something like this , thanks for spuring a new idea for me .

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  8. This is so cool! I love this!

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  9. Very cool! You are so clever.

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  10. Wow what a cute idea! I love how the frings turned out. Clever.

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  11. Your table looks beautiful and what a great idea, love the stamped "eat"! Janell

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  12. Love this! Very clever to stamp the 'EAT' into each fork... I might try a set with a monogram!

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  13. Great project. I'm always trying to "rig" things too. Ugh! They came out really, great though...now I'll quit passing up the vintage silver!

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  14. How Creative!!!! I adore these and so will your guests...

    xoxo
    Karena

    Art by Karena

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  15. pure lovely-ness!! Wow and what a great gift for a newly married couple with their initials! cute cute

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  16. I love this project!!! So clever and cute. Off to the flea market for forks I go!

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  17. I love it! It's going on my to do list!

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  18. Your house is so beautiful, I enjoy all the little details! Keep 'em coming!

    http://viapecetto.blogspot.com/

    P.S. Your Halloween was super fab, I live in Italy and they don't celebrate it here. I miss it so great blogs like yours makes gives me a bit of home.

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  19. They look great.Well done.
    I live in Sheffield UK and we have a shop here( Don Alexander) that stocks all things made in Sheffield including things made with cutlery such as bangles and coat hooks. Sadly the website dosen't feature them
    They look very much like the napkin rings you made.
    ZoeB

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  20. Oooh, they're lovely! I've been itching to do something similar since I saw vintage spoons bent into hooks at a local gift store. These could make fab Christmas gifts too.... Thanks for the idea!
    Nikki

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  21. You just opened my world with that stamp set! Why did I think those things were so prohibitively expensive? Thank you!

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  22. Oh how lovely (and a little whimsical!)

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  23. So cute! They remind me of a spoon ring I got from my grandpa a long time ago!

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  24. Love that you two work on projects like this together!

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  25. Totally worth the work, they came out great! Thanks for sharing your process, I'll be linking.

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  26. So glad you did this project - these turned out fabulous!

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  27. LOVE it!! I actually have some vintage silver (!) forks and such, but they are for a jewelry project. I'm 23, and my dining table seats 2 and wobbles. I'm not yet at the stage of life that calls for place settings or sit-down dinners. But that doesn't mean I won't be bookmarking this for someday!

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  28. What a cool idea, I love them! You two are an awesome team.

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  29. That is an amazing DIY project!!! It looks fabulous!

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  30. I linked you in my blog post! {It will be up tomorrow} thisandthatcreative.blogspot.com Would love if you stopped by!

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  31. What a Lovely Idea. Thanks for Sharing

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  32. Oh my gosh, these are so great! Love 'em. You are one creative gal :)

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  33. Nice to see a different option to napkin rings.

    Happy Thanksgiving.

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  34. what a cool thing you made! I love it! and you are so funny too! nate might be calling you back for this one!

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  35. Love the sharpie trick! Thanks for sharing this fun project.

    xo,
    cristin

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  36. What a great idea! So creative!

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  37. Oh nooooo! I gave away a box of silver cutlery because I had no idea what to do with it all and now I have to scrounge some more to make this gorgeous and clever craft!

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  38. this is so great! the final product is beautiful and unique. well done.

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  39. Love this! I've always wanted that punch set! Thanks, Heidi

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  40. Ack! Do you have any idea how much I love these?! And I wouldn't even have ANY cloth napkins to use them on if I was brave enough to try this myself!

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  41. Wow, you are genius. So clever and unique. You're awesome!

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  42. cute!! a friend of mine brought a vintage fork and a spoon to the silversmith and got a great pair of bracelets. I will send you the photos if I can take some. Love the idea of the napkin rings too!

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  43. pretty, I linked to your post

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  44. WOW! What a fabulous idea! Hubbs is gonna wanna kill me because now I just HAVE TO HAVE a metal stamp set... ;)

    ~Jazz

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  45. LOVE this idea. Just perfect. tahnks so much for sharing.

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  46. I've seen bracelets made from old cutlery, but napkin rings seem so much cuter! I love the stamping you did - a very whimsical touch. These are simply gorgeous!! ~Tanya

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  47. Love the idea and the sharpie pen was a great thought! Mr. Limestone is a dear to do all that work for napkin rings:)

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  48. They look stunning on your table! The little touches make a big difference!

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  49. I love the fork rings! My favorite antique store uses a similar idea with a fork bent and glued to a small chalkboard to keep the chalk in. They write a welcome message on the board at the tea area.

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  50. I love these!

    Congrats on being a grown up! Haha

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  51. Anonymous9:27 AM

    Just perfect! happy thanksgiving x Michelle Gregory, England

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  52. A very creative recycled project!

    Paul

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  53. I love these! Thanks for showing how you made them. I always wondered how letters were imprinted on metal things like this. I would love to try these one day! Thanks.

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  54. You have just given me an idea! I would love to make napkin rings out of metal flashing or sheet copper - and the addition of the lettering is phenomenal! YOU ROCK!!

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  55. Thank you so much for sharing this and presenting it so well. I ordered a stamp set, gathered some forks and am going to give it a go momentarily...

    A question: What size letters are you using? I got 1/4" and looking at your photos I"m thinking maybe I should have purchased 1/8".

    Thanks for the inspiration!

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  56. they make markers with really small tips.. do you think that would work. they are permanent..

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  57. Hello, nice project.
    Just to "up" your level a little, to make the imprint stand out the traditional silversmithing way, what you use is a mixture of sulfer and vaseline (to make it a paste). Put the paste in/over the imprint making sure it enters the cracks. Wipe off the surface without wiping off the inside (so as to limite the cleanup afterwards). Let sit under a lightbulb to slightly heat up the mixture/surface. You'll see the imprint darken. When it reaches desired darkness, wash clean. If you need to clean up any surfaces, use a polishing cloth with some kind of polishing paste (might be optional).

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  58. Well, have forks galore since I found some great deals at garage sales, now for a early Christmas present for me...a stamping kit! Thanks for a great idea

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  59. You asked for a little help about stamping, so here's a something that should help you,
    first take your fork and lay it on edge on a 2 by 4 and draw a line along the edge of the
    fork, next if you have a scroll saw or band saw cut along the line, now you have a stamping
    jig you can use, one part for stamping the top and another for stamping the bottom.

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  60. I used a small screw and a piece of wood scrap I put the screw between the tines tighten the screw stamp loosen screw remove fork and put in the next one retighten. A spoon requires 2 screws place in the narrow area where the bowl and handle join tighten stamp and release

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  61. use a small screw and a piece of scrap wood place between the tines of the fork tighten screw stamp then loosen a bit remove fork insert next fork stamp ect. a spoon takes 2 screws one on either side of the spoon place at the spot where the bowl and handle narrow, tighten screws stamp and proceed to next spoon good luck and have fun

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  62. here is what I do...place a piece of felt over an anvil or railroad tie (flat top necessary obviously). Lay utensil atop that. Lay a strip of duct tape across the utensil, affixing firmly to the sides of the anvil for best stability. When done stamping, lift one side of tape for free utensil, then set the next. each piece of duct tape will last long enough to do several pieces until it is no longer sticky enough. Also...my husband gave me his dead blow hammer to reduce the rebound and stress to your arm.

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