My Craft FAIL: Yard Stick Desk

I admit it, I have many craft FAILS that are conveniently left off my blog. I thought I’d share this one because I am super pissed about it and need to vent! It had such potential…*sigh*.

I was inspired by this photo found on Pinterest:

Awesome, right? I had this old school desk that I thought would work great. It was in good structural condition but the top was a mess, so covering it with rulers would be perfect!

I got these yard sticks at the dollar store, 2 for $1. I was SO excited to find these. They obviously aren’t vintage, but I liked the different colored writing and designs and thought the unfinished rulers would be perfect for staining.

I measured the length of the desk top and cut them down to size with my handy jig saw.

Using E6000, I glued down the yard sticks and clamped them down good and tight to dry.

At this point things are going great and this project looks like it’s going to turn out awesome! I scraped of the glue lumps that seeped through using a small blade and then gave the top a light sanding to smooth it out. I also sanded down the edges to make them all flush with each other. This is where I should have stopped because it looked pretty cool.

Next comes the staining. I thought this Minwax stain was a medium shade, as it appeared on the label. Turns out it was a little darker than I thought.

TA-DA! So yeah…it’s WAY darker than I thought and there were all these little areas where stain did not absorb. I think that’s because there was glue residue on the surface that wasn’t completely sanded off.  It looks gross. I am contemplating sanding it down and trying a different stain or a different technique all together.  Just polyurethane? Should I? Or should I bag it…

Here she is…my major craft FAIL!!!

Oh well, I guess this is part of crafting. You gotta learn what works and what doesn’t. I’ll take another jab at it eventually since I have a sh*t load of yard sticks left over from the dollar store. Feel free to share your craft fails…I’ll post them here along with this hot mess!!!

22 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. LavenderHart
    Jul 29, 2012 @ 11:00:13

    Been there! Done that! Thrown out many fiascos.
    From the pictures it doesn’t look that bad. You are so talented that I have faith you can pull this off. Maybe sand it and try a different stain? At this point you have nothing to lose.
    LOVE the idea though. Good luck.


  2. Marcie
    Jul 29, 2012 @ 11:03:25

    I think maybe trying to stain the yard sticks prior to gluing them down would help.. at least that way we would know which ones would accept stain and the ones that won’t..just a thought 😉


  3. Rose
    Jul 29, 2012 @ 11:26:54

    Use a heat gun remove all yard sticks and do over. I would use a natural stain color (no color in it). Or if you find a lighter shade, try it first on a scrap piece of yard stick. Love the idea behind this! Good luck!


  4. Kris
    Jul 29, 2012 @ 11:27:16

    I don’t think it looks bad. It still has that rustic look. I aggree with Marcie. Maybe try staining the yard sticks before gluing them down. It almost looks like the Pinterest desk has different color stains used on the yard sticks. Good luck. Either way I think it looks good.


  5. Pam
    Jul 29, 2012 @ 12:22:18

    I actually don’t think this looks that bad. Yes it would probably look a little better if it were lighter, so I would say definately sand it down and try that. Cute idea!


  6. Tracy
    Jul 29, 2012 @ 12:44:37

    I still like yours…I really do! I found that original posting on Pinterest of that desk. Their directions said they used a clear shellac instead of a stain ???
    I’ve worked with some new yardsticks in the past and seems like mine were made from super light/absorbant balsa wood and just grabbed onto any type of stain I tried. Even tried the gel stain and it just soaked it up like a sponge and was so blotchy. Maybe since your’s already has stain on them now, you could sand it with a brown paper bag and then try a clear shellac sealer over the top? Let us know what you try…but I still say your desk is very cool! “MY” craft fail…pulling the straight pin out of the Super Glue tube with my front teeth while, yes I did, squeezing the other end with my thumb & fingers. It came out alright…onto my lips, chin and $$$$$ dental bridge!


  7. cathys niggli
    Jul 29, 2012 @ 16:13:27

    think they used old /new and did
    a clear coat


  8. cathys niggli
    Jul 29, 2012 @ 16:14:14

    if all else fails -paint it


  9. Sara
    Jul 29, 2012 @ 16:28:58

    I say give it another try..i think its a very cute idea. Yeah yours didnt turn out like that one but yours still looks cool. 🙂


  10. Cheryl
    Jul 29, 2012 @ 20:13:16

    I would try using something like a paint thinner and a scrub brush to go over it. Maybe that would lighten it.


  11. Barbara Briggs Ward
    Jul 29, 2012 @ 21:29:25

    I’d leave it as is-has a character all its own which is part of crafting.


  12. Lesley
    Jul 29, 2012 @ 21:35:07

    I would be afraid if you sanded the existing top you might sand the lettering and numbers off completely. I read a previous poster saying remove the sticks with a heat gun and try again if you have loads of yard sticks. No doubt the yardsticks you bought are probably made in China and they do not use quality products. I say maybe just redo and do not use a stain and in time with wear your sticks will look worn on their own. HTH


  13. thehairyhoudini
    Jul 30, 2012 @ 05:01:43

    I would remove the rulers, buy new ones, reapply and then paint over with a clear matt varnish. i have no idea why you’d want to stain it when it’s got the lettering you liked so much… try again and then sell it on – it’s obviously a popular design if it’s doing the rounds on pinterest : )


  14. Michelle
    Jul 31, 2012 @ 18:29:39

    I saw a vintage staining concoction on pinterest that would maybe give a milder effect


  15. cyndee@Restyled Junk
    Jul 31, 2012 @ 21:16:28

    I think it looks great, although a little dark. I’d try rubbing it down with mineral spirits or turpentine to lighten it.


  16. Cori and Skotte
    Aug 01, 2012 @ 19:28:19

    Hmm, I wouldn’t call it “fail”… you did a great job. But, maybe removing then stain, and then just using a clear would be best. If you want to go to the most trouble, do what the others suggest and remove the rulers, stain them first, then glue it all down.

    I think we’re all learning from your process. Thanks for sharing!


  17. Angela
    Aug 02, 2012 @ 00:51:22

    Maybe a light rub with actetone and then a clear seal. I would NOT remove them. Too much time in all that. It will look darkish still along the seams, but that will be cool and prim and it will sell right away I imagine.


  18. Eva Halloween
    Aug 02, 2012 @ 13:47:35

    Oh, HA. Who hasn’t been there?? 😉

    I once spent hours making a very cool candle holder that needed to be filled with resin. At the last minute, I misjudged the mix and it melted through my cup, cementing loose marbles to, oh…me, the art project, a plate, the patio table, and yes, the cement the patio itself. Probably should have known the mix was wrong as soon as it started smoking!


  19. Connie
    Aug 02, 2012 @ 19:01:31

    Can you lightly sand over the top with fine sand paper to get some of the minwax off. You can destress it and it will look great. Keep at it its only darker than you like and i believe that is due to the raw wood of the yard sticks. Primitive is old and beat up looking guess thats why I like it. Connie


  20. dollarstorecraftsdotcom
    Sep 20, 2012 @ 21:47:16

    I don’t think it’s a fail at all, but whenever you have fails, please send them my way for! 🙂


  21. justjenn
    Oct 20, 2014 @ 00:17:27

    Thank you for sharing your “fail”. Now I know stuff like this happens to all you talented bloggers who seem like you were born with a staple gun in your hands. It’s quite comforting to know that some pieces you create don’t look like they belong in a decorator magazine!
    I’m curious how this piece turned out finally. I agree that staining the yardsticks ahead of time is best, and I would go with multiple shades of stain so each appears to be a different age.


    • Eyeballs By Day, Crafts By Night
      Oct 20, 2014 @ 12:59:32

      Hi Jen! What a nightmare the desk turned into…lol. It came out pretty much looking like it did in that last photo. No matter what I tried to do to doctor it up and fix it, it just kinda looked like crap. I must say though that it did look a tiny bit better in person than in the photo, and I did end up selling it at my co-op for pretty cheap ($20?). It’s all part of crafting and I know we all have our “fails” now and then. Thanks for visiting my blog! 🙂


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