It’s official: a new school year is upon us! And it’s time for a fun + desk-related project. This DIY incorporates two of my favorite things — fresh school supplies, and cement. Best of all, it’s not just for pens and pencils. This handsome + utilitarian item can be designed to hold any number and any size of desk accessories. The style and layout is all up to you.
Don’t be anxious about working with cement for this project. Yes, it requires concentration, a bit of muscle (which surely you have in spades), and an odd combination of working fast and waiting. But the end product is worth it. These heavy duty holders would look handsome on any desk.
Ready to get to work? Let’s go.
– cardboard/papier maché forms
– dowels, various sizes
– wax paper
– glue gun or tape
We used Rapid Set Cement All because it sets up so quickly. Of course you can use any kind of cement that you’d like. With Rapid Set, you must work very quickly. It’s good because the project will be done sooner however, it does require fast moving and it’s a little sweat inducing. : )
After a couple of tests, we decided wooden dowels wrapped in wax paper were the easiest to prep, most cost effective option. Other ‘pencil slot making’ options include wide metal dowels (found in the rebar section), various sizes of knitting needles or PVC pipe.
First, wrap the applicable dowels in wax paper and secure with hot glue or tape. The wax paper prevents the cement from sticking to the wood (because it really sticks!!).
Before any cement is prepped, take some time to plan the layout of the pencil holder. You can sketch it, use a grid or just lay it out. This step is vital, especially if you use Rapid Set cement. Your time is limited to get things placed before the cement sets and it’s best to plan it in advance.
When you have your layout decided, you can prepare the cement, according to the manufacturer’s directions. Pour the cement in your form, shake it to settle the cement into the corners and edges of the form.
Place the wax paper wrapped dowels into the cement. Watch the dowels because they might shift and lean and wiggle, especially when other dowels are added. As you place them, keep shaking the form to resettle the cement around the dowels.
As the cement sets up, especially the Rapid Set, twist and wiggle the dowels. If you leave them still until the cement completely sets, the dowels will be stuck — this advice is based on experience! Hah! Once the cement is holding up on its own around the dowels, remove the dowels, even if the whole form isn’t completely dry.
After removing the dowels, allow the form to completely dry.
Once the cement has completely dried, peel or cut away the outer form. An optional step is to use a sander to smooth out rough edges.
Lastly, we added some metallic doodles to the pencil holder with a silver Sharpies when the cement was dry. You could create patterns, add someone’s initials with a stencil, or even keep the cement organizer plain and simple.
Then the most satisfying part: choosing the products to put in the slots! Fill it with colorful school supplies and tada!, you’ve made an awesome desk organizer — or maybe a gift for your favorite teacher.
Here’s to a fantastic new school year!
P.S. — DIY etched soap dispensers.
Created by Amy Christie for Design Mom.
8 thoughts on “Easy DIY: Make This Industrial-Chic Cement Pencil Holder”
This is fantastic. We have been painting rocks with fingernail polish, but oh my, there are only so many rocks you can use.
I love this as I genuinely want my girls to know their own ability to make, to solve, and to conquer anything. Just last week I gutted my laundry room, reasserting the skills I learned as a scenic carpenter more than ten years ago. Somehow I had let myself forget that ‘yes, I can.’
Thank you for this. We really will be doing it!
Yay! I hope you have so much fun with this project.
I would love to attempt this. Very cool and industrial. I would like to discuss French even though it’s unrelated to this post since I don’t know if you go back and check comments on previous posts after a while. My 7 yr old daughter just started her second year in dual language immersion, French here in Utah. We have loved it! I have 2 girls younger than her that will be in the program as well when the time comes. However, my eldest daughter, that’s 10 did not get the chance to be involved in the immersion program because she was too old when it became an opportunity at our school. How did your children learn the language? Soley from living in France and attending school there or did you supplement before, during or after with some particular program or method? What advice would you give? I’d love to hear since my 10 yr old would teally like to learn the language as well as my husband and I, since chances are they’ll all be communicating and plotting behind our backs someday.
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Simply and lovely DIY, surely I can do this together with my kids, that should be quite a bit of fun.