The goal was to make one medal hanger each, but one which could be hung anywhere as we’re unable to drill holes in our walls
We’ve teased you on Instagram with a few shots of Helena carving and sanding her very own medal hanger. Some time back she asked if it would be possible to make our custom hangers rather than buying one online. Whilst they look very nice, you can only customise them to a certain extent or not at all. Most of them are also made of metal and have to be hung on a wall, which wasn’t an option for Helena. What we were looking for instead was a more rugged and organic product, to match the racing experiences we’ve had.
Being a creative person with love for DIY and handy work, I immediately started sketching some ideas out on paper. We set goals and expectations based on material limitations, medal count, prospects and such. The main goal here was to make a medal hanger for each of us, which could be hung anywhere, thus also giving you the flexibility to put it into a different place after a while. A solution to this was to attach back-facing hooks, which could snap on top of any cupboard or closet door, yet stay stable in spite of constant movement.
Overall Time: 1 hour + 1 hour for decoration (optional)
Here are the steps we took to make our own medal hangers from scratch:
1. Materials and Tools (per board)
All of these materials can be found at your local B&Q or any other DIY & home improvement store across the world. It shouldn’t cost you more than $15 in total:
- 2 x aluminium C-shaped hooks with holes for nails (ours were “fence fixing clips”. Being made of aluminium means that you will be able to straighten out the bend so that the hook sits firmly against the board.)
- A wooden shelf or wooden floor piece of your choice (If you’ll want to carve your board for decoration as we did, get a softer wooden plank.)
- Small screws to fix the hooks from the backside
- Lost head or Oval wire nails. If the name does not tell you much these are just nails with smaller heads that are rounded, thus look nicer. We will use them to hang actual medals on.
- An exacto knife or a heavy duty box knife
We used a bunch of DIY tools that you probably already have in your household: a pen, a ruler, an electric screwdriver, a hammer, an eraser, a saw and some sanding paper to smoothen out the edges.
2. Measure Twice, Cut Once
This golden rule of carpentry (and well-known proverb) gives you all the guidance needed to produce a neatly crafted product. It’s especially important when we’re working with semi-stable material wood.
We purchased a big shelf plan, a couple of meters long, which we measured and cut into several pieces for individual medal hangers. This is where you will need to be extra careful especially if using electric saw.
Once cut, use sandpaper to smoothen out the edges.
3. Hammer Time
Let’s get to the more actionable step of hammer time. Start by measuring and marking with a pencil the spots where you wish the nails to go. A good way to go about this is to draw a couple of straight lines and then mark the spots for nails so that they are arranged symmetrically from the centre of the lines and outwards. If you have 2 rows we suggest alternating and creating a zigzag pattern in order for your medals to hang in a wavy pattern – this should reduce overlapping.
Now that you have measured and marked the specific spots it is time to hammer those nails in well. Depending on the width of your wooden plank, you might want to get them only an inch or so deep. Once done, simply erase the pencil marks and you have a very basic version of a medal hanger. Now let’s get to the more advanced bits.
4. Preparing Hooks and Putting it All Together
As we wanted to be able to hang our boards on any door or other edged surfaces, we had to prepare our hooks to fit those requirements. One by one we hammered the aluminium fence hooks, to straighten the bend so that the hooks become a C-shape. We then measured out the spots to screw them in, and did so using an electric screwdriver. Note that we did this after hammering the nails in. Hammering itself produces more power which could result in aluminium hooks bending in. In our case we allowed the remainder of the plank to act as shock absorbent so that none of nails or hooks got bent.
And that is it – super simple and quick way to make your own medal hanger!
5. Carving and Decorating (optional)
If you want to further customise your medal hanger, you could paint it or carve it. We opted to add the Grit Camp logo (with the addition of battle hair braids for Helena as you can see below) by first carving the shape and then simply filling it in with black ash and then going over it with a black marker.
To carve your board, begin by drawing your image or logo with a pencil. Then take a box or an exacto knife and slowly carve out the shape. Just be very careful since this is a patience, strength and precision test which will make you sweat your back off. It was actually Helena’s first time carving wood and she did a fine job defining her own Grit Camp ‘H’ logo. After she was done carving chunks of wood out of the board she simply redrew her image with a black ink.
And the final, super portable product is:
Now it’s your turn to go out there and make something cool. Let us know how it goes!