Multiple Projects from Gaines Crafters

Just wanted to share some of the other at home easy to do projects I do frequently with my 5 yr old daughter.  These are all things we do with materials that most people throw away.

Disclaimer: On none of these projects do I let Emily use the knife.  Most of the time, she is only an assistant.

Our biggest, and longest running, project is our fire starters.  I mentioned these in my post about our hobo stove.  These little things are about as simple to make as walking, no joke.

Tools: hands and imagination

Materials: empty toilet paper rolls, and newspaper

All we do is sit on the floor, and crumple old newspaper into as small a ball as we can and then we stuff the old rolls with the paper.  They usually take about 4 or 5 pieces of paper to fill each one, and then when they’re done they take up almost no space at all.  When we sit down and do them, we usually make about 3 or 4 a night and it takes us maybe a max of 15 minutes.

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We have enough made now to last several people a bit of time if they needed them.

My dad said they didn’t work, but I think he tried to light the roll itself.  The point here is that to start a fire, all you have to do is take out a piece of the paper, and if you portion it out, each roll could be good for double digit fires as long as your wood is dry and not too green.


Next up is 2 little things that took maybe 10 minutes total for the both of them, main bulk of time was gathering what we needed.

Tools: knife, towel

Materials: old Gatorade bottle, empty Valentine’s candy heart box, and clothespins

First off, we made a penholder.  It’s mind numbingly easy.  Take an old Gatorade bottle, wash it out and take off the sticker (or leave it on, this part is not necessary).  Then you cut the bottle as low as you think you might need it to be.  Dry out the bottom, then insert pens, and voila!  A penholder for free!

Second, we took the empty Valentine’s box, and stuck the clothespins all around the edge.  Then we put a candle inside and we have a nifty little candle holder that you can carry and there’s no danger of the heat or spilling the wax or anything.



We then departed a bit from the crafty side of things and we followed an idea my daughter had.  It’s not useful, but it’s cute and I love the fact that she’s so interested in these projects with me.

Tools: knife

Materials: discarded playdoh 24 pack box, the cardboard insert from inside, a ribbon and more clothespins.

I cut a slit in the top of the box, and pushed the cardboard insert down until it hit the bottom of the box.

Then Emily (my daughter) tied the ribbon on the top, and we clipped the clothespins along some of the shelves.

It is a neat piece of daddy-daughter artwork.



Our last project at this time was a homemade ‘redneck’ guitar/banjo.

Tools: knife, tape

Materials: empty Kleenex box, empty paper towel roll, rubber bands

First step for me was to clean out the left over plastic at the top of the box.  After that was done, I cut a hole in the side of the box.  I had a little trouble with this.  I went with some advice I found online to cut a little ‘t’ shape for the cardboard roll so it would fit snug.  I must have gone too small because it wouldn’t fit, and then when I finally cut it big enough, the tube didn’t fit very well.

I needed to use tape to get it to seat proper, and it looks bad.

Next I strung rubber bands on, but I strung it wrong, they are facing the wrong way, well, all but one.

I tried to fix it, but Emily loves it and says it is perfect.  So, we’ll leave that one the way it is and improve on our next attempt.


Well, that’s all we have for now.  We’ll be making more penholders, candleholders and always we are making the fire starters.  We will make more and better guitars too.

Our next projects will be a buddy burner for the hobo stove and possibly some things with old shampoo bottles.

Gaines Crafters out.


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