Monday, September 29, 2014

Removing a Button Shank + Craft Ideas

First off, what the heck is a button shank?
It's the backside of a button - you know, the sticky-outie part on those buttons that have an outie instead of an innie (like belly buttons!). 

As you know, I love to craft! Part of my crafting involves buttons. I buy buttons by the bag at thrift and antique stores and so does my mom. She is the best at finding me great crafting supplies like buttons! I have a lot of buttons and many have a button shank (yes, I did learn that word when researching for this post). I use to just throw them away because they don't lay flat and I didn't know what else to do with them. Gasp I know!

Recently, my parents came for a visit and brought with them a big baggie full of buttons. We spent some time looking through them at all the neat ones, speculating what they were used for, their age, etc. {Hey! Buttons as conversation starters! New party idea!} Then I posed the question about the shank...How do I get it off of the back so I can make more creations?! 

My dad's answer - the Dremel tool. KB got one for Christmas and I have yet to use it. I stared at it and said, how? He said there's got to be a YouTube video on it. Well I didn't find one. 

Instead, I found something easier - wire cutters! Genius. You know, the easiest ideas, really are often the best! So I purchased an inexpensive pair of wire cutters. Based on tips I read online, a cheap pair is best because cutting the button shank off of the back can damage them, so you don't want to use your good pair. 

What to do: 
This can be done on plastic or metal buttons. 
Flip to the button upside down and snip off the shank with your wire cutters. Be careful, that snipped off piece is going to go flying. 

Now you have a small bumpy piece but much more flat. To get this off, I used the Dremel tool to sand the back down. I used pliers (my Leatherman) to hold the button to prevent finger injuries. Hold the sander attachment to the bump and sand it down. 

Here's a few other options to get a smoother back - 1. Use a metal file to sand it down. 2. Use a three dimensional glue dot to absorb the uneven edge and give your craft a 3-D look.  

It really is that easy! It's one of those things that seems perplexing but once you do it, you wish you'd tried it earlier. 

Safety First: Pieces are going to fly so put on your eye protection. You should also use a mask to prevent yourself from breathing in the dust. Don't forget gloves when sanding!

Here are a few cards I made with buttons for inspiration:

Sources: How to Remove a Button Shank by Beadaholique: