Kate Dolack
November 18, 2013 10:00 am

In his Vicar of Wakefield, author Oliver Goldsmith wrote, ‘I love everything that is old; old friends, old times, old manners, old books, old wines.’

Every once in a while we find delightful phrases, such as Mr. Goldsmith’s, that have the ability to transform words from one-dimensional type to hovering images dancing in the spaces of our mind; pictures only visible to the reader. When you read the above quote, can you see your friends? Taste the smooth, oaky wine?  Breathe in the smell of old books? Maybe there is a crackling fire in front of you; maybe you’re all wearing sweaters that you would never actually wear in a room you’ve never actually been but somehow, it fits.  You’re in a novel or a J. Crew commercial.  Whatever. You’re there.

Oliver Goldsmith, a British poet and dramatist, wrote the ‘Vicar of Wakefield’ in 1766 and much like his character, I share his love of old books. I do because I think of them like tiny treasure maps, except the journey to find priceless bits of wisdom is all hidden within and requires no actual physical movement.  Sometimes, I think, the most transformative journeys are those in which we don’t actually have to take a single step.

(I tell myself this when I’m too lazy to hit the gym).

Yet we read not just to find ourselves, but also to share with others.  Reading is interactive. Certainly, it seems that more and more that when we gather together we talk about our favorite modern media, film and television, but I’d like to think that the movies that play out on page are still cause for much discussion.

Because our lives are busy, some girlfriends and I decided to start a book club. The only requirement of such was a common book, friendship…and wine.  Sometimes we talk about the book and sometimes we don’t even get that far.  But I do know that we are creating a number of memories that I will eventually file away as ‘old times, old manners, old books and old wines.’

This past weekend, I was trying to think of a relevant holiday gift that I could give to my fellow literary sisters and Goldsmith’s words resonated in my head. What if there was a way to combine his love of old AND wine and share it with the friends with whom I will create warm memories? And while meandering around the internet images of furniture rehab, I found the idea: wine corks made of old knobs! Inexpensive, fun to find and most importantly, useful.

Things You Will Need:

  • Decorative knobs
  • Corks (You can use regular corks, found at a craft or hardware store, or more durable stoppers, $3.99 for two at Bed, Bath and Beyond.
  • Drill
  • Hacksaw (Big maybe…read ahead)

The Hunt:

Knobs: You can go two ways with this and still keep costs down: thrift stores and re-sale shops like Habitat for Humanity often have knobs at super low prices. You can also check out hardware stores, Hobby Lobby or Anthropologie for a greater selection of knobs that range from around $3-$12. Even if you buy these new, you won’t break the bank. For this project, I used a mixture of knobs that I purchased new and vintage.

When looking for knobs, take note of these two aspects. First, make sure the knob has a screw attached like these pictured below.  If not, you will add another step of sawing off the screw head. Second, it is possible to eliminate the need to saw anything if you find knobs with shorter screws or purchase corks that are longer in length.

Corks: You can find corks at any craft or hardware store, but not all corks are made the same! For this project look for corks in sizes #9 or #10.  You can also purchase more durable corks made of plastic at a home goods store.  These will be made of colorful plastic, and while they look different, the steps are basically the same.

Saw:  If your knob screws are longer than the length of the screw,  I hate to tell you this, but you’re going to need to saw off the end a bit.  Half my knobs were of the right size, the other half were a bit long for the cork.  If you just have cork and need to saw, it’s helpful if you have a clamp to immobilize the screw-this is about 1,000 times easier than trying to hold the screw, (or having someone else hold the screw and bracing it against the table and offering up 50 prayers that you don’t accidentally saw off your, or your friend’s, finger).  Your best bet?  Buy knobs with shorter screws if you’re using cork; you can use longer knob screws if you’re using the more durable, plastic corks.  Win-win.  If you do decide to saw, it’s best not to do so WHILE drinking wine.

Drill: I didn’t have a drill until I was, oh, 25, so I totally get it if you’re reading this far and you’re like—darn, I don’t have a drill.  You could probably do this without a drill, (and maybe a screwdriver?) but it will be frustrating.  Here’s what I say: go out and buy a drill.  A woman should own at least one power tool, and that power tool should be a drill.  The possibilites are endless and it will make your life so much easier.  You don’t need to have a million dollar drill, just an inexpensive one from the hardware store will suffice.

For Cork: Select the drill bit that most closely matches the size of your screw.  Hold the cork firmly in your non-dominant hand and drill down the center; it may try and angle to the side a bit and that’s OK. Don’t drill all the way to the bottom, but far enough that your screw will fit snugly.

For Plastic Stoppers: If you’ve purchased a plastic durable wine stopper, use a knife to pop off the metal label, (it should pop off pretty easily). Below that, you will find a piece of white plastic, remove it.  That plastic is what you’re going to drill just as you would the cork.  Unlike the cork, however, drill all the way through so that the screw will come out the other end.

Screw: Now, all that’s left is to screw the knobs into the cork! Hard work is complete. Enjoy.

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