diy project: hanging vintage thermos display shelf

I’m not usually anxious for fall weather, but the extreme heat this year has me ready to snuggle under a blanket with hot chocolate. When fall approaches, I like to get out my growing collection of vintage thermoses. The plaid designs feel very academic and seem to celebrate the start of another school year. Typically, they are just displayed on my kitchen table. This year, I wanted a more substantial display that I wouldn’t have to move each time we sit down for dinner. With the addition of a few evergreen sprigs, my kitchen is beginning to feel very much like autumn. The shelf is versatile enough that when spring approaches, I can trade out the display. — Ashley

Read the full how-to after the jump!


  • wood plank (I used a rough cut piece of red oak 18.5 x 5″ x 1 1/4″)
  • 4 thermoses
  • leather strips (mine came as 36″ x 1/2″ strips)
  • swag hooks
  • wood sealer and/or stain
  • 2 nails with large heads


  • hand drill
  • jigsaw
  • measuring tape
  • pencil
  • palm sander
  • sandpaper (grit will depend on the roughness of the wood)
  • hammer
  • 2 clothespins
  • leather punch with 1/4″ hole


1. Mark where you would like your end holes and the large hole. My 4 end holes are 1/2″ from the edge. Once I decided the location of my descending thermos, I traced the base onto the wood. Using your drill, create the end holes. Your holes will need to be large enough to force the leather strips through, but not so big that the leather is loose. You will also need to create a pilot hold in the large circle to fit your jigsaw blade.

2. Using your jigsaw, cut out the large hole. I recommend cutting about 1/2″ inch from your traced line. Once you get a circle cut, you can use the saw to shave off smaller sections until you get to the traced line. Once all your holes are complete, sand the top side of the board. My board came directly from a local sawmill. I used 50-grit sandpaper to knock down most of the blade marks on the top. I followed up with 200-grit sandpaper to make the top smooth. Next, clean off all sawdust and apply a sealer. I used the same sealer for my butcher-block countertops. You could use any basic sealer or stain.

3. To create the descending thermos, I added a small strip of leather to the inside of the larger hole. To attach the leather, I drilled a pilot hole in the leather and wood using a small drill bit.

4. Using a nail, attach the leather to the two opposite sides of the large hole.

5. Roll your leather strips in half (one for each hole) and twist them through the holes. Tie a knot with the leather on the underside of the shelf.

6. Attach swag hooks where you would like the shelf to hang.

7. Hang your shelf from the swag hooks by folding the leather over the hooks. Once you get the desired location and make sure the shelf is level, use clothespins to hold it in place. The clothespins will also act as a guide for where to punch holes in the leather for hanging.

8. After you test hang your shelf, you will want to mark where to punch holes in the leather. Using your punch, create 4 holes (two in each piece of leather).

9. Twist a small piece of leather through the four holes. Trim the ends after you get it pulled all the way through.

10. Finally, add your thermoses and enjoy a fall display.

  1. Rachel Tatem says:

    What a neat idea! So crafty

  2. rebecca says:

    Oh i love this! such a fab idea, i like the one suspended through the shelf, and you could so easily use it for displaying other interesting objects! it looks so sophisticated with the leather straps too!x

  3. Cassie says:

    My mother would love this in her kitchen window. She’s use it to house her indoor plants. What a great idea. I might have to make her one for Mother’s Day next year!

  4. This is SO great! Perfect fall decor! And if anyone is looking for vintage thermoses – I have a few for sale in my budding vintage etsy shop:

  5. This is so cool!!!! Style-wise it wouldn’t work for my new place but I really love the idea…
    PS I totally knew who posted this immediately (saw the shelf, sans thermos’ on Ashley’s blog). This was a completely unexpected take on the shelf – I really love it!

  6. What a neat idea! I love those vintage thermoses. They look so clever grouped together like that. :)

  7. MB@YarnUiPhoneAppv1.7 says:

    This would be a great way to grow things that can stand a little cold draft from the window. Same concept could work for a room corner. I’ve got hook hanging from my south-facing window now…maybe I could grow some food in a planter?

  8. I never would have thought of collecting vintage thermoses, but they do look really neat as a display. My favorite part is the way the loops are made by doubling the straps and pulling through a tiny bit of leather, it’s a cool detail.

  9. L says:

    I love this concept. What a fabulous and detailed way to make a display shelf.

  10. Kathie says:

    This is so cute!! I just may have to do this for my dining room window… :D

  11. Lori Kroh says:

    I’m mad for PLAID – love this entire idea! Especially working with leather…awesome!

  12. kate says:

    Wow. LOVE this!!!! The vintage thermoses are great and the shelf is equally as beautiful!

  13. Susan says:

    So very clever! The shelf looks like a swing you’d hang from a big tree out in the country. I can picture it with glass vases and daffodils in the spring.

  14. Zelle says:

    What a great idea! I never thought that thermos would fit in decoration so much.

  15. Maïla says:

    Love that little swing/shelf. I can just imagine all the displays you could do on that throughout the seasons…

  16. While I’m not handy with carpentry skills, I do appreciate the look of this hanging shelf. I am always looking for new ways to display & use vintage, I like the use of the old thermos for vases!

  17. maria says:

    Horrible! Muy obvio… Creo que se podría reemplazar por botellas antiguas

  18. What an ingenious idea? Another stylish way to recycle.

  19. Elaine says:

    Thanks for this idea. I have 2 silver & green Stanley thermoses that would fit perfectly in my modern retro basement family room. Hubby wouldn’t get rid of them but never USES them! Now we can both be happy!

  20. Kuantumize says:

    I think we need to be clear here if the vintage thermo flask or growing indoor plants is the priority here & be not fooled by the picture above. In terms of good design, forms vs functionality, the tall thermo flask will lack proper balance & topple eventually when it is windy & it can’t support any house plants that are weighty & tall. i.e.: Sun flower, Tulips, Lily, Gerbera, Dahlia. Sticking down the flask to the wood plank permanently will not work either as you can’t change water due to mosquitoes breeds in standing water.

    Hence design for the sake of style, beauty, coolness because the objects are vintage plaid thermo flask. Then what is the subject that matters here. What is the big idea here.

    Good or bad you decide. I love recycling used materials too.


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