diy project: leather & wood trivets

Around this time last year, Grace, Amy and I went to check out the “McMasterpieces” show curated by Sight Unseen as part of NY Design Week. We loved these pieces by Alissia Melka-Teichroew; they not only inspired one of our projects for last year’s summer newspaper, but they’ve been haunting me ever since. I love the look of the brightly colored dowels and thin strips of leather, so I decided to make another Alissia-inspired project today: these simple wood and leather trivets. I’ve had a bright tangerine/lavender color combination running through my head this spring, and I was delighted to find the perfect navy blue leather cord to finish off the look. You can make these pretty trivets in just a couple hours, and they will look as pretty on your wall as they will protecting your table. Happy crafting! — Kate

See the full how-to after the jump . . .


  • four 48″ long 3/4″ diameter dowels (cut to 8″ lengths)
  • sandpaper
  • drill with 5/8″ bit
  • pencil or pen
  • ruler
  • high-gloss acrylic paint (I used Martha Stewart’s line of acrylic paints from Michaels and I was very happy with them. The colors are beautiful and the paint spreads on really nicely…I highly recommend them!)
  • leather cord (available at art and craft supply stores)
  • scissors
  • paintbrushes
  • mitre saw (You need this if you don’t have your dowels pre-cut.)
  • clamp and scrap wood


1. Have your dowels cut to 8″ lengths, or cut them yourself with a mitre box and saw. Sand the edges and ends of each dowel until smooth. You need ten 8″ dowels per trivet.

2. Measure 2.5″ in from either end of the dowel and make a pen mark at both points. Repeat this step with every dowel.

3. Working one dowel at a time, clamp the dowel to a stable surface with a piece of scrap wood directly under the dowel and the marks facing upward. Drill straight through the dowel at both marks. Repeat with all twenty dowels. As an optional step, you may want to spray the painted dowels with a clear protective coat to preserve the finish.

4. Sand the dowels around both sides of the holes you made to smooth them out and remove any loose splinters.

5. Paint each dowel with an even coat of acrylic paint. If you want to leave some dowels plain as I did, you can rub a little olive oil into them to bring out their natural tone. Allow all dowels to dry. Remember to paint the ends, as well.

6. Cut two strands of leather cord to 36″. Holding the two strands together and knot them together 12″ from one end. Tie another knot 4″ from the first knot, creating the first handle. Thread the longer end of the pair of cords through the right holes in the dowels, and the shorter end of both cords through the left holes in the dowels. After you have placed ten dowels on the cords, tie a knot with the long end of the cords and pull it tightly against the right side of the dowels. Take the remaining cord length on the right and knot it together with the cord coming out of the left side, making sure the knot is tight against the left side of the dowels. Snip excess cord.



These are gorgeous. I like them just as artwork to hang in the kitchen or bath, no hot pots required. The color combination options are endless…


I love this idea but am wondering if the heat from the pot wouldn’t somehow affect the paint on the dowels? Have you found this to be true?

Kate Pruitt

Hi Leslie,

If you spray the paint with a protective coating, it should protect them from any damage from the hot pots. I’ve had painted wood trivets before and this method worked for me!


I’m trying to imagine how heavy the trivets will be…I suppose not so much. Any idea? I do like the idea though.


Great colours, too. Bright angerine and lavender sounds like an odd combo but it looks great!

You’ve inspired us to get arts and crafty in the office…


Are you sure that you used a 5/8th drill bit? That seems way too big to me if you are using 3/4 in dowels.


Based on the size of the holes I’d say that’s a 5/16″ bit at most. 1/4″ should be plenty big enough for the leather to pass through.


Great project! You are featured on Apartment Therapy DIY gift roundup today! I also love those hammered copper containers; where are they from? Thanks!