Tiny Tambour Planter Tutorial

photo of a tambour planter in a dollhouse

Learn how to make a tiny planter for your dollhouse in 1″ scale using this tambour technique in a few simple steps!

Materials Needed

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photo of an empty cap

Step #1

First, find the container you wish to turn into a planter. Here the cap from a bottle of face wash was used. This made a great option because it had straight sides.

Be careful using something that is tapered, where the top is wider or more narrow than the bottom. It can be done, but you will have to cut your poster board a bit differently to accommodate for the circumference change.

photo of poster board cut to fit circumference of cap

Step #2

Cut a piece of poster board to fit around your cap.

Step #3

Glue your toothpicks onto the poster board. Depending on the height of the cap, you might want to use fancy toothpicks because they do not taper as drastically as the common toothpicks.

It is best to lay a piece of wax paper over your worksurface first to prevent unwanted things from sticking together. I used good old fashioned Elmer’s Glue All.

Use enough glue to make it secure, but not so much that it squirts through the toothpicks. The finished product will be bent to wrap around the planter and using too much glue could make it too stiff.

Also, try to avoid using toothpicks that are warped or bent. It’s okay if they are used as the tops and bottoms will be cut off. You’ll notice one of mine had white paint on the tip, but it does not show up on the finished planter.

Once you have covered the poster paper in toothpicks, put something heavy on top to weigh them down until they dry.

completed photo of toothpicks glued to poster board and bent
This is how it looks once dry and should be flexible enough to bend.
photo of toothpicks trimmed to fit edges of poster board

Step #4

Trim the toothpicks to fit the width of the poster paper. In the spirit of experimentation, I tried this two different ways.

First, I cut it on my scroll saw thinking it would make quick work of it. It also made a quick mess. Bits of toothpicks flew in all directions and it was tough to keep a straight line. It also splintered very easily. The right side in the photo shows the end result.

For my second attempt, I used a ruler and an xacto knife. It took a bit more muscle, but the results were much cleaner. See left side.

Tip – you do not have to cut through the toothpick completely, just enough to score it a few times. Then you can simply snap them off at the score line and they break easily.

Once trimmed, sand down the raw edges.

Step #5

Glue the toothpick covered posted board onto the cap and hold in place with a rubber band. Again, I used good old fashioned Elmer’s Glue All for this.

photo of the completed planter showing tambour technique and tiny faux tree

Step #6

Fill your planter!

This one was made from a stick, some faux greenery, modeling dirt, and some foam.

First, I filled the planter with sytrofoam and then glued railroad modeling landscape bushes on top to cover. The one I used has been discontinued, but I’m assuming this is something similar.

Luckily my foliage was all attached to the same metal piece so it made things pretty easy. I used my Dremel to create a hole down the center of my tree trunk (aka stick) and inserted it. Easy peasy!

The finished look is a bit quirky, but that is part of the reason I love it.

Step #7

Put it in your house and admire your handywork!

Hope you enjoyed this tutorial and that it got your gears spinning on other possibilities for this wood technique. Tambour is reemerging as a trend in interiors so you’re likely to see it popping up in a variety of places including on furniture, walls, and architectural features.

If you want to know more about tambour, be sure to check out my article Design Trend: Tambour for a little history lesson and tips on other ways to incorporate this design element into your home.

And if you make this planter (or have questions while trying to) I would love to hear about it! Comment below or tag me on Instagram or email me a photo.

Big Hugs and a Little Love,


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