Making another thrift-store junk turkey

Aluminum coffee filter basket, apple corer, funnel, measuring cup, silver tray and small metal pieces
Aluminum coffee filter basket, apple corer, funnel, measuring cup, silver tray and small metal pieces

I finished building another junk turkey, just (barely) before my self-imposed Thanksgiving deadline.

Aluminum apple corer slicer

This was my starting point this time. You know how some people look at clouds and see animals or objects in them? That’s how I look at thrift store kitchen gadgets. But instead of seeing animals or objects, I see turkey parts.

When I happened upon this vintage apple corer/slicer a while back, I saw turkey wings.  I had no idea what I would attach the wings to, but I assumed I could figure it out as I went along. And I did. The hunt for pieces and the mental challenge of puzzling out how those pieces are going to fit together is the most fun part of making these birds.

Turkey bot assemblage made of thrift-store junk

This is my completed turkey. If you couldn’t see wings in the apple corer before, hopefully you can now.

It was a long process to finish this guy.

Junk turkey parts including an apple corer resting on top of a coffee basket

For a long time, he just looked like the photo above: an apple corer stacked on top of a coffeepot basket that I found in my basement from a previous thrift store outing. Every time I’d see the two pieces together, I’d wonder what I could use for a head and feet.

Silver Metal Drawer Pull

The feet are always the hardest part for me to find because, as a general rule, turkeys have two legs, and when I’m out thrift store shopping, I rarely find two of anything.

This time around I realized a metal drawer pull I had in my basement stash would work for the feet. Even though it’s one piece, it kind of looks like two. And it’s solid metal, so it’s got some heft to it, which I hoped would mean that it would be able keep a turkey standing upright.

Drill piercing the middle of a thick metal drawer pull

I wasn’t sure if I would be able to drill through the heavy chunk of metal, so I asked my husband, who is becoming somewhat of an expert in the field of junk turkey engineering. He assured me it was possible and even volunteered to do it for me.  

Coffee grounds basket attached to a metal drawer pull by a bolt

Once holes were drilled in both the drawer pull and the coffee basket, I attached the two with a bolt.

Aluminum 1/3 cup with hole drilled through it

I didn’t have anything in my stash to use as a head, so I headed back to the thrift store. When I found this aluminum measuring cup, I thought I was onto something, because it was the right size for a turkey head and the handle could work as his neck. Plus, the measuring cup already had a hole drilled through the bottom of the handle which would make it easy to attach it to the rest of the body.

measuring cup with metal discs for eyes and a beak

Initially I was thinking I’d use the back of the measuring cup as the face and glue on some smaller metal pieces for the eyes and beak …

Aluminum funnel on top of measuring cup

… but then I found this aluminum funnel in my stash. The big end of the funnel was basically the same diameter as the measuring cup, which gave me the idea to stack them like so, making the spout end of the funnel a built-in beak.

Small aluminum funnel with a bolt pushed into the spout

To assemble the head, I slid a bolt through the beak …

The two pieces of the turkey's head: an aluminum measuring cup and a funnel

… and drilled a hole in the back of the measuring cup.

Funnel and measuring cup held together by a bolt

Then I just had to slide the bolt through the hole and secure it with a nut.

With the head squared away, I went to work on his body. I found a bolt and washer to slide through the apple corer and the measuring cup. Unfortunately when I tried to slide on the next piece — the coffee basket — I discovered that the turkey’s neck wobbled around. My husband came up with the perfect solution for that. 

Apple corer balanced on a  sawhorse as a man cuts a small notch into the top of the apple corer

He cut a notch out of the top of the apple corer using his hacksaw.

Here’s what the apple corer looked like with the notch cut out of it …

… and here it is with the measuring cup resting inside the notch.

Next, I ran the bolt through the turkey’s coffee basket body.

silver tray with a bolt through it to make a tail for a junk turkey

Then I drilled a hole in a silver tray that I found to use as his tail feathers. I stacked the tray behind the coffee basket, ran the bolt through the hole and put a nut on the end of it to hold everything in place.

Then I held my breath and crossed my fingers as I stood the almost-completed turkey on his feet, hoping that he wouldn’t wobble and topple over.

Phew. No wobbling. The heavy cabinet pull base did the trick.

Metal turkey parts joined together and

All I had left to do at that point was to glue some metal discs onto the turkey’s head to create eyes. I painted the smaller inner circles black (with acrylic craft paint) to make them stand out.

Here he is, all ready for Thanksgiving 2018.

Turkey bot assemblage made of thrift-store junk

Isn’t he cute?

Turkey bot assemblage make of thrift store junk

Once again, I am totally smitten with one of these guys. They each have their own personality. I think this one needs a name to match his. Anybody have any ideas? Let me know in the comments below if you do.

Thanksgiving | RoboTurkey 3000

I finished one more turkey assemblage just in time for Thanksgiving.

turkey assemblage
When I first got the idea for this guy, I thought assembling the pieces would be quick and easy because most of the parts were going to attach to the hole in the center of the coffee basket that would become the turkey’s body.

turkey made from metal parts
Unfortunately, it turned out to be a lot more difficult than I had originally envisioned. Holes had to be drilled out because they weren’t quite large enough, pieces had to be forced into place because they didn’t want to cooperate and, for a long time, the turkey just refused to stand upright.

turkey made from metal parts
I got him done, thanks to much help from my husband, who has mad turkey robot engineering skills and, when it comes to helping his wife with mechanical projects and power tools, the patience of a saint.

robot turkey parts
Here’s what I started with: a coffee filter basket, a bunch of old measuring spoons and two gold furniture feet.

making a turkey assemblage

Step 1 was to slide a bolt through the hole in the tablespoon that would become the turkey’s head …

making a turkey assemblage

… and then slide the bolt into the hole in the coffee basket.

making a turkey assemblage

So far, so good.

making a turkey assemblage
Next, I laid out the rest of the measuring spoons in a fan shape, with the largest ones in the middle and the smallest ones on the ends …

tail feathers for turkey assemblage
… and slid them onto the same bolt the head was attached to. I secured them in place with a nut.

measuring spoon tail feathers
He was already starting to look like a turkey.

adding feet to a metal turkey assemblage
At that point, I pulled the measuring spoon tail feathers off so I could drill holes into the bottom of the coffee basket for the turkey’s legs.

making a turkey assemblage

Then I put everything back together again.

measuring spoon turkey tail feathers

In order to keep the turkey upright, I had to add a couple of additional tail feather spoons that rested on the ground like a kick stand (the husband’s idea).

beads and baubles for turkey's face
Finally, I dug out a few beads and baubles to use as the turkey’s facial features …

turkey assemblage
… but when I had them glued on, I was underwhelmed. He felt a little blah. I wanted him to have more personality.

turkey asemblage
So I dug back into my stash of beads and baubles and tried again.

turkey assemblage
I was much happier with his new face.

metal turkey assemblageBehold: RoboTurkey 3000.

turkey assemblage
He joins Robot Turkey 2.0, who I made earlier in the week …

turkey assemblage

… and the original Robot Turkey that I made last year.

I still have lots of leftover turkey parts and lots of ideas, so I will probably continue to add to the flock next year, but I’m calling it done for now.

Thanksgiving | Robot Turkey 2.0

With Thanksgiving coming up, I thought I’d make a turkey.

metal turkey
Technically, he’s a “turkey assemblage,” but I am calling him “Robot Turkey 2.0,” because he follows in the footsteps of last year’s original Robot Turkey (pictured below).

turkey assemblage
Off and on over the last 12 months, I’ve been hunting for turkey parts at garage sales and thrift stores, which was a little difficult because I didn’t really know what I wanted the new guy to look like. All I knew was that I wanted him to be different than the original.

metal Jell-O mold
As usual, I overcollected. I now have two boxfuls of metal junk (aka turkey parts) in my basement (so odds are there will be several more robot turkey iterations to come). As I sifted through the pieces last weekend, I decided I’d start RT 2.0 with an old Jell-O mold.

making a turkey assemblage
 I thought the mold resembled a turkey breast, so that would be the body. Then I drilled a couple of holes into the bottom of the mold …

making a junk turkey
… so I could attach his legs, which were made out of silver cabinet pulls.

making a turkey assemblage
Here’s how they’re attached inside.

making a turkey assemblage
I cut a dowel the same height as the Jell-O mold/body and glued it in place with E6000. My plan was to glue a mini tart pan that looked a lot like turkey feathers to the dowel, so the feathers would be sticking up behind the body.

metal turkey assemblage
The tart pan feathers looked great. Unfortunately, I realized at this point that there were some center of gravity issues — i.e., the turkey kept tipping forward when I tried to set him on his feet. I thought maybe if I put some weight in the back of the Jell-O mold, it might help balance him out …

making a junk turkey

… so I pried the tart pan off the dowel and filled the Jell-O mold with some mortar (because in addition to making a robot turkey last weekend, I also happened to be tiling a wall in my bathroom).

junk turkey

The mortar did the trick. I glued the tart pan back on after the mortar dried and he stood straight up.

turkey parts
I found a metal knob to use as the turkey’s head, a couple of small silver disks to use as eyes and a gold hex nut to use as his beak.

turkey assemblage
 I glued the facial features onto the head and glued the head onto the Jell-O mold body. I also attached a fancy swirly paper clip under his head to look like a waddle.

turkey robot
The weight of the head messed with the center of gravity again, but, happily, I discovered that if I screwed the legs a little further into his body and arranged his feet so they were slightly pigeon-toed,  I could get him to stand straight up.

Isn’t he cute? I’m not sure if he’s an improvement over the original, but he definitely has his own personality.


Thanksgiving | Turkey assemblage

turkey robot

I’ve been a little obsessed with “turkey robots” lately. Some people call them “turkey assemblages.” Or “upcycled turkeys.” Or “steampunk turkeys.” Whatever you call them, they’re out there, and I love them.

steam punk turkeys
I’ve been storing images of some of my favorites on Pinterest and keeping my eye out for parts to make my own.

upcycled turkey
 A few weeks ago, I found an old vegetable steamer in a thrift store.

upcycled turkey
I bought it, knowing that the flaps on the basket would make perfect turkey feathers.

turkey assemblage
I also bought this thing. I’m not sure what it is. Maybe a tea strainer? But when I looked at it, I saw a turkey head.

turkey assemblage

After I got my turkey parts home, I disassembled the steamer and soaked the pieces in vinegar for a few minutes to remove the lime scale.

turkey craft
The bright, shiny aluminum wasn’t working for me, so I slapped a quick coat of brown acrylic craft paint on everything.

Rub 'n Buff on metal
Then I smeared Spanish copper Rub ‘n Buff over the paint. (Rub ‘n Buff doesn’t adhere very well to shiny metal; hence the basecoat.)

making a turkey from upcycled parts
 When the Rub ‘n Buff dried, I buffed the pieces with a soft cloth and started assembling the turkey.

picture hangers
For the feet, I found one of these picture hangers in the hardware stash in my basement. (And then I had to go down to the hardware store to buy a second one.)

picture hangers

They got a basecoat of brown acrylic craft paint, topped with Spanish copper Rub ‘n Buff, too.

making a turkey assemblage
The beak was made from an old earring. I just snipped the end of it off.

Thanksgiving craft

I found a couple of washers for the eyes.

turkey assemblage

I put a bolt through the hole on the bottom of the turkey’s head and stacked six nuts on it to act as spacers.

turkey craft project

The head was screwed into a hole in the center of the body.

turkey robot

Here’s what the head looks like from the front.

Thanksgiving craft And here’s how it’s attached in the back


After I had the head attached, I hung the feet off the rim of the turkey’s body.

making a turkey from salvaged parts

Then I glued on his facial features.

metal turkey

Here he is all done.

turkey assemblage