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.

Building a turkey-bot assemblage from vintage kitchenware

Bundt pan, aluminum juicer, garden trowels and other parts to make a junk turkey assemblage with

If it’s November, it’s time to make the Thanksgiving bird. Here are the ingredients I used to make mine:

Bundt pan, aluminum juicer, lids and garden trowels used to assemble a junk turkey

And here’s what he ended up looking like when he was all done:

Turkey assemblage made from metal and aluminum kitchenware

I call him “TurkeyBot 2018.”

1950s aluminum juicer used in robot turkey assemblage

The idea for this guy started with a vintage aluminum juicer that I found in a thrift store. The second I saw it, I knew it was a turkey head. It just needed a body to go with it.

Old Bundt pan that will become part of a junk robot turkey assemblage

Then I found an old beat-up Bundt pan. It was a match made in thrift store heaven. The hole in the middle of it wasn’t ideal, because, in my experience, turkeys don’t generally have giant holes through the middle of their bodies. But I figured I could plug the hole with a small metal lid.


Fortunately, I had a large stash of random metal lids at home — which I keep on hand for emergency situations such as this one.  I was thrilled to find one that was not only the perfect size, but also a perfect match color- and patina-wise.

The lid had a knob on top of it back when I brought it home, but I ended up removing it last year …

Junk turkey assemblage made from old Jell-O mold, miniature tart mold, old knobs and other metal parts

… to use as the face for this little robot turkey. I remember wondering at the time if I should throw the leftover knobless lid out, but my inner hoarding tendencies told me I would regret it if I did. As usual, my inner hoarding tendencies won out, and, at least in this case, it was worth it.

Assembling a junk turkey from an aluminum canister lid and Bundt pan

So here’s the knobless lid filling in the gap in the middle of the Bundt pan body.


And here’s the pan that I found at another a thrift store to use as the tail feathers. I thought the fluted edge kind of looked like feathers and would give the turkey a little dimension.

Crafting a junk turkey robot out of aluminum pans, lids and a vintage juicer

See? He’s starting to look like a turkey, right?


Here’s what I found for the legs/feet. They were some sort of gardening implements in their previous life, but, just like with the juicer, I knew immediately when I saw them that they were destined to become turkey parts.

Two small pilot holes drilled into a Bundt pan being used in a junk turkey assemblage

I got the husband to help me with the next step — drilling holes into the Bundt pan where the legs would be inserted. (He’s much handier with power tools than I am.) He recommended we drill pilot holes first and then … …


… use a paddle bit to drill out a larger hole.


Ta da.


At this point, I decided the idea of green turkey feet was utterly ridiculous. Everyone knows aluminum turkeys should have yellow feet. So I unscrewed the feet from the legs and gave them a little makeover.


I also put a coat of gel stain on the wooden legs to make them a bit darker.


Then I drilled screws into the legs about halfway up, to keep the legs suspended inside the Bundt pan.


I ended up stringing a rubber band between the legs inside the Bundt pan, to keep a little tension between them and keep the feet facing forward.


From there, I started assembling the rest of the body. I ran a 4-inch bolt through the base of the turkey’s neck (and secured it with a nut underneath it.) Then I put the bolt through the knobless lid …


… and put a couple of rubber grommets on the bottom of the bolt, where it goes through the hole in the Bundt pan. I think the grommets are supposed to keep the bolt in place, but I’m not 100 percent sure on that. The grommets were the husband’s idea. He’s my chief engineer and troubleshooter when I make turkey robots. I always show him my plans before I get started on projects, and then he shoots them down and comes up with alternate ideas that will work in reality instead of just in my head.

A bolt holds metal pieces of kitchen junk together in a turkey assemblage.

Here’s the back side of the tail feathers, with the bolt sticking out of the rubber grommets in the middle of the Bundt pan.

The back of a metal turkey assemblage made from kitchenware

And here’s what I used to keep everything in place: another random metal lid from my collection.


I screwed a rusty nut onto the end of the bolt that was poking out through the hole in the metal lid.


Then my turkey just needed a face.

Junk turkey assemblage with metal eyes being placed on aluminum juicer face

The discs that I used for the eyes were actually made of wood. I base coated them with black acrylic paint and then put a layer of watered-down silver paint over top of that to make them look like metal.

Vintage aluminum juicer that resembles a turkey face with two metal discs on it that look like eyes

The black circles in the middle of the eyes are washers that I painted.

Junk turkey assemblage made from a Bundt pan, canister lid, aluminum juicer, garden trowels and other kitchenware pieces

And here he is, all ready for Thanksgiving: TurkeyBot 2018.


I have lots more random parts in my basement, so hopefully I will have time to make at least one more turkey assemblage before Thanksgiving. If not, maybe they’ll become parts to a robot reindeer or junk snowman. Any other fall/winter/Christmas -themed assemblages you’d like to see? I love making turkeys, but maybe it’s time I start branching out. Leave your suggestions in the comments section.

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