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Making A Straw Stand

First remove the tab. Just bend it back and forth over a wide range of motion until the tab snaps off by itself. This is called "fatiguing" the metal. (Basically, metal can only bend back and forth over the same point until it gives up resisting your attempt to pull it apart.)

When you've removed the tab, sometimes a "C" shaped ring of metal remains locked around the pip in the very center of the can's top.


If you choose to remove it, just twist the ring around until part of it hangs over the hole, then use the opening in your tab as a tool to bend up the ring. Once it's bent up, it'll push off fairly easily.

You have several good options for making the straw stand. The first option (and the easiest one) is to use the plastic one shown here:


Drop the bottom end of the stand into the opening, then twist it so its slot slips over both sides of the top. Rotate and position it so that the large rectangular hole in the stand fits snugly over the center pip of the can. The straw is then pushed on the stand. The nice thing about this stand is that you can easily remove and replace the straw if desired. Also, the straw stand can be easily removed and transferred to your next pinwheel or other project. You can also lock the straw to the stand by poking a toothpick segment through the top hole in the stand.

The second option is to use a screw. You need to choose a screw whose head has a flat bearing surface instead of a tapered, countersunk head; and the threads should extend all the way up to the head. If that's confusing, these photos should clarify things.

strawstand screw head
strawstand screw head4

Use a pushpin to make a hole in the top of the can, preferable by punching from the inside-to-outside direction. Enlarge that hole with the punch, and then perhaps wider nails if necessary. Screw in a wood screw or sheet metal screw until its head rests snugly against the can's bottom, fixing the shaft in a perpendicular direction to the can's top. Be sure not to overtighten the screw, or it will over-enlarge the hole, causing the screw to spin loosely against the can, losing its holding power.

The screw will rarely be the same diameter as the straw. When the screw's diameter is too small, then you'll need to use a spacer to make the straw fit snugly against the threads. I find that one or more half-toothpicks can act as a spacer. Or, you can cut off a short length of straw, wrap it around the threads with a folded-over section that will try naturally to unfold itself, and fit the straw over it.

strawstand screw head4

The pressure of the straw section trying to unfold will keep the outer straw pressed gently against the screw. If necessary, use several straw sections as spacers.

The screw option is less than ideal because it can be difficult and tedious to twist-in the screw and because lateral pressure on the screw from rough handling over time will enlarge its hole. When that happens, there's no way to tighten the hole again, so the screw and straw will have a wobble.

The third option is to use a pop rivet and a plastic masonry anchor (a "greenie"). Fortunately, you don't need to use a rivet gun to install the rivet. Just make a 1/8th inch hole (3.127mm) in the can top, making sure to punch from the inside-to-outside direction. Make that hole by starting with the pushpin, then use the punch, then use the slider's tip. Using the slider's tip, making sure to either (ii) shove it in straight, without twisting it, so it makes a square hole, or (ii) stick it most of the way in the small hole and twist it around to enlarge it. I find it easiest to partially insert the tip of the slider, since inserting the slider fully leaves a square hole with less gripping power.

Insert the rivet. You want it to be very difficult to insert the rivet, since the only thing that will be holding it in place is friction between the side of the rivet and its hole. I find it easiest to make the hole smaller than 1/8th inch and use the rivet itself to expand the hole to the necessary diameter with the necessary friction. When the rivet is installed, you many need to clip the aluminum mandrel (shaft) with wire-cutting pliers, as shown in the second photo, since it's usually too long to fit under the pinwheel's base (unless you locked-in the rivet with a rivet gun which clips off the rivet's mandrel). Like with the screw, since the locking means is metal-to-metal, any significant lateral pressure can enlarge the hole to create wobble.

Then fit the greenie over the rivet; then fit the straw over the greenie.


strawstand screw head4

If you use a standard jumbo straw, the fit is very snug. If it's too difficult to get the straw over the greenie, you can put a small vertical slit in the bottom of the straw to enlarge it so you can get it started.

If you're using a rivet gun to install the rivet, you'll need to change it up a bit. First assemble the greenie, straw, and rivet in place on the can's top. Then install the pop rivet with the rivet gun, which breaks off the mandrel. If the rivet body is long enough, and you were careful, then the expansion of the rivet body as the mandrel is pulled out should lock-on the greenie and straw.

If you've run out of greenies, but still have rivets, then you can stuff a rolled-up tissue or paper napkin segment in the straw to act as a shim. Then insert the mandrel of the rivet up the bottom of straw along its inner side while still pinching the tissue or napkin in place.

The fourth option is to try option three but with a toothpick instead of a rivet. You'll need to use one or more toothpicks as internal spacers, since the inside of the masonry screw is too large for one toothpick alone to hold it. Only one of the toothpicks needs to penetrate the can's top.

The disadvantage of this option is that, although the wood toothpick maintains a more durable and replaceable compression fit with the hole, it doesn't have the rivet's flange to help maintain its axial perpendicularity with the can's top. So, as soon as the anchor lifts slightly up from the can, the toothpick is free to wobble around its intended perpendicular axis. You can mitigate this effect by using segments of straw to create a "nut" on the bottom. Like this:

generic nut

The fifth option is the cheap one: use two toothpicks.

strawstand generic

Use a pushpin to poke a hole in the very center of the base from the inside surface to the outside surface. Enlarge the hole to toothpick-size by using the punch – again by poking from the inside to the outside. Cut a wedge-shaped section out of the straw where you intend to fit it over the hole. For aesthetic and functional reasons, the flat part of the wedge should be resting against the top surface of the base. Position the wedge over the hole, then push a toothpick through the hole so it passes through the straw without being exposed. Push the toothpick far enough into the straw so that it won't hit the floor upon which the base will rest.

At this point, the straw will be secured to the base but will be wobbly. You can kill the wobble by spearing the straw into the base with another toothpick. Use your pushpin and punch as before to poke a hole completely through the straw. The holes should line up at about a 45 degree angle so that, when the straw is pointing straight up, the toothpick passing through the holes will intersect the base at a 45 degree angle.

The best way to make the second hole in the base is to pass the toothpick through the straw and see where the toothpick is going to pierce the metal when the straw is properly positioned. Pierce that spot with a pushpin. Don't pierce it at an angle; just push straight down with a lot of force, since the metal here is strong. Pierce it again with the punch to enlarge the hole – then tilt the punch so the hole it makes is twisted to line up with the toothpick.

Shove the toothpick firmly through the second hole. Don't slip and stab yourself in the center of your palm with the toothpick. Don't shove so hard that you splinter the toothpick into your fingers. Once the toothpick is inserted securely, you can clip off the pointy end with nail clippers if desired.

The sixth option is the lazy one. Bend the mouth cover up and fold it in thirds.



This method is fast, but the mouth cover isn't strongly connected to the can top and it can be difficult to get the straw to stick up at an angle perpendicular to the base. Also, it can be hard to fold-up the cover. You'll need to use the shaft of the slider as a brace to get the small bend started, and the bending requires considerable finger strength. You'll note in the last photo that I've used multiple half-toothpick segments as spacers to make it fit better. I've also wiggled-off (using metal fatigue) the large section of the tab to make it easier to fit the straw and half-toothpick segments.

Incidentally, if you like, you can cut your main straw in half, or use multiple straws, to make a "telescoping" straw that can be lengthened or shortened at will. Or use a straw-within-a-straw to double up on its strength, if necessary.