DIY · How to?

DIY Test Tube Vase

Trying to get our mindsets back into the swing of all things DIY, we decided we’d use our relatively free and un-busy weekend to take on a little project…

I was reading my latest House Beautiful magazine last week and saw this beautiful test tube vase.


At the moment we don’t have £100+ to spend on beautiful home decor, so I wondered if we could make it ourselves.  After a bit of googling, I’d found several other people and brands that had made these, some with DIY tutorials and various designs.    This was my second favourite:

Whilst the one I’ve made isn’t unique in that it’s quite clearly a test tube vase and there are others out there who make them (and definitely better!), I didn’t make it using a tutorial I’d found online in the end and the whole thing cost under £15, so definitely worthwhile and thought I’d share.

How I made it:


  • 1 Timber Wood block
  • 1 pot of satin wood varnish.  We went for an Oak colour from B&Q’s Colours range.  In hindsight I’d have preferred ‘light oak’, but I couldn’t justify spending an extra £8 for this for now.  It still looks nice and it wouldn’t take long to sand it back and re-varnish if I get really fed up with it longterm!
  • Flat wood drill bit (size dependent on test tubes used)
  • Electric drill
  • Electric sander
  • Assorted Sandpaper (coarse and fine)
  • Paint brush suitable for wood
  • Test Tubes  x5 purchased from eBay
  • Pencil/Pen
  • Ruler


  1. Source a wood block, ideally from a salvage or similar yard as you’ll get it for a fraction of the cost of a ‘new’ one and it’s great to reclaim and upcycle something. We bought ours from a local reclamation yard (J. Mould in Reading) for the bargain price of £1.
  2. Ensure the wood is dry.  Tom also bought himself a giant timber slab which he was intending to also make into some sort of vase or bookshelf but unfortunately it still needs to dry out properly, so it’s perched up near a radiator for now.
  3. Measure and mark the spacing for the tubes with a pen or pencil.  I went for 5 evenly spread in the middle of the block, marking the middle then the two either side with a cross.
  4. Using a flat wood drill bit, drill each hole, checking depth as you go with a test tube to ensure you don’t drill too far down.  If you do go too far, save some of the wood chippings and use them to re-fill the hole to the required depth.  It’s not very ‘technical’, but it does work!
  5. Using an electric sander, smooth the edges and surfaces with the coarse and then fine sandpaper, so they blend.
  6. Wipe down with a damp cloth to remove any excess dust and dirt and pat dry.  Leave to dry fully
  7. Apple the varnish as required by the type you’re using.  Most require 2-3 coats.  The one we used required 3 coats, leaving 4 hours between coats.
  8. Add the test tubes and some flowers (preferably a better selection than we could find on a snowy march wintery day at the local Co-Op!) and voila!

Total Cost: £13.26

  • Wood – £1
  • Varnish – £6.32
  • Sandpaper – £1.17
  • Test Tubes – £3.50 (x5)
  • Flowers – £1.27


Approx. 1.5 hours total – although it’s split over a day and a bit as you need to allow time for the varnish to dry in between coats.

Start to finish: 

I love a quirky home decoration so really glad I stumbled across this in House Beautiful and it felt great to be able to re-claim and make something again.  Looking forward to some proper renovation DIY in a few weeks! Watch this space 🙂



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