How to Create Vintage Christmas Star Decorations (Day #4)

Hi there! Welcome to Day #4 of my 12 Days of Christmas event–I hope you’re enjoying it as much as I am. Today I’m sharing a farmhouse style creation that is one of my best-sellers at the Shaker craft show I participate in every year: vintage Christmas star decorations made with old folding rulers.

You can find days #1-3 when you click here.

Vintage folding ruler star Christmas decorationLike many of my crafty ideas, this one is super simple. I love projects that look great but don’t require a lot of excessive sweating over instructions or that involve too many new materials that I have to go out and shop for.

Because these stars are such great sellers for me, I shop for them all year long at garage and estate sales. I like to get them for a buck or less, because as most of you know, my middle name is CHEAP 🙂

Supplies to Create Vintage Christmas Stars

Supplies for vintage folding ruler stars

This post contains affiliate links for products necessary to complete this project. This is both for your convenience as well as to support my blog, as I receive a small compensation whenever you click on such a link and make any sort of purchase, for which I thank you.


Vintage folding ruler broken into two pieces

Many folding rulers are long enough to make two small-sized stars, so I’ve started breaking them into two pieces. Sometimes they twist apart nicely where the metal connects, other times, I have to break them off. Now before y’all have a heart attack on me, I have a little rant.

If you’re concerned about me “ruining” an antique, realize that for this argument to work, several questions must be considered: does the thing have intrinsic value (e.g., is it made of valuable stuff like gold), how many of them are there in existence, will it likely gain much value over time, does it have historical or cultural value, and how much enjoyment do I get out of creating something with it versus keeping it as is?

This is my opinion on the matter, not that anyone asked: most of the stuff that average people (like me) buy at garage sales and thrift stores does not fall into the category of “things that should be preserved” or “things that cannot be altered to my liking by painting or any other method I choose.”

The world is filled with gobs and gobs of stuff–not all of it needs to be preserved. Can I get an amen?

How to Fold the Ruler Into a Star

How to fold a vintage ruler into a starHere are the steps for folding your ruler into a star. Sometimes, you might have six pieces of ruler, simply fold the last piece back over the fifth piece. In other words, one of your pieces will be a double thickness, but this doesn’t affect the look of it in the least.

clamping folding ruler tips together to forma starAt the point where the two pieces need to be held together, you can achieve this with a little paddle wire or by gluing the ends together. Glue gives a more finished look, so that’s what I usually choose.

First, sand the area where the two pieces will be joined, then apply some glue (Weldbond is my new favorite), and finally clamp the ends together overnight.

vintage Christmas Star Decoration with folding rulerYou could stop right at this point and have a terrific decoration to use in so many ways–top your tree, hang on a gallery wall, or sit on a shelf, for example.

Vintage Folding Ruler Star with mini wreathBut I like to go one step further with this project and add one of my [now] ubiquitous mini wreaths. They can be attached using glue or paddle wire–your preference. I sell these in my craft booth for $12 each.

Vintage white folded ruler star I wanted to mention that with folding rulers containing ten or more lengths, you can create larger stars following my directions above, but using two lengths for each of the five “lines” used to create the star shape.

These don’t tend to sell as quickly as the smaller versions, and the yellow rulers are more popular than the white. But if you have a personal need for a larger star, I wanted you to know how to do it 🙂

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  1. Definitely Amen! Our frugal grandparents would give 2 thumbs up to making use of something that would not have otherwise been used, and the fact that they’re attractive is a bonus! The folding rulers are a lot pricier here in central Texas, but my sister and I made similar stars from rulers, and large stars from yardsticks. We bolted them together at the points and they look cute (the big ones are great on the porch). We don’t sell them, just made them for our own decorations. I hope to find a folding ruler I can afford one of these days to add to the collection 🙂

    1. I’m also “Patty” in Central Texas! :-O Where are you? I’m just west of San Antonio. I have found these priced pretty low at estate sales. Just don’t find them very often. I love this idea ! Thanks for sharing, Diana !!

      1. Well howdy neighbor! I live between Wimberley and Blanco, but work in San Antonio (inside Loop 410 near North Star Mall). I guess I need to get to more estate sales – glad to know they can be found for less $$ around here 🙂

        1. oh, you’re in a pretty area! Hope you don’t get cedar fever though! Wow, you’ve got a commute to the northside! UGH! I use, if you haven’t tried that yet.

  2. AMEN! Please upcycle to your heart’s content!!
    Just a question, could you use a gel stain and wipe it off to make the white rulers look more aged?

    1. Ha ha! Thanks–I will 🙂 Yep, I think gel stain is a great idea, and dark wax might accomplish a similar result. Great idea!

  3. Amen to the using things to create other things! Anyway, I have a ruler that was my Dad’s and I’ve wanted to make it into a star for awhile now and these instructions look easy. Thank you!

  4. Amen; rip apart! If you can enjoy it more in it’s not-original state, then recreate away! Love these, Diana! I made a different version that were bigger, but I like how yours overlap. Think I’ll remake mine!

  5. OMG! These are too cute! I especially like the photo tutorial you gave for overlapping the lines. I’ve made a couple stars from metal measuring tape and others out of sticks, and found myself second guessing which line should go over or under. Pinning to my stars board.

  6. Hi Dianna,
    I saved this post and finally got around to trying these. I found the folding rulers at yard sales for $2 or less and they are so well made, I had trouble cutting them – particularly the hinge parts. Anyway, they came out great. And they remind me of my late father, who was a carpenter and used these rulers all the time. 🙂 Just wondered where you got the darling little tags or do you make them?
    Thanks for sharing all your great ideas!
    Paula from Providence

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