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DIY Tobacco Basket


Country Living January/February Cover tobacco basket inspiration

When the latest issue of my favorite magazine, Country Living, arrived and I saw that beautiful Tobacco basket hanging above the fireplace I was immediately reminded of how much I wanted one for myself.

And also just how expensive they can be.

I had come across two or three last summer at different antique stores and just couldn’t justify the $75 to $100 price tag.  Not to mention they weren’t really big enough to fill the space over my mantel.

A tutorial to make an easy DIY decorative Tobacco Basket

Quite awhile ago I had pinned a tobacco basket tutorial on my DIY I can do Pinterest board and now was the time to click over and have a look at what exactly the project would entail.  Being the impatient person that I am I skimmed through real quick to see what materials were used and get a general idea of how it went together and then headed to the home improvement store.

It turned out to be a fairly easy DIY and didn’t take long at all.  In fact, I had it all finished in an afternoon.  It probably would have been even quicker if I had actually looked at tutorial a little closer. I would have realized she stained the laminate prior to cutting it!

I decided to use Birch Veneer has I liked the wood grain pattern better than the Oak Veneer the tutorial had recommended. I purchased a roll at Home Depot.  Here in Canada it was $16.99 for a roll that was 12 inches wide by 99 inches long.

For this project you will need:

  • Roll of wood veneer (make sure it is not pre-glued)
  • Sharp utility knife
  • measuring tape
  • ruler or other straight edge
  • wood stain of your (colour) choice
  • brush or sponge to apply stain and rag to wipe the stain off
  • standard stapler (and of course staples!)

A simple project with a big impact. A DIY decorative Tobacco Basket

I already had a sample pot of the stain left over from our DIY hardwood floors.

As I mentioned, I am not one to be known for the finer details when it comes to instructions and tend to wing it after I do a quick once over, hence I missed the fact that she stained the veneer before cutting.  I cut the strips first and then stained them.  It really didn’t take that long but I think it was a bit messier with all the little strips instead of staining one solid sheet.

A DIY Tobacco basket made with Birch Venner from the Home improvement store

Birch Veneer DIY Tobacco Basket Tutorial

For my basket I cut the strips 2″ wide.

I then cut 6 strips to 24″ long and 11 at 36″ long.

I stained them, both sides of course, and left the stain on for about 5 minutes before wiping off the excess with an old rag.

Birch Veneer DIY Decorative Tobacco Basket tutorial

I laid out the long (horizontal) pieces of the table and then wove the short (vertical) strips, ensuring the spaces between each row was somewhat even.

I wasn’t going for perfection, but still wanted it to be pleasing to the eye.

Once I had the under/over pattern of the weave in place I then straightened and evened them out. (the photo below is definitely before I straightened them all out)

Birch Veneer DIY Tobacco basket tutorial

One staple at the end of each row was all that was necessary to hold the weave in place.

Easy DIY tobacco basket tutorial

The next step was the trickiest part.

First, set two long strips aside

Use the remaining long strips of veneer to form the basket edge.  It required a bit of patience and again, I wasn’t going for perfection and was okay to see the veneer split in one or two places as I worked it around the edges, stapling each woven strip to the edge strip as I went around.  After all, I did want it to look like it has been around and well used for many years.

Just be sure to overlap the ends of the edging strips a couple of inches as you go.

Once the edge is complete and secured all around use the two strips you set aside to form an ‘X’ across the centre of the basket and use one staple at each end to hold in place.

If you brush a little stain over each staple it helps them blend in a bit better.

An easy DIY decorative tobacco basket tutorial

(as you can see in the photo above, I stapled the long woven strips to the edge as I worked around to secure it in place)

When I had the edging all in place and I laid the “basket” on the table it didn’t lay flat or even, and one side was up off the table higher than the other.

Instead of stomping my feet and declaring it a fail I decided to give it a very light spray with water from a spray bottle and place two heavy cookbooks inside to get the bottom of the basket it sit flatter.

Birch DIY tobacco basket tutorial

I let it sit like this for the better part of two days and it worked like a charm.

While I won’t be laying this flat on a table too often, it did need to sit relatively flat against the wall above the fireplace.

An easy DIY decorative tobacco basket tutorial

It really fills the space nicely and I can’t wait to style the mantel around it throughout the seasons.

Keeping in mind this is a more decorate piece, and not as “substantial” as the antique tobacco baskets I have been admiring, the less than $20 price tag of this one made it the perfect decorative choice.  I didn’t have enough veneer left to do add another layer of “edging” around the inside edge of the basket, but will do that when I pick up another roll as I plan to make a smaller one for my dining room table.

Feel free to make the basket whatever size makes sense for your space.  Just cut your strips in lengths that are appropriate.

I love how every basket I make will be unique, just like all the different ones I have seen in the various antique stores and markets.  I don’t think I have ever seen two exactly the same.

If you want to see the original post that gave me the know how to try it myself, you can find it here!

Until next time….


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  1. Hi Maureen! Love the basket! I’ve been eyeing one that’s $100, but would love to make my own…how do you determine the lengths of the strips if you want a different shape other than rectangular?

    1. I just measured the space I wanted the basket to fit, and cut the strips about 4 inches longer (to allow for the curve up to the rim). So if you want to make a square basket, say 36″ on all sides, I would suggest cutting the strips about 40″! Hope that helps 🙂

  2. Oooowwww so excited! I love these. But yes. Way too spendy for me. Im gunna try make one. I like the way you say you’re not going for perfection. I don’t do that either! 😉 But yours looks great.
    I’ll let you know how it goes. Thanks