Make a big decor statement with this archaic math tool – a DIY Pottery Barn giant abacus.
With the ingenious use of styrofoam fishing floats, you can count how much money you save on building this when you’re done!
Abacus Project Background
KariAnne of Thistlewood Farms had been dreaming of making her own Pottery Barn-inspired giant abacus for years.
She had almost the whole project planned out, except for the counting beads, which is a pretty important component of the abacus.
Then inspiration finally hit while she was visiting friends who were commercial fishermen – fishing floats!
From there it didn’t take KariAnne long to construct that giant abacus she’s been pining for over the years – “courtesy of those fishing floats.”
- Build a mitered frame to size, cut some dowels and add some L-brackets
- Stain the frame and dowels
- Add the counting beads and secure tightly
Ok, so these exact kind of fishing floats are actually kind of hard to find just anywhere since most floats come in super bright colors (so fishermen can see them easily on the water).
Don’t despair, there is a place online that sells them. You can check that out here.
Honestly, while the shape is very similar to the original version I think it’s okay to venture away from the “donut” design for the counting beads.
In fact, you’ll find lots of abacuses using round beads.
So, one idea is to check in craft materials for some larger beads. Some like these barrel beads could work well and are a good size. The also offer a couple different colors.
Whatever you find, check the diameter of the holes and compare with the size dowels you get.
If you can avoid drilling and boring the bead’s or fishing float’s center out, KariAnne says that can definitely save you some extra work and time.
KariAnne was inspired by this abacus that is no longer available from Pottery Barn.
The Full Tutorial
KariAnne shares her how-to tutorial at Thistlewood Farms.