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Build Your Own Holder
for Perfume Test Blotters

clip holder
Holder for perfume test blotters built from 2X6 lumber.

When working with a number of perfume smelling test strips, there is always the issue of what to do with them between your smelling intervals. You need some kind of a clip to hold the test strip and then some kind of holder to hold the clip. These instructions provide one simple solution.

For me, the problem first arose while working at our summer home. I had plenty of test strips and wanted to work up some ideas for a new perfume. I needed some sort of clips to hold my test strips and then a holder to hold the clips.

My solution (one of many possible solutions!) was spring loaded clothes pins and 2x4 lumber with holes drilled to hold the clothes pins. While this sounds privative, it has proven to be an excellent solution, both practical and cost effective. Here's how it goes:

Step 1: Spring loaded clothes pins

Clothes pins like this one make excellent holders for perfume test strips. This clothes pin is 2-3/5" long and 5/8" wide at the bottom.

Spring loaded clothes pins come in a variety of sizes. I found two sizes around the house. The smaller size was more practical as they would fit into a 3/4 inch diameter hole. The ones I used measured 2-3/4 inches in length and were 5/8 inches wide at the bottom.

Clothes pins are inexpensive and spring loaded wooden clothes pins can be purchased at almost any supermarket, hardware store, dollar store, general store, or convenience store.

You'll need one clothes pin for each of the hole you'll be drilling, probably seven in all, but it doesn't hurt to keep a dozen clothes pins handy.

Found on a sandy beach, this 20" piece of 2x6 lumber was a perfect size for making a perfume test strip holder.

Step 2: 2x4 lumber

Width and depth are important. A standard 2x4 is about 1-3/4 inches wide. This is a minimum width for this project. Your actual need for depth will also be 2 inches so you might get by with 2x2 lumber but you'll find that the extra height of the 2x4 gives you a more elegant solution.

Length is optional and depends on the layout of your work space. In the photo below you'll see two blocks on my desk — one 18 inches long and the other, a 2x6 20 inches long. Beyond 20 inches, the length could be awkward. For me. eighteen to 20 inches is close to ideal and gives me room to drill seven holes for my clothes pins.

Click on image to enlarge

After drawing a line down the center of the 2" side of the board, marks to indicate where holes should be drilled were made at 3" intervals, starting 1" from the left end.

Step 3: Marking your holes

After cutting your 2x4 to length (18-20 inches), draw a line (with a pencil) down the center of the 2 inch side. On this line, starting at one inch from an end, mark off 3 inch intervals. This is where you'll be drilling your holes.

Step 4: Drill your holes

Click on image to enlarge
forestner bit

A forestner bit like this one will give you a clean hole, even with a hand drill.

Measure the widest distance at the base of your clothes pins. The diameter of your holes must be slightly larger. You want the clothes pins to fit snug inside the holes but you don't want to have to force them into the holes. In my case, with the 5/8" width at the bottom of the clothes pins, I drilled 3/4" holes.

Click on image to enlarge

For this project, an electric drill with 3/4" forestner bit was used to drill seven holes.

Drill a hole about 1 inch deep at each intersection you marked off. If you are lucky enough to have a drill press, use it. If you don't have a drill press but have a plug-in electric drill, use it in preference to a cordless drill (it has more power.) If necessary, use your cordless drill. (It may require several recharges to finish the job.)

Click on image to enlarge
pins fit holes

By drilling 1" holes, the clothes pin could fit into the hole so that the bottom of the spring clip was level with the top of the block.

The preferred drill bit for this job is a "forestner" bit. It will give your holes smother sides and a flat bottom. However, with a steady hand and patience, any bit of the correct size that fits your drill will work.

Step 4: Sand your 2x4

After drilling your holes, sand your block. Electric sanders are faster but you can sand by hand. Try medium grit sandpaper. The block shown here was picked off a beach and had been well sanded by the tides, waves and beach sand before I salvaged it.

Step 5: Fit your clothes pins to your holes

Your clothes pins should drop down into the holes you drilled so that the bottom of the spring is level with the top of the block.

Step 6: Positioning you clothes pins

When using the clothes pins with test strips, place them in the holes in the block so that the wide side of the test strip faces you, allowing the test strips to bend forward or backward without touching ones placed in the adjacent holes.

Technical considerations

This solution has its limitations. If you have a sensitive nose, the odor of the wood, faint as it might be, could impact your smelling results.

Wood, both clothes pins and the block, can absorb odors and care should be taken to prevent the wet end of a test strip from contacting either clothes pins or block. You should avoid touching either clothes pins or block if your hands have come into contact with any aroma material.

Do not paint or stain clothes pins or block. Both paints and stains have their aromas which, for you, will be undesirable. Additionally, aroma chemicals used in perfume can act as a solvent for paint and stain, mixing with them it they contact each other. Leave the wood raw.

Final Notes

In the laboratory we use test strip holders of substances that are as odor free as possible and will not react with aroma chemicals should they come into contact with them.

But for the home perfumer, the clothes pins and 2x4s are practical.

The 2x4 (actually it's a pressure treated 2x6) shown in the photos on this page was picked up on Hawk Beach on Cape Sable Island in Nova Scotia, Canada. A large nail was removed. The block was just 20 inches long so I didn't have to saw it to length. I just drilled my holes, dropped in my clothes pins and, in 30 minutes, had a functional test strip holder.

Also read:
Using Perfume Test Blotters: Smelling Techniques.

Perfume Test Blotters

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Philip Goutell
Lightyears, Inc.