How to Make an Inexpensive Curtain Rod

Since we’re sort of in the process of finishing off the boys’ room, I thought I’d share a fun & easy project that goes along with this week’s theme of money saving ideas:  custom curtain rods.  I first tried this when we lived in Florida, and vowed to never buy one of those expensive, heavy wood curtain rods (you know, the ones with the fancy finials & all?) again.  It’s so easy to make something yourself.  Please keep in mind, that this really only works for single windows.  If you have a double or triple, I’m sure you could use something else (like PVC)  for the rod itself, but mine were for singles so I used dowel rods.  Here’s what you’ll need for each window/rod:

One 3/4″ or 7/8″ wooden dowel rod- approx.  $2.50  (can be purchased at local craft or home improvement store

Two 2″ or 2½” wooden doll heads- approx. $1.99 (can also be purchased at craft store- I used my 40% off A.C. Moore coupon)

One 3/16″ dowel

Paint or stain and optional sealer

Wood glue

Hooks to hang curtains on-  Some inexpensive options to consider are the Giant Cup Hooks ($1.99 for a 4 pack from Walmart), or closet hooks ( $2.79/for two from Lowes).  Just make sure they hang far enough from the wall to accommodate the finial (doll head).

Drill and 3/16″ drill bit

These are your unfinished wood supplies

This will work for the larger dowel size

Closet hooks- will work for hanging the larger dowel size


These only work with the 3/4 size dowel
These only work for hanging the 3/4″ size dowel

 First, cut your dowel down to desired size, if needed.  I personally like my curtains to hang beyond the actual window itself, so I left it at the 48″ length.  Paint or stain desired color. 

Paint or stain the wooden dowel heads also.  This is the part that will mostly be exposed, so you can get really creative here, either using a different color than the dowel, or painting cute little designs, like swirls, stripes, flowers, etc.  on it.  I painted mine orange with yellow polka dots to match the furniture in the room:



Once it’s all dry, you can seal it with polyurethane, tung oil, or whatever clear coat you choose- or none at all.  I used a clear acrylic gloss medium because it drys in minutes.  You can get it in the art & paint section of your local craft store.  Allow to dry.

Next, drill your hole into either end of the dowel rod, trying to keep it as centered and straight as possible.  It doesn’t have to be perfect, but it should be close.  You want it to go in about an inch or so. 

Do the same thing on the bottoms of your doll heads (flat side) if they’re not pre-drilled already.  Mine were, but the hole wasn’t big enough, so I enlarged it with the 3/16″ bit.

Once this is done,  cut your 3/16″ dowel down to size (about 1½-2″).  I used garden pruners to cut mine.  To make it feed into the hole a little easier, you can insert the end into a pencil sharpener for a second or two.  Also, if you find your hole is slightly larger than the dowel, just wrap it with a layer or two of masking tape.  Fill the hole in the dowel with wood glue & insert the small dowel in both ends.  Or you can insert the dowel into the finial first, like I did:

Insert one doll head into dowel on one end of curtain rod.  You can fill the hole on the ball with glue, too, but mine had a tight enough fit & didn’t need it.  Plus, you’ll need to leave at least one end un-glued so that you can remove it to get your curtains on and off:

 All that’s left now is to put your curtains on, insert the doll head on the other end, and hang your curtain with your choice of hooks:









Please excuse the poor quality photographs, and the icky plastic over the window, that we inadvertently already punched a hole through!  I have also done this project with pre-made finials that were bought on super-duper clearance for, like, $5.00 and just stained the dowel to match.

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6 Responses

  1. That’s such a great idea!!

  2. That is way too cute, and much better than the crazy $50 a window I spent on my kids curtains and rods.

  3. Easy and so cute!

  4. Very cute! Great ideas. Did you also make the curtains? They are really cute too.

  5. Thanks for this post, I’ll have to keep it bookmarked so I can link it when some loony throws up on my blog.

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