How to Make Vintage Tobacco Stake Stars

Vintage tobacco stakes are a staple at antique shows and shops. I was gifted some from my uncle. If you're lucky enough to score some, here's a way to turn them into tobacco stake stars. Plus, learn the lore that surrounds these vintage finds.

My uncle has a big and beautiful farm that's made up of many smaller farms he's purchased over time. One of his newer properties has a barn that I adore. It's old and everything you'd think it should be for a barn of its age.

When you're inside and you look up, you see a framework of massive timbers that soar through the ceiling and support the structure. If you look closely, you'll notice some of the timbers are whole tree trunks the previous owners must have sued to make repairs. Just down the stairs, the main barn fades away to an area where cattle come in to feed and stay out of the elements. The last time I visited, it was a hot summer day and the cooler temperature of the basement and the slight breeze provided welcome relief. The area was full of barn swallows drooping and gliding in the ceiling as they performed the welcome task of eating insect pests.

Tobacco Stake Lore

Since purchasing the property, my uncle has cleaned things up and the barn is no exception. The upper level holds no largess, just farm machinery and piles of old hickory tobacco stakes. I asked my uncle why he was keeping them since he now grows corn and raises cattle on the farm. He told me that I should drive around the area and peek in the old barns and I'd see they all have piles of old tobacco stakes inside. There's an old farm superstition about tobacco stakes that says it's bad luck to sell a farm and remove the stakes. They can be used and given to others when you own the farm, you just shouldn't haul them off when you go.

I immediately fell in love with the stakes. They're all about the same length, but each one is a little different. Some are poker straight and others have small twists and curves. My uncle gave me a pack of stakes to take home and use in my garden. Some will go to that purpose, but others I'm using to make rustic d├ęcor.

If you're lucky enough to have a farm or homestead with sentimental items like old tobacco stakes, why not consider turning them into unique gifts for family and friends. And by all means, give the gifts along with the story behind them. Sometimes that's more valuable than the gift itself.

How to Make a Vintage Tobacco Stake Star

For my star, I used the full stakes and lashed them together. I first picked out five stakes that fit nicely together. I used rubber bands to join the stakes at the five outer points and used twine to hold the star together at the five inner points.

You can cut the stakes to make a neater and more precise star, but I didn't want to cut these stakes, so I opted for a rustic look.

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Tobacco Stake History

Tobacco stakes were used to hang tobacco plants from the barn rafters to dry. As tobacco farming became more automated, tobacco stakes were used less — in came bulk dryers instead. As the government bought out smaller tobacco farms, many tobacco stakes were destroyed as farmers move on to other things. Nowadays, you can see stacks of tobacco stakes in old barns as you drive through the countryside, but they are becoming rarer and a piece of our agricultural past.

Vintage tobacco stakes at another farm. These were not kept as neatly as the stakes at my uncle's farm. 

For me, I'm going to hang my vintage tobacco stake star in my home so I can always look at it and remember the peaceful feeling of my uncle's farm and look forward to more visits.

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