I’m not even sure where to begin with this DIY so I guess we’ll just go chronologically through my never ending steps of stupid.

Here we go!

Day 1.  Discovered a really great vintage Flytrap on Pinterest.



Day 2.  Mentioned on Facebook how I was SO going to build one of these vintage Flytraps so I could do a post on it.  That way you all would be able to build your own Vintage inspired flytrap.

Day 48.  Decided spring was here, it was probably time to figure out how to build the vintage flytrap.

Day 49.  Took a handful of stupid pills and went to bed.  (this part I can’t actually remember but there’s no other explanation for what followed)

Days 50, 51 and 52.  Somehow managed to waste 3 days turning what could have been the World’s Greatest Flytrap into a literal pile of shit.

O.K. so that gives you a bit of background.  Now let’s get into the details of how I managed to singlehandedly figure out, build and then destroy what could have been a great project by being stupid.

In other words, by cutting corners trying to oversimplify it.

By reading this maybe you’ll learn something and avoid turning one of your projects into a big pile of poo. Unless it’s some sort of art installation and that’s what you were actually going for.

When I do DIYs I try very hard to make them easy for you to do and understand.  Unless it’s building a pizza oven or building a chicken coop.  Those things you just sort of have to dive into and if you need a ton of instruction on the little things like how to plug your miter saw in, then it probably isn’t the DIY for you.



But for the smaller things like the DIY Advent Calendar, The Original World’s Greatest Flytrap, or the DIY Water Dispenser I try to really keep in mind what people are likely to do.  Mostly what readers want are things they can do for $10 and in 10 minutes.  Not always, but usually.

So I thought this is one of those DIYs I can simplify to make it appealing to more people.

I followed the  “Keep it Simple Stupid” philosophy.

I kept it simple.  Which was stupid.

Did I mention I also photographed my whole stupid process because I thought it was going to be a world class post?  So we might as well throw those photos in to further prove my point.



I know what you’re thinking. You’re thinking. Holy crap. That looks great.  And I think it does too.

Here it is 3 days later.



The first mistake I made was deciding I was going to do this entire DIY out of paint sticks.  PAINT STICKS.  You  need 32 of them by the way so here’s hoping you have a paint store that once had an employee die from a vicious fly swarming at some point.  That way they’ll be sympathetic to your crafting needs.


Why did I go with Paint Sticks?  Because I KNOW how much a lot of people detest going to a lumberyard to get wood.  It’s a pain, you might feel out of place, you don’t know where to get the wood (haha I said wood), and a big long piece might not fit in your car.  (haha I said big, long piece).

So in order to alleviate some of your anxiety I decided to go with paint sticks. They’re easy to find, paint stores give them away and if they don’t they’re willing to sell them to you for cheap.  So paint sticks it was in order to keep it simple for you.

Mistake #2.  I didn’t get double of everything so I could do a prototype to work out all my mistakes on.  I did this flytrap “on the fly” taking photos all the way.  NOTHING ever turns out perfectly on the first try. The first try is to figure out everything you’re doing that’s wrong.  The second try is the one that actually works. That’s why if you’re ever figuring something like this out, you do a prototype and then the real thing.  I won’t bore you with all the things that went wrong during this phase but here’s a photo of some of my blood.


Mistake #3.  This project was taking a lot of fiddling and fixing.  Making paint sticks sturdy is no easy task.  They’re too skinny to nail and I ended up using a stapler and glue to hold everything together. Which actually worked.  Until it fell apart.  I used regular wood glue to hold things together along with clamping and staples.


I knew I should use Outdoor Wood Glue, but by this point doing things the right way had started to seem illogical.  Dangerous even.  I was going to do things wrong if it was the LAST thing I did.  And judging by the amount of blood by Day 2, crafting ’til I croaked was looking like a good and even enticing possibility.



After 3 days of screwing around, trying this and that, running out of supplies, buying more supplies, begging more paint sticks,  I finally finished the fly trap and the 35 step by step photos that went along with it.

I was so proud I went inside and slept for two days.

At which point I woke up and my fly trap looked like this.



You’ll notice I was extra careful about making sure my logo was prominent on that photo because it’s exactly the type of awe inspiring project  people try to steal and claim as their own.  You always have to protect your work.

So where does this leave us and this fly trap project?

I’m going to make a new one and I’m going to make it exactly how I would normally make it.  With regular wood from a lumberyard (probably 1×1″s) with some trim pieces.

And I’m going to do a post on it again.

And in that post.  I’m going to also teach yo how to go to the lumberyard.




  1. Cindy says:

    Well it looked good and functional…before it didn’t. I see the ‘after’ pic is in the coop. Did the chickens take a disliking to it….sabotaged all your hard work? I can make my way through a lumbar yard not to mention Home Depot. I’m looking forward to the new revision. Thanks again Karen!

  2. Eileen says:

    I loved the post and the comments are a real hoot!!! I lived in Wisconsin for my childhood in a farming area with lots of flies. We used sticky tape, you know the ones that hung from the ceiling and were super disgusting. I now live in Virginia and for some reason we have almost no flies. We don’t have any farms really close either so there’s that. Anyhoo, if all else fails, you could always move. With those nasty childhood memories of all those flies, moving has been a nice alternative for me.

  3. Teresa Jennings Richardson says:

    That was so much like how I would have tried to do it, I wondered if you had read my mind. I come up with these great ideas sometimes that just give my kids something to laugh about for years afterwards. I think that is why they have never given me any power tool I’ve ever asked for. Hammer, nails, screwdriver, and duck tape is about it. They know I would go crazy playing with my new toys. A fingernail will grow back it you smack it with a hammer, but a new finger will not if you get too gung-ho with a saw. I still love your work. Keep at it, you will master it one day. (I did get a drill they don’t know about….)

  4. Judy B. says:

    Great story! As a side idea, you might try the ‘ziploc baggie filled with water’. (Didn’t know if I could include a link, but you could google it.) I don’t know if it actually works, but I see them at restaurants with outdoor seating areas. Looking forward to Version II.

  5. Ann Brookens says:

    Karen, this is why we love you. Yes, you are mega-talented, energetic, ambitious and gorgeous, but you also make stupid mistakes and laugh at yourself, which is the part I find very relatable. Thanks for sharing your failures!

  6. Larry says:

    The one you made last year out of a jar seemed to work….just sayin.

    • Karen says:

      Yeah, lol, you don’t need to “just say” anything. I know it worked. :) It was just hideous. I like the design of the vintage one and want to give it a shot. ~ karen!

  7. Diane amick says:

    OMG…still lol. Not only your failure, but your readers comments are fabulous. What a fun group we are!

  8. Suzanne says:

    “Wood” (ha ha you said wood) “Big, long piece” (ha ha you said big, long piece).
    That will make me smile for days!!!

  9. Nancy Blue Moon says:

    Really Karen…paint sticks….this is what being cheap..like me..gets you…lol..

  10. Gunnila says:

    I’d say the pyramid you have inside is way too big for the outside frame – after all it’s only there to guide the flies inside and not let them get out. IMO it shouldn’t reach more than half the height of the frame.
    On a slightly different note – last summer I’ve seen a vintage glass one where you put the attractant inside – how does it work with the attractant under the trap?

    • Karen says:

      Yes. That’s why this version is the wrong version, lol. It will all be updated in the actual final version. ~ karen!

  11. Jenny Brandon says:

    I bought a radial arm saw (and got the upgrade safety stuff for free). Still haven’t used it (too much other stuff in the gargage). I am anticipating a trip to the lumberyard. Teach me.

    I had early duty today (she said doody). My middle schoolers. Your readers. We never grow up.

    Parenthetically yours,


  12. Yolanda Tomas says:

    Dear Karen
    what have you done to your web site. It used to be fun and easy to read. I loved it even when I didn’t try some of the projects. Lately it has become more and more annoying. Your content is still great but the site has become slower more and more popups. I am already subscribed to your site, i see you on Facebook. I don’t need to be notified every time I scroll down and few inches to subscribe. it has got slower and slower until now I just got annoyed by pages loading and taking me back to the top. I still didn’t read the whole thing. I know you want more readers but you are getting close to loosing one that has been reading your blog and recommending it to friends for over 3 years. I love your sponsors and go to their websites and have bought some to their products but I won’t if I can read your blog,

    • Karen says:

      Hi Yolanda. Are you talking about the bar at the top with subscription information? That’s not a pop up. It’s just a subscription bar. It will disappear as you scroll down and appear as you scroll up. It doesn’t/shouldn’t have anything to do with load time of the site. Everything is optimized. I would suggest you either “clear your cache” or check your own Internet speed. It could also be that you’re using an outdated browser or one that’s simply slow. Check on those things. ~ karen!

  13. Karol says:

    I don’t understand why it didn’t work. Really. It looked good, you did lots of “proper” steps that should have made it work, even with somewhat flimsy wood. I’d say whoever took a giant crap on it after they stomped on it was the culprit.

  14. Ruth says:

    That must have been a SERIOUS swarm of flies…

  15. Wendy says:

    Wow. You have really aggressive chickens there, Ms. Karen. They must be harbouring some sort of resentment of which you are unaware.

  16. Jan in Waterdown says:

    I think the chicks did it. You can see one of them laughing in the background.

  17. Amber says:

    Ah, grasshopper, have you never browsed the wood-molding section of the lumber yard? Forget the one-bys and get the pre-fab. You’ll never glue along a paint stick seam again!
    And if you want to get fancy there’s some seriously ornate molding in there! You could build a Victorian style fly-trap.

    • Karen says:

      LOL, no, you’ve misunderstood. I’m fine with lumberyards. I was worried a lot of readers wouldn’t feel comfortable. And mouldings are WAY, like WAY more expensive than buying a piece of unfinished lumber. An 8′ length of 1×1 would be about $1.50. Whereas a similar length of moulding could be $15. Plus, they’re sometimes pieced together with little finger joints that are glued which will come apart outside. :) ~ karen!

  18. Mary W says:

    Coming from buggy Florida and really aware of the old saying, what do you do with the gators when you drain the swamp, I don’t get the final use for the trap. Do you spray them with poison? Do you keep them around for a buzzing background noise? Do you plan on making some fly splatter paper to turn into cards? Just not sure why we want to trap flies. Coaxing them closer would draw more than we originally had seems to me which is why I would never buy one of those bug attracting lights that electrocute the bogs when they finally come. Now if you had planned some sort of DIY makeover with it, that would make sense to my fly brain. What could I use it for that doesn’t require nasty flies? Maybe a fun night light. Or maybe a cover for a candle so my paper filled desk could safely light up and smell good. Maybe a book end. Maybe an object d’art guessing game. Just not sure I’m in love with it as much as you are. That giant one in the links is even more beyond my comprehension. I get that there are lots of flys around poop but why try to attract more? I LOVED your post, however. I loved that you added some “R” rated things to make us laugh. I love the violent graphics of blood. I love your determination. I guess it is one of those great posts that others can only strive for. (I tried not to end on a preposition but sometimes they just work best.)

    • Mary W says:

      The cute drawing of you is wonderful. I keep your more famous quotes in my quote book and just love the idea of a sketch with them. Did you do it? Whoever/whomever did it was very talented!

    • Karen says:

      Hi Mary! Technically you’re supposed to put fly traps away from where you have flies. For instance if you’re having a BBQ you put the flytrap away from the BBQ area to attract the flies away from you. Same for a chicken coop. You would actually put the flytrap away from the chicken coop to draw them away from it. Once in the fly trap they’re stuck and they die. Every once in a while you dump them out. That’s the story of a flytrap. :) ~ karen!

  19. Heather says:

    I second that.

  20. Karen says:

    I love your determination and wit!! I would have just gone and bought some of the sticky fly tape and called it done!

  21. Leisa says:

    I want to thank you.

    Here’s the backstory. I’m in college; flat broke, of course. So at, the start of the semester, I looked at the $300 book the professor wanted and thought “Nah. I’ll be fine.” First exam was a gentle hint I was, in fact, not fine.

    I studied harder. Recorded the lectures. Did the homework problems twice. Second exam was um, a slightly stronger hint I was really -very much not fine-

    Last week, in utter desperation, I googled the text book, hoping for slides, summaries, ANYTHING.
    Thirty seconds later I’d found last year’s edition of the book. On the publisher’s website. For free.

    Only 600 hundred pages more to grok. Before next Monday.

    And so I want to thank you. For the reminder I’m not the only one invests time, work, effort into doing it utterly, completely wrong. And then keeps going.

    My best to you (and the flytrap) I’ve no doubt whatsoever you’ll knock it out of the park on the second runthrough.

  22. Elaine says:

    This (oh, so funny) “failure” of a project is why we all love you, Karen!! No one else shows their “warts and all” as candidly as you! I know you’ll succeed the next time and I’m looking forward to going to the lumber yard with you.

  23. Catherine Vosper says:

    I am thrilled that you are not as perfect as you seem. Makes me feel much better about my failures!

  24. Kae says:

    Maybe not your best project, but definitely one of your best posts. Excellent stuff :-D

  25. Ronda says:

    yeah, stir sticks … barely strong enough to do the job they’re meant for!

  26. Kathleen says:

    My first time failure was a coffee table. I large coffee table. Eventually the Home Warehouse people knew me by name and what “wood” I was there to buy more of! At least your failure you can use as kindling. Or maybe not… the smell of that melting glue and all… :)

    Not only was the post funny, the comments had me in stitches too!

  27. Jenny W says:

    pretty on the outside, but not much holding it together – the story of my life LOL ;)

  28. Grammy says:

    Thanks for showing the failures. When I was young and there was no Internet, there were only books to learn from and no one EVER showed mistakes, or even bothered to point out obstacles to overcome in a DIY project. Everything was smooth running and came out perfect on the first try, and the pictures showed how easy it all was. Letting us all see that even you, who has more skill than many people, can really mess something up — and let us laugh while you tell about it — is what makes most of us pay attention to you.

    • Mary W says:

      YES! That is exactly why we listen to her. Never thought about it but you have hit the DIY nail on the head! She is believable! Course she is unbelievable, also, but that is why we read her, laugh, and go back to our believable lives. Great observation, Grammy.

  29. Rita says:

    I think the main Fail here was the glue dissolving when the trapped flies realised all they had to do was take a wee on joins and “bingo” they were free.

    Which reminds me of a childhood ditty…

    A flea and a fly in a flue,
    Were trapped!
    What could they do?
    “Let’s flee!” said the fly,
    “Let’s fly!” said the flea,
    So the flea and the fly, they flew.

  30. peg says:

    I read the whole post,but can’t stop thinking about that BEAUTIFUL photo of the pizza oven you built. Wish I wasn’t a renter with no backyard to speak of. So no room for chicken coop ,don’t need a fly trap but some projects just go that way. <3

  31. Raymonde says:

    Have you seen this one? http://www.thegoatspot.net/forum/f203/amazing-flytrap-132307/

    It looks a bit easier to make and as Brenda just wrote, no wood needed… ;-)

    • Brenda says:

      Ewwww – so that’s really a thing – I was thinking cute retro home for just the odd fly or two – and giving them names and whatnot. Very cool though – there was mention of sewing and a zipper …

  32. Brenda says:

    If it was cylindrical and conical then no wood would be needed …

    • Karen says:

      It’s a little more difficult to make things that are round out of wood than things that are square. I’ve made one with no wood (it’s the original fly trap I made last year that I linked to) and they’re unattractive. ~ karen!

      • brenda says:

        NOW I remember THAT post (obviously it’s just been sitting inside my head waiting for just the right moment to come out upside down and being made with screening and wire ties) … until I saw the sewing reference and zipper bit

        I need a smaller cute version for fruitflies

  33. Michelle says:

    Thank you for making me laugh. I needed it because my husband and I are living through stupid on a giant scale right at this moment. We were very stupid and may suffer long standing consequences. We kept things simple and are very very sad. Now we clean up and try to do things right. Again thank you… really needed the laugh. Now DYI and iron lung for two very stupid people.

  34. Jani says:

    So what do you do with trapped flies? Release them so they can be trapped again? Just thinking…..

    • Karen says:

      No, once I show you the real trap made from REAL wood you’ll see exactly how it works. :) ~ karen!

      • Jani says:

        Gosh where was my mind at when I read this?? Maybe from a DYI on making a bee hive decoration? For the life of me I couldn’t figure why anyone would want to trap flies and do what with them?? Now I get it…..trapping flies when you have a fly problem!! A.D.D. at its best…..oh look a chicken!!

  35. Mark says:

    That fly escapee wasn’t an ordinary fly — that was SuperFly!!! He embodies the fly force that shall not be contained.

    (That’s physics, right? “Fly force”? Anything “force” is physics. Except maybe Air Force… :)

  36. Brenda says:

    so that dang fly escaped – bummer

  37. Edith says:

    Hmmm, I bet you could use those yard long rulers they sell cheap at Home Depot!

  38. Bronwyn says:

    Still, you’ve now got kindling for your pizza oven. Mmmmm, pizza…..

    Love your work. Even when it goes wrong. Because you admit it.

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