Archive for the ‘WOODWORKING’ Category

December 1st, 2022

Snowflake Star Christmas Lights

Here are the outdoor Christmas decorations that I made this year. Each star is made with 4 ea 1 1/4″ x 24″ x 1/4″ wood slats and 4 strands of lights each having 20 mini lights. I decided on 20 light strands so that each section of the star would use the entire stand and avoid the complication of trying to make the strand wiring jump from one section of the star to another mid strand. I purchased the light strands from the dollar store for $1.25 each.

To start creating the stars, I used a scrap piece of pegboard as template. On standard pegboard, the holes are spaced apart 1″ on center. I considered making alternate templates with the holes farther apart, but the wire spacing between the between the bulb sockets on the strands that I had would not really support this. After enlarging the holes so the light sockets would fit snugly, I inserted all the lights in the strand while leaving an open hole in the center. This seemed like it would work, so I proceeded to use the template to drill the wood slats that would become the stars.

Before drilling, be sure to do several test holes in the material that will be used for the star sections to find the drill bit size that allows the bulb socket to be snugly pressed into the hole. The center hole should be 1/4″ to fit a carriage bolt that will join the star sections together.

After drilling all the slats for the stars, start assembling the star by pressing the bulb sockets into the holes of the first section. For the two bulbs on either side of the center hole, press the sockets all the way through the hole. Now use hot glue to secure the all of the sockets except the two in the middle to the back of the slat.

For the second section, use hot glue to attach two or three washers around the center hole on what will be the back side. Then pass the section under the wires at the center of the first section. Insert a 1 1/2″ or 2″ carriage bolt and secure it temporarily with a nut.

The lights can now be added to the second section. Be sure to tuck the wires down on one side of the washers at the center.

Now remove the nut and place the 3rd and 4th sections into the carriage bolt making sure to tuck the wires down to the side of the washers. Secure the all the sections together with a washer and nut.

The remaining strands can now be added. The holes on either side of the center will be partially obscured by the first two sections so it may be necessary to drill the holes again at an angle so the sockets can be inserted. After all of the sockets are inserted, they can be secured with hot glue.

Now on the front side, press the lights around the center of the first two sections down as far as possible and secure with hot glue.

To finish the star, I trimmed the extra length off the ends of the star sections except for the one that was to be the top. For that one I left around 2″ of material above the last light and then glued a doubler piece on the back side. Once the glue dried, I drilled a 1/4″ hole to use to insert a wire to hang the star. Cable ties were used to tidy up the extra wire leading from the stacked plugs.

June 30th, 2021

July 4th Mini Flag Stands

This a quick project that can help you use up some of your small scraps of hardwood. During this time of year there are lots of inexpensive small decorative flags in every store. The small ones seem like they are always used by sticking them in the ground. But a small block of wood with a hole drilled in it makes a great way to display them indoors.

I started by cutting up my scrap hardwood pieces into cubes. The smallest usable size seems to be about 1 1/2″ x 1 1/2″ for heavier woods like oak. Below are my first prototypes. A 13/64″ hole was drilled in the center but not all the way through.

I probably could have just stopped here. But the wood cubes looked like they needed something else to smooth some of the sharp edges. So I decided to cut a 30 degree bevel along all four sides of the top.

For finishing, I used stain and clear spray polyurethane on the oak pieces and red, white & blue spray paint on the maple pieces. Here are some pictures of the finished stands:

July 24th, 2018

A Bright Idea

I saw this a while ago on one of the woodworking sites and decided that I needed to build one. It is light box with an old fashioned Edison bulb. It is a fairly simple project requiring just one piece of wood, a light socket, a dimmer and a bulb.

I made my light box out of a single piece of red oak. I purchased a 1″ thick board to have a thicker base and then planed the side pieces down to 3/4″. The dimensions are 8 3/4″ wide x 9″ tall x 5 1/2″ deep.

After cutting the base piece down to size, I marked the center of the board and drilled a 1″ hole approximately 3/4″ into the 1″ base. I drilled a 9/32″ hole through the side for the cord to go through. The socket was located on the base in order to pre-drill the mounting holes. I used 1″ screws in the porcelain socket that only protruded 1/4″ into the base so as not to interfere with the wire channel.

Here I slipped the 9/32″ drill bit into the hole for the wire in order to mark the side piece and continue the hole through the side. The box was then glued together using biscuits at the top.

The finished piece with socket and dimmer installed. I used an inline dimmer with a woven cloth covered cord. It can be purchased here: The socket can be found here:

The finish is gun stock wood stain and one coat of spray polyurethane.

December 16th, 2017

Kids Workbench

I made this kids workbench as a Christmas present for me niece. I found the plans for it here:

The bench is 24″ high at the work surface, 17 1/2″ deep and 41 3/4″ tall. It is made out of select pine 1×4 and 2×2 boards with an MDF top, shelf and pegboard. The joinery is all done with pocket screws. The finish is tung oil.

July 18th, 2017

Wine Themed Silent Auction Items

Here are some items I made for a recent silent auction at a wine tasting held for charity. Some of the items I have made before, others I made for the first time.

The wine rack from a single 1x6x6’ mahogany board from the home center. The interior cubbies are 3.5”. The finish is wood stain and two coats of tung oil.

Info on the Cork trivets is here:
Info on the Cork shadow box is here:
Info on the Wine bottle balancers is here:

May 29th, 2017

Bookshelf Made From Pine

I recently built a bookshelf for my great room after analyzing the design of various bookshelf projects on the internet. I settled on a simple interlocking board design and adapted the dimensions to fit my space.

The shelf is constructed from a total of 16 1×6 x 8ft select pine boards that were biscuited and edge glued together to make the 5 shelf boards and 3 uprights. The boards were glued together leaving a 3/4″ notch at the appropriate locations to allow the opposing boards to interlock, forming the shelf. Below are the cut dimensions for the pieces that were glued to the long board represented by the total length measurement. The 0.75″ measurements represent the gaps that were left to interlock with the perpendicular board.

Horizontal shelf board (5ea):

Overhang:  12"
Rail 1:  0.75"
Shelf:     23"
Rail 2:  0.75"
Shelf:     23"
Rail 3:  0.75"
Overhang:  12"
Total = 72.25"

Vertical shelf standard (3ea):

Overhang:  12"
Style 1: 0.75"
Shelf 1:   16"
Style 2: 0.75"
Shelf 2:   16"
Style 3: 0.75"
Shelf 3:   16"
Style 4: 0.75"
Shelf 4:   16"
Style 5: 0.75"
Floor:      4"
Total = 83.75"

In the picture below is one of the horizontal shelf boards with the biscuit slots cut, ready to be glued together.

You can never have enough clamps…

The finished boards up for a test fitting prior to painting. I cut 1″ off the front edge of the upright boards to give the shelf less of a boxy look. I also cut a notch at the bottom to allow the shelf to fit around the baseboard when flush with the wall.

The finished shelf with two coats of semi-gloss latex enamel paint.

December 14th, 2016

Coat hook rails from re-cycled flooring

After putting in some new flooring, I was left with an entire box of off-fall and reject oak floor boards. To start re-cycling them I decided to make some Coat hook rails for the office.


I surmised that they would look good using the same checkerboard end grain effect as I had previously done with a Cutting Board. So I planed down four boards to remove the finish on the top and the grooves on the bottom. I then glued the boards together in a sandwich.



I sliced the sandwich down to rough size with the table saw and then planed it to final thickness. The piece was then cut apart on the miter saw into the individual segments. While it did work out to make one using this technique, it was very difficult clamping all of the small strips of 4 cubes back together evenly before the glue started to set up. It also took a lot of sanding to the get the final piece smoothed out. I opted to make the two smaller rails without the checkerboard effect.


After drilling holes for and gluing in the store bought coat hook pegs, a spray polyurethane finished was applied. I also used pre-made oak buttons to cover the two mounting holes.


December 9th, 2015

Maple Scrap Clock

Last year I made a bunch of Bottle Openers out of Maple. The openers were cut using a jig and created a pile of little wedges as waste material.


Rather than trash them, I let them sit on my bench while I contemplated what to do with them. I floated the idea of gluing them together into a circle but I didn’t have enough pieces to make a full circle.


Above you can see all of my various calculations done in an attempt to determine how many more wedges that I would need. After almost a year sitting on the bench, I decided to finish this project by first making some more bottle openers to have more wedges and then glue them together to make a clock. The calculations went out the window and I ultimately just used enough wedges to make a circle since the new ones were slightly smaller than the originals.


As it turned out, making 11 more Maple bottle openers was still not enough wedges to make a circle. So I made a few more out of pine in order to have enough to finish the project.IMG_20151128_204659

Now that I had enough wedges, I set about gluing them together. To accomplish that, I put some screws through a piece of pegboard in order to hold my rubber band ‘clamps’ at the ready while I applied glue to all of the wedges.


And here is the clock starting to take shape after the glue was applied and the rubber bands put around it.


It turned out that the points of the wedges didn’t really line up to make true center point. It looks more like a pinwheel but I think it still looks pretty neat despite not being a perfect circle. The next step after letting the glue dry overnight was to sand down both sides of the clock to remove all of the glue from the surface.


I decided to add ‘dots’ to the clock in the form of 3/8″ oak dowels. I printed out this clock template and placed it on the face of the clock using a point of a nail to mark the center point of each dowel hole that needed to be drilled out.


Once the holes were drilled, I glued in the dowels.


The dowels were sanded flush and then several coats of polyshades oak satin finish were applied.


After painting the clock hands brown, I installed the clock movement.


The finished clock now adorns my kitchen wall.


October 26th, 2015

Fence Picket Plant Stand

My mom needed a plant stand to fit into a corner of her back porch. She searched for a long time to find a piece of furniture to fit in the space without success. Having recently torn down a dilapidated fence, I had a pile of old fence pickets that needed to be re-purposed or get thrown away. I decided to try and build a plant stand that would be custom sized to fit the space.


I started by finding eight pickets that were the straightest and had the fewest cracks to use as the corner pieces. I took off some of the finish with a random orbital sander since it would hard to do once the corners were assembled. I then cut some biscuit slots and glued two pickets together to form a corner piece.


I used clamps and 3D squares to hold the pieces together while the glue dried.


I then assembled the table by screwing the four corner pieces together with 1×2 stretchers at the top and bottom. The five pickets pickets along the back were secured by screwing through the stretchers into the picket with four screws each.


My mom painted the whole assembly along with the slats for the shelves. The slats were made from extra fence pickets that were cut down to size. The painted slats were then secured to the top and bottom shelves with 18 gauge brad nails.


The completed plant stand:


May 27th, 2015

Camping Cookware Storage Boxes


I recently picked up two additional pieces of camp cookware. Added to my collection are a 10″ dutch oven and a massive 20″ skillet (aka “The LumberJack”). The problem is that these items are way too big to fit in the chuck box so they needed dedicated storage boxes.


I made both of these boxes with mostly scrap materials. The skillet box is made from 1/2″ plywood that is finger jointed together. The bottom is 1/4″ birch plywood and the lid is three layers of 1/4″ birch plywood scraps that are laminated together. Inside the box there is a small divider that holds the handle securely in place during transport. There are three rare earth magnets counter sunk and super glued to the divider that hold the wing nuts for the handle. A piano hinge and two draw catches hold the lid on.


The dutch oven box is made very similar to the first box. I reinforced the corners on the inside with some Douglas fir triangles. I also added some strips of Douglas fir to hide the plywood edges on the top and oak edge banding on the front of the lid. The hinge is the cutoff piece from the first box. The draw catch and handles also match the skillet box. The finish on both boxes (outside only) is Minwax 32450 Golden Pecan spray polyurethane.



If you are looking for something to cook in your 20″ skillet for your next camping trip, be sure to try this Campfire Paella recipe courtesy of the NOSH blog.