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.

December 24th, 2014

Bottle Openers in Maple

I made 24 of these bottle openers this year as office Christmas presents. These started out at 12 board feet of 1×2 hard maple from the home center. The finished openers are just under 6″ long and use a 1 1/4″ fender washer to catch the bottle cap. The finish is tung oil.


I tried cutting various designs in plywood before I settled on the design seen below. I clipped the corners of the blanks 5 degrees using a sled made with a piece of scrap 2×4. After cutting the first side, the scrap wedge was used to hold the blank for cutting the opposite side.


I then made a template out of a small piece of hardboard to mark the locations for drilling. The center of countersink for bottle is 1/2″ back from the edge and the countersink for the washer is 1 1/8″ back from the edge. Two small nails in the template mark the location to center the drill bit.


After the all the cutting and drilling was done, I rounded over all of the edges with my orbital sander. After allowing the tung oil finish to dry, the washers were installed with a 1/2″ stainless steel screw.




March 31st, 2014

Guitar Amp

I got a guitar a while back, but no amp to go with it. So I decided to make my own practice amp mostly using electronics parts that I had lying around. The amp cabinet is based on a vintage Fender Champ (5F1) practice amp that was introduced in the 1950’s. For my version, the cabinet is constructed from a single select pine board and joined together with finger joints. The speaker panel is 1/2″ plywood and holds a single 6″ speaker. The back panel cover pieces are 1/2″ birch plywood with edge banding on the tops. The cabinet is finished with Minwax golden pecan stain and two coats of tung oil.

The amplifier section is my implementation of the Noisy Cricket Mark II schematic from Beavis Audio. The Noisy Cricket amp is designed around an LM386 1-watt audio amplifier chip that is intended for clock radios, boom boxes, etc. The amp circuit is constructed on a small project board with only a few resistors & capacitors as support components. The three knobs control volume, gain, and tone. The switches control power and grit (distortion). The amp is powered from a 9v battery.

Here is a video demonstrating the Noisy Cricket amp:








Click this link for the picture of the plans that I found and used for this project.

Edit: It looks like the Beavis Audio site has gone away. I have put the plans for the amp circuit here.



February 9th, 2014

Nexus 5 Oak Wireless Charger Stand

I recently bought a wireless charger to go with my Nexus 5. I liked the concept of wireless charging, but I didn’t like the mechanics of laying the phone down flat on a desk and having to slide it around to find the sweet spot where it would attach to the magnets in the charger. I decided to make a stand to house the charger that resembled the charging cradles that used to come with older cell phones.


The Nexus wireless charger is a small, square shaped device that charges compatible phones and tablets. It is powered by a plug-in USB power adapter. When the phone or tablet is placed over the charger in the right spot, magnets in the charger will hold the two together. The phone or tablet will make a special sound indicating that charging has begun.


I started making my charger stand by tracing an outline of the phone on a piece of paper. I then cut out the template and taped the sides to the phone. Next I took the charger and placed it over the paper on the back of the phone and positioned it in the right spot for charging. I then traced the outline of the charger on the template.


The back of the stand is a piece of 1/2″ red oak with a cutout that holds the charger in the proper position to make contact with the back of the phone. The bottom is cut at a 30 degree angle. The height of the back piece is approximately 3/4″ shorter than the overall height of the phone to allow a place to grab the phone when removing it from the charger. The arc of the top matches the arc of the phone itself. The overall width of the back is about 1/16″ wider than the phone to allow a slight gap when placing the phone into the charger. The two side pieces are glued in place to provide a cradle to position the phone in the charger.



The reverse side of the back has a grove chiseled into it to allow space for the micro USB connector and wire that powers the charger.


The charger assembly is glued on to an oval shaped base of 1/2″ red oak.


The completed charger base before finishing.


The back side of the charger has a cover plate installed to hold the charger in place.


The completed charger finished with Minwax #210B Golden Oak stain and two coats of polyurethane.


January 20th, 2014

Battery Dispenser

I saw this on lumber jocks a few days ago and immediately knew that I had to build one. Luckily the plans were available free from here. The vertical slats are all identical pieces of 1/2″ poplar. The spacers along the back define the width necessary for each type of battery. All the pieces are just glued and clamped together with no fancy joinery required. The space where the D batteries go has no back spacer to provide the additional depth for that size battery. Both sections are then glued to a piece of 1/4″ birch plywood. A piece of acrylic plexiglass serves to keep the batteries contained as well as providing a window into the dispenser.






December 26th, 2013

Christmas Gifts

I made some wooden stocking stuffer gifts this year.


In no particular order:

1. Oven rack puller. 1/4″ poplar sandwiched between 1/4″ oak. Routed from a hardboard template. Tung oil finish.
2. Bottle Opener. 3/4″ oak. Uses a 1 1/4″ fender washer. Tung oil finish.
3. Wine bottle balancer. (details here)
4. Child’s alphabet blocks. Oak with adhesive letters applied. Spray polyurethane finish.
5. Woodsmith peg board screwdriver rack. (details here [pg 6.]).
6. Red Oak End grain cutting board.


December 24th, 2013

End Grain Cutting Board

I had some nice pieces of 2×2 red oak leftover from the tile top end table project that needed to be put to good use. I decided to try and make an end grain cutting board as a Christmas gift.

I started by gluing the strips together in sections:


I then cut the slab apart into 10 strips. The strips were numbered before cutting to keep them properly orientated. If I had a planer, I would have planed the slab perfectly flat before cutting it apart. Since the pieces were not all identical in thickness, small gaps became apparent in the next step.


I then flipped the strips on end to expose the end grain. I flipped the even numbered strips end for end to make an alternating pattern. With the pattern established, I then glued the strips back together.


After a lot of sanding, followed by finishing with mineral oil and beeswax, this is the result:



October 27th, 2013

Cork trivet frame

This is the second one of these that I have made as a gift. I believe they are intended as a place to set a hot pot, but also look good as a display piece.The frame is made of 1×2 poplar. The inside dimension is 5 1/4” square. There is a rabbet on the inside edges of the frame on the back to receive the hardboard backing. The finish is Zar oil based wood stain (#124 Rosewood) and a couple coats of tung oil. The corks are hot glued into place.





October 6th, 2013

Beer Crates

I made these for my brother in law for his birthday. He makes his own beer and I had observed his bottles being kept in the cardboard carriers that come from the store. So I decided to make him some crates to hold 6 cases or 144 bottles of beer.

The is my first project that I have done using finger joints made with the Shopnotes homemade jig. I am very happy with how the joints turned out except for some chip out on the back side of the cuts. Since the pieces have to be flipped end over end for the jig, each piece ended up having crisp edges on one side and ragged on the other. In retrospect, I should have used a thin piece of hardboard to back up the cuts.

The outer dimensions of the crates are 16 1/4” x 11” x 10 1/2”. This dimension allowed enough space space on the inside for a removable divider to keep the bottles separated in groups of 6. The hand hold cutouts are 1 1/4” x 4”. I used up almost a full sheet of 1/2” plywood to make the box sides. The bottoms are are rabbeted into the sides and made with 3/8” plywood.

The finish is tung oil and the personalization was done using the acetone transfer method.P1020176