September 9th, 2013

Tool Box Organization 2013

I think we have all been here at some point. A tool box full of tools, but they are all jumbled up and hard to find anything. Well this year I finally did something about it. It started with a single 1/2” plywood divider in my utility knife drawer (not shown) to keep all of the contents from migrating to the back of the drawer. That got me thinking that the screwdriver and pliers drawers needed help. And then I thought the wrenches shouldn’t have to miss out on all the fun either. Which got me thinking that the nut drivers were always a jumble. Which finally culminated with arranging all the sockets. So here it is, my tool box organization side project of 2013.


Socket organizer. I had a HF plastic organizer board but it of course didn’t match the set I have so the sockets were still pretty jumbled. The solution is two sheets of 1/4” birch plywood and some poplar dowel. I drew layout lines on the first piece to arrange all the sockets in rows. I used a brad point drill bit through the socket to locate a mark along the line where the dowel should go. The dowel holes are drilled through the first sheet of plywood. The the various 1/4”, 3/8”, and 1/2” dowels are glued into place. After those were set, the other sheet of plywood was laminated onto the back side of the first. The finish is spray polyurethane.


Wrench organizers. These started out as scraps of 1×6” Red Oak. A series of progressively smaller kerfs were cut to fit the wrenches. The kerfs are cut at 20 degrees. The finish is spray polyurethane.



Screw driver and pliers drawers. Three pieces of scrap 1/8” hardboard laminated together. Glued and pin nailed together inside the drawer. The screwdriver divider is a friction fit, but on the pliers drawer, it was necessary to drills some small holes through the sides of the metal drawers and tap in some small brad nails.


Nut driver organizer. 1/4” birch plywood base with some scrap pieces of Douglas fir for the structure. No fancy joinery was used, just glue and pin nails.The finish is tung oil.


The socket organizer under construction. Lots of holes to drill and fill! Very time consuming, but well worth the effort.

August 20th, 2013

Hexagon Birdhouses

After building some planter boxes with the cut-offs from my pergola project, I was left with a smaller pile of cedar 1×4 off-fall. Although I had to stare at the pile all summer in the garage, I couldn’t quite bring myself to throw it all in the burn box. So I decided to build some birdhouses.The problem was the boards were too small to make a standard rectangular shaped birdhouse box. The solution was a to make them hexagon shaped. Now the pile of cedar is gone and some birds will have a home.





August 9th, 2013

Chuck Box (Part 2 – Heavyweight Class)

While researching Chuck Boxes before my previous build, I came across another interesting design. This one was more like a toy box, but had dividers to hold the various stoves and lanterns. And as the author put it: ”…somehow a plastic tub filled with old classic equipment seemed….wrong.” This got me thinking about the box of old Coleman stoves and lanterns tucked away in the basement at my parents house. So I decided that those items needed a better place to live that would double as protection in the event that they are ever to be transported and used again.

So here it is. Just a box made of pine 1×4 boards that are biscuited and glued together. The top and bottom are salvaged cedar boards. The divider is just some 1/2” plywood. The finish is tung oil and the hinges are “trunk hinges” from menards.

The green Coleman stove and lantern are my dad’s and the other stove and lantern were my grandfather’s. The only downside of this project is that is HEAVY -as in almost a two man lift. Other than that I am happy with the way it turned out.

Link to the box that inspired mine:





July 23rd, 2013

Chuck Box (Camp Kitchen)


I saw this project on LJs a short while ago and knew that I had to build one. So here it is, my version of the Blue Sky Kitchen Grubby One. I also made the leaf accessory and a couple of special extras. I really liked this design that seems to that give you endless possibilities for storing items for a camp kitchen. There are two drawers, an adjustable shelf, and a storage pocket on each side. One of the side pockets has hooks at the top to hang cooking utensils and the other is a spice rack. The base slides onto the top of the box for carrying. And the side covers become extra counter top space. The leaf accessory has a foot with a french cleat style attachment to a mating piece on the box. The leaf’s folding leg is hinged on a 1/4” Oak dowel. A second oak dowel can be inserted through both sides of the top and the far ends of both legs to lock them in place for transporting.

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The wood is 1/4” MDF core Oak plywood (as called for in the plans) and Douglas Fir for the ‘bone’ material. The plans had specified Redwood, but I was unable to find any. There are only a few screws used in the base and the leaf, otherwise it is all held together with lots of glue and brad nails. The finish is two coats of spar urethane.

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I do have a few gripes now that I have reached the conclusion of the project. The first is weight of the finished project. Even with the innovative ‘skin and bone’ construction technique espoused by the creator, the box still weighs in at almost 32 pounds when empty. Fully loaded it weighs over 50 pounds. This is still manageable for carrying short distances but I still wish the box was lighter. I am thankful that I didn’t try coming up with my own design and using 3/4” plywood. The second gripe is that the base does not secure to the box. Thus requiring the carrier to grip the base through the cutouts in the sides while using their fingers to carry the weight of the box itself. I did come up with a solution to this as described later. The third gripe is with the plans themselves. I purchased them expecting the PDF to contain lots of assembly photos like in the woodworking magazines. What I got was lots of CAD drawings that were not the easiest to follow.

But wait there is more! The special extras that I have been alluding to…

The first is a solution to the carrying problem. I decided that somehow the box must be secured to the base during carrying and storage. I thought about some form of machine screws through the base into threaded inserts in the top of the box. But I thought this would ruin the ‘all wood’ look of the project by drilling holes in the top and adding hardware. So I came up with some ‘locking bars’ to wedge between the box and the base. With all four in place the base and the box become one unit for transporting.


The second bonus feature is a trash bag holder. I considered buying a collapsible trash can, but instead came up with this. It is simply a piece of steel wire bent into a circle and welded together. A small piece of Oak has a dado through it that captures the wire. Some wedges of Douglas Fir were glued in place to secure it. And a C shaped claw on the end is sized to slip securely onto the leg stretcher of the accessory leaf. Binder clips secure a trash bag to the hoop.




And the final bonus feature of the project is not my idea but merely a slightly different implementation of it. It is a paper towel holder made of a piece of 14ga copper wire. It threads through a roll of paper towels and hooks onto the leg locking dowel in the leaf. Ken the creator of the Grubby One showed this technique by hanging it off the side of the spice rack in his videos. But the dowel in the leaf also seemed like a perfect spot for it to go as seen in my pictures. I like that it continues the theme that all elements of the project serve multiple purposes.


July 16th, 2013

Spice Racks behind the door

I made these to give my kitchen cabinets a little more storage space. While I was at it, I also made a couple for my mom’s spice cabinet. The wood is 1/2” poplar. The racks are 4.5” tall and 2.5” deep. The width varies based on the width of the cabinet door. The dowel is 5/16”. On mine I angled some screws into the door from the top and bottom of each side of the rack. I decided this was dangerous in terms of the screw potentially blowing out on the front side of the door, so on the version for my mom, I glued small cleats on the inside of the racks to use for screwing straight into the back of the door.





May 15th, 2013

Outdoor planter boxes with matching Pergola

Actually it was the other way around. My Pergola had seen its better days so I replaced the beams and the perpendicular boards. That was a project all on its own. Just the pre-staining of the boards took several evenings. But when it was finally done, I was left with a decent pile of already stained cedar 1×4 cut-offs. So after thinking what I could build with them, the result was these planter boxes.

I first went to orange and picked up the plastic ‘liners’ and made the whole project to fit around them. The top frames are mitered and biscuited together. The vertical members of the case are two boards biscuited together to make a corner that is 2 inches wide across both faces. The rest of the case is done with pocket screw joints. The paneling boards are rabbeted on the top and bottom to fit against the frame and then glued and pin nailed onto the frame. The supports holding up the plastic liners are cedar 2×4s that were left over from another project and pocket screwed and glued to the frames on three sides. I had put in pocket holes to hold the top frame on but unfortunately there was no way to use them. So I ended up having to face screw the top frames in place.

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May 8th, 2013

Portable Air Filter

I have been wanting to make an air filter for a while. I couldn’t find a design that I liked until recently. The ones with multiple 1” filters and all the frames to hold said filters in place was more work than I wanted to put into this project. I finally found this one and knew that I had a design that made sense for me. So here it is. I originally wanted to hang it from the ceiling but this presented some major challenges. First I would have had to go up in the attic and sister some 2by lumber to my 1by rafters to have a strong enough place to anchor some eye screws. The second problem that I saw was that with the filter pointing downwards, some dust might fall out after turning the blower off that would pile up and then have to be cleaned up. So at the last second, I found some small casters in the drawer and put them on. Everything else is pretty basic just a 5/8” plywood box, biscuited together. The frame is made of window casing that is also biscuited and held on by a piano hinge and two draw catches. The filter is 20” x 25” x 4”. A 1 hour mechanical timer controls the motor.


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May 4th, 2013

Child’s step stool/seat

I made this step stool/seat for my niece for her first birthday. It is made out of poplar and painted. My mom got the letters and stars and painted them. I secured them with pin nails and some glue.

The plan is from the August 2010 issue of Popular Woodworking.






April 21st, 2013

Cedar nakpin holder

I made this out of scrap from my outdoor dining table so it would match. I started with just the box but realized that it needed something to keep the napkins from blowing away. I tried using a rock but that was cheesy so I made a flapper out of more scrap cedar. My rudimentary wood hinge functions ok using a couple wire nails as hinge pins. The handle is a chunk of cedar that I cut to be approximately round on the band saw and sanded to a semi smooth finish. The finish is tung oil.

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March 25th, 2013

Tile top end tables

I made these based on a couple different designs that I found on the web. The top is a mitered frame with a rabbet to receive a 12” floor tile (glued down with construction adhesive). The tiles themselves look like slate. They came from the HD- Folkstone Atlantic Beach to be exact. The top and the legs are solid red oak. The rest of the pieces are scrap oak plywood to keep costs down. Pocket screws were used for the joinery. The finish is two coats of tung oil.

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