Clamp Champ

POWERTEC 10 in. 330 lbs. Capacity load F Clamp Heavy-Duty F Style Bar Clamps  for Woodworking (2-Pack)-71592 - The Home DepotI think it’s pretty accepted by woodworkers that if you want clamps fast, and in quantity, without paying through the nose, the best option is going to Harbor Freight.  Certainly, Harbor Freight gets a bad rap in some circles for being cheap, and is why your snootier woodworkers, who aren’t me, will clutch their pearls at the very notion of using anything from Harbor Freight.

But I’m not snooty and never subscribe to the notion that ‘cheap’ means ‘not good’.  Hell, some of the best tacos I’ve ever had were basically dirt cheap.

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I Have A Bandsaw

20211201_150047A couple years ago I bought a 9-inch Ryobi band saw off facebook marketplace.

I won’t tell you what I paid for it, but let’s just agree I paid too much for it.  This overpayment proved especially true when you consider the thing never properly worked, even after I replaced the tires and bought a new blade.  Even my son couldn’t even get it to work, and he’s the one with far more patience working through and calibrating the machinery than I am.  In the end, that bandsaw has basically sat unused since purchase, which means it’s spent two years being nothing more than an expensive paperweight.

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This Is A Door

20211029_141615There are some projects I take on because of a particular need.  Or, if not a need, then a want.  For instance, a couple years ago I upgraded an old Sauder media cabinet with this beauty.  It was not the easiest thing to build, and it certainly has lesser capacity than the old cabinet, but it also looks so much better being built out of maple and walnut,  and even if there are some flaws to it — my dadoes could be better — I’m still proud of it.

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Then, there are those projects we take on simply for the challenge of it.  For instance here’s a small angled box I made, just for the thrill to see if it would work.  To some extent, this design might make a pretty interesting coffee table.  Eventually this design morphed into two other items that, again, I made just for the thrill of making them.  But, because these were all unneeded, and somewhat impractical — the red and black one is only 8 inches high — they are basically art pieces.  Especially the red and black one, which sits on my desk at work.  Of course, the tallest of these art pieces is such a piece of art that it serves as a stand for a fan in our living room.  

(By they way, my advice when making things that are wholly impractical, or just for the fun of it, is thinking of it like an art piece.  It’s amazing how calling something ‘art’ will justify the existence of pretty much anything).

Then, finally, there are the projects you wind up doing not because you needed it, or wanted something, but because some bozo decided something truly unnecessary needed to be done around the house.  In this case, the bozo is my son, and the truly unnecessary thing is new bedroom doors.

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This is a Coffee Table

This is a coffee table.  Like all things wood it started as a tree.  Although, if we’re more precise, it started off as a seed that fell off another tree, at some point became a tree, and finally ended up as this.  Or, it started out as multiple seeds, on multiple trees, because the parts of this table were 100% not coming from the same tree — more on that later.

But, really, all that is beside the point.  What is the point is before this coffee table was this coffee table, it was actually three different things.  Or, five different things, because two of these things were the same exact type of thing, and two other of these were the exact type of thing, too.

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Chair Build 1.5

20210716_113826So, last year I built a chair.  You probably remember it – the chair I didn’t actually need and built on a whim just to give me some experience at building a chair.  As if I was magically going to switch careers and go into chair-making and needed the experience.

Anyway, I built that chair from a little more than one standard length 2×4 and a small piece of a plywood sheet.  When I built it last year this was actually a pretty cheap build for an experiment.  And, while the pine in a 2×4 is generally pretty lousy, it is fairly strong.  That said, if you’ve seen the cost of dimensional lumber lately, you know it would have cost a pretty penny if I went down the rabbit hole this year.

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Coopering — I Made A Bucket

In college I had a ‘cool’ history professor.  This guy wasn’t cool in the way he’d turn around a chair and sit down to ‘rap’ with us.  No, he was cool in that old-style laid-back way.  He wore turtlenecks and had a beard.  That sort of cool.

Anyway, I took something like three history classes with him and in each of them he showed us videos – he was a believer in videos.  Which was also cool.  Anyway, in the American history class he showed us various videos from Colonial Williamsburg on gun making, and other ye olde crafts.  Particularly imprinting upon me was The Cooper’s Craft, which was about a barrel maker in Williamsburg, and the process of making a barrel from tree to finished product.  I particularly enjoyed the video, probably because there is something satisfying in seeing a craftsman do their job well.  It’s probably why these sorts of ‘build’ videos have high view counts on Youtube.  Either way, I actually ordered my own copy of The Cooper’s Craft on DVD a few years ago, and added several others thereafter on the printing press, gun making, silversmithing, etc.

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Angled Boxes/Cabinets/Stands

Last year, at the start of the pandemic, I had some time on my hands, and decided I’d try making boxes with something other than right-angled miters at the corner. I’m not entirely sure what I was going for, other than it seemed like a challenge. I decided on trapezoids, and these were mostly successful, but I never really feel like I nailed it. At least, I never really feel like I nailed the top and bottom panels, and the ones I managed to get right I almost feel like it happened by accident. Still, I managed to get a couple of them right, like the one above, and you can get one here, if you care to.

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Ash Coffee Table/Side Table

If I had my way, I would have made the table from maple or walnut — I really prefer the look of those two, especially together.  I mean, who doesn’t love the grain and figure in walnut in maple?  But at the time I was launched into the project I had no maple, or hardly any at all, and what walnut I had was earmarked for something else. Continue reading “Ash Coffee Table/Side Table”


In my last post about the non-jewelry boxes, which are basically jewelry boxes, I mentioned that while that I’d built a table for my coffee-maker in my office at work.  (Yes, I have a day job).  There really wasn’t a need for a table at work – after all, there was a filing cabinet that did a perfectly fine job as a stand for my coffeemaker.  And, in full disclosure, that’s all the filing cabinet did – it was otherwise empty.  Of course, when you like to build things you’re always on the hunt for something else to build that has use to you, so I decided that a table to replace that filing cabinet was in order.

So I built one.

If I had my way, I would have made the table from maple or walnut — I really prefer the look of those two, especially together.  I mean, who doesn’t love the grain and figure in walnut in maple?  But at the time I was launched into the project I had no maple, or hardly any at all, and what walnut I had was earmarked for something else. Continue reading “Ash Coffee Table/Side Table”

Everyday Carry Trays (or, Jewelry Boxes?)

UPDATE: The red laminate version of this is available in my Etsy store — go there now1

Admittedly, there’s been a minute since my last post here, but it isn’t because I’ve been slacking.  Rather, my day job has been busier than usual, which means my hobby gets pushed slightly aside.

To be fair, I’ve tried to be busy with that too.  One thing I’ve been doing is collecting junk chairs from the side of the road for repair/refinishing.  One of the chairs will need significant work in refinishing, another will probably need a top down rebuild with about half the chair being replaced.  Why do this repair/refinishing work?  Practice, I suppose.  And also because I can’t stand seeing something that’s basically useful being junked because somebody didn’t want to spend a little time with it.  Do I have a plan for the chairs once they’re finished?  Not really, but that’s not why I do this sort of thing. Continue reading “Everyday Carry Trays (or, Jewelry Boxes?)”