Art Boxes/Valise/Charger Case

Last year we swapped out some rotting fence sections in our yard and I rescued as many good pieces as I could before we did away with the rest. I used those to make wine boxes, a pencil holder, and a few other boxes with hinged lids. I put a handle on top of one and when the wife and I went away for a weekend around Labor Day, we put all our cords and cables in it and that’s how we carried them around.  It was better to have one place dedicated for them every day than trying to remember if they went in this suitcase, or that backpack, or whatever.

Unfortunately, that box was not sufficient to corral them all, so I built a bigger one from reclaimed pallet wood. It looks like a small valise. Unfortunately, the pallet wood proved finicky and while the box — and many others I made from it at the time — looked good out of the gate, the lids were all very responsive in all the worst ways to the weather.  In particular, the tops all shrunk pretty dramatically and because I’d only face-glued them, this eventually warped the box lids to the extent that they would not close. It’s lovely to be taught the lesson about wood shrinkage even at my age, and even as I should need to be taught it. Continue reading “Art Boxes/Valise/Charger Case”

Shoeshine Boxes (that are not shoeshine boxes)

If you happen to watch Woodwoorking for Mere Mortals on Youtube, you know that last year Steve Ramsey (he hosts the series) did an irregular series of videos in which he led a neophyte woodworker through creating a shoeshine box.  They made it out of pine boards, edge joined, using simple joinery.  In the end, the project is mostly basic, which is why it’s being done on a program called Woodworking for Mere Mortals.

Now, I don’t watch the show because I need help with woodworking, or anything like that.  As I said, the box was basic.  Continue reading “Shoeshine Boxes (that are not shoeshine boxes)”

Apothecary Style Desk Caddy

Early in the pandemic, back when we were all optimistic it would end in three weeks — those were the days, right? — I decided to make a hardwood desk caddy for work.  And, while I was at it, I thought I’d try to make three.  One of them I made from hickory — that was to be mine.  The other two were made from some Chinese Sumac I got somewhat cheap. Continue reading “Apothecary Style Desk Caddy”

Trapezoid Keepsake Boxes

Back at the start of the pandemic I set about making some keepsake boxes, intent on trying to reproduce several at a time, but also to play with angles. There was some amount of success in it, but given they were experiments, they were more learning endeavors than attempts at perfection. This is why they are imperfect, but even in perfection there is beauty.

Since these were meant as some sort of lesson to myself, what exactly did I learn? Angles are hard, and reproduction is never as fast as you’d think.

At the end of the day there are four left — a couple were given away to family. (1) Maple sides with a walnut top, (2) Walnut sides with maple top, (3) Cherry, and (4) Paduak sides with maple top.

You can buy one, or all, of them here if you life.

Cutting Boards

Cutting Board 3Many people make cutting boards from scraps — the wood left over from other projects that’s just big enough to make you resistant to throwing away.  I tend to turn those scraps into coasters, largely because I save the bigger scraps to use on other projects that may never come to pass.  This might make me a hoarder, but if it does, I know I’m not the only one.

Cutting Board 2Anyhow, when me supply of bigger pieces of scrap started to get a bit out of hand, I turned to making cutting boards.  One was primarily maple, but with walnut accents.  Another was primarily cherry, but there’s probably some oak in there.

104795634_10117556992523064_4360651205402851715_oMore interestingly, I decided to make a cutting board inspired by the art of Mark Rothko.  This doubly interested me as I love Mark Rothko paintings, but also, my wife hates them.  So it was both satisfying to me on an aesthetic level, and also on a troll level.  This cutting board was made with paduak, purple heart, and poplar.

Cutting Board 1Of course, because purple heart and paduak are not cheap and were bought special for this project, I couldn’t bring myself to throw away those scraps either.  So, I mixed them in with the leftover poplar and some zebrawood to get another cutting board.

The Mark Rothko board is mine and stays in my house.  If you want the others, they’re on sale here.  (I suggest reading the descriptions carefully, as one board has a slight flaw in an edge glue joint).

Tea Boxes (or Whatever-You-Want-In-It Boxes)

I’m not entirely sure what the impetus for making these boxes were. Some things just kind of come to you as an idea and you run with it, knowing exactly where the idea originated. Sometimes, though, something comes to you for no reason and you run with that.

The original box that led to me making these was made with Birch plywood scraps — its size and shape was dictated by what was left and the box was no bigger than what I had on hand. Well, despite being made of scraps, I was pleased enough with how it turned out that I decided to make some more. But this time I wouldn’t use Birch scraps — I didn’t have any more to use. And this is where walnut-veneered plywood came in.

These boxes measure (Note: all sizes are very close to this, but may vary from item to item as they are made by hand, not a computer):

  • Exterior — 9.75″ x 9.75″ x 5″
  • Interior — 8.75″ x 8.75″ x 3.5″
  • Bottom Trays has 9 (nine) 2.75″ squares
  • Upper Trays have 9 (nine) 2.5″ squares (Except for the one which has two trays of approx. 2.5″ x 8″

There are four varieties here. All have four have 9 cubbies in the bottom. The , three of them have 9 cubbies up top, one has two small/long trays:

  • Nine (9) divided bare wood cubbies in the bottom, with a tray of nine (9) unlined divided cubbies above
  • Another Nine (9) divided bare wood cubbies in the bottom, with a tray of nine (9) unlined divided cubbies above
  • Nine (9) divided faux-flocking lined cubbies in the bottom, with a tray of nine (9) faux-flocking lined divided cubbies above
  • Nine (9) divided faux-flocking lined cubbies in the bottom, with Two elongated sliding/removable upper trays above also lined with faux-flocking

Though these boxes were made of plywood — good plywood — they were all made with love. Each is edge-banded in solid wood, hiding the layers of plywood within, but still retain the stability plywood offers. As always, there are imperfections in the boxes — that’s the beauty of handmade. You can see a slight router accident on the back of one of them one and there are other bits of character that truly give these pieces character.

While I might call them ‘tea boxes’ you can put whatever you want in them — use your imagination.

You can buy them here

Chair Experiment v. 1.0

Look, there’s no good reason for me to make a chair — they aren’t that expensive to buy, so why spend the time?  But then again, most things woodworkers make can be bought cheaply, which also usually means you get something cheap.


What is the purpose of making a chair?  It could be that our own dining room set is incomplete, because one of the children broke the lower supports off the chair hears ago, at a time when I didn’t realize it would be fine just to fix it.  But again, our chairs are basically off-the-rack, and nothing special, so they could all be replaced fairly easily, without must trouble.  And if not replace it exactly, could come pretty close, and it wouldn’t cost too much.

But, when you like working with wood, you don’t necessarily think of things in terms of cost.  You usually think about the fun of making something, and the challenge of it.  Plus, you get the satisfaction of doing it yourself.  Which is all why I decided to make a chair — not so much because I needed to, but because the challenge of it made it so I had to.

The chair you see in the photo is my literal first attempt.  As such, I tried to keep it simple, with everything being a rectangle, and without curves.  More difficult features will come in version 2.0.  And since this was a first attempt, I made the thing out of pine.  That way, if it was a disaster the only thing I’d done was ruin two 2×4’s and a small bit of plywood.  Not a hundred dollars of oak or ash.  The only real flourishes were the seat is upholstered, and the back has no curve.

Ultimately, this chair was an experiment and a learning experience.  And I think I learned a lot.  Enough that version two of this chair will probably still be upholstered — I like the look of that — and will also have a curved back, probably made with bent lamination.  As before, the prototype will be made with pine, and if I like this one, then we might move on to making a set out of ash.  Let’s just hope I have enough wood for that.

Mixed Hardwood Coasters — Scrap No More

Some woodworkers finish projects, look at what’s left over — the offcuts, as it were — and there first thought is they either have (1) garbage, or (2) firewood. In a lot of cases, the wood they’re treating as trash has some life left in it beyond going to a landfill, or the burn pile. If you’re properly motivated, most everything can be of use.

Eventually, though, what’s left hasn’t much value at all. That’s when you make coasters.

Pictured above are two sets of coasters, but there are so much more than that.

Available to purchase are:
(1) set of four mixed cherry and other hardwood coasters in a walnut box
(1) set of four mixed hardwood coasters in a basswood box
(1) set of four maple and mixed-hardwood coasters in a basswood box
(1) set of four maple and mixed hardwood coasters without a box
(1) set of four exotic hardwood coasters, including purple heart, without a box
(1) set of eight cherry coasters without a holder.

These would look great sitting on your coffee table, or end table, or nightstand, or dashboard of your car (not recommended). Really, anywhere you put your drinks — you do what works best for you.

These coasters are 4″ by 4″ square.

You feel like spending some of your hard-earned money on something I rescued from the scrap bin and made something useful out of? Well, then go to my Etsy listing and have your credit card ready. It will be appreciated.