Creating a classic toy: One of my favorite shop projects is to create children’s cedar building blocks from rough Tennessee red cedar. These came about after I built my first Adirondack chairs and I had a large amount of scrap wood left over. Our first granddaughter had just been born and we decided to build a set of building blocks. Since that first set of blocks was made I’ve delivered hundreds to young children all across the country. Hearing the stories of the kids playing with these for hours and seeing the joy on their faces is what it’s all about. *DISCLOSURE: Some of the links below are affiliate links. If you chose to click through and make a purchase I will earn a commission but there is no additional cost to you. It helps compensates the business for the time spent creating these posts. THANK YOU! Start with Rough Cut Cedar These blocks start with rough 2×4 and 2×6 cedar lumber purchased from my local cedar mill. I use my Ridgid Power Tools Surface Planer to bring the wood into smooth milled lumber. Over to the SuperMax Drum Sander to sand the wood as much as possible. The goal is make sure the wood is as soon as glass. Then the wood goes into my Ridgid table saw to be milled into ¾ x ¾, 2 x 2 and ¾ x 2. Once the pieces are cut to proper width its over to the Grizzly Band saw to cut the blocks to length. I tried to do this on my sliding miter saw, but found I could not control the blocks well enough and the saw blade would cause them to either get jammed or fly across the shop and be ruined. Block Sizes These blocks come in a number of rectangle and square sizes. ¾ x ¾ x 2”, 4” and 6” ¾ x 2 x2’, 4” and 6” 1 ½ x1 ½ x1 ½ 2 x2 x 2”, 6” Final Step by Hand The last step is to take them to the Ridgid Oscillating Sander and round over the edges and corners to keep them safe. Because we handle them multiple times it gives is the opportunity to clear out any misfits and chipped blocks. Watch the process here. At one point we were coating them with a finish used for salad bowls but they were hard to dry without leaving ridges from the drying racks or drips that needed to be sanded off. It was recommended/suggested by a number of mothers that we not put anything on them. The beauty of these blocks is they hold the smell and are safe to play with. They provide hours of fun when stacking and building. I have watched the little ones learning how to pick things up grab and hold them. Available to purchase on Etsy Interested in having your own set? We have a limited amount available for Christmas 2018 with or without the hand made wooden
Here’s an old woodworking adage I enjoy ignoring: “measure twice, cut once.” Honestly, I measure nonce and cut thrice. I often eyeball it. I use pieces I’ve already cut to measure what I need to cut. It’s not a great habit, but I prefer it to measuring everything. And the results usually aren’t that different. At least that’s what I tell myself. I ended up having to sand down the ends of the 2×12’s running the length of the table (where they meet the aprons) because they weren’t exactly the same length.
With a pencil and a protractor, divide the larger disc into 30-degree wedges to create 12 center lines for the bottle indents. Center and trace the smaller disc on top of the larger disc. Next, with a drill press, drill 3/8-in.-deep holes on the 12 center lines with the 1-7/8-in. Forstner bit, spacing them between the disc’s outer edge and the traced circle. Next, divide the smaller disc into 60-degree wedges and drill six more 3/8-in.-deep holes with the Forstner bit.
The engineering involved in building this garden bench is pretty simple, and we have provided some links to get a full cut list and plans with photos to help you along the way. Additionally, to the stock lumber, you will need wood screws, barrel locks, and hinges to complete the table. A miter saw or hand saw is also extremely helpful for cutting down your stock to the correct angle and length.
Turning over the sturdy tabletop, I felt a thrill of vindication. Clearly, it wasn’t a mistake in the end to use all three stains for the same project. Before I could consider the job done, though, I would need to apply sealer—Minwax Helmsman Spar Urethane—to protect the wood from moisture, UV rays, and the wear and tear of day-to-day life. This was my first time experimenting with a spray-application sealer, and I loved it. Obviously, it’s important to have proper ventilation in your work area, and you’ve got to shake the can vigorously before spraying, but so long as you remember the basics, spraying couldn’t be more straightforward. Holding the Helmsman Spar Urethane can about a foot from the surface, spray in a series of even strokes, always in the same direction, until you’ve completed the first coat. Let the sealer dry for about four hours before applying any additional coats, and for best results, sand the entire surface before each application of a new layer.
Finding a toolbox for a mechanic, for his hand tools, is not a big challenge at all - there are dozens of the tool boxes available on the market, from huge roll-around shop cases to small metal boxes. Plumbers, electricians, and farmers are well served, too, with everything from pickup-truck storage to toolboxes and belts. But, if you are a shop-bound woodworker then the case changes. You get to need a tool box that suits the range and variety of hand tools that most woodworkers like to have. For those who deny making do with second best, there's only one solution, you’ve to build a wooden toolbox that should be designed expressly for a woodworking shop.
Manufacturers that produce woodworking tools and materials have got into the content creation game, too, and some will share woodworking plans online. Minwax and Ryobi, for example, provides their plans free of charge, and Rockler offers their woodworking plans for a fee. Seek them out along with the other blogs and you’ll have a handy list of resources you can turn to for any project.
If you have been with me for a while then you know that I participate in a monthly Furniture Fixer Uppers share. That is where a few of my creative and talented blogger friends and I have joined together to share what we are working on. This is a new group of Furniture Flipping friends and we will be sharing on the 1st Thursday of each month to bring you even more great furniture makeovers. DIY projects and furniture makeovers are more fun with friends anyway, so the more the merrier, right? Let’s see what my friends are up to! Make sure to click the links below the image to check out all the amazing projects that my bloggy girls are working on this month.
After sanding, I wiped down the table to remove any dust. Then I stirred the polyurethane and brushed it on the table top, including all four sides. After the polyurethane coating dried, the table was ready to be used. I used the poly coat because the table is being used on an outdoor porch. It is a covered porch, but sometimes there is a blowing rain. I also wanted a protective coating because the table is being used for food and drinks. I didn’t want to worry about anything being spilled on the table.
I've worn this apron in my studio/workshop several times now, and I really like it. It's more expensive than some, but the materials and construction are first-rate. I rarely give five stars, but the workmanship on this apron is impressive. The fabric is substantial and, although a bit stiff at present, comfortable to wear. The strap and grommet system is pretty clever, allowing a good fit for most, I would think. I'm a 5'-7" not-skinny woman, and I'm able to cross the straps at the small of my back and then tie them in front, so I'm guessing there would be plenty of strap length for bigger men. The straps sit comfortably on my shoulders. And all the pockets are great!
Cedar Mini Decorative Planters/Boxes Using Interlocking Dovetail Joints Having a cedar mill within an hour of my shop allows me to work with some very nice wood. While cedar can be brittle, it is wonderful to work with and makes putting these decorative boxes together a breeze. When working with cedar I am always looking for pieces that have what is known as “heartwood”. This is the red portion of the wood. When first planed or sanded, this heartwood is almost pink in color but takes polyurethane or spar finish well giving a vibrant dark red when applied. If left untreated, cedar will turn gray in direct sunlight and a dull red color from normal household light. These boxes have been treated with a wiping polyurethane mix that allows me to apply it with a cotton rag instead of a brush. It’s faster to apply, doesn’t run and dries fast enough to apply two coats in a day. So applying 5-6 coats only takes 2-3 days to accomplish. I assembled the boxes using a dovetail joint which provides both strength and decorative at the same time. A fan shaped tenon that forms a tight interlocking joint when fitted into a corresponding mortise. The dovetails on these boxes are shown on the length of the box and not the end where the handles are located. I use a dovetail jig and a router to make these joints which is more efficient. Depending on how the client will use the box I may or may not drill two holes in the bottom of the box. If they are built to be used as outside planters then I drill 2, half inch holes in the bottom for water to drain. If they are to be used inside as a table center piece or fireplace mantle decorative box, then I do not drill the hole. In the end they are strong, durable and beautiful no matter how they are used.