Now, the project starts to get really interesting. While I knew that I would use pocket-hole joinery (my latest obsession) to assemble the tabletop, I couldn’t decide how to finish the wood. There were three different cans of Minwax Gel Stain on my shelf, in three different colors—Hickory, Cherrywood, and Honey Maple. In my head, I could make a credible argument in favor of each one. And though it would have helped to know where the table would eventually go, that was another question I couldn’t answer. Then it hit me: Rather than choose one stain, why not use them all? After all, I was constructing the tabletop from scraps, so it was going to have a homemade, mosaic look no matter what. In the end, using multiple stains would emphasize the rustic effect the table was going to achieve. Perfect! From there, having fought my way to a project plan, the rest came easy. Read on to see how I built the tabletop, then stained and sealed it with Minwax.
Now it’s time for one of the trickiest parts–attaching the side rails to the legs. I did this part on top of the tabletop, because it was the flattest surface I could find. We got the rail perfectly straight and I had my wife stand on it to keep it steady as I drilled the pilot hole through the leg and into the rail. Then we screwed in the 6″ lag screws. And I just about broke my arm trying to use a power drill with a socket to do this.
These tweezers are perfect. They’re nice and small and infinitely better than the cheap ones sold out of fishbowls at the home-center checkout lane. Their sharp, sturdy precision tips can grab even the tiniest sliver. Put them on your key chain and you’ll have a really high-quality stainless steel tweezers ready for the next time you have to perform a little surgery on the battlefield. They fold up like a pocketknife, so the business end doesn’t get wrecked. They’re available only at pocketweez.com.
Slice, dice and serve in style on this easy, attractive board. We’ll show you a simple way to dry-fit the parts, scribe the arc and then glue the whole thing together. We used a 4-ft. steel ruler to scribe the arcs, but a yardstick or any thin board would also work. Find complete how-to instructions on this woodworking crafts project here. Also, be sure to use water-resistant wood glue and keep your board out of the dishwasher or it might fall apart. And one more thing: Keep the boards as even as possible during glue-up to minimize sanding later. For great tips on gluing wood, check out this collection.
With so many woodworking tool choices and options, we created this section to highlight the latest and greatest among the new woodworking tools recently added to our site. Our selection of Woodworking Tools is always expanding with one goal in mind - helping you become a better woodworker! If you are new to woodworking or just adding to your woodworking tools, here's an interesting article from our woodworking newsletter on what tools to buy - What Woodworking Tools would I buy now? From time to time we also feature new tool releases on our Woodworking Tool Sale page so be sure to take a peek...you might find a super special while you are at it! Even more deals at Half-Price Woodworking Tools!
Consider building your tabletop out of boards about 6" wide (1x6 or 2x6), or close in size (I use x4 and x8 boards on occasion). If you go smaller, you'll be adding more joints, which means more pocket holes and more sanding. If you go with a wider board, the board itself may cup over time, creating high and low points on your tabletop. I personally find x6 boards to be that happy medium.
The reclaimed wood boards are glued together, side-by-side, to form the table top. Use a biscuit joiner to cut matching slots along the board edges (Image 1). Because this tool can be set to cut the all of grooves at the same precise depth, when you insert the biscuits in the slots and pull the boards together the result is a smooth, level surface (Image 2).
After all slots are cut, stand each board on end and coat the edge of jointed side with wood glue. Next coat the biscuits with glue. Insert biscuits in one side only of each board, then insert glued biscuits in the empty joint of the next board. Assemble planks in order until the top is complete. Don't worry about small gaps. Next, carefully lay the top down and attach pipe clamps at roughly 1' intervals. Slowly tighten each pipe clamp in a consistent fashion until the gaps disappear*. Small amounts of glue can be removed when dry; scrape up any puddled glue with a plastic putty knife. To minimize sanding later, avoid working glue into the top of the wood. Let the top set overnight.
A trusty pair of Electrician Scissors is the most used tool of many of the low-voltage electricians that we’ve talked to, and Klein seems to be the go-to brand. If you’ve never heard of electrician scissors, here is a primer: Of course like any scissors, Klein’s new Electrician Scissors can cut through stuff with the blades, but they also have a cable cutting notch so you can rip through wire up to 14 AWG. They’ll strip 19 and 23 AWG wire all day long and have a notch in the tip for de-burring electrical boxes. There’s also a scraper on both blades for convenient wire cleaning. Klein’s All-Purpose Electrician’s Scissors are available online and in home centers for $24.35.
This time I surprised one of my favorite dice games and took it outside. I made a set of wooden dice in just a few hours, and instead of sitting in the room and doing nothing, we are taking our dice game out into the yard. With this set of wooden dice, dice games are becoming our favorite backyard game. Check out the step by step tutorial below so you can make your own.
To save money, we keep the temp in our shop down low when we’re not in it and crank up the heat when we return. But even when the air temperature hits 70 degrees F, the concrete floor is still Minnesota-cold. We tried a space heater under the bench, but it broiled the shins and still left us with cold feet. So we recently bought a foot-warming mat, and now our feet stay toasty warm. Plus, it uses a fraction of the electricity and is a lot safer than a space heater. The mat is produced by Cozy Products. The good folks over at Cozy suggest putting a chunk of cardboard underneath it if you use it on flooring that could fade from the heat, like carpet or wood.
If planks are slightly cupped or twisted, have them planed at a local millwork shop or borrow a tabletop planer and tackle the job yourself. If planing yourself, first check planks for and remove nails and excess dirt*. Run planks though the planer, stripping a small amount of wood from each side as you plane. While the board is going through the planer, manually adjust the depth of the cut to compensate for irregular thickness (or twist) over the board’s length. You can hurt yourself or damage the board or planer if you do not manually adjust as you go. Keep running boards through the planer until the blade has lightly stripped each surface. Next, rip boards on a table saw to create straight edges; planks do not have to be identical in width.
Be sure wood is dry. Material from a job site or floor joists that existed in a crawlspace may have high moisture content; material from a conditioned space should be dry. Wood can be dried in a kiln (ask your local lumber mill) or stored inside through the winter. If time does not permit, stack wood in a hot dry place with 1" spacers between layers. Allow to dry for a minimum of two weeks.
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Google is probably the first place where most people would start searching for woodworking plans, but often the top results can be a mix of articles and how-to pieces that just aren’t detailed enough. Sometimes they’ll link to the plans (like we try to here at Lifehacker), but other times, they’re just showing off a cool project. There are better, more precise ways of finding what you’re looking for.
Adirondack Chairs in Tennessee Cedar Wood Growing up in Central New York and spending years in the Adirondack Mountains, I grew up seeing all types of Adirondack chairs. But it was not until I moved to middle Tennessee that I attempted to build Adirondack chairs myself. I found plans that gave me the basic design to build the adult chairs. I made some adjustments in order to fit them into my style and the type of wood that I have available. I found a cedar mill within an hour of my shop that allows me to purchase rough cut lumber. Because of the nature of rough lumber I am buying wood that is actually thicker, wider and longer than wood purchased at a brick front store. Where a nominal 2”x 4”x 96” bought at a local lumber store is actually 1.5 x 3.5 x 96. The cedar I purchase is 2 ¼ x 4 ¼ x 102 inches. Once run through the surface planer to clean up the roughness and sanded, I am able to build with actual 2” x 4” or 2” x 6” lumber. This makes the chairs heavier, sturdier and more durable. Because of the size of the wood I assemble the legs and main supports with 3/8” carriage bolts. The arms, seat boards and backs are all assembled with 2” to 3” exterior screws. I predrill all the holes prior to inserting any screws. I do this because cedar, or any wood for that matter, can split at any time. The actual finished chair stands 38” tall x 39” long and 33” wide. They weigh about 35 lbs. and can seat a large adult very well but also comfortable for my tiny framed wife. The rise of the seat from the knees to the ground for your feet is 13 ½ inches. The seat reclines backward naturally but not so much that it is hard to stand from a seated position. The back is curved to support the natural curve of your back allowing for a more comfortable fit. The back is 32” tall to support even a taller person. The arms have been described as looking like whales so they are narrow where they fasten to the back of the chair and wide in the front for a cup, a book or even a laptop if you choose to work outside. *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! Child’s Chair: The smaller child chairs are added to match the adult chairs to finish the family. These also are made with rough cedar milled and sanded to size to make the chairs sturdy. As with the adult chairs the wood will be thicker, wider and stronger than nominal wood. I use all true 1” lumber for the
Our favorite tools that make every project easier (and safer too!) With Black Friday soon to be upon us I wanted to put together a list of 11 items under $70.00 (it was supposed to be 10, but I couldn’t decide which to leave off!) that I use on a regular basis in my wood shop. Each of these items will make great stocking stuffers, secret Santa gifts or just something you can purchase for yourself to make your shop more efficient and safer. I have personally used all these items except the tape measure. I bought that for my son-in-law who uses it on a regular basis. I find each of these items serve multiple purposes for me in the shop to keep me safe, provide my accurate measurements and give me that extra pairs of hands that I need. You can find Amazon links below that will take you directly to the item. *DISCLOSURE: 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! SAFETY FIRST GRR-RIPPER 3D Pushblock for Table Saws, Router Tables, Band Saws, and Jointers by MICROJIG – $59.00 Safety is essential in the shop and these GRR-RIPPERS keep tablesaw blades, router bits and Jointer blades away from my fingers. No shop should be without them. I Have 2 and use them daily. 3M Peltor Optime 105 Over the Head Earmuff, Ear Protectors, Hearing Protection, NRR 30 dB $19.95 Don’t let the noise of your machinery ruin your hearing. I use these while running all the tools in my shop to protect my hearing. They fit well with safety glasses and are comfortable to wear for hours. MEASURING TOOLS Kreg KMA2900 Multi-Mark Multi-Purpose Marking and Measuring Tool Model – $42.11 Great things come in small sizes. I carry this little wonder in my apron for every project. It helps me make sure that my wood is all the same thickness when coming out of the planer. I use it to set the depth of my dado cuts. FastCap PSSR25 25 foot Lefty/Righty Measuring Tape – $9.99 This tape measure is great for someone that has issues with the smaller measurements such as 1/8, 3/8, 5/8, etc.. Left or Right handed, this item really measures up. 12 in Centerpoint Rule – $13.95 I picked this up on a whim while walking through a wood store one day and I have never regretted it. I find it hard to determine the center point of wood at times and this finds center every time without failure and with great ease. Find the full measurement on the top of the ruler and find the same number on the bottom and that is center. NO ONE EVER HAS ENOUGH CLAMPS Large Rockler Bandy Clamps, Pair – $24.99 I could never figure out what the fuss was for these until
Using pocket holes to attach the stool base to the stool top prevents the top from moving during seasonal changes. It’s also not a good idea to drive screws through the edge of the apron into the table top. Over time the top could crack or the top could have enough force to push or pull the joints of the base apart. Skate over to Mistakes with Wood Can Cause Your DIY Furniture to Crack to see more about how I incorrectly attached the top on the stool.
This is a well built bag that does a good job of consolidating tools. It opens up very wide and is surprisingly compact when closed. I use mine doing HVAC installation to avoid schlepping power tools one at a time. Holds a circular saw, reciprocating saw, angle grinder, hammer drill and the associated bits/discs/blades/batteries/grips. Also have a two foot level and 18" bar folder in there and it still zips closed with zero issues.
A super simple iPad Dock/stand made out of a single block of wood features an angled groove which gets to support the tablet device and a cut in a hole to revise access to the home button of your iPad. It’s possible to drill an access channel in the stand through which you can run a charging cable, although this mini stripped back iPad stand may have very limited functions.
Okay, let’s stain this beast. I should explain that we used Rustoleum’s Dark Walnut Ultimate Wood Stain, but we did it wrong. We failed to mix it well before applying it, resulting in a color we really liked–but not the color this stain is designed to create. When we came back to do a second coat, we stirred it well, resulting in a coat that looked like purple paint. I had to sand it off and start over. So, don’t follow my lead here–follow the can’s directions and TEST before staining all of your new masterpiece!
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Open rafters and trusses are an endless source of falling dust. So if you’re working under an open ceiling, hang plastic sheeting above. Keep the plastic at least 12 in. from light fixtures or remove the bulbs. Sometimes, adding plastic ‘walls’ is a lot easier than cleaning up the entire area. If you’re using oil-based finishes, hang the sheets about a foot from the floor to allow for ventilation.
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The end grain of wood soaks up finishes and often turns much darker than the face grain. Check for this on your test block. If you get an ugly result, pretreat the end grain with a dose of finish that will limit absorption (wood conditioner, sanding sealer, shellac or polyurethane thinned 50 percent). Apply the treatment with an artist’s brush and be careful not to slop onto the face grain.
When sourcing materials from a renovation or job site be sure to have clear permission and wear the appropriate safety gear. Be aware that lead paint and asbestos may be mixed in with clean wood. Watch out for and pull nails out of material before loading in a car or truck so reclaimed wood will stack better. Be careful when working with items painted prior to 1979 as they may contain lead-based paint. Be sure to consult the EPA's Renovate Right: Important Lead Hazard Information for Families, Child Care Providers, and Schools pamphlet before disturbing any paint that could contain lead. Building materials produced before 1983 should also generally be tested for asbestos. Contact your local building official for exact requirements.
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!
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.
She has permanently glued and screwed the tabletop within that four-sided, mitered frame. Attaching the skirt to the long edges of the wide boards is no problem, but fastening them to the end grain of the wide boards, as shown in the photo above, is. The builder has constricted the wide boards' movement, and as they grow or shrink in width but are held in place by those end-caps, they will warp and split, making this a short-lived piece of furniture.
Crisp, tight joints are key to any great tabletop, and this is where the jointer comes in. Get help supporting boards longer than about five feet as you work. Also, if some joints don’t come together tightly, despite your best jointing efforts, try moving the boards to new locations if grain patterns permit. Some edges just naturally fit together more tightly than others. Don’t own a jointer? Pieces of planed lumber sometimes fit together just fine without jointing. Try different boards as neighbours to see which ones get along the best.
Another fairly inexpensive option for making a table top is using a stain grade 3/4″ plywood. cut the 4 x 8 sheet in half (2- pcs, 4 x 4). Spread wood glue one and place and clamp the other on top. Once the glue has dried, it can be cut with a jig saw to the round shape, or if you have access to a router, make a “circle cutter” by mounting the router on a thin piece of wood, (1/4 x 6 x 60″) and putting pivot hole at a distance of 1/2 the diameter of the desired table. (from the side of the router bit to the pivot hole. Put a small hole in the underside of the table top as close to the center as possible. (not all the way through) and use something like a nail as a pivot. Use a straight bit and cut a perfect circle. The stain grade plywood usually has a pretty good stain surface and the construction of the plywood makes it pretty stable. After cutting the edge may have some minor voids, which can be filled with wood putty and sanded nice and smooth. The results can be a nice stained or painted surface.