Pens for Gifts

One thing that I started doing recently, was supplementing gifts with a pen or pen set to add a little extra to our gifts. Recently we gave away 3 pen sets as wedding gifts and a retirement gift. The first was a Olivewood His & Hers pen set, then a Zebrawood retirement pen set and finally a Buginga His & Hers pen set.


Oak & Ash Plant Stand

One item on our to do list for a while has been a plant stand for a living room. I’ve seen some stands that leaned up against the wall and really liked it. I measured the space in our living room where it would go and set out trying to get the appropriate angles for the stand.

The stand is made out of white ash with oak plywood, very similar to other projects we have at our house. I put an inch and a quarter piece of Ash around each plywood to give a lip so the pots can’t slide off.

I wanted each shelf to go directly back to the wall so the pots could not fall off the back. After getting some test pieces cut I realized that the bottom shelf was too deep and did not look right. The bottom two shelves are approximately 14″ deep and the top approximately 6″ deep.

After it was assembled and sanded my wife stained the wood with the same colour of stain we’ve used on other projects.

For this project I wanted to try out my new HVLP spray gun my wife bought me for my birthday. It is the Fuji semi-pro 2 HVLP spray system. I’ve done some research online and decided my first attempt was going to be spraying lacquer. Using the spray gun was very fun and I am very happy with the results. I am not a huge fan of brushing on finish so I see myself using this for most if not all projects going forward. I wouldn’t mind trying out different finishes to see how they spray though.

After it was finished I brought it into the living room and screwed it onto the wall from underneath using pocket holes. It is very secure. We found some coloured pots at Home Depot and decided to switch all of our plans to that style of pots.

We are very happy to have this project completed and we love the way it looks and the extra space from not having our plants all over the living room but in one stand.

Book Shelves for our Office

A project that has been on my to-do list for a while now has been a pair of book shelves for our Office. We had a wall cabinet made out of oak left downstairs when we bought the house and we moved it into our Office a few years ago. It looked pretty bare on the wall and thought some book shelves on each side would look nice.

I previously built a large cabinet for our hallway by our back door to store some outdoor equipment and misc. items. It was basically a book shelf with doors, so I thought I would do the same for these book shelves. I bought some Oak plywood for the case and had some Ash hardwood on hand to use for the face frame since Ask looks very similar to Oak.

I had an issue where I could not store 1 container in my entry way cabinet so I thought I would try out adjustable shelving for these book cases. That way I could always adjust the height in the future. I bought a Kreg shelf pin jig and was very happy with the result. I bought a second one to attach to the first after I was done because I thought it would be easier if I didn’t have to keep on moving the jig as much. I plan on using it again on my mitre saw station whenever I get back to it to complete the shelves and drawers.

One thing that is great about making adjustable shelving instead of fixed shelves is that it is significantly lighter. I only had to put a top, middle and bottom shelf in place to hold it together so I was able to move these around by myself and didn’t need to get help to bring it around when finishing or installing.

I did some test pieces to see how dark our regular stain would look compared to the existing cabinet. It was a little darker, but we thought we would still go with that stain. (The picture actually makes it look significantly darker, but that it not the case)

When installing the book shelves I decided to mount them on the wall over the baseboard trim instead of building a base for it to sit on. Since it is made very sturdy out of plywood and solid wood I had no concerns mounting the book shelves over the base board on the wall. that way it will be easy to clean underneath in the future.

Very happy with the results and how rewarding it is to have a custom made cabinet that fits the space perfectly.


Digital Picture Frame

I had an old monitor lying around the house and decided I would make a 2nd digital picture frame for downstairs. I used another Raspberry Pi and configured it the same as my previous digital picture frame and mounted the LCD to the wall. It is very nice to have and have since changed it to display my security cameras so I can see who it at my door, or in my yard without leaving the basement. 🙂 I created a script where I can easily change between the two with my iPad, but it mostly stays on my security cameras.

I bought some Oak casing and created a simple picture frame to hide some of the LCD bezel. I then used some Oak plywood left over from a couple of book cases I am currently working on to wrap the sides and bottom to complete the look. Very happy with the way it turned out.


Pair of curved lid toy boxes

In 2013 I built a toy box for my niece Abby. I have wanted to build toy boxes for my other 2 nephews, but wanted to wait until they got older so they could appreciate it more and remember who it came from. This year I decided to build the other two, but i wanted to make it different then the first since I already built two from the first design.

I searched on and off for a couple months until I came across an article from the 2010 August/September issue of American Woodworker (Keepsake Trunk). It was actually a post on LumberJocks, but it made reference to the article they used for the plans. I found the issue and looked it over. It was for a much smaller chest, but I loved the look of the completed chest. It used box joints on the sides and curved top. I never made box joints before and was excited for the challenge.

Since I wanted something substantially larger, I would only use the plans to reference the design. I used Big Print program to bring out the side view of the toy box top and printed it out to the end size I wanted. I then measured the angles I would need and width for each piece of the curved lid.

After milling, cutting the angles and gluing the top, it was time to attach the sides of the top. I decided to deviate from the plans a bit and not round the inside of the lid where the sides meet the top and just held the lid on top of the sides and traced the curve. This would mean a lot more cutting by hand, but I thought it would have a better look.

The construction of the bottom box went fairly smoothly. After milling enough lumber for 2 complete boxes, I planned out my box joints. After testing the joints on a scrap piece of wood a few times I was confident enough to proceed.

The box went together smoothly and I sanded the joints flush and was read to move on to the names for the front.

Instead of using Purpleheart wood for the lettering that I used on my last two toy boxes, I used Padauk instead. Padauk has an orange colour to it. I printed the two names out using a font size and style I liked and attached it to the wood. I then used my bandsaw to cut out most of the lettering and sanded smooth. I just glued the letters onto the front instead of attaching them with screws or dowels. That way if they ever want to remove the lettering down the road I could cut them of and sand the remnants off.

I bought some antique brass hardware to make it look a little like a treasure chest and made sure I added soft close lid stays. They are expensive at $50 a piece from Lee Valley, but the $200 spent on the safety of soft close is worth it. Two on each lid was required due to the weight of the solid birch top.

The end result of the two toy boxes is amazing. I love the look of the two. I had the birch already for the two toy boxes, but I estimate I spent approximately $300 total on the hardware and Padauk wood.

I am very happy with the result but what is even better is that my two nephews love their toy boxes. And that is what matters most.



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Simple Step Stool

A while back I added a 2nd clothes hanger bar in my Wife’s closet for additional space. I had to move the old bar up a bit, which made getting to the top shelf impossible for her without a step stool. We had one downstairs that was rarely used so she just moved that upstairs until I could build one. She wanted a wooden one that collapsed for storage.

I have a lot of birch so I decided to use that. It isn’t a centre piece in our home, so I don’t want to “waste” my good ash or oak on it. 🙂 I actually had 2 pieces of birch & maple already milled to just over 3/4″ thickness from the toy box earlier on this year. So I just had to mill a couple small pieces for the legs. I found the design on Lumberjocks that my wife really liked, and then I found another one on Lumberjocks that had the angles and lengths of the pieces. Perfect! No guess work!

The plans called for 1/2″ wooden dowel, but I thought 1/2″ bolt would be more secure. I painted them brown to kind-of blend in, and finished the wood with spray lacquer. This is the first time I used spray lacquer. It sure does dry fast!

Pretty happy with the overall end product. Hopefully it last a long time! Here is a picture of the completed stool opened and folded flat.

Birch Step Stool

Folded Step Stool

Rubik’s Cube Display Case

I have a lot of Rubik’s cubes. A LOT. It all started Winter 2010. I was thinking of things I could put on my Christmas list for my family. I wanted something I wouldn’t normally buy for myself, but something I always wanted. I saw a Rubik’s cube while walking through the mall at lunch and thought it would be cool if I could solve one. I had one when I was a kid, but never really tried to solve it other than pealing the stickers off and putting them back on in their proper location. So I added it to my list. I ended up getting two of them for Christmas. One from my Brother and the other from my wife Roseanne (who was my fiancée at the time). I didn’t mind because that meant I could have one at home and one at Roseanne’s. I had the week after Christmas off and spend the entire time trying to solve it. About a week later, I did it! The only logical step from there would be to get faster and faster. By the time I had to go back to work after New Years I had my time down to 3 minutes. I figured if I kept at it I could get better. After a while I ended up getting an average of about 1 1/2 minutes. Since then, I average less than a minute with my best time being 42 seconds. Not great considering the world record is around 5 seconds. But at that point you need to memorize a lot of algorithms in order to get that time.

I don’t know why, but I have been addicted to buying Rubik’s cubes. I have 82 of them right now. 30-ish of them are cheap cubes I bought to make a mosaic of Mario from Super Mario Bros. A picture of that could be seen on my Instagram page. The remainder are at work, a couple spots where I sit at home, and the rest are in this cabinet. Most are the standard 3x3x3 or 3x3x3 shape mods, but I also have many other types of twisty puzzles. You can see all the different types in the cabinet. The ones at work and other places at home are just different manufacturers of the same type of cubes you see in the picture below.

My cubes were sitting in various spots in my house and at work. I always wanted to make a display case for them. With some left over 1/2″ oak plywood I made a basic case and wrapped it in ash hardwood for the face frame. I had my wife stain and finish it with polyurethane while I worked on my Chisel rack. I hung it on an open spot on the wall in our bedroom on my side of the bed. I really like how it looks.

Rubik's Cube Case