A Major Award

I found out yesterday I won the End Grain contest at Popular Woodworking Magazine.


Winning the contest was just a bonus. I’m more excited about my piece on the Toy Chest Rebuild actually making the cut.

Anyway, I thought I’d share this good news with my readers (both of you)…

Have a good weekend.

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Drawer two…meh

I finished cutting the dovetails for drawer two and I’m not overly happy. I guess I’m at one of those stages in the craft where I’m pushing myself because I truly think these two drawers kinda suck. They’ll either be a few inches shorter than the other drawers or maybe good practice for filling in gaps with wedges.

We’ll see.

For the third drawer I’m going to go against the advice from all of my resources and not try to fit this off the saw. Maybe I’ll get there one day but as a beginner in this area I think that might’ve been the wrong advice. I’ll post the pictures when I have the third drawer back together.



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Seattle’s Best (For Woodworkers)

As you may have guessed from the sudden uptick in posts, I was on the road recently for work. My travels brought me to Seattle. With the help of Marilyn over at She Works Wood, I was able to explore some of Seattle’s finest woodworking haunts. Marilyn, if you read this, THANKS!


I didn’t have much time but was able to hit up Northwest Woodworker’s Gallery and Urban Hardwoods. It was a great way to get in some inspiration in limited time. One day maybe I’ll be good enough to think about submitting my work to places like this.


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2015 Priorities

I know it’s a little late to talk about New Years Resolutions and such. So I won’t.

revised view 2

Instead, I’ll discuss a few of things I’m hoping to accomplish in and out of the shop this year. First and foremost is the The Dresser. It needs to be done. Period. Everything else takes a back seat. The number two priority is a bit of a moving target.

Revised OptionThe first second priority is a large remodel to our house. I’m not crazy and value my marriage so most of this will be farmed out to a remodeling company. I do get to tackle the mud room, which means some sort of locker system and maybe a small apothecary style unit for holding hats, gloves, and the like. This remodel will also spill over into our dining room. I’m going to build the dining room table. I’m thinking a trestle style table but we’re still working out the details.

The second second priority is a shop remodel of sorts. We upgraded the electrical from 100 A to 200 A in October and I’ve been itching to reconfigure things and put in some new outlets. This job requires framing and running of wiring. I’ll be tackling this myself with the help of some friends and several cases of beer. I brushed up on my Sketchup skills and through a rough layout together so I can get an idea of where I want outlets and lights. If any has any good resources on shop lighting, please add a comment below. Or if you have any good resources for shop layout I’m also open.

Shop Plan from Sketchup

The third second priority is to rehab an entertainment center we scored for $50 and make it into an armoire for my mom. She visits us for extended periods of a time and I want her to have a place to hang some clothes and make her room feel more homey. My wife and I started deconstructing it and I should’ve taken pics but I don’t have them.

The fourth second priority is to make our woodworking club/co-op better equipped for hand tools. I’m going to build a version of Schwarz/Seimsen knockdown bench featured on his blog and in the Naked Woodworker DVD. This will help use up some crappy but solid ash timbers we have laying around and hopefully foster a more hand tool friendly atmosphere.

Oh, and the fifth second priority is a toy chest for my soon-to-be-here newest nephew.

Good God this sounds like a lot of work.

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The Result of Several Deep Breaths…

…look like this:



I’ve been trying since the new year started to create a laser focus on the drawers for the dresser. With seven drawers, consisting of  28 parts, consisting of 200 dovetails, the laser hasn’t always come into focus. I’ve been doing some reading, watching, and prepping but as my fellow phish fan and woodworking blogger Jim told me: just cut the damn dovetails.

So I did.

I started with baby steps since laying them out wasn’t as easy as I’d hoped. I kept getting things flipped around and trying to make sure the groove for the bottom ends up in the right spot was kinda tricky. I painstakingly laid out the tails on all the parts and then started cutting the back of my first drawer. I decided to gang the tails together and cut the backs of each drawer before moving on to the fronts. It’s not that I’m more intrepid about the half blinds for the front than the throughs but I feel like they’ll be seen more so I want them to look better.

On one hand, it might be better to complete an entire drawer before moving on but this method helps with my flow. I only get about an hour in the evenings (maybe 1 to 3 days a week). Fortunately, I have my shifts at my woodworking club/co-op but this causes me to pack things up and I almost always forget something. This allows me to break things up so I can do certain things at home and others on the “road” and not disrupted the sleeping beauties at 10 PM…

One set done…many more to go. Hopefully they’ll get a lot better as the month goes on.


Back side


The inside. Hopefully my daughter’s clothes will always cover the gaps in this first set of dovetails.


If you have any advice on ganging the tails, staging things like I am, or anything else I’m all ears.

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Details on the Six-Pack Carrier

As promised, here is a how to post on building the six-pack holder I made a few weeks ago. As I mentioned, I made two versions and I think if I make one in the future it’ll be a combination of the things I like about each design.

Earlier this week I made a template for the sides. Here it is.

Side template with dimensions

Side template with dimensions

It’s based on some dimensions I found on Pinterest and using other factors. For instance, you’ll notice in this picture that on my first version I made the clearance hole from the domino too wide for the stock I’d chosen for the handle. On the second version I made sure the top of the side was 1 1/8” so I could have a substantial handle and still have room for the second setting on the domino.

Note how the elongated hole is exposed to a persnickety woodworker...

Note how the elongated hole is exposed to a persnickety woodworker…

The first order of business was the case construction. For me this meant turning to the domino since I wanted things to go fast and the more I use this tool the more I justify its purchase. Here are some shots of me building the case:

The final step in the case construction was to sand things and then glue it up. Note how the handle is still squared off. In my first version I shaped the handle before glue up but this time I did it afterward. I don’t think one way was better than the other.


The interior dividers were difficult to build on both versions. For version 1.0 I used ¼” Baltic birch plywood. For the second attempt I scored some 3/16” mahogany “thins” from Woodcraft and took several sheets. Since this material is so small and so thin I’m not comfortable cutting with a power tool like my table saw. When I used my hand saws they were either too aggressive (think my Wenzloff tenon saw) or too short (think my Zona razor saw). This was most evident on version 1.0 with the plywood – I was not happy with the cut quality so I decided to make some deep score lines in the second attempt.

Best attempt at deep score lines

Best attempt at deep score lines

I tried to score my way through but ended up using a chisel instead. I made the joints a bit tight, which were hard to fine tune. If someone has a good technique for working with thin material like this please leave something in the comments. I’d really like to perfect this for the next version.

The final area for discussion is the slats in the front and back, which hold the bottles in place. Version 1.0 used pre-milled ¼” bubinga from Woodcraft. The second attempt used the same 3/16” mahogany “thins.” On version 1.0 I simply glued the slats on but this was difficult because they wanted to shift when I clamped them up. On the second version I tried for mortises but proved difficult as well and wasn’t worth the time. Fitting the mortises and then center dividers was a pain and not really what I’m looking for in this type of project. I want something aesthetically pleasing but fast for build – especially in batches. I tried to put some 1” cut nails in the 3/16” mahogany slats but test pieces split so I decided against it.

Here is a gallery of how they turned out.


In closing, I really like this project but when I make the next version here is my plan of attack:

  1. Build the sides using the template for routing and getting two identical pieces
  2. Shape the handle after gluing up the carcase
  3. Forgo mortising the slats
  4. Maybe us dowels to hold the slats in (although I might experiment with cut nails if I go back to ¼” material)

I hope you found this helpful and please leave me a link if you decide to make something like this.


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Last Minute Elf Contribution

I’ve tried to keep a lid on some holiday projects in case a few nosy peeps peaked in on my corner of the interwebs before Christmas. The guys over at Modern Woodworkers Association hyped up the Last Minute Elf campaign a few weeks ago and I’ve been going in earnest to get things done before the big guy dropped down the chimney.

The first submission requires really no explanation on the construction details. I used the Domino to whip up a quick picture frame for my wife – no miters; just but joints and 5mm mortise and tenons. She asked for a frame to go on our display shelf, which she can use for various decoractory (not a word) tasks like framing the N in “Nichols” on the shelf.

This project was easy to bang out and could make a for a great last minute Christmas item. With the help from this article from General Finishes my first attempt at the shabby-chic technique was a breeze. I’ll be using this on other projects.

The second project is a little bit more time consuming (at least if you’re me). This is my second prototype of a beer tote. I made one for my wife in September and then another for my cousin just last week. I think a final version is in order and I’d use what I learned from each build to make it something I can bang out quickly yet still be worthy of a woodworking blog. I saw this version in a recent This Old House magazine but it’s not really my style. It’s a good beginner project but it’s not for me.

I’m putting together some “plans” and will try to post them in a follow on post but for now I wanted to get the idea out there before the deadline. I really like the idea of mortising the side slats but it ended up being more trouble than it was worth and I’m not really sold on the design.

Thanks MWA for organizing this and I hope it’s a successful, yearly thing.

Here’s a to a dusty, wood-filled 2015.

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