Posts Tagged ‘gifts’

Artist’s Pencil Boxes

February 27, 2017 Leave a comment

For the last several years I have made Christmas gifts for my family in the workshop. No one would call me a master craftsman but I enjoy my time in the shop and I feel that a handmade gift beats mass-produced every time! Well not every time (let’s be real) but you get my drift. This year I didn’t really start my project early enough because I was excited about completing my first scratch electric guitar build. I needed a project that could finish in time and without too much nashing of teeth. Enter “The Artist’s Pencil Boxes”, a plan which I had but never really thought I’d actually make.

Milling the Stock

I began by going through my wood reserve and landing on a lonely but willing cypress board. For this project most of the lumber was 1/4″ or less in thickness so I began by jointing and planing and cutting.

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The result, materials for six boxes.


Making the Box

Next I routed and cut pieces to fabricate the boxes.


Once I knew they were going to work I glued them up, then sliced them longitudinally.

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Then a peg was inserted in the bottom half and the top fit to the bottoms for each box.


Getting each of the tops to slide smoothly was chose but I kept at it until I was satisfied they would open on Christmas.


Six completed boxes and ready for a simple shellac finish. No time for anything else really!


Pack ’em up and ship ’em; Christmas isn’t going to wait!


Hopefully I’ll plan ahead for next year but…. don’t count on it!!!

Categories: Woodworking Tags: ,

Springing forward….

March 11, 2014 Leave a comment

Now that Daylight Savings Time is back with us I get a bit of a psychological boost motivating me to tinker after work. Instead of driving home in the darkness there are now several hours of daylight when I get home which invited us outside to take a walk and hang the birdhouse I gave Susan for Christmas. With afternoon temperatures now approaching 80°F, it won’t be long before the birds start to “get busy” and we wanted to be ready for the action.


Eastern Bluebird Nesting Box

Read about this build in my January 6, 2014 post The Bluebird (Houses) of Happiness

Categories: Family, Woodworking Tags: ,

The Bluebird (Houses) of Happiness

January 6, 2014 1 comment

Greetings and welcome to the new year 2014!

I really have been goofing off, practicing guitar and doing family things over the last two weeks so things have been a bit of a blur. Basically I went on many 5 mile walks with my wife and daughters, visited my kin and practiced a lot of guitar which I had been somewhat neglecting over the last month.

Now that Christmas is over, I can safely share with you my woodworking gift idea, bluebird houses! I used this plan for my build but I must warn you, there are mistakes in them so do not cut your stock based on the drawings.

Eastern Bluebird House Plan

Eastern Bluebird House Plan

Living in Florida and having a local cypress lumber mill, I decided cypress would be the perfect choice for this outdoor project. I decided that 6 would be a reasonable number to build without stressing me out too much so after spending $96 at the lumber yard I got to work cutting the stock. You will note that I don’t have dust collection figured out yet for my miter saw, that’s on my list for 2014.

Cypress Sawdust

I after cutting to rough lengths, I scratched my head over the rather inadequate plans and making corrections on the fly, pieced together the first house which I would use as templates. The templates aided me in cutting and fitting but mostly they greatly speed-ed the pre-drilling of  holes. Cut stock was sorted into houses, matching grain and textures that suited me.

Stock Cut and Matched

I also decided to add a functional yet decorative touch, the “predator guard”. These small pieces extend the length of the entrance tunnel which is fine for birds but (hopefully) frustrates predators.

Predator Guard

Assembling the first house was the toughest and I changed my glue-up techniques on the second one.

Prototype Birdhouse

Prototype Birdhouse

After building numbers 2 and 3, I had the assembly process down and in as little as 30-40 minutes each house went together relatively smoothly.

Bluebird House Assembly

I relieved the edges with my spoke-shave and chisels and applied 6 coats of a wiping spar varnish but to the outside only. I made no attempt to smooth the stock as birds prefer to have some traction for purchase.

The best part was giving one to each of my immediate family and seeing their appreciation of a handmade gift idea. Not only that, this gift gives back and by next spring we should have a whole bunch of new bluebirds on the planet and that is priceless!

Christmas 2014 - Bluebird House

You have been reading an excerpt from the shop journal of the Turtlecovebrewer.

Categories: Family, Woodworking Tags: ,

Merry Christmas from Turtlecove!

December 23, 2013 4 comments

Whether you are a Christian or not doesn’t matter because I’m still wishing you and your family a very merry Christmas!

Last weekend my family and I traveled to visit my mother in Orlando so that we could celebrate Christmas together a bit early. We had our traditional family “white elephant” gift exchange then I presented Mom with a handmade gift, some C-fold paper towel holders. Mom has been using these in her bathrooms for years and the ones my Dad made some 20 years ago have pretty much fallen apart.

C-fold Paper Towel Holders

Using a few of the towels as samples I grabbed my trusty tape measure and came up with measurements of my own design. I didn’t have a lot of time to practice so I kept it pretty simple. I decided that mitered corners would be strong enough for this application and would add a bit of flair to the boxes. To cut the mitres I added a sacrificial fence to my table saw’s miter gauge and set the bevel for 45°. I then ran the fence through the blade and cut the fence to 45°. I was pleased to see that miter cuts to my box sides were precise and tear-out free. So far so good.

With a very satisfactory dry fit, I forged ahead with the “tape roll-up” method for the glue-up. This is where things went bad. Suffice it to say that the method was helpful to keep the parts located during assembly but I was not properly prepared to apply proper clamping pressure in all the directions that were simultaneously required. Tightening one clamp immediately pulled another joint apart. I fiddled as long as I had open-time and finally resigned myself to “do better” on box number 2.

For the second glue-up, I stuck with taping for a roll-up but decided that I should use corner clamps to get better, more accurate clamping pressure. Unfortunately my corner clamps are a bit too large and I could only clamp two of the four corners with these devices. The second glue-up was better but still rated a “fail” on the awesome scale.

When I have this situation in the future I think I’ll give my band clamp a go. Perhaps if I had used it around the middle it might have applied pressure more evenly allowing all four of the mitered joints to pull tight at the same time.

I had other “challenges” as well but you know what, I’m learning and I’m having fun and I think Mom really appreciated the hand-made gift for her home.

Mom with her new home-made  towel holders

You have been reading an excerpt from the shop journal of the Turtlecovebrewer.

Categories: Family, Woodworking Tags: , ,