20 Gift Project Plans

20 Gift Project Plans

There’s no denying the value of a handmade gift. There’s still time to make a project and have it ready to give as a gift this holiday season. Here are twenty woodworking projects that would make great holiday gifts for a wide range of people. Most are not difficult and some can be completed in a day. You can probably build a few of them with scraps you have around your shop. Just click on the project name to go to the full project article.

Toy Train

Two children who visit me several times each summer are very fond of trains, both riding on them and playing with them, so I came up with this design. It is not meant to be an authentic model in any way. It is just for the children to play with. The engine and cars feature dovetail joinery details. When someone mentions the words “dovetail joint,” my mind automatically conjures up boxes. A dovetail jig is one of the best ways to make dovetail joint boxes, but a dovetail jig can actually be used to join any two pieces of material together at right angles. This may well be on a box, but it could also be a drawer or, as in this case, parts for a toy train.

Prairie Style Box

This box is the fifth generation of this design. After each production run of about 20 boxes, I make slight design changes to enhance the look and simplify the machining. Any hardwoods would work, but since the box uses so little lumber, I prefer to incorporate highly figured woods. For safety, ease of construction and consistent cuts, I use a jig for bevel-cutting the legs and another jig for beveling the top surface of the lid.

Wine Rack

Initially I thought a wine rack would be a finicky project to create, with the necessity of holding the bottles at a certain angle, etc. However, this ended up being a quick, easy and fun build. The shape of the bottles lets them rest on the rack at the correct angle (which is really only important when you are going to let your wine age). The simplicity of the design also allows you to see the labels on the bottles.

Laminated Cutting Board

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A custom cutting board is an attractive, useful, and practical project that just about anyone would be happy to receive. Plus, it’s a great way to use up scrap stock and you can build several at the same time – one for everyone in the family!

Classic Five-Board Step Stool

Houses aren’t really scaled practically for small children; countertops, sinks and cabinets are just too high for them to use comfortably. Fortunately, you can remedy the problem in an afternoon. A simple, classic step stool like this one is just right for putting everything within reach of the little ones. It’s even sturdy enough for an adult needing a few more inches to reach those top cupboard shelves.

Walking Penguin Toy

This fellow has been on my list of “to do” toys for the last year. I think he was worth the wait. I chose the Adelie penguin because of their simple, elegant lines, and the fact that they are flipper flappers unlike, say, the emperor penguins, who generally leave their flippers at their sides as they walk (waddle).

Luminaries

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A luminaria (often called luminary) is a traditional Mexican lantern made from a paper bag with sand and a candle inside. We’ve add some woodworking panache to these outdoor accents and build our luminarias from wood, with box joints and a star-shaped cutout. They’re beautiful — and reusable — ways to brighten patios, steps and walkways this holiday season.

Kendama Toy

There’s no denying the value of a handmade gift. There’s still time to make a project and have it ready to give as a gift this holiday season. Here are fifteen woodworking projects that would make great holiday gifts for a wide range of people. Most are not difficult and some can be completed in a day. You can probably build a few of them with scraps you have around your shop. Just click on the project name to go to the full project article.

 Convertible Step Stool and Chair

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You’ll need to get started early on this project because it is a little more challenging. This clever design is both a small step stool and chair in one piece of furniture. It’s a handy piece of furniture that’s sure to start conversations.

Wine Presentation Box

A good friend celebrated a milestone birthday this year, and since he’s a real wine afficionado, I wanted to give him a few very nice bottles of wine presented in a special way. I’ve seen expensive vintage wines sold in wooden presentation boxes, but I wanted to make something that’s well beyond the ordinary. So I designed a box that presents the wine bottles by “popping them up” as the lid is opened.

 

Tic-Tac-Toe Game

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Another classic game. This portable version features hidden storage holes for the marbles, enabling kids (or adults) to take it wherever they go.

Dovetailed Puzzle Box

This small puzzle box doesn’t eat up a lot of material, it’s fun and a little challenging to make but won’t keep you in the shop for weeks, and it will appeal to anyone who tries to open it.
It’s symmetrical, with interlocking dovetail slides and keys. The sides are alike, as are the ends and the top and bottom. Which is really the top? How do you get it open? The answer may not be immediately obvious. For now, don’t try to solve it. Think about getting it made.

 

 Candle Sconce

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You can make one of these decorative sconces in an afternoon. In this case, we show you how to make a leaf design, but you could create your own custom pattern.

Ukulele/Guitar Tree Ornament

A few years ago, I came up with a gift idea for a wooden tree ornament in the shape of a ukulele (consider it a small guitar, if it better suits your musical tastes). Instead of making each little uke individually (which would violate gift criteria #2), I make these decorative ornaments using what’s commonly referred to as the “log” method of construction. I create a single thick piece that’s shaped and appointed to resemble a uke, then slice it up into multiple thin ornaments. A single log made from scrap 8/4 stock yields eight to nine individual ornaments.

 Adirondack Chair

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Give someone the “Throne of Summer” this winter. Imagine your family’s response when they find a beautiful Adirondack chair under the tree. This is not a difficult project, but it will require a little more time to complete, so get started soon. This one is also a little trick to hide.

Lazy Susan

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Here’s another practical gift that you can make beautiful and unique. This version features inlay details. You can take this basic design and easily modify it with your own custom details.

Cribbage Board

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Another classic game! (Are you picking up on a trend?). A cribbage board is really just a piece of wood with 240-plus holes drilled in it. This project includes files necessary to program a CNC machine to drill all the holes, but it also includes a template for boring the holes with a drill. There are endless opportunities for customizing this project with different species of wood. All this adds up to the fact that cribbage boards make great gifts.

Keepsake Box

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A keepsake box is a classic project that recipients of all ages will appreciate. In this case, we’re sharing plans for a small oval box, but you could use the same construction techniques to make another shape or size if you prefer.

Entryway Coat Rack

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This practical entryway storage unit is made from solid wood and is glued together: no nails or screws (apart from those that hold it to the wall) are used. In this case, we made it out of soft maple, but it could be made from any good quality solid wood: pine, oak, birch, fir…whatever best matches the trim or furnishings in the place where it will be mounted to the wall.

Continuous-Grain Tapered-Side Box

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If you’re looking to show off you’re woodworking skills and you have a piece of wood with a beautiful linear grain pattern, then this box project is a great choice. It’s a more refined box design, and as you might expect, it’s a little more challenging to build than the simple keepsake box presented earlier on this gift list. The sides are constructed so that the wood grain flows smoothly across one face, around the corner and into the adjoining face — and all the way around the box without a break — the grain itself becomes a major part of the design. The design is also enhanced by tapering the box sides, allowing the eye to more easily take in the continuous run of grain at the corners.

Napkin Holder

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With only four parts total, this is a small project you can make in just a few hours. This version is 1/2″ thick quartersawn white oak, but any sturdy hardwood, such as birch, cherry or ash would do just as well. It’s another project that is easy to make multiple versions of and use up some scrap lumber.

There you have it. Fifteen projects that you can make as gifts this holiday season. Do you have a favorite woodworking project that you have given as a gift? Share it with your fellow readers in the Comments section below.

Happy Holidays!

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  • Roberto Markham

    The keepsake box is a great idea but one can improve the appearance by using laminations of different timbers of varied colour. I have made a number of these with some having three layers and some five. I topped them off with a knob using a timber contrasting with the lid.

  • Maple Hohnstein

    Wow. Beautiful pieces here!