Look no further: here's the perfect production project for the next holiday season. A kaleidoscope will bring you right back to your childhood, and it's just as amusing to today's internet-generation kids. Building a toy is also a delightful change of pace from larger, more formal or labor-intensive projects.
Classic Croquet Set
Here's a project that offers the kind of fun that keeps on giving. As the builder, you'll get a chance to polish your turning skills making the mallets, cart parts, wheels and even the balls! Others will see this as the hard part, but if you enjoy lathe work, the effort will seem like woodworking bliss. Then, after the "tough" part is through, the fun just continues as you put this handmade set to work whenever friends and family gather. Really, you're the only one who can't lose here!
Sooner or later, a busy woodworking writer needs to get his desk organized. But what if the current desk doesn't cut it? Such was the plight of Bill Hylton, one of our regular contributors. If you're due for a new desk too, this project will give your router a good workout - and trust us - the end result will be well worth the effort.
Undelivered Letter Box
Originally a wedding present for a family member, this box traveled a circuitous path before it was finished. Here's one woodworker's tale of love lost and lessons learned through the process of designing and building this beautiful and intricate box. It illustrates the truth that woodworking often influences other aspects of our lives.
Dry Assembly Clamp
Oh, to have another set of hands around the shop! If you work alone, you'll appreciate having a few of these light-duty clamps at the ready when assembly time comes. A little hardwood scrap is all that's required.
Classic Canister Set
Here's a bygone kitchen accent whose time has come again. Regardless of what you store in yours, these octagonal beauties are fun to make, and you can crank out multiples at a time if you follow the production methods we describe here.
Miters depend on end grain-to-end grain glue joints, which can be weak and subject to failure. Dividing your miters in two to build an octagonal shape creates twice as many opportunities for trouble. Our author solved the challenge by painstakingly tuning his saw's miter settings and adding pentagon-shaped decorative splines at every miter.
Fine woodworking doesn't have to take forever. This project will help sharpen your stock preparation and joinery skills without keeping you in the shop for a month of Sundays. In the end, you get a classic Arts & Crafts reproduction for your efforts.
Organize all your clamps and glue-up supplies within arm's reach, and enjoy the advantages of the space-saving fold-down clamping table - you'll never have to scrape glue off your workbench again.
Arts & Crafts Dining Room Chairs
This Gustav Stickley-inspired set of chairs incorporates several elements of his Craftsman style: quartersawn oak, housed tenons, pyramid plugs and leather upholstery.
Hoopback Garden Bench
Graceful curves make the style of this bench timeless, while reclaimed cypress lumber will stand up to the worst weather, season after season. As far as outdoor projects go, this bench requires a fairly ambitious effort and several weekends of time to complete, but its rugged construction will be worth all your efforts.
Hoosier Step Stool
With strong and sturdy joinery, ash lumber and a nod to the past, Ralph Bagnall, one of our regular contributors, builds a kitchen classic poised for a good old down-home revival. Everyone can use a bit of a step up in the kitchen from time to time.
Pulling a piece of dripping hot wood around a form for the first time is an experience no woodworker should miss out on. Like fitting together your first successful dovetail joint, there's a certain rite of passage that goes along with steam bending. Try your (gloved!) hand at this time-honored technique when you build our attractive carryall.
Classic Kitchen Island
Kitchen islands are just wonderful - just ask editor Rob Johnstone, owner of this handsome project. It has a counter-height work surface where you can also eat, featuring ample storage as well as being darn good to look at. This project is reminiscent of an old-fashioned butcher's table, but it's a lot easier to build because the top is a slick, built-up assembly rather than a heavy chunk of hard maple.
Customized Portable Lathe Station
Lathes are one category of shop machinery that are easy to "soup up" for improved performance and convenience. Our lathe station will add portability, tool storage, sharpening capability and task lighting to your machine for around $75.
Fire-Retardant Finishing Cabinet
One by-product of a serious woodworking hobby is a collection of partially used finishes and solvents. While they may seem safe enough sitting on a shelf, they're actually a fire waiting to happen unless you store them properly. This cabinet will do the job conveniently and safely, and the top forms a useful workspace for finishing.
Padauk Bed Frame
Getting a look of sophistication can sometimes be simpler than you ever imagined. The distinctive lines of this bed frame were achieved using basic joinery and one primary tool, the router. We've combined styles here as well as two wood species to add even more flair to this project.
Demi-Lune Sofa Table
In some ways, this demi-lune table is an imposter. Despite its curves, it's easier to make than it looks, whether you use hand tools as we show here or or power tools. From first glance, the table also appears to be made of mahogany and crotch birch, but it's actually a faux painted finish over ordinary softwood. What's true through and through is that the half-moon shape makes it an ideal choice for a hall or sofa table.
Projects don't have to start from dozens of parts to form beautiful objects in the end. This hall mirror, made from four sticks of mahogany, a piece of mirror glass and a few wooden retainers proves the point. The mirror would make a handsome accent in any decor and is easy to tackle if you are a beginning woodworker with modest tools.
Small Parts Mitering Jig
Cutting miters and bevels on small parts can be dangerous and difficult. This simple jig solves both problems. Not only does it work great, but it is surprisingly versatile and adds a high degree of precision to projects that demand absolutely perfect cuts. The safest and most accurate way to cut miters with a table saw is using a jig like this one. This is especially true if you're working with thin or narrow stock or making small parts. Some contractor's saws lose accuracy when their blades (and their ...
This Gustav Stickley-inspired accent piece holds a full complement of wine glasses and champagne flutes, and it keeps a case of your favorite wine close at hand. Build it from quartersawn white oak to add some authenticity and durability to this project.
A fold-down bed is already a great space-saver, but now, with our drop leaf desk addition, you get two projects in one. Here's the perfect solution for that small guest bedroom that doubles as a sewing room, or in the bedroom of a college student home for the summer months.
Greene & Greene Inspired Desk
If you've ever dreamed of a signature piece in your home office or den, this handsome mahogany desk could well be it. It has the sort of plug, trim and drawer pull details that make it pleasing to both touch and view. And once you're seated behind it, you'll know you've got a serious desk. Time to round up some prime mahogany and get started!
Heirloom Blanket Chest
You'd never know by looking at it, but this charming cherry chest bypasses traditional mortise and tenon joinery in favor of a unique combination of rabbet and lap joints. These options make the chest easier to build without compromising strength. A finishing scheme of both paint and clear finish also lends a handsome effect to this project. It's sure to become one of those accent pieces your kids will want to inherit someday.
Arts and Crafts Wine Cabinet
Here's an involved but straightforward exercise in casework construction that will also test your furniture-building skills. This is a huge cabinet: the upper unit provides loads of shelf space for storing and displaying glassware, while the bottom stows a substantial collection of wine. If you have other needs for this project, it easily converts to a conventional hutch by simply omitting the lower shelf dividers or flipping the shelves over.
Craftsman Style Rocking Chair
Start with a classic design, meld fine machine joinery with a few hand tool operations, and you have a beautiful introduction to Arts & Crafts chairmaking. This will be an involved project, but there's no reason to fear its construction. Most of the joint cutting can be done by ordinary shop machines with excellent results, and the handwork amounts to fine paring and fitting.
Rolling Lumber Cart
In a small garage or basement shop, floor space isn't the only real estate that can be in short supply - walls get filled up, too. If there isn't room for a wall-mounted lumber rack in your shop, here's a rolling lumber cart that offers more than 70 square feet of shelf space, a separate compartment for storing sheet goods and a roomy bin on top for cutoffs. Heavy-duty shelf standards and brackets keep it all high and dry.
Carving shapes with your table saw, building a low-tech slot mortiser and cutting finger joints . . . from a techniques standpoint, this project will give you a woodworking workout. When you're finished, you'll end up with a shapely accent piece with three inner trays for storing jewelry or other collectibles. It's a great project for building skills without breaking the project budget.
Our Cricket Xylophone Plan shows you how to make a cricket that can really chirp out a tune. As it rolls, its legs bound up and down and its antennae double as hammers. Makes a great gift for kids, or they can help you out with the project. Full-scale patterns make the scroll saw work a breeze - just glue them onto the wood and cut them out.
Picture Frame for Two
Build a simple router jig from scrap and you can create enough picture frames to satisfy everyone on a holiday gift list. While you're at it, you'll also get a little practice with Corian®, a nice alternative to wood for this accent project.
Brush up on your veneering skills and get an early start on holiday gifts. Production methods allow you to build identical projects quickly, and different pairings of veneer make each checkerboard unique. It's a truly hand-made gift in no time flat.
Weekend Toy Box
Safe and sturdy, stylish and practical, this weekend project is easy to build. Butt joints covered by simple fluted moldings create a classic toy box that stores tons of fun, even if it all tends to stay in the living room and in full view. Eventually, this project transforms easily into a keepsake chest and even doubles as extra seating.
Even if it's not exactly the night before Christmas, any time of the year is a good time for turners to start turning holiday gifts. Pens are an excellent gift-giving option: they're quick to turn, look great when you're through and don't cost an arm and a leg. Another pleasant aspect of turning pens is that you get a chance to work with small amounts of exotic stock. It's a cheap route to learn plenty about a variety of different wood species, and every pen you make looks uniquely different than the rest.
Classic Chess Board
This heirloom chess board was inspired by a James Krenov design that ingeniously tackles the wood movement problems inherent in using two wood species. If you're a chess junkie as well as a woodworker, you'll be smiling from the first cut through the last checkmate with this clever project.
Cherry dentil moldings crown this third generation of our most requested plan, and building it yourself can save you thousands of dollars.
Bed Designed for Readers
This queen-sized bed features a perfectly inclined backrest, three large storage compartments and three drawers for your bedside collectibles. The crowning touch: Open the middle drawer and drop the support down to make a rock-solid resting place for that steaming mug of tea.
This tray table's simple and elegant lines are a study in positive and negative space. The "X" shaped leg joinery's history is traceable to the ancient Egyptians, but we'll use entirely modern methods to execute the rest of the design.
Traditional New England Settle
Equally at home next to the fireplace or in the entryway, this colonial bench will warm your home with its old-world charm. One way to enhance the project's aged appearance is to build it from reclaimed heart pine, just like our forefathers used.
Intarsia-Backed High Chair
Here's a project that accomplishes several wonderful purposes: It creates a sturdy, safe place to share meals with a youngster while also becoming an heirloom furniture piece that's sure to pass down many generations. The project also provides an opportunity to try your hand at the ancient art of intarsia.
Salt and Pepper Shakers
Start with several pieces of scrap cherry and maple, stir well and add a few hours on the lathe. Now you're ready for the salt and pepper. A small turning project like this is a perfect candidate for a "production run" to suit holiday gift-giving, not to mention a nice way to bring a bit of the shop into the kitchen.
Before the days of Samsonite, big voyages required big steamer trunks. While travel has changed quite a bit over time, the allure of a solid steamer trunk hasn't passed away with the jet age. You'll probably never use this sturdy, handsome trunk for a trip, but it's the perfect accent piece at the foot of the bed for storing winter blankets.
Jelly Cupboard Reproduction
Sometimes the best way to learn furniture design is to reproduce an antique. That's what we'll do in this project, taking our measurements and joinery directly from a century-old cupboard our author found years ago. The original was built solely with hand tools. For a real trip back in time, sharpen up yours and try to do the same.
When our author had a chance to snatch a walnut log more than a century old, one of the (many!) beautiful results is this set of three nesting tables. It's truly a project that characterizes a "stump-to-finish" approach. You don't need to fell a tree to build three of your own tables - just a trip to the lumberyard and a weekend or so of time.
Ultimate Router Table
Want to bump your routing up to production levels? Ever get tired of constantly changing bits and depth settings on a router table with just one router? This amply sized, fully appointed router table could be a dream come true. It sports twin routers, dust-collecting fences with micro-adjusters and a horizontal routing attachment. All that's missing from this hot rod is a hood ornament.
Cherry China Cabinet
Inspired by readers' requests, this china cabinet features classic clean lines, gentle arches and hidden hardware. It's amply sized to store all your finery, and the upper cabinet will proudly display its contents through glass doors. Made carefully, this could be the signature project for your dining room or a wonderful family gift.
Woodworkers have used all sorts of unorthodox ways to flatten veneer, but a veneer press still works best. Here's an effective design you can build on the cheap.
Collector's Coffee Table
This country style coffee table features three interchangeable flocked drawers - a perfect solution for displaying and protecting valued collectibles under a glass top. The topmost drawer becomes the featured display, and you can swap drawers whenever you feel the urge to change the "view." We made our version from knotty pine, a traditional choice for country furnishings. A shellac finish - also appropriate for this style - gives the project a warm, amber tone.
If you like turning as much as we do, you'll have a great time with this colorful apple birdhouse. Laminated construction allows you to hollow the house before it's mounted on the lathe and, once you're ready, turning the pine is a breeze.
Country Kitchen Table
Kitchen tables serve as focal points for so many activities: dining, conversation, after-school homework or as roomy work surfaces for food prep. Our casual table, complete with maple butcher block top, is up to task for anything you need it to do. It even has a dual-action drawer that opens from two sides for storing placemats or napkins. Pull it out far enough and you'll discover an added secret compartment, just for fun.
Stickley Leather-top Desk
Without sacrificing any of the charm or structural integrity of our Stickley-inspired design, modern methods and materials bring this white oak desk within the reach of almost any woodworker's skills.
Artist's Pencil Box
Here's a quick project you can make for an aspiring young artist. It recalls a time when even a set of pencils befitted a special wooden container. Our design will hold a collection of colored pencils and an eraser for carting along in a bag or backpack. It's a perfect way to put some attractive or exotic scrap wood to good use.
Compact Computer Cabinet
Most of us need a suitable piece of furniture to house all our computer equipment, but an effective workstation doesn't have to look like a desk. This armoire-style cabinet not only holds all the gadgets but also hides them discreetly.
Modular Barrister's Bookcase
We'll forgive you if you have a burgeoning home library-it's tough to resist the urge to collect books, even in today's world of instant media and DVDs. If you're looking for a neat and attractive way to store your volumes, these modular bookcases just might be the ticket. Start with two or three and build more as the need arises.
Prairie Style Lamp
Starting with some beautiful quartersawn oak and art glass, and a bit of fine woodworking also known as "white magic" . . . Rick White's craftsmanship shines through. The angled, wood-framed shade makes this a relatively challenging project, especially if angle-cutting isn't your strongest suit. However, several jigs outlined here will make the process much easier.
Backyard Barbecue Cart
Barbecuing is a great pastime, but the prep work is a chore - lugging everything from the utensils and hot pads to the charcoal and lighter fluid out to the grill. Build this barbecue cart as a way of saving some effort. It's sturdy enough to wheel around outside and large enough to store one or more bags of charcoal. We're sure it will prove to be a capable assistant to your family's chief outdoor cook - even if that person is you!
Walnut Library Bookcase
You'll add a touch of elegant formality to your den or study when this handsome bookcase adorns a wall. Its built-up crown, fluted styles and rosette accents include all the classic elements. Choose some figured or burled walnut plywood to complete the package. Though it may look difficult to build, appearances are deceiving here. This is actually a straightforward casework project requiring only moderate skills.
Outfeed Assembly Table
A must for every shop with space limitations, this project is an outfeed table for your saw that transforms into a low-height assembly table for your larger projects. It also provides plenty of storage for blades and saw accessories. The design is perfectly suited for contractor's saws with motors that extend behind the base.
Portable Outdoor Chairs
Nothing beats spending some leisure time in the great outdoors, whether that amounts to a quiet corner of the yard, a full-blown wilderness escape or on the sidelines of the next softball game. Wherever you go, these handy two-piece oak chairs are made to travel. Slide the parts together one way for use or another way for storage.