Rethinking the Simple 2×4

Outfeed TableOne of the luxuries of being a woodworking magazine editor is that I get my hands on “good” wood on a pretty regular basis. Clear, straight cherry and maple are often “on deck” for projects in our magazine. Recently, I built a couple of Arts & Crafts bookcases from some nice quartersawn white oak for our first “Small Shop Journal” project (February 2013 print issue). And, without spilling the beans prematurely, I just finished a project that I built from some extraordinary ribbon stripe mahogany for our June issue. It was too wide to fit my jointer … what a problem to have, right?!

Last fall, when I needed a few 2x4s for a home improvement project I was working on, I went to Lowe’s to pick them up. There, at the top of the pile, were a few of the clearest, straightest 2x4s I’ve ever seen. Some were even quartersawn — and for a woodworker that’s pretty mind-blowing when you consider how absolutely green, checked and awful so much of the construction lumber seems to be these days. It’s a wonder it even passes inspection on the way to market. Continue reading

Strange Projects We Have Made

One of the things I love about my wife Amy is that she shares my appreciation for beauty in what some might see as macabre. But it can lead to strange souvenirs that present opportunities for unusual projects. And here’s a good example for you. A couple of months ago, Amy took our daughters on a vacation trip to New York. While there, they visited the store Obscura Antiques and Oddities in Manhattan. If you’ve ever watched the show “Oddities” on the Science Channel, that name should immediately ring a bell. The proprietors buy and sell just about anything and everything that’s, well, odd. It’s an amusing and often hilarious program that’s become a family favorite.

She came home with this bat specimen from Obscura encased in a block of resin. And her request of me was this: “Please build a frame for it so I can hang it on the wall.”

Now there’s a project you don’t get every day! So, I got on it straight away. The frame has bridle joints on the corners and is made of cherry. It actually doesn’t hang on the wall; she sets it on a deep windowsill in her office so sunlight shines through it. Makes a pretty good shadow.

It seems an eerie and fitting project for October — and one to offer up to the following theme: “Strange Projects We Have Made.”

I’m sure I’m not the only woodworker who builds something weird from time to time. Do you have a project or two from your past that you’d chalk up to “strange” in some sense of that word? It doesn’t have to be Halloween appropriate, just funky somehow. Why not tell other readers about it here by leaving a comment below?

Let’s see what sort of oddities we’ve conjured up from wood. As far as I’m concerned, “off the beaten track” is a refreshing path to follow now and then, don’t you think?  If it’s possible to improve on a plastic-dipped bat, I tried to do it justice here! Amy thinks so, anyway.

I hope you’ll fill us in on your “oddity” project! And spill the details of its “backstory,” too.

Catch you in the shop,

Chris Marshall, Field Editor

 

 

Cherry End Table

It’s been a while since we’ve posted a reader project here on the blog but that doesn’t mean there haven’t been some great submissions! This end table showcases shaping skills on the legs and top, along with a forward-thinking finishing choice.

I made this end table made from 4/4 plain cherry. I adapted the design from a wall table design. My wife “put in an order” for an end table with a European provincial look.

Top is made of 2 pieces of biscuited (#20 biscuits) cherry 13″ long x 15″wide. Top upper edges were routed with 1/4″ stem 1″ cove bit. Top overhands stretchers by 1″, overall height is 21″. Legs were sculpted using saber saw.

The was finished in Minwax cherry stain #235 and Minwax Wipe On Polyurethane. I chose poly since the top would be subjected to drink glasses. Final coat was sanded ever so lightly with 1200 just to remove any “fuzz..” So far so good!

- Stan Feinberg, Wantagh, NY

Do you have a project you’d like to share?  Click here to send it in!

Matt Becker
Internet Production Coordinator

cherry table

cherry table in use

cherry table underside

Antique Tool Chest

This is by far the oldest reader’s project we’ve had submitted (more accurately, ancestor of reader’s project), but that doesn’t make it any less impressive. Its longevity is a true compliment to its maker.

My great-grandfather was a finish carpenter for a company that made huge riverboats. He specialty was doing the fine trim work in the Captain’s quarters. He built this tool chest around 1870 and is 36″ x 22″ x 18″ and is made out of just six pieces of cherry. When I got it, I thought it had been painted as it was mostly black and my intention at that time was to just clean it up and repaint it. When I discovered what was underneath the dirt and the stains, I refinished it to what you now see. It is a treasured piece of furniture in our living room.

- Kent A Russell; Middletown, Indiana

Do you have a project you’d like to share? Click here to send it in!

Matt Becker
Internet Production Coordinator

tool chest

tool chest 1

tool chest

Why *I* Like Woodworking

Readers of last week’s blog were asked to comment and describe what they like about woodworking. Although I can’t enter the contest, I will add my two cents. What I like about woodworking is working with my wood. The wood from the tree I watched grow, the tree I pruned when it was just a pole, or the tree my dad’s cattle would hide under to seek shelter from the hot southern sun.

Cherry Tree Trunk

Brian Lockhart, USDA Forest Service, bugwood.org

I have always loved forests and everything in them. I studied them from the time I was old enough to wander through them alone (which, on a small farm in Mississippi in the 1960s, was a very young age). That is what eventually led me into my profession. I am a silviculturist, best described by The Society of American Foresters, as one who practices silvics, which is “the study of the life history and general characteristics of forest trees and stands, with particular reference to environmental factors…” In a nutshell (I know. That’s why I didn’t go into standup comedy), I try to manage forests for the benefit of the trees, wildlife, water and the people that use them. It is an odd profession, because if you think about it, the end result of what we do in a forest today will not be apparent for tens or hundreds of years. So, it is a science of faith.

Continue reading

Toy Car Storage Case

This reader-submitted project is a handsome way to keep those pesky toy cars put away and organized.

This is a storage/carrying case that I made for my grandson to use for his collection of small model cars.  The sides, inserts and handle are of solid cherry and the top and bottom is cherry plywood.

- Willis Dennis; Queenstown, MD

Do you have a project you’d like to share? Click here to send it in.

Matt Becker
Internet Production Coordinator

car case 1

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Cherry Credenza

There’s nothing like a big deadline to get a project done…

Here are some photos of a cherry credenza that I completed recently.

It’s been a while since I’ve had time to spend in the shop, so I really looked forward to working on this.

Fortunately, I was able to finish it in time for all the football games on Thanksgiving Day!

- Dave Tomlinson

Do you have a project you’d like to share?  Click here to send it in!

Matt Becker
Internet Production Coordinator

credenza 1

credenza 2

credenza 3