Whaddja Give? Whaddja Get?

I’m finally coming around from the self-induced food coma of Christmas Eve and Christmas Day. The wrapping paper is waiting in a big bag for the next run to the recycling center and, for the most part, the gifts are put away.

It sure comes and goes quickly, doesn’t it?

But, during this little lull between Christmas and New Years, and before these big holidays are entirely behind us, I want to put the brakes on for a minute. Seems like a perfect opportunity for us to reflect on the cool things we made and gave away as gifts. Or, maybe someone left you something particularly shiny and sharp under the tree this year. A new handplane or dado set, perhaps? Maybe some great new gizmo from your favorite woodworking supplier—or just as nice, a gift certificate to said supplier?!

So, tell us, whaddja give? whaddja get?

I’ll start with me. About a month ago I posted that my wife wanted something to hang her earrings on. She suggested that a frame of some sort with screen inside would be just the ticket. She could hang it on the wall and see all of her earrings more easily instead of digging through her jewelry box to find them. Seemed like a pretty clear request to me, and a fun little project to make. So, I built two frames of the same size and style for either side of her vanity mirror. But, I made one from tiger maple and the other from some particularly figured cocobolo I was saving for a special purpose. The corners are half laps. The ends of the joints extend a little beyond the frames, and I shaped them into elongated pyramids. I found some brass screening online and experimented with West System epoxy to secure it into shallow rabbets.

They were quite a hit on Christmas Eve.

It’s really fun to make someone exactly what they want—and play with some fancy wood in the process.

I didn’t get any good stuff for my shop, but I did get a new camera lens that should come in real handy on future magazine articles. Guess I was a good boy after all this year.

Now it’s your turn. Please tell us about your holiday project successes. Go on, brag a little! It’s okay. Or, make us green with envy about a new tool you can’t wait to start using.

I really hope you’ll fill us in!

Catch you in the shop,

Chris Marshall, Field Editor

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About Chris Marshall

Chris Marshall has been writing for Woodworker's Journal as a contributing editor and field editor since 2001. Prior to that, he spent five years developing home improvement and woodworking books. He's written five of them and has served as a contributing writer on many more. A wood and tool junkie since childhood, Chris thoroughly enjoys building projects and reviewing woodworking tools for the Journal. When he's not assembling new machinery, sawing parts, taking photos or crunching text for an upcoming story, he enjoys spending time with his family and a houseful of pets at their home in rural Ohio.

7 thoughts on “Whaddja Give? Whaddja Get?

  1. Gave- This year I made my sister-in-law a 3′ x 4′ wooden memory quilt. She cried! The quilt had 12 squares and had different types of woodworking. I did fretwork of “old man in the tree”, mountain lion segmentation, sun and moon inlay, a bear intarsia, kokepela segmentation, intarsia rose, indian girl inlay, etc. The wood quilt was made of all recycled wood. Cherry from an old window sill, cedar from a job site headed for burn pile, wormy chestnut from an old barn, etc. I wish I could post a picture to share.

    Got- Santa brought me a new Rikon 10″ band saw, some new frame clamps and some heavy duty clamps for big projects. I was a goood girl this year!!

  2. Got: My wonderful wife gave me a Ridgid R4511 Table saw, the one with the granite top, for christmas. I was so excited to get this, because it is my first “Real Tablesaw”
    (Had plenty of the table top models). This thing is so smooth and no vibration. When I turned on the motor for the first time, it was beautiful, no screaming shrill screaching to listen to.
    I am a very LUCKY GUY…….

  3. Gave: I made an electric fireplace mantel for my wife. It is 4′H X 4′W X 14″ deep (top is 2″ deeper/longer). The frame is regular 2X4 and 1X4 lap joint type construction. The outer skin is 3/4″ red oak plywood. The top is solid 3/4″ red oak. It holds a 24″ store bought electric fireplace and has a shelf to hold home electronics and knick-knacks. I’ll try to upload some pics to the eZine reader projects area.

    I made my dad a red-oak “what-not” box. It is 10″W X 5″D X 4″H. I lined the inside with green felt. The lid was supposed to be made using the carve wright machine but it broke down and couldn’t be fixed in time for xmas. So, I used a quarter round router bit on the top and bottom edges on 3 sides (left the back alone for hinging).

    I’ve always loved wood working but life typically got in the way. However, I am now wanting to get back into it and these were my first two projects in over 20 years. I hope to complete many more in the coming years.

  4. The earring frame is a great project. I’m planning to build one for my wife’s birthday.

    I’m wondering what the specs are (size of opening, thickness of wire) for the brass mesh you used. Also, what was your source for the mesh? I’m having trouble finding anything that looks right.

  5. Norm,

    I was in the same boat as you planning out those earring frames. Ordinary window screen was not going to be good enough for this special project. But, I finally found the brass mesh through Dick Blick and ordered it online. They have several sizes of openings for this mesh (it’s actually intended for making sculpture, but it’s working out fine–plenty stiff enough and conveniently sized for small projects). Order number is 33408-7070 Here’s a link for you:


    I made the frames to fit on either side of a wall mirror and between two alcove walls. My overall frame dimensions are 13 x 16 in., with 2-in. rails and stiles. I secured the mesh into rabbets in the back of the frames with two-part epoxy, then covered the recesses with filler strips. I found it helpful to “tack” the mesh in place with gel CA glue first, to help me pull it tight. Then I spread epoxy over the mesh and pressed the filler strips into place before the epoxy cured. I held the filler strips in place for those few minutes with pin nails so I could keep moving forward. After all, it was getting darn close to Christmas!

    Hope this helps you plan out your project. Your wife will love these frames. Mine sure does!

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