Strangest Projects I’ve Built

Strangest Projects I’ve Built

Last week Rob inquired about the strangest projects you’ve built over the years. Several of you have some odd ones, indeed! – Editor

Since you didn’t specify wood, here is my most unusual project … so far. I made it on my CNC. The material is HDPE plastic. It’s an adapter for turning my leaf blower into a cheeseball gun. Neighbor kids love to catch the light poofy cheeseball projectiles. Squirrels like collecting the leftovers too. My next unusual project is a toilet paper dispenser attachment for the leaf blower. – Bob Hartig

After completing a window replacement project and building a custom breakfast nook for a client, I was asked if I would be interested in looking at a custom carpentry and furniture project for a friend of the client. Sure, I said. This “new” client had a three ring binder of dungeon equipment designs, web page links and pictures. Awkward…yes.  Profitable…YES!  – JoeMazanec

The strangest wood project I ever built was a drawer compartment whose drawers slope downward to the back, 22 degrees from horizontal. At least 20 degrees was necessary; if I had it to do over I would use 22-1/2 degrees and take advantage of the detents on my saws. My trigonometry was tested calculating the size of the parts. The unit is used to store small documents; I use it for cancelled checks. The inclination ensures that the documents occupy only the needed drawer space and that the paperweights will slide to adjust the distance automatically. The arrangement lets me add checks continually, and I can find a specific date without disordering the whole stack. – Moh Clark

I’ve attached a photo of a wall shelf that was a challenge for me.  Some years back, my daughter-in-law requested an apple shaped shelf.  It measures about 3 ft. in diameter. I started by drawing an outline of an apple on paper. Next I bevel-cut short pieces of 1 x 6 so I could glue them together to make a rounded shape. I laid the pieces on my paper outline so that as I glued each piece it was always wider than my outline. I glued each half of the apple together separately. Using my bandsaw, I cut the inside and outside of each half according to the outline on my paper. Joining each half was a challenge, because each joint ended up being a compound angle in order to fit perfectly. I was never sure throughout the whole process if I would be successful. Finally I added the back, a stem and shelves. – Norm Riediger

We seem to specialize in the unusual. We once had a long-running contract with a company that sold percussion instruments. For them we made thousands of wood blocks from hard maple that were specifically designed to produce a precise sound when struck. We made four sizes, each having a different tone. I designed two of them for the company. We made “Triangle Clips” for that company as well. These sort of looked like clothes pins and were used to hold the triangle while playing it. We also made replacement grips for a hand gun. The originals were plastic but the replacements were walnut. We made a replacement decorative 5-in.-diameter ball from mahogany for a stair rail post. It was fun turning a sphere on the lathe. – David Lomas

My most memorable build was for a progressive dinner with our local church. The theme for the dinner was “An evening in Paris,” so French food, French deserts and of course an Eiffel tower. The evening ended at the church hall where everybody gathered for desert and socializing. The centerpiece was my Eiffel tower, 12 ft. high. I still see people around town who recognize me as the guy who built the Eiffel tower. – Ken Lordy

My morning routine includes making a smoothie in the blender, which would wake everybody up in the house much earlier than they liked. So I built a blender garage with sound deadening foam lining the inside walls. I used some really cool spalted maple so it is definitely a conversation starter when we have people over. I’m guessing it’s a one-of-a-kind project, which qualifies it as unusual. – Todd Wanous

Of the hundreds of things I have made over these many years, my most unusual commission came from a sweet middle aged woman who inherited her mothers piano (a very old upright) but she could not play a note herself. She just couldn’t part with it but didn’t have room for the whole thing to sit in her small home so she hired me to “make something from it without wrecking it.” It took quite a few conversations before we agreed that I could disassemble it to make “something” but that I couldn’t cut it up. I wish I had a picture to show you. I made a coffee table with it. It was quite eclectic but she absolutely loved it. I was rewarded with a check for $100 and the task of disposing of the rest of the piano. It was a very fun adventure and one I remember well. – John Ahlquist

Way back in 1957 when I was in the seventh grade, our state required everyone in the seventh grade to take Mississippi history. As an assignment we had to make a project of some kind.  I chose to cut out each of our 82 counties and make a jigsaw map puzzle using 1/4-in. plywood. The map is 30 in. tall, so I made many miles of sawdust sawing out that map. Even though I was taking woodshop at school, I did all my work at home with a deep-throat coping saw that my father had. I have no clue where he found it but he found me a round coping saw blade to help with the many river boundaries that form so many of our counties. I used it until I had broken it enough times that I only had maybe 3 in. of it left. I did all the work at my father’s service station after school so he was my supervisor. I think he was as proud of it when I finished it as I was.  Over the years my map/puzzle stayed at my mother’s house and two counties became lost. Even though I have done many woodworking projects, this one stands out to be my most interesting. – Charles Buster

Some of the weirder projects I’ve done are theater props. I just finished a man-eating photocopier for the musical 9 to 5, and some others include Schroeder’s piano for A Charlie Brown Christmas, and a stick-and tissue-model biplane with a 7-ft. wing span that was solid enough for an actor to ride in onstage. All of these have been volunteer projects, just because I enjoy new challenges and especially our local community theater. But then when you consider the 20 bedpan guitars (shitars) and many wooden kazoos that I do sell occasionally, maybe theater props aren’t so weird after all. – Tom S.

A person I used to teach with at a vocational school asked me about building something to catch blood drops for the forensics class to calculate angles of the blood drops when they hit a surface. He wanted all angles from zero to 90 degrees in 10-degree increments from vertical. This is what we came up with; I labeled it with his name just for fun. I built it from scraps of hard maple and applied several coats of poly sprayed on to keep blood from soaking in to the wood. – Mike Berger

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