Look, I love making furniture. I love sourcing the materials, planning out parts, and executing the joinery. But lately, I find myself increasingly drawn to the "other" things you can do with wood. What are the smaller, craft level projects that show off the beauty of working with natural materials, but can be completed in a weekend, or even a single sitting?
We don't ask much from our safety glasses. Their primary purpose is right there in the name: they protect you when performing activities that create and project debris that could damage your eyes... woodworking, scrapping paint, anything dealing with rust or metal shavings, and the like. The most important thing is that they be handy and ready to go, so you don't hesitate to grab them when execute a potentially dangerous task. Here's the best way we've found to deal with it.
I'm a huge fan of having a few rows of dog holes in my workbench top. And, more than anything else, I use them to secure a holdfast - an ancient and genius piece of design that secures your work to the work surface with a simple tap from a hammer or mallet. When your ready to release it, just hit the back and it's free. Seriously - it's ten times fast than clamping, and you can fasten your work anywhere across the bench top. Brilliant.
To speed up the process even more, I wanted to come up with a permanent way to protect the wood from the force of the steel being banged into it. You can use a hardwood scrap between the holdfast and the workpiece, but I figured there's reason to spend twenty minutes once and protect my work forever. No digging around for scraps required.
A few months ago, in the midst of a day full of projects, I had a bit of an a-ha moment. I was in my workshop, using the table saw to slice up some Baltic birch plywood, when a timer on my phone went off, reminding me to take a break and go chop a bunch of vegetables to add to the slow cooked stock I was simmering in the kitchen.
This holiday season, I wanted to give my friends and family a customized gift with some personality. So, using nothing but our own photos and a few crafty tools, I came up with this coaster project which is super fun, super inexpensive, plenty easy, and you can dial it in perfectly for each person on your list - just raid their Instagram or social media accounts!
Let's get to it!
A very special holiday edition of the thoughts, artwork, news stories, tools, food, conversations, and whatever else I just can't get out of my head this month.
This tutorial from Matt Pierce for A Continuous Lean is a winner. It walks you through the process of using stiff leather to create a stylish and protective case for small items, kits, and gear. Here, Matt designs his case for a compass and some other wayfinding goodies, but you could scale and adapt the project to fit your needs.
You know those little pumpkins you practically trip over in the supermarket this time of year? It turns out: they're good for more than just Instagram props. With, like, no work, they make a really tasty pumpkin butter you’ll want to have in the fridge all year long. I’m talking about pumpkin butter with the magical spice flavor of pumpkin pie, but simple, less sweet and much more, well, pumpkin-y.
These are thoughts, the artwork, the news stories, the tools, the food, the conversations, and whatever else we just can't get out of our heads this month.
I guess the real problem with this project is that it actually worked.
I mean — I succeeded in what I set out to do. I created two DIY variations on an easy-lighting, long-burning fire and grill starter using coconut oil. Coconut oil, which is solid at room temperature. Coconut oil, which is about the same price as beeswax and much easier to find. Coconut oil, which can easily be melted in the microwave, so you avoid having to use a double boiler and scraping wax out of your mixing bowl. Coconut oil, which smells awesome and burns forever.
If you’re like me your DIY obsession can get so out of hand you have to start selling your stuff to fund more stuff! One of the ways my wife and I do it is setting up a booth at local festivals, barn sales and craft fairs. With a little bit of business savvy and DIY ingenuity, you too can start turning a profit on your passions.
Consider Your Investment
As you’re doing research on what fair or festival to do, count the cost of things like booth fees, ticket costs (if any), travel and food. After adding up all those costs make sure you have or make enough product to exceed those costs. If you all of those factors turn out to be a worthy
Giving a handmade gift is always better than a mass manufactured one. Whether you make it yourself or support a local artisan, craftsman or favorite Etsy shop, giving something that can't be found in a big box store not only shares an element of care, but of legit surprise.
But do you know what we love even more than giving something handmade? Empowering the recipient to make something themselves. So, this Father's Day, give the gift of DIY with this simple and stylish leather coaster gift kit.
If you’re looking to make your leather work look a little classier, one of the easiest ways to do it is by adding padding.
Think of the watches you own or have seen that have a leather strap. Those straps will either be flat and made up of two pieces of leather glued together, or padded made up of two pieces of leather stitched around a thinner piece of leather, creating a raised looked in the middle. Almost always, the padded strap will look more refined.
This leather mouse pad is an excellent way to figure out how to add padding for the first time. And, what’s more, you’ll end up with a classy leather mouse pad to keep or give
The coin ring is an internet DIY classic. I remember seeing an old video (on Makezine, perhaps?) on creating a nickle ring way back in the early days of the DIY and craft blogosphere. Like, 2006.
But, most tutorials simply harvest the coin as raw material, banging it and beating it until it looks like any piece of cool-colored metal. These pieces by Nicholas Heckaman, however, fully embrace the ring's origin, showing off that recognizable texture and type, giving the ring plenty of personality.
I spend a lot of time at a desk. Many of us do. It's a space where we learn, create, work, and play. I'm not saying all that sitting is a good thing, but if it has to happen then make the space as clean and relaxing as you can. Here is a quick project to add a bit of green, texture, and peace to you space.
I know it's a small thing, but your choice in writing implements can say a lot about you. Do you carry a simple plastic tube with cheap ink, or do you hold a solid, well-made piece that makes an impression? Or do you not carry anything at all? A pen holds stories and signatures, words and dreams, and you can make one that leaves an impression every time you put some words to that page.
That's why you should carry something impressive, and why you definitely should make your own.