Nightstand

For my next project, I needed to make some functional furniture. My current nightstand was an old bathroom cabinet composed of cheap particle-board that was stained and beginning to fall apart. I had had the cabinet for 14 years and it was time to try my hand at making something that needed to be in the house and I would use everyday.

I started with Steve Ramsey’s nightstand plans, though I had to make some modifications to fit the right size and shape that I desired. I wanted a taller stand with a deep bottom drawer to store my pajamas and long underwear. I also widened the middle gap a bit, since I tend to have a number of books stacked near my bed.

This was my first project that I remembered to take process pictures, so here’s the cabinet somewhat taking shape.

It was at this point, that I realized that I wouldn’t be able to use the full-sized shelf I had ready. I forgot to insert it before pulling the carcass together. The glue was already dried, so there was no turning back. I ended up cutting the shelf in half so that I could insert it.

In the end, it turned out okay and I clamped it all together to glue on the top and shelf.

I painted the shelf white and added some beautiful quartz-stone hardware knobs.

Now, that is an improvement.

Bat House

One day, I was chatting with my wife online. We were discussing about setting up a bat house for our back yard. Bats in the city are in need of habitat and they are known to eat vast quantities of mosquitoes. So, before my wife got home that same day, I researched a bit on making bat houses and had one built.

The design I used was based on one in the Bat House Builder’s Handbook by Bat Conservation International.

I went to the local lumberyard and grabbed myself a wide cedar board. Made a few quick cuts and began assembling it. Thankfully, I had a section of old wire mesh that was perfect for the inside chamber, which will give the bats something to hold onto.

I then added the top and bottoms, ensuring a gap for the bats to get in and out. The deeper top will keep rain from getting inside.

Then it was closed up and ready for painting and installation.

Soon the black bat house was hung on the back of my garage, ready for the critters to move on in.

Patio Table

My next project was straight from Steve Ramsey’s course, a small patio table. Some friends had just purchased a new house, so I thought this would make a perfect housewarming present.

The table is composed of pine boards and requires only the miter saw for cuts. It is quite simple to make and very rewarding for someone who is new to woodworking. Yet the table has enough design interest, style, and utility to feel like I was really beginning to make useful furniture.

I decided to go for a darker stain and put on three thick coats of polyurethane to ensure it could survive outside in the varying seasons.

Miter Saw Station

I realized I was using my miter saw quite a bit, but sometimes found it a pain to set up and ensure that I could set up the proper stop-blocks when necessary.

I did a search online for solutions and found a plethora of miter saw station plans. I really liked most of the designs I saw, but eventually had to settle on one. I decided to make a modified version of this one posted by Shanty 2 Chic: https://blog.homedepot.com/diy-miter-saw-bench/

It is composed of a 2×4 frame with a double 3/4″ plywood top. The fences are composed of random scraps of pine and the slide tops are melanine (left over from the router table build) to ensure an easy slide when working with long pieces.

My design for the bench is quite a bit shorter than the plans I found. Although, I never put storage drawers in the under-slots, I found these slots were perfect for temporarily storing pencils, rollers, and tape-measures. It became really nice to be able to slide this bench out and cut all my wood to size for a project. The wide fences make it easy to clamp on stop blocks and ensure that each cut piece is matched.

First Workbench

I was now ready to start building projects for Steve Ramsey’s course. He calls it the BMW (basic mobile workbench).

I was really excited about this project, since it was my first “official” course project and I greatly needed a good workbench. The mobile aspect would allow me to wheel out the bench to my driveway. This was needed since I still was mostly using my garage for storage and I did not want to get sawdust on everything. Additionally, I learned it was not good for my lungs to be breathing in the dust.

The workbench is composed of mostly 2×4 construction lumber with a double 3/4 plywood top. It’s extremely study and can take a bit of a beating. The shelves are great for storage or temporary tool holders. The wide sides allow for clamping. The locking casters give the bench mobility, but also stability when desired.

Garden Trellis

By June of 2019, I was trying to improve my basic woodworking skills. I signed up for Steve Ramsey’s online course, the Weekend Woodworker.

Between Steve’s lessons, You-Tube, and the many books I was reading, I felt like my basic skills were beginning to take shape.

Since it was June, my garden was beginning to occupy most of my free time. My wife and I had discussed adding trellises to the side of the house. I had dreamed of Wisteria and Hops growing along our south-wide windows. Additionally, I wanted a nice northern-side planter/trellis to grow ivy and provide some additional privacy for the block-window of our bathroom.

I bought some 1×6 planks and began ripping them down into about 3/4 strips. I combined these with 2×2 cedar posts and glued and screwed it all together to make some garden trellises for the south wall.

I quickly realized that I needed way more trellis than I had anticipated. But after a couple more days of work, I managed to get all the pieces I needed together. I painted the trellis a bright white and hung them on the house using pocket screws.

I then added the additional sections, attaching them to a heavy 4×4 post to hold the whole thing together.

For the northside trellis, I had to build a planter box since the soil was so poor on that narrow side of the house.

Overall, these simple trellises work great and they are a happy addition to the garden.

Router Table

For my second project, I really wanted to make a router table to use the router I had bought. I had dreams in my head of making all sorts of beautiful edging and moldings, and to do so, I’d need a good router table.

The table was based off a video I had found on You-Tube: https://youtu.be/rUT3u6muDWw

My version used melanine or the tabletop. I had botched various parts of the project and soon realized I didn’t quite have enough of the basic skills mastered to be doing what I did. However, I pushed through and managed to finish the project.

Unfortunately, the T-tracks aren’t perfectly parallel, so it can be somewhat hard to get the fence lined up properly. Additionally the acrylic insert panel isn’t perfectly flush with the melanine top, so I have to be careful when sending short pieces through. I had fun using my pocket-hole jig and learning about using pocket-hole joinery. I was forced to use my table-saw, which still scared me.

Overall, the router table is still quite useful. I still use it today (Jan 2020), but am already thinking about some redesigns.

Woodwork Beginning

For many years, I’ve always had an interest in making things with my hands. I just didn’t know where to get started. Thankfully, in the modern age, the internet can give a determined person access to a lot of information. I started looking into woodworking and how I could get started into the process with no experience.

First Project

Ever since my wife and I bought our first house in Aug 2017, I’ve though this was my chance to begin building things. The house included a detached single-car garage and seemed to be the perfect size for a small workshop. However, I still didn’t know where to begin, and power tools still scarred the hell out of me. I had a pretty strong attachment to my appendages.

In November 2018, I purchased my first circular saw and crudely put together a set of shelves for our basement storage. The process was stressful due to my general lack of understanding. After this project, I started reading books and watching numerous videos online about making furniture and woodworking.

Tools

After a conference in early May of 2019, I ordered a bunch of tools, feeling I was ready to start making things.

I cleaned out all the furniture and storage items in my garage and created a space to make things.

My wife had asked me to make a planter for her and so I set out to do so. The plant stand is made from a couple of dowel rods and a 2×1.

This “first” woodworking project seemed rather simple, but was actually quite hard to do without a drill press. But I managed to get it done and begun setting my eyes for more difficult projects.