Non-Software Projects

Serving Tray - Millennium Falcon

Millennium Falcon Serving Tray

I found this idea online, and had to give it a try. Using a top-down image of the Millennium Falcon, I cut out a template from 1/4" plywood on a scroll saw. I glued a panel together using aromatic cedar, bloodwood, canarywood, jatoba, padauk, walnut, wenge and two unknown light colored pieces. Using the template and my router I made many passes removing an 1/8" of the material from around the template with each pass. The end piece was sanded down and sealed using a wood bowl finish that really brings the color out.

Outdoor Games!

Painter's palette using flowers

Each year we have a family reunion, typically at the home of someone in the family. Also each year someone is tasked with coming up with games, as the family is a bit competitive. For my turn to come up with games I wanted to do something a little extra. In addition to the cornhole and washers boards I made previously, I constructed the rails for an outdoor billiards table using 5'x8" pieces of plywood covered in a felt-like outdoor carpeting. The billiard balls are actually colored soccer balls that we found online. Also, I put together nine holes of mini golf. Each hole is constructed from plywood covered in green outdoor carpet with rails and obstacles built using 1x2's. For the last hole I put together a skeeball ramp, complete with ball return. While this was a lot of work, it was well worth it. Everyone had a great time, and I think we may try to add the back nine next year.

Garden Palette

Painter's palette using flowers

My wife's mother requested a palette for her garden. We found this idea on Pinterest and decided to try it out. Not a challenging project by any means, but has a fun look to it.

More Panels!

Wood Panel With Cartoon Fox

Decided to put together a few more panels from some cute clipart I found online. Again, I picked a variety of species for color (purple heart, wenge, cedar, walnut, bubinga, etc). Also, these are a bit more complicated than my butterfly and so far I think they have come out better. The raccoon is still a work in progress, but hopefully will be finished soon. The image shows the pieces for both critters on the left and the finished fox on the right.

Stephen King / Game of Thrones Mashup

Game of Thrones Wall of Faces mashup with Stephen King Characters

I am a starting collector of Stephen King books and dare I say a constant reader. My mother, who is a constant reader and serious collector, pointed me to a sort of fan art competition, the winner of which would receive a Finder's Keepers signed 1st. She and I came up with the idea to merge the Game of Thrones wall of faces with our favorite characters from the SK books (and movies). I really enjoyed putting this together, even if it was a simple blending of existing images. I hope to do more mash-ups and scenes from the books as I read and re-read them.

Christmas Tree Ornament

Tree shaped christmas ornament with heart pendant

Some friends of ours were having a gathering over the holidays and asked that everyone bring an ornament for a sort of white elephant gift exchange. I did not like the idea of buying something silly, so I tried my hand at making a simple ornament. I found a pattern online of a small tree, transfered it to a piece of Padauk, which has some nice red color to it, and cut it out with the scroll saw. A bit of sanding and a little polycrylic and it turned out pretty nice. I added some ribbon to hang it and a small heart pendant to finish it off.

Board Game

Harry Potter themed Aggravation Board Game

Eight-player board game based on Aggravation and a six-player variant made by some good friends of mine, which they have named "Kill" due to the friendly nature of the game. I put this board together using Harry Potter inspired artwork, magnets, and a lot of patience. The board was designed using Photoshop, printed, laminated and glued to a 2' square piece of MDF. The back of the MDF was drilled to allow for the installation of ceramic magnets at every position on the board (177 if I recall correctly). While the magnets are clearly overkill (gravity would hold square pieces on the board for a lot less money), they give the Harry Potter theme a bit more clout as the chosen game pieces are metal spheres which are allowed to roll a bit, but 'magically' stay in the correct positions. The four metal spheres for each player were painted according to the colors of their assigned house (Gryffindor, Slytherin, Ravenclaw and Hufflepuff).

Dart Board

Custom Dart Board using wine corks

Cork backed dartboard for my garage. The corks came from the local winery, Messina Hof, and no we did not drink all of those bottles (some of them we shared). The center ring of the board is removable and contains a ring of white LEDs that eliminate all shadows from the board during play. The dart board itself is also removeable and can easily be swapped out with a practice board or some other replacement.

Work Bench

Wood shop work bench

My garage is too small for all of the tools and projects I would like to have, but this bench has definitely helped me to maximum the utility of the space. The bench houses my belt sander and router, both of which fold away when not in use, and my lathe is mounted on top. The bench has 7 drawers, 1 cabinet, plus some open storage on the end caps. The top of one end cap also has a built-in roll of builders paper so the deck can be easily covered for messier projects. Fully loaded the bench is very heavy, but the 6 locking castors allow me to reconfigure the setup with little effort.

Drill Press Storage and Case

drill press cart with storage drawers

This was actually the first time I ever made drawers. At the time this was made I needed some place to store my drills, batteries, bits, etc, and wanted an easy way to mvoe the drill press out of the way when it was not needed. The project basically ended up as a filling cabinet on locking castors with a 'clam-shell' like top for locking the drill press away. Also, this gave me an opportunity to learn my new Kregg pocket hole jig, as well as how to nicely fill in the resulting holes over the screws.

Cornhole boards

Cornhole boards with TAMU and USC logos

Since I have degrees from and worked for both Texas A&M University and the Univeristy of South Carolina, I wanted to have a set of cornhole boards for each school. Also, since A&M joined the SEC this makes more sense for these two teams to be in the same game. There are two sets of bags for each school with the appropriate logos, and the boards were hand painted with the school logos and mascots (a projector was used to trace the outlines onto the boards, and then it was pretty much paint by number).

More Shelves

built in custom shelves

It seems that there is never enough shelf space for our books, DVDs and various nicknacks. I used pine boards to build this continuous shelf around the top of the walls in our craft room, and a set of three shelves in a guest room. The support boards and shelves were cut to fit, and keyholes and pocket holes were drilled and filled to hide all the hardware. We painted the shelves to match the trim in the room.


Wood burned herbology sign

Given that we built a bench just for potting and that Kristina is a fan of Harry Potter, I thought it would be fun to make a Mandrake and Herbology sign to go with the bench. Also, I have not worked with clay or wood burning in quite some time, so this gave me a chance to relearn some of those skills. The Mandrake was sculpted from air-drying clay on top of a styrofoam and wire frame. Since the air-dry clay shrinks as it dries I was expecting it to crack over the frame. However, as the Mandrake is supposed to have a wood-like skin I hoped this would add to its character. This turned out to be mostly true, and I only had a few spots that needed a bit of touch up. The herbology sign was drawn with pencil first and then burned and shaded with a basic woodburner and set of tips. The image shows the nearly finished pieces.

End-grain Cutting Board

End grain cutting board

I found a place in Houston that has copious amounts of free scrap wood in all varieties, and am using as much as they will give me to try out some new projects. In this board I used walnut, cedar and oak to piece together two sheets with different patterns. Then I cut the sheets into two inch strips and arranged the strips in an alternating pattern, with the grain up. Purple heart was used as a frame. I routed the edges and sanded everything smooth. Several coats of food-safe mineral oil were applied to bring out the color and protect the wood. This was a nice project, lot's of fun.

Tap Handle

beer tap handle

My brother makes his own beer from time to time, and I thought it would be nice to make something for his kegerator. I had just finished the cutting board and had several extra pieces already glued and planed. Four small stips of walnut, cedar and oak were glued around a small cedar core with thin strips of purple heart and paduk. The resulting column was turned on my lathe. The bottom was drilled and fitted with a brassed threaded insert. The top plate was pieced together from cedar, walnut and purple heart. The entire piece was sanded, cleaned up and sealed. One day will I am hoping that we wood burn a logo into the top plate, but we shall see.

Butterfly Panel

wood panel with cartoon butterfly

I found a few pieces of lacewood and zebrawood that I thought had a very nice natural look, and I wanted to make something that would actually use the natural textures of the wood. As such, I decided to make a butterfly insert for Kristina. Eventually I will make a box or wall hanging using this, but for now I wanted to learn to use my router a bit more as well as my scroll saw. The background is strips of aromatic cedar glued and planed. The upper wings are made from lacewood, the bottom pair with zebrawood, and the body from walnut. Since this is my first time trying to route a piece of wood in order to insert another there were some small gaps between the pieces. I knes that I could fill this and it would not be really visible, but I thought that I could do something more. So, I mixed a glow-in-the-dark powder in with my fill to create a nice blue outline of the butterfly when the lights are turned out.

Butterfly Plinko

plinko game

For our wedding we wanted to do something different for our sign-in book. It has been my experience that folks rarely if ever read the sign-in book more than once after the wedding. We thought that it would be a better to create something from the notes left by our friends and family that we could eventually hang on a wall in our home, so we replaced the sign-in book with hundreds of small wooden butterflies that our friends could use for notes, pictures or whatever they wanted. After the wedding we would use these butterflies to create a piece of art to hang on the wall. However, I did not like the idea of simply having folks write a note and stick it in a basket or box. So, I made a silly plinko box for them to insert the butterfly and potentially win a prize depending on which slot it entered at the bottom (note the center slot is completely baracaded, oops).

Card Chest

wood chest

For our wedding I made a simple chest with a slot for guests to put cards. The chest body and top were made using zebra wood and sealed with polycrylic. I attempted to maintain the wood pattern around the base, as well as across the slats making the lid. To finish the piece brass handles, latch, hinges and feet were added.

Desk File Sorter

wood desk filer

Kristina asked me to make something to help with organizing her desk, which is a beautiful reclaimed wood desk with some nice color throughout. So to start, I put together this simple file sorter using aromatic cedar. The unfinished picture is shown here, and there will be a few add-ons later as we will probably make matching pen holder, phone charger, etc.

Turned Wine Stoppers

turned wine stoppers

We have a few friends that enjoy a glass of wine, and I wanted to make something for them. So, naturally wine stoppers came to mind. I used zebrawood and purple heart for most of these, and one was an experiment where I pieced together walnut and purple heart to see what kinds of patterns I could get. The base for the four stoppers was also done with purple heart.