Wooden Spoon


This was just something I wanted to make.  No real reason except that I never made one before.  It started out as a leftover piece of hard maple wood.  I cut it in half to make two spoons, which I did.  I kept one and have one for the table at the next craft fair.

After cutting them to size, the fun begins.

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The marks on the end of the wood finds the center of the piece, important to mount it on the lathe later.  Meanwhile, I drew a rough outline to remove some of the wood for the handle and to rough shape the piece.

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I made both “blanks” at the same time.  Marking and using a sharp punch to make a center hole to mount each one on the lathe when the time comes.

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Once on the lathe it was just a matter of shaping the spoon part and the handle to a desirable shape.

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Next it was just a trial and error method of scooping out the wood to form the bowl of the spoon.  I used the drill press and a forstner bit to do the bulk of it, then used a sharp chisel to finish the shaping.  After it was really close I used coarse to fine sand paper to finish it up.

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Because I plan to use it and not just display it, the finish used is just a number of coats of the right oil.  I used coconut oil on this one, which is one of the recommended oils for such an item.  It doesn’t get rancid at room temperatures.  Walnut oil is also a good oil to use for wooden cooking utensils.


I’ve since finished the second one and have been using it in the kitchen.  Very nice because I shaped it to fit into the round edges of our cookware so it stirs things very well.

Granite Top Parsons Desk


My son is a successful internet guy.  He must be because people pay him really well to do what he does.  What exactly he does is beyond what my mind can grasp, but it really isn’t something you need to know to appreciate this build.  If he wants me to show a better picture of the finished desk in an uncluttered office he will have to send me a better picture.

The story begins with an email from my son telling me he saw a picture of a parsons desk that would work really well for him in his soon to be new  office.  Unfortunately it cost thousands of dollars, and he’s basically cheap like me.  When I looked at the thing it didn’t seem like it would take much to build one similar so we got to talking.  Next thing I knew I was drawing and figuring out how to build such a thing.  And then started measuring the lumber I had to work with.

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Now unlike the guy in the movie that said “oak’s nice” my son doesn’t really like oak.  And hard maple is pricey like walnut and cherry, so we looked for an alternative.  What we settled on is poplar.  Poplar is easy to work with and pretty structurally sound, which is important when supporting a slab of granite that will weigh in over 200 lbs.

The first parts I made were the legs.  Notched so the weight would be directly supported on those legs rather than rely on fasteners to hold the weight.  To cut down on the overall weight of the finished desk, I designed the legs to be hollow but we wanted them to look, I believe the word my son used was “brawny”.

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Edge gluing with good glue and lots of clamps, then using the planer to do the final sizing produced just what we needed.

Then it was time to make the top framework.  This had to be very structural to support the weight and have the necessary support under the granite so it wouldn’t ever crack.  Laminating seemed to be the answer rather than using a single board of the width I wanted.  Stronger and much cheaper to produce.  Originally I was just going to make up the parts needed and send them to my son for assembly, but as the design came to physical reality, it seemed a better idea to ship it as an assembly.

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It was going to take a lot of clamps and gluing to make this thing come together correctly.  So I went on to assemble the parts and fasten it all together as a unit.  The cross braces are notched to fit snugly into the side rails, which were glued and screwed together.

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The top had to be assembled to be as exactly “square” possible so the granite would fit when it was added to the project.  And the dimensions had to be spot on also.  Another challenge was to be sure no screws or “plugs” would be visible on the outer surfaces, so fastening the legs to the top frame had to be engineered so all the screws are on the inside surfaces.

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The measurements and “square” of the desk were darn near exactly what was ordered.

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The finished desk is 30 inches tall, so the wooden base needed to be 29″ to allow for the 1″ granite slab to be installed on top of it.  The top was “squared” to really close tolerances in hopes the granite would be finished as closely as the wooden base.

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The bottoms of the legs were plugged and then the final sanding before staining.

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The first coat of stain turned out to be too red for the desired color so it took another two coats of darker brown to get what we wanted.  In the end, it came out just about how we wanted it.

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Then a couple coats, three actually of semi gloss polyurethane completed the finish.


One thing you can’t see is that the top edges, where the granite would be glued to the wood surface, was done with a top grade spar urethane, an exterior grade urethane, so the glue holding the granite would have the best possible surface to bond with.

The base was now sent to my son’s house where the granite was to be delivered and installed.  The finished desk is just what he wanted.  Another job well done.

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Now I expect him to make a lot of money as he enjoys his new work surface.






Garden Bench


I didn’t take any pictures as I built this English Garden Bench but there is a good “how to” right here.  It isn’t one of my unique designs but it is a very nice and comfortable bench.  I built this one for a friend that wanted a place to sit outside her place of business.

The bench is made from Southern Yellow Pine.  I selected this wood because it has a very nice wood grain and this bench is mounted under a covered area so it won’t be directly in the weather.  Also I added the “feet” which are made of pressure treated SYP because they are in contact with the concrete of the covered area.  To be sure it wasn’t stolen, I made steel brackets to secure it with anchors to the concrete.  If a thief wants the bench he will really have to work at taking it.

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The finish is two coats of a premium outdoor semi transparent stain and then two coats of spar urethane over that.  Hopefully it will last for years and years.



Round Jewelry Box

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Why would anyone want to design and build a round jewelry box?  Mostly because when I looked online to see what one would look like I was disappointed to see nothing on the subject.  So I started drawing and thinking, sometimes all at the same time!

It started with rough lumber, turning on a lathe, and then assembly and finishing.  There is a post here:  http://www.buildncook.com/turn-turn-turn  that shows the first stages and the turning process.

After the drawers were all turned on the lathe, I had to put a bottom in each of them and then cut thin stock to make the dividers in each of the drawers.  I used some leftover 1/4″ plywood for the bottoms and more of the same wood (poplar) for the dividers.  Cut groove for the bottom on the router table, and cut out the bottoms with a hand router.  Then glue the bottoms in place.

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The dividers were just a lot of cutting, planing to thin as possible, fitting and gluing the pieces together and then the assemblies into the drawers.

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It was finally time to make the hinge system so the drawers can open and close.  The top and bottom pieces for the project were cut out with the router again, then the bottom rounded over and the top sculpted on the router table.  The hinge uses sections of hard plastic pipe for a bushing and a steel rod for the hinge pin.  I used some silicone grease to lubricate it all as it was assembled.

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The next thing I did was to apply  semi-gloss polyurethane over an oil based stain on the outside of the unit.  I used matte poly on the inside of the drawers to get them ready to be flocked.  The flocking process is detailed here:  http://www.buildncook.com/get-the-flock-out

Once the drawers were finished a flaw was discovered in the top of the unit.  The wood cracked where I used screws and glue to attach it to the upright.  I did the best I could to repair the crack but it was very noticeable so I had to find a fix for that or else make a whole new top piece.

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My solution was to make a sheet of veneer of the same wood and install it over the top.  Making veneer is another new experience for me, cutting some thin slices on the table saw and then edge gluing them to make a wider sheet of wood, then mounting that onto a backer board and running it through the planer.  I managed to get it to 3/32″ thin before the planer started making confetti out of it, so that’s what I used.

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Rough cut to oversize of the top and then glued into place after sanding the finish off the original top piece.  I was surprised at how easy this process was.  Again, lots of glue and clamps to be sure it is secure.  Then the same bit used to shape the top edge was used to sculpt the edge to the exact size.  Some final sanding and then two coats of stain on the new piece of wood.  Followed by 4 coats of semi-gloss polyurethane.  The repair is hardly noticeable, which is the way it should be.

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So now there is a round jewelry box for future generations to build upon.  I already could make some improvements if I were to build another one, but I’m content with the final outcome of this project.

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Turn, Turn, Turn


Turning the drawers for the round jewelry box was a new challenge for this old guy.  Inside, outside and front surface turning to get all the surfaces finished.  It started by taking some rough lumber and using the table saw to size them and the planer to get a smooth surface on all of them.  Then those got cut into some small blocks with the right angle on each end.

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From there it was a matter of gluing all those blocks together to form rings.  Lots of glue and clamps were needed.

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Then those rings were stacked one on top of the other in an alternating pattern and glued, again lots of clamps.

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When the glue was all dried, which I made sure was overnight, the rings with all the corners were mounted to a backing board that is attached to the mounting of the lathe.  The hard part was to get it centered, but with a lot of measuring and patience it was accomplished.

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Finally it’s time to turn on the lathe and start making wood shavings.  Doing the inside first, then the flat surface, then finally the outside of each ring.

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The final sizing of each ring is based on the first ring made.  Carefully measuring the inside and outside diameters so all the drawers are the same size.

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Sanding each one to a nice smooth surface is easy while mounted on the lathe.  Just start with medium grit, go to fine, and finally extra fine sand paper.  I actually use sanding belts from my belt sander because they are made to last a long time.

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Remove the screws holding it to the backing plate and move on to the next one.  I made 6 drawers even though I am only using 5 of them.  Better to have a spare if an accident happens along the processes that follows.


That’s the turning process for this project.