Category Archives: Unique

Knap Lamp

The first thing you notice about this lamp is that when it is on, the wooden balls seem to float mysteriously in the center of the lamp.   Remarkably, that is how the lamp is turned on and off.  For now I’ll show you the wood working involved, leaving the mystery switch to your imagination.

Knap is a word in the Dutch language that translates variously to clever, good looking, smart, handsome, or bright.  All words that describe this continuing project.  There will be more designs coming soon that will incorporate this switch design.  This is the first.

To make the frame to hold the LED lights I selected a nice hard maple board and began cutting, forming, and finally mitering and joining the pieces to for an octagon.

The mitered joints are made structurally sound by using carefully designed splines, two at each joint.  Lots of cutting and fitting, but it works well for strength and looks nice too.

I needed lenses to cover the LED’s and they were made from 1/8″ milky white translucent cast plexiglass.  That comes covered in protective paper on both sides so you can cut and fit it without putting scratches in it.

The base holds the wiring and power supply for the LED’s.  It is just a basic box made with miter corners to hide all end grain.  There is a separate top frame to mount the upper framework.

Final sanding and then two coats of stain followed by three coats of poly for the finishing touch.

This is “special walnut” on hard maple.

Finally the wires are all connected, the switch strings and wooden balls installed and it is ready to go.  The lower ball has a special resting place when the lamp is off.

It has a mysterious and elegant look, especially when turned on.



Modern Conventional Lamp

I’m always looking to make something unique.  A lamp is always a good project that allows one to harvest some creativity.   This lamp is one that I actually use.  It’s unique and functional.

It incorporates a dimmer switch located in the base with a low energy use LED bulb so it is versatile to provide the amount of light you want at any given time.

The base was laminated hard maple that was then routed and drilled to accommodate the hardware needed to make it all work.

The top of the base got the edges rounded over and drilled for the switch and post for the assembly that holds the bulb.

The switch is one of the main features of the lamp as it gives it you the ability to dim the light to your needs.  Wire connections all done taking time to make them all secure.

With everything secure it was time to make the upper structure.  More hard maple cut, sized, shaped, and grooved to hold the lenses that cover it.  All glued together to make a nice frame.  The top was designed to have some style and allow the installation of the bulb from the top.  Also it has a space at the bottom, all this to allow heat to dissipate so as not to melt the lenses.  This was a lesson learned on an earlier lamp project.


Glue and screws at the key points make it pretty rugged.


The screws get capped and adds to the detail of the lamp.  Gotta insert the lenses before screwing it all together, but also have to finish the wood before putting in the lenses or any more hardware.  I used a clear finish to let the beauty of the maple wood show through.

One small detail that bothered me was the knob that came with the switch.  Silver covered plastic was functional, but I just wanted something more unique.  So I mounted a piece of maple on the lathe and got creative.  This is what I came up with.

          I think it adds to the design.

Unique and functional.

One final note.  The bottom is covered with a medium weight felt to cover the electrical details and provide a nice pad so it won’t scratch whatever it is set on.



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.

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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.






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:  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:

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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