Spray Paint Crate

I picked up a few extra cans of spray paint for different things I have in the works. Those added to my modest collection of paints meant I was way over capacity in my limited storage arrangement. I tossed out the old setup (which I forgot to take pictures of), and built myself a set of spray paint crates. This was a nice small project, but probably the biggest woodworking thing I have done since Ira came along. It is good to make sawdust again.

Every good shop project starts with some plywood. I had a lot of 1/2″ lying around from the toy and baby furniture days. The front, back and bottom are 1/2″ ply glued and nailed together with 1/4″ glued and nailed to the sides. It made for a pretty stout box without being too bulky or heavy. With 18 fullish cans, this thing was heavy enough.

For the front and back handles, I could have just drilled out the sides and used a jigsaw, but I wanted something repeatable and re-usable. I 3D printed a jig with a sized cutout for my hand and with a reasonable offset. There is a notch in the center so I can line it up with a mark. Not sure how often I will use this jig, but it was cheap to print, worked like a charm, and should last a long time.

With the handle cut out I rounded the corners with my corner radius template and then used my trim router to round everything over. Some quick sanding later and the handle area was smooth and comfortable.

The assembly was as mentioned before. Glue and brad nails. I eventually let that dry and put a coat of boiled linseed oil on these to make sure they stay together for a long time. They are just the right size for fitting in the bottom shelf of my paints cabinet. It need more cleanup and rearranging to get the second one in there. That calls for more shop organization!

Mini Dixie Cup Support

First up, having a kid is not good for your project blog life. Good thing it is just a hobby and not a source of revenue! I got this one done during a few nap times.

I use these little 3 and 5oz dixie cups a lot around the shop. Uses include: holding screws/parts, mixing paints and epoxies, holding glue, filling and funneling stuff, etc. A lot of the time there are pop-sickle sticks and acid brushes sticking out of the cups, and they fall over. I was trying to paint 3d printer resin (cool post coming, eventually, about this) and my cup kept falling over. I finished my resin job and got to measuring the cups and making a solution.

The cups are different enough that each required its own holder. One turned out to be snugger than the other, but they both fit well enough to prevent tipping. I probably could have left it there, but went the extra mile. I printed two sets of each with no infill. I used the slicer to make a hole in the bottom to allow filling the hollow cavity.

I always keep a big bucket of sand around for filling objects to make them heavier and damp vibrations. These all got a fill of sand until there was only a small bit of space left. Next I mixed up a little slow cure epoxy and injected just enough to flow out of the hole. I wiped the entrance, tapped the hole with painters tape, then let them cure upright.

With the epoxy cured they make for really stable dependable holders. Next time I do one of these I will try one of the open infill patterns like gyroid. The gaps might be big enough for the sand to trickle through and infiltrate all the infill areas. It will likely take a lot of shaking, but it would make for a lot stronger part. Using pure epoxy would be easier, but the sand is such a cheap way to weight things like this down.

Soldering Helping Hands

I haven’t done much in the way of projects since the arrival of our son. Life is by no means back to normal (nor will it ever be again), but I have managed to get enough free time while working on the wee one to get some printing done. I haven’t documented any of it for lack of time, but I want to get back to doing that. With my winter break I am going to do another round of printer maintenance and upgrades. This will help in that endeavor.

I will need to do some semi-difficult soldering and don’t have any good helping hands. I could buy a decent set for 30-40 bucks, or I could print them! I picked up adjustable coolant line hose (aka loc-line), alligator clips and a magnet to stick in the base. I stole the idea from Fogl on thingiverse.

I went through a few clips till I found ones that would fit well inside the hose. I liked a smaller clip a little more, but getting it stuck int he nozzle properly was kind of a pain, so I went with the bigger ones. I could still make an adapter to hold different clips in the future.

I pulled off the orange nozzle tips and chamfered the entrance to help insert the clip base. I hammered it in, cross drilled a pilot hole through the hose side, and then screwed a small number 4 screw through to keep it all in place. The clips were pretty secure from the pressure fit, but the screw makes them really solid.

With the clips figured out, I needed a base. I printed a starfish looking pattern with a cavity underneath that holds the magnet. A short wood screw holds it in place. That adds weight to the base and will stick it down to a metal surface if need be. File on PrusaPrinters.

The hose base is some kind of 1/8″ pipe thread. It didn’t match the options I found on thingiverse, thus me making my own version. Instead of trying to match the tiny threads, I just made a slip fit and then screwed sideways through the hose base. Combine that with glue and all should be secure. To give myself little foot pads, I put more glue (E6000) on the bottom and sat it down on a silicone glue mat. Everything peeled right off the mat, and it made perfect little non-skid grippy pads.

Time to break out my new soldering iron!

Meet Ira

The big day finally came! It was nothing like how we planned and involved a long hard labor with a trip to the nicu. All of that is behind us now though and everyone is home safe and recovering. Right before he was born I took a piece of the family wood and engraved a name plate for above his room entrance.

He had a rough start, but is already gearing up to be a space commander some day! He is our biggest project yet. As such, there probably won’t be any posts for the next few months.

Folding Helping Tower

A helping tower is like a step stool you use in the kitchen with a child. It gets them up to a height to be able to help out with basic cooking tasks. Unlike a basic step stool, this has sides and a back so they can be kept in place, and not easily fall off. There are a million different examples online, but most all of them are bulky (by necessity) and end up being a bit of an albatross in the kitchen. I wanted a folding one that could be packed away easily. It took a lot of prototyping, but I did it.

I normally jump into projects, but this one was a very slow methodical trial and error build over nearly 2 months. A broken AC and baby tasks stretched that out a bit. The front frame of the device consists of two permanent uprights with an upper and lower stretcher. To those uprights, a set of folding sides are attached. The right upright is thinner so that the two fold over each other in an overlapping pattern.

The middle stretcher will hold the step and let it swing into place. I needed a strong stop that would support the step and draw the sides into the step. I used a dovetail bit on the bottom of the step to make a slightly angled groove. The stops had the same angle in reverse. Now, the more weight put on the step, the tighter it will draw the sides in.

The seat can fold up and the sides fold in. Everything is compact and easy to deploy. The stops are only 1/2″ thick and don’t interfere with the fold up.

It needed some kind of back to keep people from falling off backwards. A simple swing arm accomplished this task. It was narrow enough so as not to interfere with the unit’s ability to pack up. This had all the rough mechanics I wanted, but was narrower and not as deep as I felt it should be. Also I wanted the step portion to be adjustable as the child grows. On to the next prototypes.


I am going to use dowel nuts and binding screws to make something that was strong, but could be removed and reassembled. It would take a number of holes drilled in the right places to make that work. I planned the sizes of the parts and printed out drill guides that would hold brass tubes to act as drill bushings. The brass won’t last forever, but is easy to cut and insert, and helps keep the hand drilling accurate.

First up I clamped the jig in place and used a transfer punch to mark the centers of where the barrel nuts will go. This makes drilling on the drill press easy.

Next to accommodate the bolts, I need to drill a long hole end-on to meetup with the cross holes. This can’t vary much and the parts are too long to use the drill press, thus the drill jig idea.

With both sets of holes accurately drilled, the nuts and bolts will meet up in the correct spots.


With the folding and adjusting mechanics worked out I could move on to the real thing. I selected 1×3 pine for the uprights and spreaders. The step spreader got its holes drilled with the above jigs, and the other two spreaders received a set of fair curves thanks to my new drawing bows.

Part of the assembly folding out and being stable is having the sides only fold out 90 degrees. They must positively stop when they reach the right angle. I do this by firmly clamping the sides and uprights together and routing a small pocket for the hinges. This 3d print has a center-line mark on it and is perfectly spaced to make a tight mortise for the hinges. The result is a flush hinge and sides that do not swing out past where you need them.

I assembled the step and determined how high it could go when folded up. Too high and the step hits the top spreader. Marking those places I could make a row of holes that would allow the step assembly to adjust as needed. The sides and uprights got a set of holes placed every 2 inches.

To lighten the structure and add something fun, I printed a series of shape templates. Double sticky tape holds them down, and a plunge router cuts them out quickly. I made 8 unique shapes and it really adds a lot.

I put the center spreader in at the top most position and marked where the stops should be. Each one has two t-nuts hammered in place. Bolts go in from the outside to hold those securely. Now to adjust the height you have 8 bolts to remove. 4 from the stops, and 4 from the folding step. The final unit is light, compact when folded, looks decent (even though most of it is plywood), and should have enough room for any kid small enough to need it. The swinging back stop is made with another set of dowel nuts and binding screws. Everything got a coat of shellac as basic protection.

As a final bonus, I was able to cut the shapes out carefully enough that they all survived in tact. I rounded the edges and shellacked them as well.

I want to be able to re-create this again in the future. Here is a rough parts list with sizes. Dowel nuts and binding screws are both 1/4-20s.

QtyDescription
6Dowel Nut
4Binding Screw, 5/8”
6Binding Screw 1-3/16”
4T Nut
8Pan head screw, 1-1/2”


1Back Bar: 18-1/4 x 1-1/2”
3Spreaders: 16 x 2-1/2”
1Upright Left: 38 x 2-1/2”
1Upright Right: 38 x 1-3/4”
1Side Left: 36 x 10”
1Side Right: 36 x 10-3/4”
1Step: 16 x 11-1/2”

Moxon Vise

I haven’t hand cut dovetails in a long while, but I have in the past and have a big project coming up that will require a lot of them. My front vise is useful, but not great at clamping wide boards. I bought a bunch of hardware from mcmaster carr before we moved to make my own. In digging around I found it again and decided to restart that project. This is 2+ year old hardware finally getting to see its use.

I thought I had a piece of maple saved for this, but I think I turned it into a wedding present. Not sure where this sample came from. It looks a bit like oak, but is very light. I don’t remember buying ash or white oak, but it has that kind of grain structure. Oh well, let’s get cutting. I ripped this piece in half and cut down a shorter piece to act as the front of the vise.

The hardware is a 3/4″ acme screw, a few nuts and a set of generic hand wheels that fit on the shafts. The hand wheels have set screws to keep them in place, so I ground flats on the threaded shafts to give them good purchase.

To hold this vice to my bench I cut down the sides to make it easier for clamps to get in there and hold. That will let me set this up on my bench at any spot that is convenient.

The shaft slides through the front and the back half of the vise. To have it clamp I will need to fix the nuts somehow. I took the spare cutoff from the front vise and set the nuts in to capture them. I traced the nut edges, used a forstner bit for the center area, and then chopped the rest with a chisel.

With the nut blocks screwed on, I covered everything in boiled linseed oil and then moved on to installing leather. Hide glue makes an excellent glue for leather to wood so I rough cut pieces, smeared on a thin layer of hide glue, then clamped the assembly hard to make sure the pieces dried flat.

Once the glue was set I trimmed the spare leather and leveled the top. It fits well across the end of my bench and is wide enough to hold an 18 inch board. That should keep me covered. When not in use, it can go on a shelf and be out of the way.

Drawing Bows

I have been using a lot more curves in my work and have been reaching for various devices to help draw those curves. I made a small drawing bow out of maple a while back and I use it pretty often. Lee Valley sent out an advertisement in one of their emails about a fiberglass drawing bow. They were good looking tools, but quite expensive. I thought I could do the same for cheaper.

I started with some fiberglass reinforced plastic. This can go by various names. G10, FR4, Garolite and others. A 1″ wide, 1/8″ thick, 4 foot long piece was 6 bucks from McMaster-Carr. Their shipping is aggressive and expensive, but if you buy a decent pile of stuff, it still comes out to be very affordable. I bought 3 of them.

Lee Valley uses nylon webbing to hold the shape. I had some, but it was 1″ wide also. Something narrower would be nice. I didn’t want to buy anything else, and I didn’t have a good way to attach the webbing to the G10. I went with paracord instead. Not exactly fancy, but it got the job done and I have scads of the stuff around. I drilled a hole and relieved the edge to make sure the paracord stays in place.

The paracord is really slippery and doesn’t like to hold well with typical adjustable knots like the taught line hitch. I printed this little 3 hole tensioner to help with adjusting the bow. Later ones I just used a single hole. It seems to hold well and allows for faster adjustment.

In all I made a 4, 3, and 2 foot drawing bow. This stuff is stiff enough you wouldn’t want to go much shorter, it just doesn’t offer enough curvature. The smallest bow could go tighter if you wanted to, but not a ton. I will need to find thinner or more flexible material if I want to do really tight curves. These make nice subtle shapes and will probably last a lifetime. Go make some!

Wee Walker Fleet

My first wee walker was pretty popular with kids of the co-worker I gave it two and didn’t need any revisions after the second version. I wanted one for us, and I had two co-workers that were having kids soon. That calls for a batch run!

The MDF templates I made earlier came in handy. I could use them to do rough dimensioning of the plywood, and it let me efficiently nest parts together in some cases. I didn’t use them on the router table, but opted to free hand cut everything on the bandsaw. I was going to have to bandsaw the basic shape anyways, so all it took was a little extra care to cut up to the line. Power sanders took care of the rest. These aren’t very complex shapes.

Cutting wheels this big is kind of a pain. A 4 inch hole saw requires a lot of torque, and getting the sawdust out cleanly on 3/4″ plywood means constantly pulling the bit out and cleaning it. I might 3D print the wheels next time. 30% infill ought to be kid proof right?

I changed up the paint scheme a little from last time, adding black to the wheels and a stripe of black on the sides. I left the handles bare wood. This looks pretty nice on them, and isn’t too much work.

Everything is coming together with roundovers and pilot holes being drilled.

This round of building went well, with only a few minor errors. I made the holding area a lot deeper front to back, and that might be a mistake. It had the arms really close to the wheels, and might lead to kids kicking the back plate when walking. I don’t think it will be a major issue, but will want to have a shorter storage area in the next version. I’ll have to start calling myself kilted santa’s workshop.

Cutting Board Flattening tip

A lot of folks have shown how to make an end grain cutting board. I am not going to add a whole documented build to the pile. I will add one flattening tip to help save time and make a better product. A friend of mine is getting married, so that calls for a wedding present. What better device to induce marital bliss and/or arguments than a cooking implement? I would make him a vacuum if I could.

Enter some cherry from previous wedding presents and maple from the stash. I always clamp my cutting boards down to a piece of flat plywood with wax paper below. That keeps the bottoms good and flat for the next phase. That oak beam in the center is my clamp caul.

This one has a ton of squeezeout, but I put packing tape on my clamp cauls, so all is well. The problem: How to deal with all the squeezeout, and what do we do about the uneven top? Run it through the planer! That causes blowout at the back end. I selected the better looking sections for the gift, and used the spares to make a small board for myself. I ran it through the planer as-is to demonstrate the problem.

Lots of pieces of wood get chipped off at the end because the grain runs up and down and is unsupported. This is with a helical cutter head using very light passes. That is a best case scenario normally. It can often be much worse. Why do this at all? Well you get really fantastically flat tops in a hurry when you use the planer.

Tricky, so what do we do? Take a block plane and cut a little chamfer on the trailing edge that will be exiting the planer. Or both entrance and trailing edges so you don’t get mixed up. The cutter will be shearing off the last bits of fiber, but the chamfer will mean that happens a little ways back from the bitter edge. Here is the edge I put on the big board, it isn’t big. Just a 1/16″ chamfer. The results from heavy cuts are no blowout and a very clean flat top!

If you don’t have a block plane, I bet a sanding block would do it too. That means you can plane the top flat quickly and without risk of end blowout. Just make sure you don’t plane through your chamfer. I shipped the big one out fast enough I forgot to take a picture, but here is the little one after a number of uses in my kitchen.

Chamfer your cutting boards for planer success!

Weapon Wall Hangers

I have a number of sharp and dangerous objects lying around my office. My intention was to eventually get them mounted up on the wall in nice displays. The prospect of tiny hands getting a hold of them moves that up in the priority list.

First up is my kukri. I rehabbed it many moons ago with a friend and have been sitting on it ever since. I found a thick piece of mahogany I bought years ago for a project idea, but never ended up executing on. This is my first time working with it, and a low risk project like this is a good place to start. It is really hard stuff, but look great when you get a good hand plane across it. I re-sawed the piece to save material because this stuff is quite expensive.

The back of the plaque was cut to size, had some shapes cut out at the corners, then got a round over to smooth everything out.

To hold the knife in place, I used some blocks of the mahogany and shaped notches with a hand saw, then rasp. When I was sure they would fit in place, I did a lot of sanding to round over the outside to make them look nice.

I experimented with dye to darken up the mahogany a little. Not too much, but I wanted it to be closer to the aged handle than any oil based finish would give. When I got the color I wanted I hit it with some shellac and called the project finished.


Next on the list was my bow and arrows. They had been sitting in a floor stand I made for quick access. I honestly hadn’t really done any shooting since we moved, so this could probably be put up on the wall without any inconvenience. Here is what the final piece looks like so you can see where we are going. I don’t use many stains anymore, but I think red oak stains wonderfully!

I had an image of this one in my head for a while and really wanted to do half lap joints to hold everything together, and have a lot of shape in the center. I laid out the curves and cut everything on the bandsaw.

The spear point tip was another thing I had a pretty strong vision of. It came off the saw a little lopsided, but I was able to sand it into a respectable shape.

For the half laps I tried something new. In the past I would just cut them by hand 100%. I decided to try and be a hybrid woodworker. I hogged away most of the waist with my little trim router, then use a chisel to take it up to the line. It does make for a very smooth straight cheek.

My experience doing this trick with the other half of the joint was less stellar. The bit would keep grabbing and bouncing around and I went through a lot of batteries. The top left slot in the left hand picture shows where I started with the router, then just ran out of batteries. I had already defined the edges with a saw. I took a chisel, and in about 20 seconds cleared out 80% of the waste. I then went back with a new battery and cleaned up the bottom (right hand picture). That was way easier. Trim routers can’t hog out a ton of material, but they do great at cleaning up the last little bit. lesson learned.

Here is the un-assembled shot of everything. I did a little trimming with a block and shoulder plane to make everything snug. The final joints look pretty tight on the outside, I am proud of them. I cut the tennon parts a little long and planed them flush when the glue was dried.

To hold the bow in place I did a little more carving and shaping on some oak blocks.

I didn’t do any edge rounding on this one. I wanted it to look reasonably refined, but still a little rustic. Like it might be something an old armory would use to hold a bow that was always needed at the ready.


Last but not least I made a big double bladed ax for my armor costume. This was probably back in 2010 or so. It has been moved around and mostly lived in closets. Now, it gets to live next to my shield on the wall. Putting this one together was so fast I got it up on the wall before I remembered to take the first picture. Oops!