2×4 Bench, Rustic Strength

Finally finished this bench I’d been slowly working on. This was the second attempt at a similar design. Both found homes with friends. The first one will live near a firepit and this one will end up inside as a bench near an entrance. Final size is about 33″ wide by 16″ tall.

The wood came from scrap 2x4s and the box joint configuration created a surprisingly strong bench!

Started by milling the 2x4s on the thickness planer and table saw to get square edges and flat faces. None of them were acceptable without this step for the finish quality I was going for.

After milling, I cut the top and sides to slightly longer than needed. Then I attacked worst part of this project: the glue up. I didn’t want to have any screws or nails involved so gluing involved a lot of clamps and annoyances. Once it dried I evened out the legs and top ends with a circular saw, chiseled and hand planed everything reasonably flat and then sanded (a lot). Finished with a few coats of clear shellac.

I’d been wanting to try this technique for a while. After trying it? It’s neat, but oh-so-fiddly to get right. What I learned is that I never want to use 2x4s for “fine” furniture again if it can be avoided.

Cutting Boards, Racing Stripes Edition

Made two cutting boards yesterday! I have the week off from work and so naturally spent a few hours in the shop. One is spoken for, but another is still available as of yet ($40). Edit: Both are sold! Talk to me if you want one though since I’ll do another batch later this month!

Dimensions are around 9″x12″ with rounded edges. Pattern is: red oak, oak, walnut, red oak. The walnut came from a friend who had it in his basement and the rest is from Urbanwood. Finished with Howards Butcher Block Conditioner.

A Cutting Board, A Cut

A Cutting Board

Finished this cutting board yesterday. Made from oak and walnut. I love the grain on this, it’s wild and varied and unexpected. Measures about 8″x12″ with rounded corners and two usable sides.

The knot at the top is filled in with clear epoxy, which worked well and is a nice detail. I’m curious to see how it will wear over time.

Finish is a beeswax+mineral oil blend from Howard called Butcher Block Conditioner. Wood is from Urbanwood.

If you like the look of the above and would like one of your own, I’m open for commissions. Contact me and we can figure out a price and delivery date!

A Cut

About halfway through making this I did something very dumb and ended up with four stitches in the side of my index finger. I’ll spare you the details, but will tell you the lesson I learned:

Your hand is not a clamp. Never use it as one, even if it seems convenient.

It was nice to confirm that my chisel sharpening technique is good. The wonderful person who stitched me up said it was a clean cut. Something I do after I hurt myself is google for similar injuries. It’s comforting knowing you’re not alone and a great relief when you don’t pull up any obits.

Due to the circumstances, I’m going to keep this cutting board because you should always keep your enemies close.

Charcuterie Board

For Thanksgiving we volunteered to bring a charcuterie board. Naturally that meant I needed to make the actual board itself in addition to us bringing the things that went on it.

Here’s the front and back of the finished board. Determining which is the front and which is the back is left as an exercise to the reader:

I made this out of walnut and red oak. The contrast in color and grain texture between the two woods ended up looking really nice. Here it is just after glue up:

After the glue was dry I planed it down. Cut the ends to length and rounded over the edges. Sanded up to about 220, raised the grain with water, then sanded again.

Finished it with Howard Butcher Block Conditioner (essentially just a mixture of mineral oil and beeswax).

My wife put it all together on Thanksgiving. Here’s the board loaded up with meat, cheeses, olives, and fruit. The bowl on the right is filled with cranberries and lactaid pills:

Live Edge Table

Glamor shots of a table’s natural habitat: outside in the leaves

My friend, Kyle, needed a table for an upcoming performance art show related to playing and running tabletop games. He wanted a table that could act as a physical document of play. The table as a sort of participant in the games. After his shows he’ll be using it for running other games over the years, and likely it will also become a dining room table.

Beyond that the thought was to make something that looked natural and would also show its scars visibly. Over time, and with use, the table will pick up scratches, dings, and nicks. If someone spills something on it, the finish might run or dissolve and that is okay (and desirable!). The hope is that over time the table itself has a clear and readable history.

Here’s some additional shots of the table:

Wood Selection

I source as much of my wood from Urbanwood as possible including everything for this project:

A Gnarly Slab

After a lot of searching I found the perfect slab of pine for the top of the table. Plenty of knots “ugly” spalting and damage from bugs. The price for it had been reduced and reduced again. Under many other circumstances it would be a terrible piece of wood to use for a tabletop. However, for this the gnarlier the slab of wood the better!

To get the right length and width for the top it needed to be subdivided and glued back together.

Here are some shots of dividing the slab up so I could get the right width and length from it and then planing it down to the right thickness:

Apron and Legs

For the apron and the legs I went with oak. It’s hard and stable and matches the pine top well. Similar to the top, we wanted legs with interesting details. The knots here don’t have much of an effect on the strength of the table, but they make the legs far more interesting to look at and give it a tactile feel. Here’s some progress shots just before glue up matching the boards together, and then after the hanger bolts were installed.

Finish

The table is finished with an amber shellac. Shellac should probably never be used for the top of a table. It’s not terribly durable and can dissolve in alcohol. At a minimum if you want to use shellac you should do a final coat of wax. Again though, it’s perfect for this: provides a nice finish that will degrade over time as people use it.

Here’s a before picture alongside a detail shot of it after the shellac was applied:

Conclusion

This was a really fun project! I can’t wait to check back in on the table in a year or two or ten to see what has happened with it. Woodworkers can often get obsessed with making our pieces as permanently perfect as possible. It was a refreshing challenge to make something that was intended to be used and show its scars proudly.

If you’re interested in collaborating on a project, or commissioning a table like this of your own, please reach out!

Tiny candle holders

This past week at the farmer’s market Cobblestone Farm was teaching kids traditional candle making. My daughter happily jumped in line and made two candles. Today I put together a few candle holders out of scrap wood in the shop:

Walnut and Cherry from Urbanwood.

Kitchen Shelves

Our kitchen peninsula was in dire need of some organization. We also had a blank wall directly above it so…shelves!

All of the wood for this project came from Workantile’s storage room: pine slats from someone’s old ikea bed and shelves made from the Baltic birch plywood from an old phone booth project. The screws and edge banding from Home Depot.

I made the shelf supports out of pine based on a google image search for DIY shelf supports. The hardest part was figuring out the order in which to attach everything together to have room to screw things in. For the supports I had to attach the bottom of the angled support to the “L” and rotate it out of the way. Then mount the “L”, then rotate the angled support into place and screw it in that way. There are better ways to do this, but it went pretty quickly.

Finished with shellac and wax. I really like this finishing technique because it looks good and requires minimal drying time.

Installed with much mumbling and annoyance.

Remote Caddy

Made a little caddy for our remotes. The hope is this cuts down on the number of times we have to ask where the Roku remote went.

Mitered the edges and reinforced with splines for rigidity and class.

Pine reclaimed from the Workantile storage room and walnut from Urbanwood. Finished with shellac.

Try Square

Made a try square based on plans from Rex Kruger. Shockingly, it’s pretty and pretty square!

Walnut and cherry from Urbanwood. Aluminum rod for the pins from Home Depot, who looked at me like I was off my rocker for wanting brass rod. Epoxy to hold in the pins. Finished with shellac.