Monday, December 7, 2015


I have been busy but my latest video isn't working on my computer so you're stuck with blog posts until I can get the video onto YouTube. I have a few projects I can't show just yet as well but I did finish a project that I was asked to make. It's two reindeer for Christmas decorations.

I was given the plans a while ago but couldn't work them in until just recently. There wasn't a set date but I knew I wanted them finished before December because obviously they would be on display for Christmas and most people start decorating after Thanksgiving, which was the first due date I set for myself but it got closer and I knew I wasn't going to hit that date and had to settle for December.

I used transfer paper provided with the plans to draw out one piece of every part on 1/2" plywood then rough cut them with a jigsaw. I was then able to cut closer to the line with less chip out on the scroll saw for most of the pieces. There were a few spots on the bodies that were just too big and ended up hitting the scroll saw, stopping any progress. For those parts I used a file and sandpaper to shape them. After that I sanded all the edges right to the line. I then very roughly cut any additional parts that had multiples of the same pieces, like the legs, and used a pattern bit in my router to copy the shape from a piece that I had already completely finished shaping . After every piece was cut out there was a ton of finish sanding to do. Lastly three coats of exterior white paint on every side of each piece. There's no finish besides paint so that over the years the reindeer can be easily touched up if any damage or wear occurs.

Here they are all laid out ready for paint which I applied with a roller for most parts and a smaller paint brush on the edges.

I took a picture in my house before I delivered them. Cali seems to like to photo bomb the lower left of my pictures without me noticing.

And here they are on display looking so much better among the greenery and other Christmas decor. (Cali didn't manage to make it into this one which would have been a huge surprise to me as this isn't our house.)

Saturday, October 3, 2015

Frozen Peg People

 My niece's second birthday is coming up. I had zero cash to spend and a mix of illness and depression/anxiety flare up over the last week or so left me with one day to come up with a present.  Would it be fine to show up without a present? Absolutely. Does making something help me get out of my funk? Absolutely. So I decided I had to make her a present. I knew I had some peg people left over from the nativity project, but I didn't know how many.  I also knew my niece has a borderline unhealthy obsession with Frozen, particularly Olaf (who she refers to as Ro-Ro) and Anna. Upon looking through my stash I found exactly three remaining peg people.

At first I thought okay I'll make Anna, Elsa, and Olaf. I didn't want to just make three though and because Olaf is a different size/shape, I knew I could get away with making him. Then I found the same wooden balls from my grandma's stash that I used on the animals in the nativity and I knew I could use that for Sven. The peg people could now become Anna, Elsa, and Christoph. Now all I had to do was figure out how to make Olaf. In the same grandma stash there are a ton of these coat hanger peg things because she liked to make personalized shelf/hooks for us.

I was able to cut up two of these pegs and sand them to create Olaf's shape, ultimately making him a legitimate "peg" person as well. Sanding one side of a wooden ball gave a base for Sven to sit on as well.

Then I just painted them accordingly. I also painted a snowflake on a little box I had in which to store these guys. Everything got a coating of shellac and they are ready to go. Now because my niece is only two she still has a tendency to put things in her mouth, mostly only because you just told her not to, so allowing her to have these will be up to her mother. If her mother decides she's not ready for them, then we won't dare show them to her and they can just be kept until she is old enough. She may not put them in her mouth though as Frozen characters are held to a higher standard in her mind. If she is allowed to play with them, she will always be under adult supervision and they will be stored out of her reach when not in use.

Friday, September 11, 2015

Rocking Chair Re-do

My sister got this rocking chair at a yard sale for two bucks.

Some kind of small animal had chewed on it and it was pretty wobbly, not to mention the horribly dated paint job. It needed a new life. The existing paint was sound so I could have just painted over it but the turned parts were weirdly rippled. I think it may have been handmade due to the ripples, odd joinery, and some asymmetry in the chair.  I sanded most of  it to be smoother to the touch and look a bit better and filled in some of the bite marks with Spackle. I also filled the joints with glue to stabilize it a bit, but due to nails I couldn't add dowels through the joints like I wanted to make it super stable. It sat like that for awhile until I needed to spray paint a part of another project I'm currently working on, so I figured I'd finish the chair while I was at it.  I sprayed it with the paint my sister gave me. 

Now it's a bit less wobbly and a whole lot prettier. The color is more of a buttery white but it didn't show up well in the photo. This chair is headed for the little heinie of my youngest niece.

Wednesday, September 2, 2015

Shop Improvements

I have a new project coming up (you're gonna love it) and in order to build it to the best of my abilities I needed a few shop improvements. The first item I made was a zero clearance insert plate for the table saw. The insert that came with the saw has a gap around the area where the saw blade protrudes. Usually this works just fine but for smaller pieces this means the piece can fall through that gap, dangerously get stuck, or have little support under it as it passes over the gap. The first picture shows the insert that came with the blade and the next two are the zero clearance insert that I made.


I also needed a jointer. For those who don't know, a jointer flattens the edges of a boards so that they can be edge glued together and not have any gaps. If one edge of a board isn't exactly flat, when you run it through the table saw against the fence any bumps or gaps translate from the fence to the side being cut and you'll end up with the same wavy edge on both sides. Jointers can cost hundreds of dollars up to the thousands of dollars and if something for the shop costs more than five bucks, I'm not in a position to buy it. So I made a jointer jig. One side of the jig has a perfectly flat edge (that's the side that runs along the fence) and I can then put a board in this jig and clamp it in place. The flat edge of the jig will give the edge of board running through the saw a flat edge.

The jig. I wanted bigger clamps but ordered the wrong size. They work for now.

Board clamped into the jig. The right side of the board may look straight but it's not

 After running the board through the saw.

 When one edge is flat and straight I can take it out of the jig and run that side along the fence so the other side is flat, straight, and parallel to the first side.

Last but not least I needed a router table. When I bought my table saw a big part of the value of the saw was the empty section of table that can be filled with any sort of addition you like. I knew I was going to turn mine into a router table so I could use the table saw fence as part of the router table fence. 

Here you can see the table saw with the router addition on the right hand side.

 A close up of the router table addition.

 This is the router table fence I built with adjustable front. It has a 4" hose flange on top so I can hook it up to a dust collector once I get one.

 Here you can see the awesome fence clamps from Rockler that enable the router fence to attach to the table saw fence, keeping it square and firmly in place.

 A close up of the adjustable front of the fence.

 Here you can see the knobs that allow the front of the fence to slide allowing support as close as you can get to bits of all sizes. 

Sunday, August 30, 2015

My Two Cents

I thought I'd give a little advice for any weekend warriors out there, or anyone who doesn't frequent the home improvement stores as much as I do, but still builds things once in a while. Sometimes these big stores can be a little intimidating, especially to people like me who have social anxiety and shopping anywhere is a big ordeal. I do end up in Lowe's or Home Depot a lot though, do to the nature of what I do. I have a Lowe's, Home Depot, and OSH all within five minutes of my home. 

First off just let me start by saying, don't ask the employees for help finding something unless you're looking for a well known item and you don't want to search the whole store. Mostly, in my case though, they have no idea what the item is that I'm asking about. I then have to order it from Amazon, Rockler, or Woodcraft (I wish I had a Rockler or Woodcraft nearby).  But whatever you do, don't ask the employees for advice. Usually they won't have any knowledge in the first place and on a lot of occasions when they don't know what they are talking about they'll advise you anyway. This results in you buying something that you later find out won't work for your project. I've never actually bought the wrong thing from their advice because I knew it was wrong but I've heard more than once from somebody where they did end up at home to find they'd have to return the product. If they approach you, proceed as Ron Swanson would.

That being said, here's the good stuff. If you are buying dimensional lumber such as 2x4's or 1x6's go to Lowe's. They generally have a better selection and better price. At my Lowe's they also line up their big lumber carts in the lumber section so it's really easy to grab one without having to push the awkward things from outside and all through the store. I recently just got some nice and straight pine there with some pretty nice figuring on it, which is weird for pine in the first place.

If you need plywood or paint then Home Depot is your choice. For some reason they have a better selection of plywood .They also carry Purebond formaldehyde free plywood. At my Home Depot you have to hunt down a cart before you enter so keep that in mind. As far as paint goes I've used both Valspar from Lowe's and Behr from Home Depot. For walls I always get paint with primer added, it's a must in my opinion as it covers better, saving time and money. Behr paint however, is my paint of choice. It covers well and matches a lot of builder grade colors that may already be in your home. Valspar covers okay but the sheen of the paint is a bit off. Semi gloss is a bit too flat and it continues through the sheens so you have to buy the next sheen up to get your desired results if that makes sense.

For either store when you are buying lumber head to the checkout in the lumber section. It's wide open so you never have to worry about your lumber hitting anyone and makes it easy to maneuver the cart, especially with large loads. You can also move your car to the loading area and go out the big doors making your experience even easier. Although, I've never move to the loading section because I can usually find a parking spot right outside the lumber area doors. If you need your plywood cut down, it's a lot easier to have them do it in the store. They usually say they charge after 2 cuts. I've never had to pay for extra cuts but I haven't gone over 4 cuts either. The cuts are usually pretty accurate but cutting it a little oversized is always a good idea. Once the plywood is cut I can usually fit it in my Honda Element and don't have to worry about someone helping me tie it to the roof rack. And just for good measure I'll say cut one more time.

For the rest of the items at these stores, It all seems pretty comparable to me. I've saved money on different things at each store over the other so you just have to do your research on most everything else. I don't go to OSH much just because it's a bit small and the chances of getting what I want are better at a bigger store. That being said though I do check out OSH if I can't find what I want at the other two and I was able to get what I need a few times. My OSH is also right next to Harbor Freight and In N Out, two places I love, so I'll stop in if I'm there in the first place. I hope someone finds this useful and let me know if you have any info you would think I should hear.

Thursday, August 20, 2015


My husband brought home three paintings from his mission trip to Thailand. He brought them back in tubes so he asked me to frame them. One of the paintings was meant for his grandma and I chose to work on that one first as I haven't made anything for her yet that I can remember. I started by making a frame that the canvas could be stapled to. I just ripped a 2x2 in half then ripped each half again so I had four long pieces. After I had stapled the painting to this frame I realized it was off to the side just a tiny bit (which you can see in the picture) but figured the frame would cover it so it didn't matter. My husband saw it at this point and said that's all he wanted but I already had my mind set on making a frame because: a) I wanted to try my hand at making it and the process seemed interesting, b) I didn't think his grandma would like to hang the painting without a frame, and c) the size of the painting wasn't standard so if she did want to frame it she'd have to have it custom framed which can be expensive.

This went fairly well so I went about making the outside frame. I found one I wanted to try made by Steve Ramsey that used a router which you can see here: Steve Ramsey's picture frame video. I changed the process a little because I didn't have my router table built yet and so for some steps it was just easier to use the table saw. It came out okay but I had quite a bit of trouble with this frame. It would have gone much smoother if this were a smaller frame, but I used 2x4's as my rough stock and cut them to the final dimensions I needed for the picture. My struggle started when I couldn't get the bow out of one of the boards. I noticed it when I was cutting it but didn't even think about how that was going to make it so the frame wouldn't lie flat because I was cutting it up into the four sides of the frame anyway. I only realized I used that piece for one of the long sides after I glued it up. I tried to wet the offending board and clamp it flat over night but I didn't have high hopes for this because the piece down the middle is glued into the frame and so the bow was pretty much glued into place. I'll still give it to my husbands grandma but I don't know how nice it's going to look hanging on the wall. I also found that the white part showing on the painting was still showing a little inside the frame so I took all the staples out and re-stapled it. All in all I learned a lot from the process and also tried out a new to me wood putty by Minwax that matches the stain you are using and I really like the result of it, so the whole thing was a good learning experience.


Thursday, August 13, 2015

Throwback Thursday 4

This throwback is another high school wood shop project. If you've ever taken wood shop in high school and then graduated and had to go back to the small pile of tools that you actually own, you'll probably feel the tug of sadness that comes from thinking back to all the awesome machines and tools you used to have access to. That's how I feel when I write these throwback Thursday posts. I've got a lot more tools than I started with, but that shop, it was amazing. This was a project my grandma asked for. It's a vegetable bin or holder. Her kitchen was decorated in apples so I found some apple knobs for it. I learned a lot making this piece especially the top door because it had complex angles on it the result of which I wasn't too happy with. I also learned that I was barely strong enough to work a biscuit joiner, but I got it done. You can see on the bottom the finish that's been removed from my grandma mopping the floors. I also believe my grandpa put in the two lower drawer hinges and added the wire mesh fronts for me. It now lives at my mom's house who took over the apple theme so it seems to fit in nicely. And for all you OCD people out there avert your eyes now and don't look at that last little knob trying to stand out amongst all the other knobs.

Friday, July 31, 2015

Porch Swing (kind of)

Yes I built a beautiful porch swing... well I built this bird sized porch swing for my mother-in-law. I don't think I've made her anything yet so I wanted to find something. I looked at bird feeders because she always seems to have a bunch at her house and likes feeding them. I remembered Steve Ramsey's porch swing bird feeder that he built and decided on that project. I believe he got the idea from Matt McDowell. I finally got to use some of the oak pallet boards I've been saving which made it pretty sturdy with mostly just glue to hold it together. I didn't do any sanding and tried to keep the burn marks from the table saw on the back of the feeder. I also kept as many weathered edges as I could. I finished it with spray lacquer which is safe for the birds. My mother-in-law is going to attach the chains as I didn't have any and I didn't really know where or how high she'd want to hang it. There's a screen sandwiched on the bottom to keep the seeds as dry as possible which is probably a non issue here in California.

Saturday, July 25, 2015

Minecraft Torch

Cousin Camp 2015 is quickly approaching and it's gonna be Minecraft themed. All the kids and myself are really into Minecraft right now and I knew I had to make some kind of torch since it's in the game and basically a flashlight. I just cut some pieces of 1.5" square wood at 7.5". I painted them to look like torches from the game (which was no easy task since I'm making six). I cut a hole down in the top to fit a small flashlight in then trimmed a quarter inch off the top and replaced it with a quarter inch piece of plywood that has a hole just a little smaller than the flashlight. I screwed the plywood on top to hold the flashlight in and you just push on the flashlight to turn it off and on.

Thursday, June 25, 2015

Throwback Thursday 3

Say that five times fast. This quilt rack was another high school wood shop project. I made it for my grandparents for Christmas. My grandma made quilts. She made my husband and I one when we got married, as she did when all her grandchildren were married. When she passed away, the quilt rack and another project I had done for her came back to live with me. I used to keep the quilt she made on the rack so nothing would happen to it but it was suggested to me that it was meant to be used. Now we keep the quilt on the couch and it's always being used to snuggle in and keep warm. 

The plaque reads "Made Especially For Grandma & Grandpa Christmas 2002 From Jaime"

Thursday, June 18, 2015

Throwback Thursday 2

It's 102 degrees today and even hotter in my garage/shop, so I'll be on a little hiatus as far as working on projects that require the shop. I used to have a better tolerance for the heat but I just end up feeling sick anymore so I'm working on a fun project indoors for now. I'll post that project when it's closer to being finished but for now I'll just show you a project from high school. This is the first project we had to complete in shop class before you could work on a project of your choosing. I decided to give it to my older sister and for the last couple of years she used it in her bathroom. The years of humidity from the bathroom took its toll on the finish and when she moved she asked if I wanted to use it in the shop now. I thought that was a good idea because you can never have enough storage in the shop. It's hard to judge the scale in the pictures but it's about two feet tall. I have a few other projects from my wood shop days and I may post them during my break if I can track them down.

Sunday, June 7, 2015


My church approached me to build them four pallet style backdrops. I thought this time I would try making a video of it instead of just pictures. It's a bit long but I have to use the movie editor that came with my computer so I did the best I could with a crappy program. Here's a pic of one of the backdrops. This project took at least a month and a half for me to finish. I find I can only work for a few hours in the morning before I'm completely exhausted.

Here's a link to the backdrop video

Saturday, May 23, 2015

Wooden U Sign

I finally got around to making a sign and therefore having a better picture for this blog, as well as all other Wooden U related stuff. I had two wood saw cutouts from my grandma's collection of wooden shapes and projects. I copied the font onto the cutout and burned it into the wood. I burned the edges of the cutout as well.

Wednesday, May 13, 2015

Game of Thrones Necklace

It's been awhile because I've been working on a larger project but I just got my new woodburner in the mail and had to try it out. I cut out a little moon shape with scallops along the outside edge because I wanted to make it look like a piece of live edge wood. Then I drilled a hole in the top so it can be worn as a necklace.

I burned the outside edge and a little on the faces to give it the look of bark.

I could have stopped there but I added the phrase "moon of my life" for all the Game of Throne fans out there. This will probably go to my sister as I don't wear necklaces much. I should have eaten something before starting this because I was really shaky. The words aren't perfect but I just wanted to try it out. The smell took me right back to when I was little and got a woodburner for Christmas so this was a fun little project.

Monday, April 27, 2015

Emily's Toolbox

My niece's birthday is in a few days, we actually almost share a birthday, but I gave her, her present already. She plays with my son's toolbox when she's at our house and she's done a few things in the shop with me so I decided to make her a toolbox too. She's slightly girly so I found a design on Pinterest that had a little frill to it. It uses base and crown molding for the sides and I painted it to try and match her favorite color. I put her name on it using a sharpie but it didn't go onto the spray paint too well so I put a clear coat on the whole thing hoping the name won't wear off.

Thursday, April 23, 2015

Pallet Dog Bed

This is my shadow.

Her name is Cali. She goes where I go, so when I'm in the shop she is too. She's got all kinds of health issues and one stems from laying on the cement in the garage, which gives her the equivalent of water on the knee only it's her elbow. She has a "bed" out there (an old comforter) but it continues to get covered with things and she can't use it. I had pallets to use up so I decided to throw together a raised bed that will keep stuff from getting thrown on it. I don't know if she'll use it because she doesn't really like climbing up on stuff but it's worth a shot to keep her from laying on the hard ground and swelling her elbow.

Here's the very crude bed. Sorry again for blurry pictures. I'm still terrible at photography.

And here it is with an old rug over the pallets and her comforter on top.