Making a Nesting Box

I had some reclaimed barn wood flooring lying around in my shop for a few months that I wanted to get rid of. I originally bought the lumber to use for a farm table, but I decided the wood was too thin to use for the top so, I decided to make a 3′ long nesting box out of it.


I used my Stanley No 8 jointer to plane the edges square and straight so they could be glued together.


After I planed the edges true, I glued the pieces together to make the nesting box wider. I didn’t bother planing or sanding the sides as I wanted the box to have a rustic look.


I cut the top sides of the box to an angle of 14″ which is the total width of my leftover pieces. I then nailed the sides to the bottom with my 15 gauge pneumatic nail gun.


Next I installed the front rails to the box simply nailing it on. I didn’t even use glue as I really don’t care.


No fancy dados to fit the inside walls to the box. I simply toe nailed the wood to the bottom of the shelf.


The finished nesting box came out well. Looks old and rustic which should appeal to the shabby chic crowd out there for design purposes.


These things are so easy to build that I built another one an hour later. No real milling of lumber, no sanding, no gluing. Just cut and nail. Definitely an entry-level woodworking project. I’m just glad I have $50k in woodworking tools to build them. haha





Repairing the Foot of a Walnut Table

A few weeks ago, my wife and I, were visiting thrift shops in Cincinnati when we ran across a round walnut table for $20.00 at Goodwill. There was nothing special about it. It had a dull flat finish and was missing the extension wings that go in the middle. It even had two feet that were broken. Anita asked me if I could remake them and I told her I could, so we took it home.


In order to fix the feet, I grabbed some scrap walnut and glued pieces to them to re-sculpt the feet.


Once the glue dried, I cut the arch of the foot with my band saw, then I sawed off the sides with a hand saw.


Next, I stuck the leg on the lathe and turned the pad of the foot.


I then brought the foot over to my workbench and carved the rest of the foot by hand using chisels and rasps.


After shaping the foot was complete, I started to sand the leg with 80 grit sand paper working down to 220 grit.


With the foot finished, I was happy with the way it turned out as it matched the other two. I then repeated the same steps for the other broken foot.


Noticing the top was solid walnut, I decided to sand off the dull stained finish. You can see how bland the table was when we bought it.


A few minutes of sanding, the table was really starting to shine again.


After applying three coats of hemp oil, you can see how the table has been brought back to life having much more character between the sap and heart wood of the walnut. Looks much nicer than the boring spray toner stain that was on it before. This piece will be a nice addition in my wife’s booth as a display table.


Whiskey Barrel Coffee Table

My cousin had been asking me to make a whiskey barrel coffee table for her for over a year. I put it off for months because I didn’t know where to buy a whiskey or wine barrel until I ran across a guy on Craigslist who sells them out of his house. Even better, he sells half barrels which was perfect for me as I really didn’t feel like cutting a barrel in half.


When I got the barrel home, I let it acclimate in my shop for a few weeks. As the barrel dried out, the staves started to fall apart, so I clamped them together using band clamps until I was able to screw fasteners into each stave to hold it in place. While the band clamps were holding the whole barrel together, I laid it on top of white oak boards I bought at a sawmill to see how big I wanted to make the top of the coffee table.


To keep the barrel together, I screwed hex bolts through the bands into the wood to hold each stave in place. I also leveled the top of the barrel by sanding the edges straight with my belt sander. The barrel came with a stand for it to be used as an outside planter which was helpful in holding it in place while I worked on it.


My wife didn’t like the look of the hex bolts I used so, I replaced them with #14 stainless steel pan head screws. She was right, the pan head screws look much nicer.


I designed the shape of the legs by using the stand that came with the barrel to shape the curves. Each leg had an angle to the top that fit the angle of the barrel as it laid flat. I chamfered the edges of the feet to mimic the chamfers on the top and bottom of the barrel.


You can see how I used the compass to figure out the gap that I needed to shave off the other side of the leg in order for the barrel to fit tight.


Once I was happy with the legs, I focused on the frame of the barrel. I traced the shape of the barrel onto a piece of wood and cut it out on my band saw. I then trimmed the end of the sides 90 degrees to the edge and double-stick taped it to the other side. This allowed me to clamp the whole frame while it was screwed and glued together.


After carefully measuring all the pieces, I test fitted the frame together to make sure it would fit nicely on top of the barrel.


I was more aggressive with the clamps when it came time for the actual glue up. I let this set in place for 24 hours.


As the base was setting up, I turned my attention to the top. I glued up several white oak boards together and flattened them with my hand planes because the panel was too wide to fit through planer.


I wanted the top to have a bread board edge so I plowed a groove into the ends that was the same width as my 3/8″ mortising chisel. I would later chop three mortises into the groove to fit tenons I would make.


To make the tenons, I used both power and hand tools to get the job done. I routed most of the material away with my plunge router, then finalized the fit with my Stanley No 10 1/2 rabbet plane.


I made sure the panel would fit into to the groove before I cut the tenons


Cutting out the tenons, I drilled holes through the middle for pins. The middle hole I left round while the tenons on the outside I elongated for the expansion and contraction of the wood.


Once the joints fit well, I drove pins into the holes and added a dab of glue so the pins wouldn’t fall out.


I shaped the sides of the top to match the curve of the barrel and lightly rounded over the sides with my hollow molding plane.


The final shape of the coffee table top came out nicely. Now I needed to find away to attach it to the frame.


After days of pondering, I decided to attach hinges to the top so that the lid could open and close. The inside of the barrel was charred from the brewing of the whiskey so, it’s not very useful as it will leave ash on your finger if you touch it, but I thought it was cool enough to show off. I clamped my level to the middle of the frame to determine where in proximity the hinges would need to be installed.


Because the lid overhangs the side by an inch, the barrel of the hinges lay underneath the top when closed. I had to rout out a recess on the underneath of the lid so the top could properly close.


Even with all my calculating, I ran into a problem. The top would hit the middle of the barrel when I tried opening it. I had to route a recess in the middle of the lid so that there would be enough room for the lid to open. It took several hours of trial and error to make it work, but I finally made it work.


Once everything worked, I sanded the entire coffee table to 220 grit sand paper and applied a weathered wood enhancer to blend the old barrel to the new white oak. This turned the coffee table a bit purplish gray.


Next, I stained it Minwax Espresso stain and applied three coats of water based polyurethane for a protective finish. I think the coffee table turned out really nice. Luckily, my work has me going to Detroit next week, so I can deliver the coffee table to my cousin.



Wood Movement

Over the past few months, I’ve been making these Ohio signs and selling them in my wife’s booth. They’re a simple thing to make. Just cut the wood in the shape of Ohio, then glue and staple the pieces to a plywood back. Originally I used old pallet wood to make the signs, but the past few batches I made them with old fence boards.


Last week, when I was helping my wife move things around in her booth, she told me that some of the signs had warped. Worried, I grabbed a few of the signs to look at them. Because we had such a hard cold spell, the antique store was kicking up heat to stay warm. Apparently, the dry heat sucked all the moisture from the signs making them bend up. Even the top of an old bench my wife was selling warped.


When examining the sign, I realized I made two rookie mistakes. The first mistake I made was that I painted the wrong side of the fence board. I should have fastened the wood crown-down so that the board wouldn’t warp upward. The second mistake I made was that when I fastened the boards on the plywood, I spread glue all over the plywood back making the wood unable to expand and contract. Embarrassing to admit I know. When I first made these signs, I made them from old pallet wood that was a lot narrower than the wide fence board I used here. I thought my wood was dry enough to make them in the same process, but I was sorely mistaken.


Wanting to fix the sign, I ripped apart the plywood back and removed all the staples from the wood.


After cleaning the back of the pieces, I saw how the widest board on the sign was warping in conjunction with the others.


I decided to shave off the high spot in the middle with my scrub plane so the warping wouldn’t be as noticeable when I remade the sign.


Then, instead of spreading glue all over the plywood back, I laid a bead of glue down the center of each piece of wood so the wood could move. I then attached the plywood back to the pieces with 1/4″ crown 5/8″ long staples.


With everything back together, I was happy how the sign laid flat again. I really don’t mind if the boards warp a little bit. After all, the sign is supposed to look old and rustic. I just don’t want the whole thing to curl.


It’s Back

Last month I was fortunate enough to sell my massive Langdon Mitre Box and Disston Saw on eBay after it was listed on the site for over a year.


Just a few weeks before, an article I wrote for The Gristmill, a publication of the Mid-West Tool Collectors Association, was published in their December 2017 issue where I discussed the origin of the tool.  A few years back, a member of the MWTCA wrote about the Disston saw, but couldn’t determine if there was ever a miter box that went with it. My article cleared up the controversy. Apparently the guy who bought the miter box from me on eBay, read my article and made me an offer for it. Deciding I had no real need for the tool, I accepted his offer.


I went to u-haul to buy a box, wrapped the miter box and saw in bubble wrap, and carefully packaged both into the shipping box. I took it to UPS and paid for shipping and insurance which cost me $60.00. The girl at the counter told me that UPS insurance only covers damage in shipping if UPS packed the item. Going against my better judgment, I went ahead and bought their insurance anyway since I was the one who packed the tool. In hind sight, I should have just walked out the door and went to USPS to ship it to the buyer.

Sure enough a few days later, the buyer contacted me saying that the bottom foot cracked in half during shipping and he wanted to return the tool. I told him to send it back and I’d give him his money back, which he did. When it arrived back to me, the bottom cast iron foot was indeed broken in half. I took some epoxy and glued it back together just so I wouldn’t lose the piece, but the foot is now useless.


The other foot was already broken before I bought the miter box which leaves me with the dilemma; do I try to fix the feet or just leave it be? If I try to fix them, how do I do it? I assume I could make a sand casting of the foot and make two identical feet from the casting, installing them back onto the miter box but, I don’t know how to make a casting as I’ve never tried that before. Additionally, I really don’t want to pay someone to make them for me. Even if I did make new feet, they wouldn’t be original and may detract from the value of the tool. I think my best bet is to find another Langdon miter box for parts and take the feet off that one. They may work as long as the depth of the boxes are the same.


I wish I had this box to begin with. The buyer of the saw did a much better job shipping it back than I did shipping it out. He had a perfect fitting box with a bunch of packaging peanuts inside.


Even the saw was well packed up. I’m glad the saw was never damaged in the shipping as that is what has the most value. I thought about just selling the saw by itself, but I know that’s not the right thing to do as it really needs to be with the miter box it was created for. As far as I know, there are no other miter box and saw combo like this around as they are truly a one of a kind tool. What do I do?



Enlarging an Image

Over the past few months, I’ve been making and selling these Ohio signs in our booths in the antique malls we rent space in. They’re super simple to make. Just old scrap wood I have lying around, painted and stained to make it look like old barn wood. Then I cut the wood out from a pattern and attach the pieces to a plywood back.


They’ve been so popular, I decided to make a Kentucky one as well since Cincinnati is near the Kentucky border. The Ohio signs are about 15″ x 16″ so I knew I wanted the Kentucky one to be about 24″ long. The problem was that I didn’t have a map of Kentucky that was 24″ large. I decided to Google image a map of Kentucky and print it out on my printer. That left me with a map that was 10 1/2″ long, but I didn’t have a scaling ruler that would work for that size.


I decided to make a scaling ruler where 10 1/2″ equals 24″ in scale. I grabbed a piece of plywood and ran a line down the board 10 1/2″ wide. I then took my ruler and put the end of the ruler on the line and angled it so that the 12″ mark would be at the other end of the board. I then made a mark on every 1/2″ increment giving me 24 equal units for the 10 1/2″ length.


I then drew the lines down the board, grabbed a scrap stick and transferred those increments to the board creating my scaled ruler. The units didn’t have to be perfect. I was just trying to get an approximate measurement.


I then used that scaled ruler and marked lines on both the horizontal and vertical axis of the map creating a grid.


I then drew 1″ grids on the piece of plywood and drew the pattern of the map onto the wood carefully transferring the image of each little box to the corresponding box on the plywood. This is very similar to games I played as a kid where you would have to create a picture based off random shaded box patterns.


Once the pattern was transferred, I cut it out on the band saw. The template ended up being 24″ long by 12″ tall.


Here’s the finished Kentucky sign. I shared this image on Instagram and someone wants me to make him one. The work is already paying off. Merry Christmas!


A Once in a Lifetime Deal

Every few years I get a deal of a lifetime when buying tools. Many years ago, I bought my 15″ Powermatic planer from a company going out of business for $700. I bought my Contractor SawStop table saw from SawStop corporate through Pop Wood for $1000, and yesterday, I bought a six piece Porter Cable combo kit for $25.00.


As you may know, I’m a sales rep for Oldcastle selling patio block, mulch and soon composite decking to Lowe’s and Home Depot. While visiting one of my stores yesterday, I walked in the back of the store by receiving to talk to the RTM clerk to see if there were any credits I needed to give for broken patio block. While back there, I saw a Porter Cable tool bag full of tools lying on the floor and asked the RTM clerk what they were doing there. She told me that it was a return that the customer said the batteries wouldn’t hold a charge. Knowing that Lowe’s will take back anything no questions asked, the first thing that came to my mind was a customer buying a tool, using it to do a job, then returning it to get his money back.

She told me she had to get rid of it somehow and asked if I wanted to buy it, so I said “sure”. She asked what I would give for them so I told her $20.00. She then told me she would have to call the manager to see if that would be okay. I told her before I buy them, I wanted to make sure that my current batteries from my Porter Cable set would work on the tools. I’ve been using the same drill and jigsaw from the same set for a few years now, so I was hopeful my batteries would be compatible. I went to my car to grab my tool bag while she called the manager to make the deal happen. When I returned, she said “what about $25.00”. I said fine and hooked up my battery to the all the tools to make sure they all functioned. I took the bag of tools and walked up to customer service to buy them. I couldn’t believe it. I just bought a $300 combo set for $25.00. I didn’t care that the tools were a little beaten up and used. Almost all of my hand tools I buy are used. Many from a hundred years ago.


When I got home, I laid the tools on my bench to see what I got. A drill, an impact drill, a sawsall, circular saw, multi tool, flashlight, and a battery power checker with USB ports. I took the battery it came with and charged it up. It works perfectly.


Why the customer returned the tools is anybody’s guess. There is only one battery for the set, so it may be the guy wanted a free battery so he simply didn’t put the extra one back in the bag when he returned it. I don’t care. I’m just glad as hell I got the deal of the year. Happy Thanksgiving!