Because I would rather spend months making it instead of a few dollars paying for it.
chess light

The years 2020 and 2021 will always be remembered as the year we lived through the COVID-19 pandemic. I am grateful it won’t be the only memory about these years. With the extra time on my hands due to social distancing and my daughter’s new found interest in chess, I made this chess set. To some, it might look kind of strange. The design is by Lanier Graham. You can search The Internet for "Lanier Graham chess set".

chess dark
chess box

As you can tell from all the other projects I have made, I don’t like wood turning. I wanted to make the pieces and box using only hand tools. With these two parameters in mind the Lanier Graham design seemed the perfect fit.

First I made the chess pieces and then the box. At first my daughter was excited that I was making a new chess set because our old set only had one queen and she wanted a set with extra queens so she could properly promote her pawn. I can’t describe how disappointed she was when I explained that an extra queen would not fit in the box.

Later as I was making the box I realized the lid would slide off without a locking mechanism. That is when I realized two queens could act as a locking mechanism.

And now onto the chessboard!!

The disapointment of a child can inspire some great creativity.
junior whiteboard

This is the sibling of the whiteboard that you can see lower down. Its a sibling in that it was made from the same 4 foot by 8 foot sheet of washboard. This one is much nicer in that I used solid pine mouldings to frame the whole thing and make it stury while minimizing the weight added to the whiteboard.

I sold it for enough to break even on the raw materials for two whiteboards. My labour was free of charge. The customer is a colleauge of mine who is doing his master’s degree. He needs a whiteboard at home. Mine was lighter and far cheaper than a normal commercially available one, so we both win. This marks a milestone in that it is my first comissioned work. I got paid!!

Sometimes people will pay for the things you make.
play blocks

When you make something, there are no words to describe the feeling when someone uses it. Perhaps the closest word would be pride, but that has too many negative connotations. That emotion is magnified when its a toy and the person playing with it is your own child.

I made these for my daughter. They are simple 1.5 x 1.5 x 1.5 inch blocks that were soaked in food colouring and then finished with beeswax. Super simple. I’m not ashamed to say that the hardest part of this project was sanding.

It is not the achievement of technical sophistication that brings the satisfaction of making things.
sofa table

This is a live edge sofa table. The top was a piece of wood I got from The Timeless Materials Company in Waterloo,Ontario. That piece was finished with polyurethane while the rest of it is left unfinished. In my opinion, the finish and lack thereof is a great contrast. The live edge and unfinished parts both add to the rustic feel of the piece.

This took months of on and off work. For a while, I thought this would never actually get done.

When putting off work for a really long time, be sure to properly store your wood or else it will warp if you just leave it leaning against a wall in the basement.
elder whiteboard

This is my implementation for a whiteboard that I use while standing around day dreaming. Its basic and functional but not very pretty. Its made out of part of a 4 foot by 8 foot washboard, some wood, two hinges and few screws that I had lying around. If you look really closely, you can even see the screw heads where the screws go through the washboard. No, its not something I’d buy in a store, but its good enough for my day dreams.

Whiteboards retail for hundreds of dollars. A 4 foot by 8 foot washboard retails for about $30 and if you’re nice, the folks at your local big box chain will even cut it to whatever size you want. Its so big, that you could probably get 2 nice whiteboards out of it. I did! With a bit of skill and an electric screwdriver and about 20 dollars worth of wood and hardware, you can have 2 massive whiteboards!

Update: This is now broken and sits in my workplace as a potential death trap for anyone that tries to steal it.

A DIY whiteboard is a real money saver.
entry bench

No, I did not make a pair of high heeled ladies shoes. I made the bench. That bench was my first real woodworking project. It started with some pine 2x6s, a couple of months of problem solving and ended with ebony black stain, polyurethane and a new appreciation for the art of making stuff with wood.

MinWax Ebony Stain on pine looks GREAT!!
2x6 does NOT mean 2 inches by 6 inches.

This is small project I made. I got the idea from Roy Underhill’s The Woodwright’s Shop website. It contains the design for this piece as well as an episode where you can watch him make it. You really do need to make one of these if you’re a guy and going to be doing any woodworking. Let me explain.

Woodworking makes your hands dry. Really dry. We’re talking cracks and crevices in the skin of your hands that make the Grand Canyon look tropical. So you need to moisturise.

The first time I noticed, I was watching TV. I went to the bathroom and just reached for my wife’s hand cream. The next time I needed it, I was at my work bench, sawing away, cross cutting a massive piece of wood like a real man. The smell of roses from my wife’s hand cream deflated that manly feeling quickly.

Rubbing your hands with an odourless balm that came from a small wooden container that you made yourself preserves that feeling of masculinity that woodworking brings. Its a pretty cool feeling. I like it. I also like playing with the locking mechanism.


I don’t really play with toys. But I do find burrs interesting. I made this 6 peice burr for fun. Its not of a particular high quality of workmanship, but it was one of my earliest creations. Originally, I wanted to start woodworking to make interesting puzzles. Since then, I’ve discovered that I don’t really have the skills to make these precission peices with hand tools. It ends up being a good thing because it means I can practice by making other cool stuff.

Update: My wife told me the peices were too tight so I tried to make adjustments. Unfortunaely, the pieces are too loose now.

Having lofty goals means an interesting journey to achieve them.