52 Create – More Rifle Stocks…

52 Create – my weekly creative output for 2011.  Ahhh, commissions…. You love them cause you get paid, but you also don’t necessarily get to do what you really want to do.  I’ve done a ton of rifle stocks (biathlon) this spring and summer, and the customers are happy with the results, but after a while you get a bit tired of the same old thing.  This bunch of stocks was for a club that runs programs for youth.  They had many old stocks that had dried out and cracked beyond repair (some were more glue than wood).

I offered to make them a bunch that would be more suited to the smaller stature of some of their younger athletes.  All of the hardware from the old broken stocks were switched over which was a blessing and a curse all at the same time.  While it was easier to use the old parts than to manufacture new ones, matching up the holes on the new stocks to fit with the old parts was often quite challenging.  Anyways, enough whining.  The stocks are made of maple and painted with an exterior grade paint.  I colour coded the cheek pieces in order to differentiate them from each other.  For next week, I can promise you, no more biathlon stocks…


My other 52 Create Projects.




52 Create – Chalkboards, Chalkboards, Chalkboards!

52 Create – my weekly creative output for 2011.  I made some chalkboards for my own wedding last summer, and I was recently commissioned to make a bunch of them for another wedding this summer.  These were to be decidedly more “rustic” in appearance and also cost was a factor for the client.  They are made from 1/4″ douglas fir plywood with a 1/4″ dowel out the back to support them.  They will be used for table numbers for the dinner. It was a fairly quick job and made me realize some of the benefits of organization when doing larger production runs (ie. 20 chalkboards – 2 didn’t work out…).

My other 52 Create Projects.






52 Create – VW Camper Van Toy Box

I am such a good parent…. First I make my daughter a Leica, and now a VW camper van.  Two things I’ve always wanted, yet no one has made for me!  This week’s instalment of 52 Create is a home made Volkswagen Camper Van toy box.  While the die hard VW fans will notice many historical inaccuracies (not enough windows for the paint design, but too many for the pop top, etc.) you can’t deny that this is pretty darn cool.

The box is made from mdf (1/2″), the 6″ wheels are meant for a lawnmower, and the top is a foam cushion wrapped in vinyl.  The paint was left over from various home renovations (yes I used that colour orange in my house, why not?), and the foam cushion was from a re-upholstered chair my wife and I did a few years back.  This project from start to finish took me an entire year, mainly because I cut the pieces and then left them in a pile in the workshop for about 11 months.  I was a bit disappointed with the paint job as the brushes were a bit too soft (mainly the black outline), and the vinyl wrap wasn’t as tight as I would have liked, however my daughter is happy and that’s all that counts right?

Other 52 Create projects

52 Create – Router Boxes

52 Create, my attempt to make one creative project per week for the entire year of 2011.  So far the bulk of the projects have been wooden, and this week certainly continues the trend.  I’ve never worked with Walnut before, but I saw this board lying against the wall at Black Forest, and I simply couldn’t resist taking it home.  I brought the 6 foot long 8 inch wide board to the cash and when the chatty owner asked what I was going to do with that great big slab, I replied with a perfectly straight face “salad tongs”…  Now honestly, I am planning on making some salad tongs at some point, and obviously there will be much wood left over for other projects, but I just couldn’t resist the joke.

Anyways, back to the project.  I made a square template out of some scrap 1/8″ plywood and used a router with a straight bit to cut the hollows of the two boxes.  I did this on the full board and then cut the outside shape afterwards as this seemed much simpler.  All sides were rounded with a 1/4″ round over bit.  The outsides were coated in shellac (roughly 2 lb. cut), and then I painted the insides bright yellow. Tops are made out of some scrap Maple I had lying around.

I was a little disappointed in the cut out.  I think it was a combination of a crappy router bit, which was also dull, and I may have tried to take too much wood off at each pass.  The inside was quite rough and I ended up having to use some filler (after lots of sanding).  I had always wanted to try the painted interior, but the only thick glossy and durable paint I could find was some no-name tremclad paint which took about 24 hrs to dry between coats.  Both boxes need 1-2 more coats of yellow, and there are a couple of places where I’d like to touch up the shellac.  A fun project, and the cutouts could really be just about any shape you could dream of.

My other 52 Create Projects.

Portable Chalk Boards

For the upcoming wedding we needed some way to tell everyone what the various hors-d’oeuvres and desserts were. We thought about printing them on tent cards using InDesign however this seemed a bit wasteful and only a one time use.  So with our love for Chalk boards we decided we’d just make a few mini chalk boards that we could use for the various wedding events and then we’d have them for future projects (might look nice in a bakery?).

I grabbed a sheet of Baltic Birch (1/2″) and cut out some 12×14″ rectangles with rounded corners. Took the router and rounded all the edges (this helps to stop the plywood from splintering).  A quick hinge on the back helped them stand upright, all that was left was a quick coat of chalk board paint.  I’ve always used roll-on paint, however the local hardware store was out and only had spray.  I thought this might give a really nice smooth finish, but after 3 coats it was not thick enough and you could even see the wood grain through it.  So I drove around town till I found a can of the roll on stuff. Two coats later and they were ready to go!  One of the nice things is they fold flat (ie flat pack), so they are easy to transport (and would be easy to make on a CNC…)

Mechanics Desk

I was in need of a new desk, one that not only was nice looking, but that also could store my flat bed scanner I use for scanning film.  My house is very dusty and so an enclosed cabinet seemed like a great idea!  After many different designs over the last few years, I was in the local hardware store when I saw 5 panel doors (wood) on sale for $35!  I came back the next day and picked one up, not sure exactly what I would do with it, but confident that I at least had gotten a great deal…


So the desk formed in my mind over the next couple of days.  I cut the door so that the top of the desk would be comprised of 3 panels. I was happy to find out it was indeed solid, and not a hollow-core door.  The top was then painted with gloss black paint (3 coats). Next I bought some plexi-glass, and cut it to fit exactly in the panels.  Unfortunately I couldn’t find plastic thick enough to be flush with the desk top, so I used a bunch of foreign coins I had lying around the house as spacers.  Under each piece of plexi glass I put some polaroids from our beloved SX-70.

I was having trouble deciding on a cabinet. I had a few designs when I stumbled upon a mechanics tool chest that was on sale, and was slightly dented (woohoo 10% extra off!).  I drilled a hole in the bottom for the scanner wires, and the top drawers hold random computer bits.  The whole unit was about 1cm lower than my speaker, so with a little piece of rubber I shimmed the desktop to be the same height on both sides.  The desk sits a bit high for my liking, but the convenience of using a speaker and a tool chest as legs can’t be beat!


Overall I’m very happy with this project. When I am done scanning, I simply close the door and presto, no dust!  At some point I may put legs on the desk and simply roll the scanner cabinet out when needed, but for now it adds some nice colour to my living room.  The whole thing cost about $145 ($35 door, $75 mechanics chest, $35 plexi-glass – although I have lots of this left).

Revamped Dresser

I was in the market for a dresser for the upcoming baby, but nothing was a nice as I’d like.  I’m a fan of repurposing old things and I hate to throw perfectly useable things away, so I went to Salvation Army and picked myself up a very beat-up wooden dresser for the lowly sum of $25 (the wood alone would cost me more).


Next it was off to the store to buy some paint, new wooden knobs, and of course a ton of wood filler.  I decided to paint it blue all over, while on the sides I painted some lady bugs with little dashed lines behind them.  The new wooden knobs I purchased were turned into lady bugs as well.  Finally, I put a strip of chalkboard paint on the front of each drawer so as to label what is inside.  As it’s done with chalk, the labels can easily be changed over the years.  I purposely made the chalkboard paint fairly rough looking.  Besides all of this cosmetic work, all the drawers needed the bottoms reattached, and many nicks and scratches had to be filled in the dresser.


I was almost done when I got the idea of doubling this as a change table.  The height was too much, so I cut off the bottom drawer – lowering the height by 6 inches.  This worked well as the bottom of dresser was very beat up and as much as I used the wood filler, it still didn’t look perfect.  The two knobs from the extra drawer were used on the side as hooks. As I assembled the final project, I realized that the paint on the drawers had made them slightly too big to fit in the dresser, so back to thetable saw and I trimed them all down 2-3mm.


I’m very happy with the final project, my only regrets are that I didn’t prime the wood first as some slight staining is coming through the paint.  It is a little annoying that this project (not including tools) cost me far more than the dresser, and quite close to the price of a new one at Ikea.  I wouldn’t have had the enjoyment and the knowledge of all the hard work I put into it, but it still frustrates me that objects these days can be so cheap, yet repairs are incredibly expensive. If we want to keep our landfills from over-flowing, we need to value repurposing old furniture and other objects!