Making a pencil holder from scraps of plywood

This week we get one of the girls back into the shop to make a pencil holder to organize her art supplies.  We started with a sketch and used scraps of plywood to bring it to life.

The supplies and tools we used are:

  • 3/4″ Plywood
  • Wood Glue
  • Table Saw
  • Band Saw
  • Router with roundover bit
  • Drill Press with hole saw and forstner bits
  • Sandpaper
  • Stain
  • Polyurethane

Checkout the below video to see how we did it.

Walking Dead Valentine’s Picture Frame

Here’s my entry to Shogun-Jimi’s Valentine’s Day Maker Challenge.

This year I decided to make something classy for my wife.  With the return of The Walking Dead falling so close to Valentines day we had zombies on the mind, so she was bound to get something fun.  Checkout what I put together below.

Valentine’s Day Maker Challenge Playlist:

Shogun-Jimi’s channel:

Whittling a dip pen from firewood

Here’s the pen I made for Bill Livolsi’s No Lathe Pen Challenge.  Since I wasn’t doing it the easy way I decided to go the basic route, a dip pen.  I started with a piece of oak firewood, cut a chunk out of it and whittles it into shape with a pocket carving knife.

No Lathe Pen Challenge:

No Lathe Pen Challenge Playlist:

Bill Livolsi’s Channel:

Flexcut Whittlin Jack pocket knife: (Associate Link)

Making a wood turned pen

Now that I’ve had the wood lathe for a few months and have made an unusually large number of pens during that time, I thought I’d breakdown how I make my pens.  It may not be the right way, it may not be the best way, it may not be your way, but it’s my way right now and that could change tomorrow if I find a better way.

We’ll start off with a video of the process.  Start here:

So, first things first.  You need wood.  You can buy a blank or do like I do and scrounge for it.  That scrounging comes in the form of firewood, logs, or cutting down that dead cherry tree in my back yard.  If you’re cutting your own wood you’ll need to let it dry too.

Next, take that blank and cut it to size.  That size depends on the pen kit you’re using.  What you cut the blank on depends on your equipment.  I cut my blanks on the table saw, but you can use a hand saw, band saw or a sharp rock if you’d like.  Just leave each piece a bit longer than the tubes.

After the blank is cut to size you need to drill the hole for the tube.  The hole is also dependent on the pen kit and size of the tube.  Take your time to make sure you drill this hole square down the center of the blank.  I’ve ruined a few blanks rushing through this step.

Now that you have a blank with holes in it, it’s time to glue the tubes in.  Start by scuffing the tubes with sandpaper and then glue them in using epoxy or CA glue.

With your tubes glued into your blank, you can now use a pen mill to trim and square the ends of your blanks to the tubes.  The wood should be flush with the tubes.

This is where the fun starts!  Chuck your blank onto the pen mandrel and start turning your pen.  Take your time here since it’s super hard to add wood back after you take it off.  When I turn the pen I’m shooting to have the ends flush with the pen hardware.  Once I have the shape I want I sand through 220, 320, and 400 grits before I apply a finish.

It’s time to make it shine!  I use a CA finish on my pens.  There are other options out there, but this is the only one I’ve tried so far.  I swap out my bushings for non-stick bushings, set the speed as low as I can on the lathe and apply 7 coats of CA.  My first coat is thin and the rest are medium.  I also use CA accelerator to speed up the curing time between coats.

We now have a good layer of CA on the pen that we can now polish up.  I use Micro Mesh polishing pads for this and go from their 600-12000 grit pads.  After I work through all of the grits I use Meguiars PlastX polish to buff the pen out.

With that shiny pen blank in hand, the last step is to assemble the pen.  For this follow the directions from your pen kit.  I use an arbor press for this step since we don’t have a pen press.  Be careful not to use too much force when pressing in the parts as you can easily crack the finish or separate it from the wood.

Making Personalized Pokemon Signs

I won’t claim to understand the Pokemon thing, but I do understand that our kids and their friends go nuts over them.  We thought it would be cool to make a little something for some great friends that are also Pokemon maniacs.  We wanted to do something unique that you can’t just go out and pickup at Target and decided to go the personalized route.

To get started we needed to find a good Pokemon font.  We found what we were looking for at

Next, we took a Pokemon card to Home Depot to match the colors.  We found some quarts of paint on clearance for $1.98 and had cans of blue and yellow mixed up.

Once we had the paint ready to go it was time to cut out the names.  We went with 1/2″ MDF because it’s easy to cut and it’s thick enough to give them dimension.  The thickness also lets them stand up on their own.  After using spay adhesive to apply the printouts of the names, we cut them on the band saw (you could use a jig saw or scroll saw if you have them).

After the names were cutout, we sanded all the edges, primed them, and painted the yellow base coat.  We then covered the letters with painters tape and used the original paper names to cutout the areas to be painted blue and then finished the paint job.

To see how we made the signs checkout the video below.

Harbor Freight 8×12 wood lathe unboxing and initial impression

I’ve been wanting a lathe for a while and all it took was for my family to leave me alone. Well, that, and for the lathe to be on clearance at Harbor Freight.

Now that I’ve used the lathe for a few weeks I’m impressed. It works well, is more solid than I expected (which isn’t saying much), and it let me get into wood turning very inexpensively. Like I said in the video, the tool rest lock is a bit flimsy. I’m expecting to rip it off at some point, but it hasn’t happened yet. No big loss if it happens, now that I know I enjoy wood turning I’d be OK with upgrading at some point. That being said I have nothing else to compare it to, but if I needed to drop $300 on a mini lathe I wouldn’t have given it a shot.

As for the $20 chisels, they’re better than I expected for $20. You get 8 chisels that somewhat hold an edge for almost nothing. You’ll need to give them a really good sharpening out of the box and you’ll need to touch them up often when working. In just a few weeks I’ve made a lot of pens, bottle stoppers, handles, etc. and if you keep them sharp they work well. The great thing is I was able to try 8 different chisels, decide what I really like, and upgrade them one or two chisels at a time.

If you’re interested in this lathe or chisels, the part #’s are below.

8 in. x 12 in. 1/3 HP Benchtop Wood Lathe: Item #95607
Wood Lathe Turning Tool Kit 8 Pc: Item #62674

How we made a 100lb steel and concrete RC Truck display

So this project ended up clogging the garage for 2 weeks as we reworked the design a few times.  We initially started out with the idea to make a shelf to display Damon’s RC truck to a steel and concrete behemoth.  All said and done he now has a display that comes in around 100lbs and he LOVES it.  When my wife asked why we were making it out of concrete instead of foam it was an easy answer…because it’s cool.  Checkout the below video to see how we did it.


To complete this project we used:

  • almost an entire 80lb bag of concrete
  • 1/2 of a bed frame
  • black pipe and caps for the legs
  • Melamine to make the form
  • a pile of rocks from the yard
  • primer & paint for the frame
  • Thompsons waterseal for the concrete

And to put it all together we used:

  • a grinder with cutting wheels and flap disc
  • miter saw with abrasive blade
  • mig welder
  • Bucket to mix concrete
  • trowel to move concrete around

Mini replica of Lucille the Bat from The Walking Dead

For our first project, we decided to celebrate The Walking Dead season 7 premier by creating a replica of Neegan’s bat Lucille.  I know, it’s not the most kid friendly project, but it had to be done.

We’ve seen plenty of Lucille replicas out there, but didn’t see one done with a mini-bat.  Our goal was to create something that we could display, is easily removed from the display (and used in the event of a zombie apocalypse), and is as accurate and detailed as possible.

We started with a $7 wooden mini-bat, sanded, stained, weathered and added some handmade mini-barbed wire to finish it off.  Below are all of the supplies we used for this project.

  • 18″ mini baseball bat (Amazon affiliate link to a cheap one)
  • Sandpaper (150-320 grit)
  • Minwax Colonial Maple stain
  • Red spray paint
  • Brown spray paint
  • Flat black spray paint for the oval
  • Satin spray polyurethane
  • 18ga galvanized wire for the twisted barbed wire
  • 18ga jewelry wire (I stole it from mom) for the actual barbs.  It was much easier to twist.

To see how we did it checkout the video below.