Introduction: Wood Air Freshener

About: My Grandpa got me into wood working when I was five years old. Ever since then I have been hooked. I love creating something out of nothing, making something old new or using trash to make something beautiful.…

So not too long ago, I went through this phase where I thought I didn't need a truck. I had a longish commute and I though a small car would make more sense in my particular situation. Plus, my Dad and Father-in-law both had beautiful trucks so if there was really a need I could grab one of those. So I bought a Ford Focus. Now the Focus was a great little car, it got fantastic gas mileage, was easily to get around in and park. But as a Woodworker/ apple grower/ outdoor enthusiast, it made some of my everyday tasks very difficult.

Gone was the eight foot bed that you could throw just about anything into. Suddenly I had to be much more strategic when I went to pick up supplies. It was a pain but, if you put the back seats down you could fit 16 eight foot 2x4's in this car. You would have to rest them on the center council and they would be pressed up against the raio but you could make it happen. It was a pain but it gave me an idea.

If I would leave the wood in my car overnight, it would be filled with this glorious woody smell in the morning. Not like the little green pine tree air freshener but the real smell of pine. As a woodworker, I loved this. The smell of fresh cut wood brings up so many happy memories for me. I wanted to figure out a way to make my car or house smell like this all the time.

That's when this idea appeared to me as in a dream. A wood air freshener that you could refill with the wood of your choice. Pine, Cedar, Oak, Walnut, Apple... the possibilities are endless. You can change it out daily if you choose and as soon as the scent starts to fade, you can replace it with more. The idea was born.

So I made it. A simple cylinder construction with screens to hold the wood chips in place and a small USB powered fan to circulate the woody goodness. This project was really fun and works extremely well. Hope you enjoy my Wood Air Freshener.


What You Need

For this project I used the following

Walnut slab

Apple Wood slab

Wood Veneer

Small section of Screen

Wood glue

Table Saw

Miter Saw

Bench Sander

Drill Press



Forstner Bits


And a variety of other hand tools

Step 1: The Wood

This winter I was built a toboggan for my kids. I used Walnut for the sled stringers and I had a couple pieces left over. Walnut is one of my favorite woods and you only need a small about to make a big statement. I used Apple wood for the small decorative inserts. Apple wood is usually difficult to find but we just so happen to have a commercial Apple orchard so sourcing the wood is slightly easier for me. If you can't find and Apple, any light contrasting wood will work great. We burn Apple wood in our wood stoves in the winter so I grabbed one of the logs and ripped it on my bandsaw.

Step 2: Wood Cylinder

There is a ton of fantastic instructables on how to make a wood cylinder. When I was doing my research I searched for wood mugs and cups to find different ways to make a wood cylinder. Its seemed to me that the easiest way to make this would be to turn it and a lathe… but I don’t have one of those, and I’m guessing that not a lot of you do either. Some of the instructables showed a slick way to make a cylinder using these cool router bits, but I didn’t have those either. What I do have is a table saw and that would work just fine.

The trick is finding the correct angle to make the cylinder. This is fairly easy when you stop to think about it. We all know that a circle is 360 degrees. I had a limited amount of Walnut to work with so I figured I could get 15 strips at 1.5” out of my Walnut. So I had 15 strips with 2 angles on each piece. (15 X 2 = 30 angles) I now have 30 angles that need to add up to 360. (360/30 = 12) So I need a 12-degree angle on each side.

I’m not sure if this is the exact equation on how to do this or if I just got really lucky but I worked. I guess I’ll try it again and let you know.

I had a plan and I set may saw to 12 degrees and started cutting my slats. When I got to my very last piece, something happened and the wood drifted on the table saw and ruined the last piece… I only had 14. Oh well, things seldom go perfect in my shop. I just rolled with it and put it together anyway. Because I didn’t have the exact number of slats, I did have some very small gaps but I think they mostly sanded out in the sanding process.

I laid all the strips on 2 pieces of painters tape to make the glue up easier and it worked like a charm. I brushed on a healthy amount of wood glue and then carefully rolled up the slats. I then used hose clamps to secure the whole thing. Unlike wood clamps, hose clamps put equal pressure all the way around the cylinder. Mine weren’t big enough so I put 2 together.

Step 3: Cut and Glue

There was a lot of cutting and gluing and cutting and gluing. I could have just made a simple Walnut cylinder and I would have looked very nice but I wanted to add a little more. The way I did that is by adding 2 Apple wood inserts at a 45-degree angle.

I placed my cylinder on the miter saw and cut it at 45 degrees twice. It was kind of nerve racking cutting this really cool thing I just made but it was worth it.

As long as I had it cut apart, I added the first of two screens. The air freshener need to hold a small amount of wood shavings so I needed a screen on the bottom to hold the shaving while allowing air to be blown through to circulate the aroma. I cut a small recess in the top of one of the pieces so the screen wouldn’t cause any gaps in the wood. I used a small carbide bit on my Dremel to cut it out and then glued the screen in using a hot glue gun. I tried using CA glue first but it didn’t hold securely. The hot glue worked great.

I used a Forstner bit to make a hole in my Apple inserts that was slightly bigger that the hole in the cylinder. I then glued everything up and clamped it overnight. I made sure that all the seams were lined up so it would look “in-line” after the glue up.

Step 4: Top Screen and Lid

After the decorative inserts were in place, it was time to cut the lid. I really didn’t have any set dimensions that I wanted for this project. I just wanted it to fit into a cup holder. So when I cut the height, I just kind of eyeballed it. The lid needed to be cut into 2 sections so I could inlay the top screen. I cut 2 small pieces and then sanded the inside with the sander. I could have left the edges on the inside but I liked the cleaned up look better.

Again I used the carbide bit to cut out a spot for the screen. Then I glued the second section on top to sandwich the screen.

Step 5: Sanding

I wanted the seams to line up so I used double sided tape to hold the lid to the body while sanding. This is double sided carpet tape used to install padded back carpet and this stuff is strong. I use it a lot when I want to 2 pieces of wood to be temporarily stuck together.

With the lid stuck on, I took it to my bench sander and went to town. I started with 60 grit to knock down the ridges quickly and then moved to 80, 120, and 220… you guys know how sandpaper works.

I put a slight taper on the bottom with the 60 grit and I finished sanded by hand. The tape held strong the whole time so the seams look perfect even though they are not.

Step 6: The Fan

I bought this low output computer fan from amazon. I wanted low output because I didn't want a powerful fan that would blow sawdust through the top screen. This fan was 5cm X 5cm and I got 4 for like 12 dollars. If one of them stops working, I can replace it quickly and easily.

I placed to fan on the bottom of the cylinder and traced the outline. I then used a forstner bit to drill all of the corner holes. After that I used a wood chisel cut down all of the edges so the fan would fit snuggly. I drilled another hole so the cord to come out of the side and it could sit flush on a counter to table.

The fan is very quiet and circulates the wood aroma nicely.

Step 7: Fitting the Lid

I wanted the lid to stay in place on the top of the air freshener so I used some wood veneer to make a small lip on the inside of the lid. I cut some of the veneer with a razor blade and then attached it with CA glue. The veneer was flexible enough that I didn’t have to soak it first. It bent right around the inside to the lid without breaking.

I bought a variety pack of veneers from WoodCraft years ago and I use it for all sorts of projects. It’s fun stuff to have around.

Step 8: Oh the Aroma!

I have been kicking around this idea for a really long time but I just kept pushing it to the back of my list. I had so much fun making this once I finally started. It came out really close to the picture that I had in my head.

I finished it with some gloss poly so for the first couple of days, that is what it smelled like. After the break in period, it really does give off a great woody aroma. So far my favorite wood to use is Apple and Pine. The shavings lose their smell after a day or two but then you just put some more in.

I initially used my hand plane and put the ribbons in the chamber but I found that shavings out of my power planer have a stronger smell. My beautiful wife put a drop of her smelly oil stuff on some of the shaving and that worked but… that smelled like lavender wood and I think it kind of defeats the purpose. You can find a lavender smelling air freshener anywhere, I want to smell wood.

I’m still working on airflow. It works better when there is a little gap to feed the fan more air. I’m still working on a solution that will look aesthetically pleasing. I’ll keep you updated.

I really hope you give this project a try. There is something comforting to me about the smell of freshly milled wood. My shop is my happy place, and now I can make my home can smell like my shop… Awesome!

Thank you so much for reading,


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