As avid bath takers, we quickly discovered that we needed two DIY solutions to improve our baths. First, a tub caddy capable of providing a simple surface upon which we could place drinks, valuables, and some decorations to enjoy while we soak. Second, a back support that covers the water spout for when there are two in the tub. The first person has the normal position in the tub, but the second person always gets the annoying spout right in the middle of their back - unacceptable!
I haven't gotten around to making the second project just yet, but here's the first...hope it inspires better bathing.
Step 1: Joint an Edge
This bathtub caddy is made from from walnut. Get some 4/4 walnut boards and start by jointing the straighter/truer narrow edge.
My jointer is a little under-powered, so we had to make sure to advance slowly and remove only small amounts of material with each pass.
Step 2: Trim on Table Saw
Place the jointed edge against the table saw fence and rip the board to width creating two parallel sides. We cut our board down to around 5 or 6" wide.
Step 3: Plane Two Faces
This board was a little too wide for my old jointer to joint a face before planning, so we just went straight to the planer and planed both faces. It was planed at the mill and really wasn't in too bad a shape. Run it through, flip, and repeat. Comes out good enough for this casual project.
Step 4: Trim to Length
Trim the boards to length on the chop saw. We cut the long board down into two shorter sections that are going to be biscuit joined together to make the caddy wider then the original board.
The length of the tub caddy depends on your bathtub and should be sized to fit it precisely. Measure the tub and add a few extra inches if you want it to overhang the outer lip.
Step 5: Cut Biscuit Slots
To join the two boards together we used a biscuit joiner. The biscuit joiner cuts slots in the side of the wood for glue and the wooden biscuits which hold the boards together permanently and precisely in place.
Step 6: Glue Boards With Biscuits
Brush some wood glue into the slots and onto the edges about to be joined. Fill the slots with wood biscuits, clamp the boards and let the glue dry.
Step 7: Make Walnut Molding
While the glue was drying we set off to make some simple walnut quarter round molding. Slice a 5/8" x 5/8" strip of walnut off of the remaining board from the lumber yard and run it through the router with a round over bit.
Since the piece was small I used feather boards to hold it in place while I slid the stock through.
Step 8: Cut Molding
Mark the molding length right on the main board for the tub caddy. We used a miter saw and set the fence at 45 degrees to cut the miters. A miter box would also work just fine.
I used a scrap piece of MDF to create a zero clearance fence to support the cuts in order to minimize tear-out.
Cut the walnut quarter round molding to the proper lengths to create a border for the tub caddy.
Step 9: Fit in Place, Glue and Nail
Fit the molding place on top of the now dry main board for the caddy. If everything lines up apply some wood glue to the back of the molding. Lay it down on top of the board and carefully line up the miters. I used a brad nailer to shoot some brads in place while the glue dried.
Step 10: Add in Candle Holder
Once the outer molding was on, we still had some extra walnut quarter round material left. We decided to make a small box in the corner of the caddy to hold things like candle wax, a wine glass, or perhaps a flower vase in place. Cut two short sections of quarter round with a single mitered end, and position, glue, and finally brad nail the corner piece in place.
Step 11: Sand
Sand the entire caddy with 120 and then 220 grit sand paper. I used a random orbital sander, but it's small enough to do by hand. Some of the detail areas need to be hand sanded.
Step 12: Fit for Your Tub
Some kind of basic system is necessary to hold the wood in place on the tub so it doesn't slip around and fall in. We measured the interior width of our tub and installed a very simply cleat system that locks the caddy in place securely.
The process went something like this: measure from the wall to interior left side of the tub. Measure the distance between the two sides of the tub, inside measurement. Finally, measure the width of the exterior tub wall on the right side. Mark these measurements onto the tub caddy and glue walnut cleats onto the bottom of the main board at these locations for a total of 3 cleats.
In theory, you only need the two right cleats which grab the exterior wall of the tub, however, the left cleat is nice because it locks everything in place tightly.
Step 13: Varnish
Since the walnut is going to be used in a water-y environment, we sealed everything with two coats of a water based spar varnish urethane from Varathane. It goes on a little milky but dries with a nice satin clear finish. Very easy stuff to work with.
Once the varnish is dry the project is done.