With the holidays just around the corner, it's inevitably time to start thinking of Christmas gifts. As a woodworker and DIY enthusiast, I like to include some handmade gifts in the mix.
In this tutorial, I’m going to show you how to make 6 simple gifts you can make from wood.
Step 1: MatchBox Candle Holder
I started by tracing out a notch for the match box in the center of one end. I then took it over to my table saw and used a simple jig to carve out the notch, adjusting my fence slightly until I hogged away all the material. After a light sanding I did a test fit with the match box and it was just right.
I then took it over to the drill press and used a 1-½ inch Forstner bit to drill the recess for the tea candle, making sure not to go too deep. You want to keep the lip of metal insulator above the wood.
I then sanded and applied some oil finish, and that’s all there is to it!
Step 2: #2 Catch All
Next up is a catch all to "catch" all the contents of your pockets.
I started with a thin backer board and taped the edges before applying 2 coats of white paint. You can decorate this however you want. I went with a sticker and then sealed it with some clear water-based poly.
While that was drying I cut 4 thin strips of walnut. Using a stop block on my miter saw I cut the miters on all 4 pieces so they would all be the same length. Because this is so small, I was able to simply use some painters tape for the glue up that I pre-applied, then just folded it all up and sealed the last corner with some more tape, making sure to wipe off all the excess glue while still wet.
Okay, back to my backer board now, I removed the tape and applied some glue to back of the frame, then used some spring clamps to hold it while it dried.
I cleaned up the base on my router table trimming the edges square with a flush trim bit.
Step 3: #3 Blanket Ladder
Next up is a blanket ladder. This is one of my favorites! All you need are 2 two by threes and a couple dowels.
I started by marking my 2 by 3s at 5 feet long and cut them to length. My lumber is in pretty rough shape so I spent a lot of time sanding, from a low grit progressively up to a higher grit to make it nice and smooth.
I then marked the location of my 5 ladder rungs: the first at 6 inches and then every 12 inches. I then found the center of the board and marked it with an awl.
I used the depth stop on my drill press to make the holes at a consistent depth (about 3/4 of an inch) and made the holes using a Forstner bit that matches the size of the dowel I’m using (in my case 7/8).
Using a stop block I cut 5 pieces of dowel to 14 inches. It’s a good idea to sand the ends a little to ease the fit. The glue up is super simple if you start with one side then fit it into the other side. Just make sure to have your clamps ready.
Step 4: #4 Plywood Ring
Next up is a simple yet elegant plywood ring. For this I’m using ¾ inch Baltic birch plywood.
I started by punching a small hole using a scratch awl. Using that as a center point I used a compass to trace a circle.
Over at the drill press I started by punching a hole all the way through the center using a small bit. This will show me where the exact center is so I can drill half way with a Forstner bit then flip it over and finish from the other side, avoid any potential tearout.
To shape the ring I started by cutting down the block as close to the line as I could get, before taking it over to the sander and sanding it right up to the line all around.
After that I used some tape so I could hold the ring on a bit and used my drill press to help me sand the ring. I progressively moved to finer grit paper and made sure to round the outer edges as I went.
To finish it off, I applied several coats of Tung oil.
Step 5: #5 Pencil Holder
Next up is a plywood pencil holder. For this I’m again using Baltic birch plywood because I love the look of the end grain.
I cut 4 equal pieces and made a sandwich by gluing them all together.
After the block was dry I used a chisel to clean off some of the dried glue before running it through my jointer to square up the faces, and I did the on both sides.
I then squared the end with my miter saw, and cut of a first block. Now you can stop here but I used my router table to round over all the edges.
After laying out the hole spacing, I used my drill press with the depth stop set to about 2 inches and made all the holes.
All that’s left is a little sanding and a few coats of wipe-on poly to finish.
Step 6: #6 Business Card Holder
Another simple project that you can customize is a business card holder. I
started by cutting up a few scraps and arranged them into a pattern I liked. After a quick glue up, I ran it through the planer a few times on both sides to even it out.
I then squared the ends with my miter saw and cut a few randomly sized blocks.
Over at the table saw I tilted the bade just slightly, maybe 5 or 10 degrees. I then ran the block through several times, slightly adjusting my fence at each pass, in order to make a thin shallow groove.
After a some sanding, I finished these off as well with a few coats of Tung oil. That’s all there is to it!