Archive for December, 2010

Creating a Dowel Tree

The holiday season is over, but if you’re still feeling a little festive and want a simple woodworking project to end the year, consider making a dowel tree.  A dowel tree is a relatively simple project you could tackle during these rare days off from work and still have plenty of time left over to ring in the new year with your loved ones.

The size of the dowel rods depends upon the size you wish for the dowel tree to be.  However, if you are working within the dimensions of a standard dining table or foyer or hallway table, you might consider keeping the dowel tree to no more than about 24 inches tall.

Using the dowel sizes of your choosing, as based on the desired result of your project, drill holes into a dowel rod, which will be the trunk of the project and will fit into a base.  The number of holes you drill, again, is a matter of preference based on the number of branches desired for the tree and its overall dimensions.  Additionally, you can manipulate the branches to accomplish the desired look.  This may include allowing the branches to align or to situate at 90 degree angles (or another aesthetic angle of your choosing) down the length of the trunk.  It may also include allowing the dowels to be the same length or of varied lengths.  If you choose to vary the lengths, be sure to use sandpaper to smooth the rough edges of the cut dowels.  You may also need to plan ahead with regard to the size and sturdiness of your base if you choose to allow the branches to be equal in length, as a sturdy base will be needed to support the additional weight at the top of the tree from untrimmed rods.

The wood dowel used as the project’s trunk will secure into a base.  Consider using varying sizes for the base.  Perhaps a three-and-a-half inch circle placed upon a six inch circle.  Consider using varying shapes, too.  Perhaps a square, oval, or Christmas star for the base.  A hole will need to be drilled through all layers of the base to accommodate the selected diameter of the trunk. 

Paint the dowel a festive holiday color, or use a basic color (such as white or black) and allow any additions to be the splash of color that makes it stand out in the room.  Spice up the top of the trunk dowel by adding wooden ball, a woodworked star, ribbon, or a mesh bow.  You may also consider twisting mesh down the length of the trunk to the base.  Be creative!

Once your dowel tree is completed, add old, beloved ornaments to the branches.  You may also make it a child-friendly project by allowing your little ones to make small, strung crafts, which can be added to the branches and removed a day at a time as a countdown until Christmas day.  If it is large enough to do so, you might consider hot gluing and stringing cards from family and friends and displaying them throughout the holiday season.  Of course, this will depend upon the dimensions used to make the dowel tree.  And when the holiday season is over and it’s time to put away your Christmas items, you may even consider using the dowel tree as a way to store some of your larger hanging ornaments throughout the year.

With very minimal cost, time, and effort, you can use hardwood dowel to make one last festive woodworking craft.

About the Author: Dave Murphy is the founder and president of Good Wood, Inc., which makes a high quality wood dowel and the best hardwood dowel on the market. They also create wooden balls, wood knobs, wooden toy parts, custom wood parts, and more. They offer safe wood finishing, wood turning and can import from off-shore when necessary. Visit http://www.goodwoodinc.com for all of your wood product needs.

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Woodworking for the Laundry Room

When home organization comes to mind, we typically think of many ways to improve storage and efficiency for many rooms within our homes.  The family room, kitchen cabinets and pantry, bedroom and bedroom closets, bathrooms and linen closets.  These are the common living areas upon which we tend to focus our efforts.  On the contrary, one of the rooms we most frequently neglect is the laundry room.  But there’s really no reason why we should.  There are many woodworking ideas that can increase the organization and efficiency of this important area, too. 

If your laundry room is small or lacks sufficient storage space, a standard ironing board may have no designated location for storage or may take up already limited space within the room when set up for ironing.  An imaginative woodworker can make use of the space, no matter how limited it may be, by making a wooden wall-mounted ironing board.  This corrects the issue by killing two birds with one stone, freeing up space and providing storage.

Another project to consider for laundry rooms lacking space is the addition of shelving or racks.  By using the room’s walls, sturdy pieces of wood add the dimension necessary for items requiring storage, including laundry detergents, fabric softeners, home cleaning products, and so on.  If it’s exposed (not contained within a solid unit, such as a cabinet), then the shelving can be as ornate or as simple as the woodworker chooses and, depending upon the wood and supplies used, is a simple enough project for a novice woodworker.

If cabinets are already in place, additional shelves or racks can be added within them to also make more available space.  Not only are these simple additions with a great purpose, but they’re relatively cost-efficient because minimal supplies are needed when working with assets which are already in place.

Additional space for hanging clothes and hangars can be accomplished by mounting a wood dowel between walls.  A simple wooden dowel is all it takes to add space.  What a simple fix!  Dowels are relatively inexpensive to purchase, and the existing laundry room walls are already in place and available to work with.

Another woodworking project to consider for the laundry room is a laundry drying rack.  Working with a hardwood dowel and a few additional supplies, you can air dry your delicates, knits, or small loads.  Designs for both free-standing and wall-mounted racks are available.  For the environmentally conscious woodworker, consider this project an eco-friendly one.  By allowing even a few articles of clothing from each load to air dry on the rack you make, the time a dryer needs to run is lessened.  Consequently, this also lessens the electrical energy required for drying.

You might also consider using dowels to make a shoe rack, perhaps for dirty work boots, rain boots, or children’s outside play shoes.  This could be a standard shoe rack or may be designed as a sitting booth with shoe storage underneath.  Whichever design best meets your needs, encourage efficiency and tidiness by designating a spot for these items in your laundry room (or mud room).

These are just a few, innovative ways the love of woodworking can be used to better organize a laundry room.  With a little patience and imagination, however, the possibilities are endless.  Put them to work for you.  After all, the more well-organized all the rooms of a home, the more efficient the household.

About the Author: Dave Murphy is the founder and president of Good Wood, Inc., which makes a high quality wood dowel and the best hardwood dowel on the market. They also create wooden balls, wood knobs, wooden toy parts, custom wood parts, and more. They offer safe wood finishing, wood turning and can import from off-shore when necessary. Visit http://www.goodwoodinc.com for all of your wood product needs.

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Woodworking Toys for the Holidays

The holidays are just around the corner, and no matter your level of expertise with woodworking, now is a great time to garner some more experience and bring some holiday cheer in the process. There are many toys that can be woodworked for children. Here are several ideas to get you started, but you’re only limited by your imagination!

Consider making and giving a handmade, classic board game, like checkers or chess. Checkers and chess pieces can be woodworked or, for convenience’s sake, purchased as ready-made from a wood products company. Consider customizing wood spindles for use as chess pieces. The checkers and chess boards, too, can be woodworked using a thin, semi-pliable piece of wood. With a little paint, you can replicate the classic checker or chess board or you can put your own personal, creative twists on these classic board games by using your own design. Strategically placed, candid snapshots of the recipient or perhaps even a new pattern altogether is sure to be a conversation starter.

Classic building blocks, much like Lincoln Logs, are also a great way to engage a child’s imagination and creativity. With various sizes and shapes, simple pieces of wood can become a house, ship, tractor, airplane, or train.

The classic wooden car or train can also be woodworked as a gift consideration. Simply select a sturdy wood, design the car or train model of your or the child‘s choice, apply wheels, which are available for purchase at a wood products company, and paint or finish.

Wooden puzzles can be great fun for preschoolers. This is because wooden puzzle pieces can be cut relatively largely. With the addition of a wooden knob at the center, the pieces also become easy for small hands to manipulate. Not only is the imagination at work, but so is valuable hand-eye coordination. This makes wooden puzzles not only enjoyable to the child, but also quite effective in promoting cognitive development.

With some plastic, paper, or cloth as the cover, string as the flying line, and a sturdy wood dowel as the spine, you can also make a kite quite easily. Consider customizing the cover with the child’s favorite cartoon character, color, or design. What a great way to keep a child both entertained and active on blustery days!

Consider a simple, handmade version of another classic game, Ring Toss. Find a quality piece of wood to make a weighted, X-shaped base, and use a hardwood dowel for the end pieces needed to catch the rings.

So many toy woodworking projects are available. Research some of them online, in woodworking magazines, or through books at your local library for even more ideas. Or, get creative and design your own. How rewarding it would be to see your creativity and imagination bring a smile to a child’s face this holiday season!

About the Author: Dave Murphy is the founder and president of Good Wood, Inc., which makes a high quality wood dowel and the best hardwood dowel on the market. They also create wooden balls, wood knobs, wooden toy parts, custom wood parts, and more. They offer safe wood finishing, wood turning and can import from off-shore when necessary. Visit http://www.goodwoodinc.com for all of your wood product needs.

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