Archive for January, 2012

Popular Handmade Wooden Games

Kendama

If you haven’t heard of a Kendama, you might want to search for it online and check it out. It may seem like a simple wooden ball and spike toy, but this thing is incredibly addictive! A Kendama is a traditional wooden toy from Japan. It has two different sized cups on either side of a wooden spike. It has a ball with a hole connected by a string, although more advanced players may prefer stringless.

Similar games are the “ring and pin” or the old “cup and ball”. The object is to swing the ball up and catch it on one of the cups or skewer the ball on the spike. It sounds easy, but there are an endless number of tricks you can do with a Kendama. In Japan, Kendama competitions are common. There are multiple ranks for different levels of “trick masters”. Japanese employers are even known to recognize applicants who have attained high Kendama rankings as “persistent, patient and determined potential employees”. Making your own Kendama can be a fun project and could also make a wonderful gift.

Pyramid Puzzle

Pyramid puzzles make great coffee table games or gifts. They seem easy enough, but it can take a skilled thinker to figure one out quickly. This is especially true if the pyramid is cut into four or more pieces. Pyramid puzzles are usually made by slicing a pyramid into several blocks, but if you’re making your own, you might decide to challenge yourself by using two different types of wood. Another idea would be to cut your pieces from a single block and then use two different colors of stain or varnish to distinguish the two types of wood.

These puzzles are also known as “mechanical puzzles” or “assembly puzzles”. Trial and error will generally lead you to the solution, but something that looks so simple can boggle the mind with how difficult it actually is! This is because there are so many facets to each piece, that it is hard for the brain to organize a three dimensional image of the completed piece. Our brains are generally not used to this type of exercise, so even the smartest whiz may find the task extremely difficult and frustrating to master!

Creating your own puzzles and games is a great hobby. With just a little bit of woodworking skill and a few blocks of wood and a wood dowel or two, you can make great games that are sure to entertain and perplex your friends and family.

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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How to Choose Your Stain

Choosing the right stain is an important decision. You certainly do not want to ruin your project, wasting precious time and money and you especially don’t want to end up with a product that you do not like. Here, we’ve compiled a few tips to help you get it right the first time. How your color turns out depends on a lot of things, so following these steps will help you to end up with the best color possible for your project.

1) Get several small pieces of scrap wood to test your stains on. Using scrap pieces of wood from your actual project is best. Sand down the wood the same exact way that you would or have sanded your project. You want to make the scrap piece as close to the finished product as possible.

2) Apply different stains exactly as you plan to apply them to your project. If you’re not sure if you will be rubbing in the stain or brushing it on, try each stain with both methods on each side of your wood scraps. Test the raw edges to make sure that you are getting the results that you want on the entire piece.

3) Soft woods, like pine, can sometimes turn out blotchy. Using a wood conditioner will help you to avoid this problem and get your color to a truer shade than without the conditioner. Try staining your scraps with or without the conditioner until you get the desired color and absorption.

4) Finish the scraps with the clear coat or varnish that you plan to finish your project with. This will help you to determine how the color will actually look when you’re done. Sometimes wood grain and those types of details will not show up very well until you varnish. Stained wood without a shiny coat can look very flat and dull. Don’t dismiss a color until you’ve completed the process.

5) Make sure that you label each piece that you test so that you can recreate your favorite look. Write down exactly what you did, including the grit of sandpaper, amount of stain, brand, color, application method, and finishing method.

6) If your project isn’t made from all the same types of wood, you will need to stain more than one sample. If you used something like pre-made wood trim, wooden balls, a wood dowel rod or hardwood dowel, make sure that you test them separately to compare.

7) The last step is to check out your finished product in the same lighting that you plan to use it in. Compare it to paint colors in the room and see if it looks as nice in the room’s lighting as you had hoped. Following these steps will help you to create the piece that you imagined.

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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Building a Floating Shelf

Floating shelves are sturdy and far superior to the pre-fabricated shelves that you buy in your local hardware store. These shelves are free of brackets and other unsightly supports that either don’t create the look that you’re searching for, or they are not very sturdy. Create the look of unsupported shelves in a snap with this easy DIY project.

1) First, mark the area where you want your shelf. Locate and mark studs. Draw a level line where you want your shelf to hang.

2) Next, you will want to affix a wooden “cleat” to the wall. This will be a hidden part that the shelf will surround. A board measuring 1” thick and 1.5” deep works great. If your shelf is going to be narrow, or less than 6” deep, a 1” deep board will work fine. If your shelf will be over 9” deep, you may want to move to a 2” deep cleat. It is not recommended that you build a shelf more than 12” deep or it will not be sturdy. Holding the cleat to your level line, drill 1/4“ holes through the board and studs so that you can install lag screws to the cleat. 1/4” x 3.5” lag screws are good for this project.

3) Now it is time to build your shelf. You basically want to build a 5-sided box around the cleat. Use whatever boards you like for the top and bottom of the shelves. Cut three sides, measuring to be sure that they will leave room for the cleat to just slide in once the shelf is complete. Slide the shelf over the cleat to make sure it fits snuggly before you go on.

4) Paint, stain, or finish your shelf however you want. When you’re done, you’ll be ready to install it. Line the inside of your shelf and the outside of your cleat with wood glue. Slide the shelf into place pressing it tightly against the wall. Use small nails every few inches to hold the shelf perfectly in place. When the glue is dry, your shelf is complete.

These shelves can hold a few books, picture frames, office supplies, and more. They may not be sturdy enough to hang on, so make sure you put them high enough to keep children from playing on them. You can dress them up with a hanging wood dowel rod for towels or blankets. Use a hardwood dowel for a sturdy place to hang coats and jackets.

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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