Category Archives: Something Interesting

Christmas Tree Ornaments

I’ve seen these (and many fancier ones) wooden turned ornaments online and I decided to try making some.

One of the nice things about these was that they didn’t have to match or look any particular way. I could just turn them and let the wood determine how much to cut them and where.

I turned these all on the lathe. Once I got going each one took about half an hour to make. That’s still much longer than they should take, but much less time than it takes me to make a bowl or a rolling pin, or whatever.

These were lots of fun to make and I’ll be making more of them this coming year for sure.

After turning them on the lathe I sanded them down to 500 grit, then applied paste wax to make them shiny.

I ended up making five snowmen and two christmas trees. The ligher wood is apple, the darker wood is walnut.


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Apple and Walnut Nativities

I made three small nativities as Christmas gifts this year. The stables were made from a piece of apple log, as shown. It was a half of a log, with a strip cut off so that it would sit up on a table. These logs were originally cut with a chainsaw and had been drying in my garage for several years. I flattened them off and cut the bottom strips off with the bandsaw.


This project (like all good projects!) required buying a new tool. I bought the Harbor Freight version of the Lancelot. It’s a chainsaw blade on a disk that you put on an angle grinder.

The lancelot is really fun to use. It cuts through wood like crazy, and with an angle grinder with the side handle you have good control over it too. It’s good scary fun.


Here are two of the three hollowed out logs.


After roughing out the stables with the lancelot, I used a hook knife to carve down the ridges and bumps, and then used sand paper up to 220 grit to smooth it out.

I created the figures for the nativity scene in three different ways, just to experiment. The first set I made on the lathe. I used a non-square board so that my final figures would be wider than they were thick.


I made the Mary, Joseph and manger figures out of walnut. The baby Jesus was made from apple wood. I wanted to create a contrast between His parents and the holy infant.

Here’s one of the nativities before applying any finishing.


The next set of figures I carved by hand with a knife. These took a very long time to carve. I’m not very experienced with carving yet and I should probably practice some more. Baby Jesus ended up with some funny lines across his face and body from the spalting or whatever the white lines are in the wood.


The third set of figures I carved with a dremel with a sanding drum. It was harder to get the exact shape I wanted, compared to hand carving, but it went so much faster.

I like how all three sets of figures turned out. I think the turned ones would be the most reproducible, the hand-carved ones are the most personal, and the dremel-carved ones were fastest.


I finished two of the nativities with Watco Danish Oil and one with Bullseye Clear Shellac (brush applied, not spray), but only because I ran out of Danish Oil. After the shellac and Danish Oil dried I applied a liberal coat of paste wax and buffed them to a shine.




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Modular Oak Spice Rack

One of the things we were planning for the kitchen was a spice rack. We’ve got lot of spices and they clutter up the cupboard, so a spice rack seemed like just the thing to help us get organized.

I wanted to make something that was a bit unique, which would help us be more organized and which would look good.

Here’s what we built.

01 - Final Photo First

This is the space I had to work with. Between the side of the cupboard and the moulding on the sliding door was a 4 inch space, plenty of depth for some spice bottles.

02 - The Space

I started with a 4×1 maple board and spent some time with our spice bottles to see how far apart the shelves should be. I made sure to take into account the thickness of the shelves and to give a little extra space to get the bottles in and out with ease.

Once I had the measurements I used a framing square to mark the start of each line and a smaller square to draw a straight line across the board for each shelf.

04 - Measure twice

Next I made a mini-dado with two saw blades stacked side by side, with a washer in between. This worked out to be about the same thickness as my shelves.

I used my mini dado with the cross cut sled to cut slots for the shelves all along the 1×4.

05 - Cut Once


I then set up the table saw fence and cut three 1-inch wide strips from he 1×4. These strips will hold up the shelves.

06 - Cutting the supports


Now on to the shelves. Home depot had some 4-inch wide, 1/4 inch thick oak boards that seemed suitable. I the shelf design by drawing a curve that I liked.

03 - Measure once


Then cutting the shelves all to length in the cross cut sled.


07 - Cut the shelves with the crosscut sled




Next I used traced the curve in several different positions on different shelves and cut them out on the bandsaw.

08 - Cutting out the shelf shapes

I only had a 1/2 inch bandsaw blade which didn’t let me cut tight curves so I used the belt sander to round out some of the rough spots.

Here are the different shelf designs. There’s a whole shelf, a hole in the middle, a hole everywhere but the middle and varying lengths of left and right shelves.

09 - Sanding


Here I’m doing a test before finishing or mounting the spice rack.

10 - Testing it

Looks good! I finished everything with watco danish oil, and then screwed the long strips to the wall. The shelves can be removed and repositions from the slots.

11 - After applying Danish Oil and Hanging 12 - Angle shot13 - Top down


So there you go, there’s our new spice rack!


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