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Sign Time

Needed a sign for our home daycare to put out front that looked a little more permanent. We had a plastic printed version on a set of plastic stilts but it was kind of cheesy looking and I think it looked too much like a realtor sign, so over the Aug long weekend I put one together. 

Here’s the final product planted out front. 


It was a simple build. Made use of some 1″x10″ pine boards. Used the router to cut 1/4″ channels along the side rails. These fit the sign as well as the tenons on the ends of the cross rails. 


Here are all the bits after staining. I used Minwax 233 “English Chestnut” for the stain, and followed that up with three coats of Helmsman Spar Varnish. 


The varnish really shined up well, here’s hoping it does well against our Canadian weather. 



Sensory Board the Prequel

This is a board I made up for the kids in my wife’s daycare. It features alot of the stuff kids are typically being told not to play with like light switches, buttons, knobs, wheels, and those spring door stoppers that even I like to play with every now and then. In fact, if the whole board was spring stoppers I think the kids would have been just as happy. The switches turn on a few high intensity LEDs that are mounted behind a set of trailer reflectors. Button 1 turns on a small PC fan mounted behind some hardware cloth. Button 2 turns on an electro magnet in the center of the board which picks up the piece of chain dangling in front, although that part isn’t as easy to use as I hoped it would be. The black holes on the left top and bottom of the board are openings to a piece of 3″ ABS pipe that’s big enough for a tennis ball to roll through. The little wooden knob is pressed onto the shaft of a stepper motor which is connected to another LED under the third reflector. There’s no external power there, the stepper just works as enough of a generator that when it’s spun it lights up.



It’s a little more rough ‘n ready than the more recent one I made, but it does the job. The kids seem to love it.

Sensory Board

Got a request to build a sensory board and figured I’d share it here. It’s one of my few woodworking projects that needed to have  a good fit and finish and I feel that it came out pretty nicely. It’s an assortment of fabric materials and touchable items that are good for children to explore for sensory experience. The board itself is a piece of cabinet grade maple ply, with a red oak banding. I went with rabbeted corners on the banding because I don’t quite trust my current setup for doing miteres, something in my saw is getting sloppy. Anyhow, I think it turned out not too bad.


Scroll Saw Barn Animals

My wife was looking for some wooden animals for her daycare kids to play with. It didn’t sound hard so I found a used scroll saw on kijiji, printed out some templates, taped them to some 3/4″ pine board and started cutting.


They definitely aren’t hard to make, but they do take up a boatload of time. If you want to make these yourself be prepared to put in some earbuds, get a comfy chair, and spend the next few hours zoning out lining up blade with line.

I probably wouldn’t go with the 3/4″ board again though. It made for some nice solid pieces, but it also made it very easy to snap blades.

And of course if you’re going to have animals, you need to have a barn for them. 🙂


Farmhouse Table

This one’s just a quick post to show off my experience with the Farmhouse Table plans from Ana White’s page. It’s a nice, straightforward design which goes together reasonably quick and uses affordable lumber (in our particular locale).

The one tip I’d have for building this table in Ontario is that if you’re buying box store lumber (Home Depot, Lowes, etc) be careful about selecting the right stuff. The cheap framing lumber that works for this table is usually “SPF”, which means it’s a potential mix of spruce, pine or fir. When I bought the stuff for this table it was all quite nice pine, but I know that in previous years they’ve had lots of ugly, cantankerous spruce. Haven’t run across fir yet…. in any case, I’d recommend purchasing some samples before you get started and ensure it’s the good stuff, and that it’ll retain it’s shape well.

Another thing I would consider if I was building again, would be to trade the 2×6 table top for a 1×6 or some other 1xX wood. The 2×6’s are extremely solid but man does it ever make this thing heavy! The table top alone it over 100lbs. It was quite a job getting this thing in from the garage.


Anyhow, here are some pictures.


Table Top Being Joined

Table Top Pre-Finish

Table Top Just Prior to Staining

The stain I picked was Minwax Jacobean, it was a nice dark stain that matched the decor in our dining room reasonably closely. It does a really good job of disguising the cheap lumber in this piece, although the more woodworking I do the more I am learning that what adds the most value in a piece is the amount of time spent on the finish. An unfinished version of this table can be whipped together easily in one day, but to get this looking like something I would want in my dining room took well over a week of sanding, coating, and drying cycles.

Top Stain

Table Top With First Coat of Stain


Table Legs Being Stained


Finished Product In It’s New Home