Tiny Tips #2 – Making Stencils Without CNC

After using one of my Diresta-inspired stencils to tag my converted gun cabinet, it seemed like a good idea to show everyone how I make them. I don’t have regular access to a CNC router (or even irregular access, if you want to get technical), but for something this simple, you really don’t need one.

There are probably a million more ways to do this, but my method is pretty simple: print out the stencil I want, cover it in masking tape, and then cut out the letters using a knife. The tape reinforces the paper and it stands up to the paint surprisingly well.

As a side note, this is one of a million reasons why I don’t buy blue tape. Regular old masking tape is cheaper and works just as well for everything that isn’t actual painting. For something like this, it’s a lot easier to see the print through masking tape than it is to see it through blue tape. Save yourself a few bucks next time.

Work safe,

Shop Project: Converting a Gun Cabinet

I was about to start this post with “This week’s project,” but this will be three videos in five days, so that doesn’t really work. Anyway, I took an old gun cabinet from the days when I owned enough guns to need one and converted it into a storage cabinet for paint, finish, solvent, and other flammable items. It took very little time, only used materials I already had on hand, and gave me more usable space in the shop (never a bad thing).

This is my first Shop Project video, but I plan to do a lot more of these. I have now published one of each of the main types of video I plan to make — woodworking projects, shop projects, and tips — and created a playlist for each. If you enjoyed any (or all) of these videos, good news: there will be plenty more videos covering similar topics in the weeks, months, and years to come.

Thanks again for watching.

Work safe,

Tiny Tips – Melamine and Masking Tape

Tiny Tips - Melamine and Masking TapeHi everybody!

I just released my first Tiny Tips video. This series will explore useful tips and tricks around the shop. You probably know some of these tricks already, but some may be new.

This first entry is about Melamine and Masking Tape — specifically, how to cleanly cut melamine-coated particle board without a dedicated blade (hint: it involves masking tape). Head over to YouTube to see the video.

Thanks for watching, and work safe!


Shop Journal – December 6, 2015

This was a good week.

Monday and Tuesday were spent editing my Tape Dispenser video. This is the first video I’ve ever worked on, so in addition to the normal video editing work, I’m also learning the software as I go.

The rest of the week, I did very little cutting wood and a whole lot of sweeping sawdust.

I’ve been living with a sub-optimal layout in my garage for a long time now. At first, this was because I had to wheel everything up against the wall at the end of the day. Then it was because the garage was dirty, or full, or I had something big on the assembly table, or whatever. Editing that first video, the thing I kept noticing was how dirty the shop was. Scraps everywhere. Sawdust on everything. No system, no storage. Just a disaster.

After pushing the publish button on that first video, I took the natural break as an opportunity to roll all of my equipment out into the driveway, pick up the broom, and finally clear the place out.

Clean-out in progress.

Clean-out in progress.

With that done (or at least mostly done), I could start to put everything back. But since I’d taken all of that time to move everything, I might as well put things back in a better layout than before.

If I knew Sketchup, this would be a good time to use it. I don’t, though. Luckily, I had a stack of graph paper handy and I know how to use a knife.

Old shop layout.

Old shop layout. Click for big.

My main complaint with the old layout is pretty obvious: there’s a major choke point in the middle. The shop vac and dust collector were on a cart behind the table saw, and it got in the way all the time. The table saw had no outfeed support, and long workpieces would hit the band saw. Ick.

Proposed new shop layout.

Proposed new shop layout.

For the new shop, I wanted to streamline things. I would move the table saw up to the front of the shop near the garage door. The assembly table would serve as outfeed support, and a shelf underneath would take the shop-vac and dust collector, eliminating the extra cart and giving me more floor space. Suddenly, my tiny garage started to feel a lot larger.

There’s still a lot to do, and a lot of stuff that isn’t in those drawings (mostly cardboard boxes, sheet goods, and equipment for my day job that I have nowhere else to put), but it’s a start. I’ll have a video out when I’m done.

Work safe,



Tape Dispenser Project

The tape dispenser video was my first project for YouTube.


This tape dispenser was patterned off of a white plastic model that my wife had in her office. We got it from an office supply store. It’s perfectly functional, but a little boring. I had a scrap of 8/4 walnut that I thought would be perfect for a project of this size.


Since I was working from an existing object, the first thing I did was make a template. I keep a stack of graph paper in the shop, so I used a sheet of that and traced around the existing tape dispenser with a mechanical pencil. After cutting the walnut to length, I attached the template with spray adhesive and cut it out on the bandsaw. In the video, you see me cover the wood in masking tape; this is because it’s a lot easier to remove masking tape than spray glue. The tape keeps the wood from getting gummy.

I cut the side bevels on the table saw. The angle is about five degrees.

I cut the side bevels on the table saw. The angle is about five degrees.

To make the well in the center, I needed to saw off both sides on the table saw, cut the profile of the center piece on the bandsaw, and then glue the sides back on. As it turned out, the 8/4 walnut was actually a touch too narrow, so I ended up laminating in some 1/4 maple that I cut on the table saw. I could have done it on the bandsaw, too, but I would have needed to change blades and I like the cut quality from the table saw. That does come at the expense of a thicker kerf, but that’s okay.

Testing the dowel fit

Testing the dowel fit

The spool is cut from maple, while the axle is a 1/4″ walnut dowel that I made with a shop-made dowel maker. For the cutter, I took a section of cutter from a box of aluminum foil. That worked great.


If I were going to make this project again, I would glue up the laminated blank first, then cut the template. This would save a few steps, as I would only have to cut the template shape once. Instead, I had to cut it three times. That’s obvious in hindsight, but when I started the project I thought the 8/4 block would be thick enough without adding any more material.

I would also wait until the end to cut the side bevels. Square sides would make it much easier to resaw the block before cutting the central well. I managed, but I felt silly for making the mistake.

Thanks for reading! Let me know what you think down in the comments, and stay tuned for my next project.

Work safe,


Launch Day

Hi, everyone.

I’m relatively new to woodworking. In April of 2015, my wife gave me a table saw for my birthday. I caught the bug, and since then I’ve turned our one-car garage into a small workshop. At first, I tried to leave enough space that we could still park the car inside. Everything was on wheels or collapsible.

Eight months later, I still have that same table saw, but I’ve added a bunch of other tools (mostly used) and stopped trying to park the car inside.

I’ve been posting my projects on Instagram for a while now, but I recently started a YouTube channel. My first project, a tape dispenser build, was posted yesterday. I’ll have an article up soon.

Thanks for reading. More soon.

Work safe,