Category Archives: Woodwork Projects

American Girl Doll Bed

Most young girls have heard of an American Girl Doll or even own one and once purchased the inevitable catalog will find its way to your mail box. This is what happens in our household and of course our daughter likes to see what new clothing and furniture is available. She always gravitates to the beds and bedding and once asked “What do you like,” she replies, “An American Girl Doll bed,” so that Julie had somewhere to sleep. Julie is her American Girl Doll, so my first step was to check the website and find out what price we were looking at and if there were by any chance, a sale going on. Further research showed the price was in the range of $125.00 with bedding, I liked what I saw but I felt that the quality, though good, was very basic, and for me a nice woodworking project!

I said to my daughter, “Would you be interested if I made the bed for Julie?” And with a sparkle in her eye she said “Only if it is can be like my bed!” I already had the basic sizes that were given in the catalog to give me a general feel for what I was taking on, but I decided to measure my daughters bed anyway, to compare sizes. The bed in quarter scale came very close to the manufactured beds in the catalog so using these two sets of dimensions I set out to find suitable wood to start the project.
Continue reading American Girl Doll Bed

Rustic Wood Planter Box

In my previous post I had completed the job of cutting back the soil to four inches below the previous level leaving plenty of room for a good rock base that would allow rainfall to drain away easily. My focus now was on purchasing the supplies to construct the raised planter bed.

I had calculated that I would need a total of twenty lengths of 4″ x 4″ x 8′ pretreated lumber and twelve lengths of half inch by six foot rebar. The rebar would be cut in to three to provide two foot lengths to pin the lumber in to place. I already had a spare can of the green wood preserve so I’m going to use that up first before purchasing anymore, afterall it was my mother-in-laws budget and I was trying to get the job done at the best price possible. As far as my labor cost, that’s a no brainer, that’s traded off by looking after the children! Once complete there will be some kind of oil based stain that will cover the whole construction but the tone or color can be decided upon later.

Planter retaining wall.

With the materials in tow and a selection of power tools, chop saw, electric drill and numerous hand tools my first job was to map out the boundary of the planter box. The patch of land behind the mobile home was pie shaped to a certain degree meaning that the planter box could be slightly wedged shaped so as to reduced the effect of the angle on the remaining land between the mobile home and the planter box. I needed to know to what degree the angle would be and the person best qualified to decide that would be my mother-in-law, afterall when all is complete she would have to live with the end result.

The block wall that seperated the mobile home estate from her trailer was approximately eight feet tall with a concrete base that spread loosely below. This in effect reduced the growing room so we had to make sure that there was enough soil at ground level at the small end of the wedge so that the plant roots could travel deeper if required. Another requirement was to leave enough room between the planter box and the mobile home, so the placement of the first stake would be at this critical point. With string attached to the first stake, the second stake position and angle of the planter would be determined by the taut string once hammered into place. Continue reading Rustic Wood Planter Box

A Work Bench Saves Time

I’ve been contemplating a work bench of some description for a very long time but as everything goes, it always gets put aside or I just make do with the Workmate. Now I’m sure I’m not the only person who lags behind in this department, the project is always more important to get done regardless of the inconveniences at the time and of course it does get done but it could be easier.

In the past, I have always struggled to support the timber and when I’m in the process of planing any lumber I have to use the Workmate that I have. The construction of my particular model has been streamlined over the years for quick production compared to the original model that I had when I was living in England. The original was a cast aluminum frame if I remember correctly, compared to the stamped sheet metal that today offers, obviously a sign of the times with trying to turn a profit. The fixings are nylon and eventually get stripped from the worm gear from the constant tightening until the top is no longer held down, making clamping a hit and miss affair. This reduction in clamping capabilities adds more frustration to the job at hand, so now that I have a little spare lumber from the Jungle Fort project I can utilize this material for the base construction reducing the overall cost of the bench but first I have to decide what size the top will it be. Continue reading A Work Bench Saves Time

Jungle Fort, Annual Maintenance and Final Images

We have just started a new month, April, which is closing in on the anniversary of the start of the Jungle Fort project and as you all know it was only a couple of months ago that I actually completed the whole structure. During that period of time my children have grown to love all the activities that it has to offer, from the dressing up of the fort structure during the Christmas period with tinsel and garlands, to this Easter, with the hiding of Easter eggs.

Jungle fort complete, viewing swings and trapeze bar.

The endless options that it has to offer far outweighs the amount of time that it took for me to construct, mind you little hands had a lot to play with the construction as well.

Helping with the ratcheting of the bolts, placement of the climbing wall rocks, bringing nails and screws to the construction site, it all brings back those memories that will last a lifetime. So now that it is finished, what’s next?

With any large construction project it is important to ensure that all bolts are kept tight and during the course of the construction the timbers have shrunk and expanded with the bolts loosening up to where they need to be cinched tight again. I had noticed that the swings had been slipping when in full flight with the tell-tale signs of wear around the hangers. I remember when I had tighted these bolts up initially and how difficult it was to wind them in to the full depth, probably because of the moisture content of the timber but now that it had dried out fully it was far easier to lock up tight again. Continue reading Jungle Fort, Annual Maintenance and Final Images

Home Made Cabinet Scraper

Way back in October of 2006 I wrote about the heavy Santa Ana winds felling one of the Californian Pepper trees at my place of work and how I would take a section of that timber and air dry it to use at a later date for a small project. Since then it has been drying for a period of fourteen months and I have split a section of that limb to be used in producing a cabinet scraper. This cabinet scraper design is from an article produced by Fine Woodworking and I thought it would be a small enough project to see how the grain of the timber would carve and how it would look when waxed and also it wouldn’t be too much of a loss if it didn’t pan out at the end of the day.

I had noticed during the drying process that the end of the log had started to split and by that time it was too late to think about coating the end to stop the quick evaporation. What I should have done in the first place was to coat both ends of the sawn log with some spare latex paint to even out the evaporation and this may have reduced the amount of cracking. I would estimate that the cracks had penetrated a full one inch into the log at this time. The project that I wanted to do called for a piece eleven inches long by three inches by two and a half inches which would be marginal with what I had to work with. With the hardness of the timber unknown to me I had decided to use a base made from one inch thick figured oak that had been lying around and I knew this material would give a base that would be hard and durable. Continue reading Home Made Cabinet Scraper

Roof Tarp and Grab Handles

This post has been a long time coming and will finally round up the Jungle Fort major construction which has lingered on for many months. Overall everything has worked out great and my children have been enjoying it immensely. With all the major construction out of the way the final safety fixings will complete a very enjoyable job and a great learning curve. Many of the openings have had grab handles installed which is a very easy fix. The grab handles come in various colors and have inch and a half long lag bolts with washers to keep them securely in place. The placement of the grab handles was based on the reach of my children when scaling the rock wall or climbing the ramp. The grab handles at the slide entrance was also based on the children sitting ready to slide down, so you can see this is all dependent on arms length and for me it had to suit my daughter as she is the smallest.

Multicolored grab handles.

I found when fixing the grab handles the use of a pilot hole for the bolts and a little grease on the thread made it easier to ratchet the bolts into place and also prevented the timber from puckering up when winding them in tight. This ensured the handles ended up with a nice flush fit eliminating any rocking effect from ill fitted handles.

These handles from Detailed Play Systems are made from a high quality plastic and seem to be able to take plenty of abuse from the children, even though they are very smooth they offer plenty of grip with finger ridges inside. I would imagine that they have been tried and tested for being outside in the elements but only time will tell if they will crack or become brittle. I have tried pulling on them and they have been very secure but they are very slick so any moisture on them will increase the slipperiness of the surface so I have made a mental note to warn the children to be extra careful on those damp days.

All in all I have fitted a total of four sets of grab handles to all the openings and I’m glad I did as they hang out of the entrances calling to each other, much to my anxiety! Continue reading Roof Tarp and Grab Handles