As a suburban mother of three little boys, I certainly don’t fit the stereotype of a woodworker. My workshop is a space in the corner of the basement, with only the most basic power tools and far too many spiders. What I’ve learned — and what I hope these projects show you — is that working with wood doesn’t have to be complicated. For these, and many other projects, all you need are some basic tools and a little effort.
Wooden Boot Tray
Having a designated place for dirty boots and shoes can save your floors from unnecessary dirt and grime. This boot tray keeps footwear corralled by the door in a mudroom or entryway, in one convenient location. The finished boot tray is 4 inches high, 36 inches long, and 131⁄2 inches wide.
Cut List and Materials
- 1×4, 36 inches long (2)
- 1×4, 12 inches long (2)
- 1×4, 34-1⁄2 inches long (3)
- 1×2, 34-1⁄2 inches long (1)
- 100-grit sandpaper
- Wood glue
- Finishing nails
- Stain or paint
- Clean rags and/or paintbrushes
- Waterproofing sealer
1. Sand all the rough edges from the wood.
2. Lay the four 341⁄2-inch-long pieces together on a flat surface to form the bottom of the boot tray.
3. A: Use wood glue to attach the two 12-inch pieces to each end. Secure them with a couple of finishing nails into each of the bottom boards.
B: Position the 36-inch pieces in place to complete the frame, and then secure them with wood glue and finishing nails.
4. Apply your choice of paint or stain with clean rags or a paintbrush.
5. Because this tray will get a lot of wear and water damage from damp shoes and boots, you’ll need to apply a good waterproofing sealer to help protect the wood and finish.
As everything becomes more digital in our world, I believe we’re really starting to embrace the beauty of physical things, such as a simple wooden farmhouse-style clock. This oversized clock will make a statement no matter where you hang it, whether above the mantel or on a wall elsewhere. The finished clock is 32 inches in diameter.
Cut List, Tools, & Materials
- 1×4, 32 inches long (9)
- 1⁄4-inch plywood, 2 feet by 4 feet
- Tape measure
- Drill and drill bits
- Router or circular saw and chisel
- Twine or string and pencil
- 100-grit sandpaper
- Clock kit with 12-inch hands
- Paint and paintbrush
- Clean rags
- Mineral spirits
- Wood glue
- 3/4-inch wood screws
- Roman numeral stencil (4-inch numerals)
- Black medium-tip oil-based paint pen
- D-ring picture hangers (2)
- Picture hanging wire
1. Arrange all of the 32-inch boards next to one another to form a square.
2. Hammer a nail into the center of the middle board. Tie one end of a piece of twine or string to the nail, and tie the other end to a pencil, leaving exactly 16 inches of twine between the nail and pencil. Keeping the twine taut, draw a circle on the boards with the pencil.
3. Use a jigsaw to cut out the circle. Sand the edges to remove any splinters and rough edges. Number each plank on the back with a pencil. This will make it easier to know where each piece goes when you reassemble the circle later.
4. From the plywood, cut a circle that’s just slightly smaller than the clock. This will serve as a backing to keep everything firmly attached. To do this, trace the wood plank circle onto the plywood, then draw a freehand circle within the circle, about 1 inch smaller. Cut the circle out of the plywood with the jigsaw, and sand any rough edges with sandpaper.
5. To cut out a space in the wood where the clock mechanism will fit, take the center plank from the circle and find the exact center of the board, which should also be the center of the entire clock, and mark it with a pencil. Drill a hole (large enough for the shaft that holds the clock hands to stick through) into the board, where you marked the center.
6. Next, mark a 4-inch square in the center of the same board, making sure the clock mechanism isn’t any larger than the square. The edges of the wood plank will form two sides of the square, and you’ll cut the other two sides. You aren’t going to cut all the way through the wood; you’re simply cutting away a square from the back to make the wood in that area thinner. Use a router to hollow out the square. If you don’t have a router, use a circular saw, chisel, and hammer. Set the blade depth of your circular saw to 1⁄2 inch. Turn the board facedown, and use your circular saw to cut the two sides of the square you previously marked. Make several more parallel cuts between the initial two cuts. Then, use a chisel and hammer to remove the wood between the saw cuts.
7. You’ll also need to cut a matching hole in the plywood. To do this, draw a 4-inch square in the center of the plywood circle. Use a large drill bit to drill a pilot hole, and then insert your jigsaw blade and cut out the square.
8. You can paint your clock however you like. I chose a simple weathered, white finish. For this look, paint each of the planks with two coats of white paint, making sure to also cover the edges, and allowing the paint to dry between coats.
9. Once the paint has dried completely, sand each plank to rough up the paint finish. Focus your sanding efforts around the edges and near any knots or other imperfections in the wood.
10. Use a clean rag to wipe stain onto the painted planks, and then immediately use a second clean rag to wipe the entire thing down with mineral spirits. Use a clean section of the rag each time you wipe it. You may need to make a second pass with the mineral spirits to remove all of the excess stain from the paint. The dark stain will stick to all of the areas where raw wood is exposed, but not to the white paint.
11. Arrange the planks, facedown, back into a circle, using the numbers you wrote on the backs as a guide.
12. Place the plywood backing on top, lining up the holes you cut. Attach the backing to the clock using wood glue and screws.
13. To make the clock numbers, tape the Roman numeral stencil in place for each numeral, and use a black paint pen to trace the outlines onto the clock. Then use the same paint pen to fill in each numeral.
14. Add the clock mechanism and hands, following the manufacturer’s instructions on the package.
15. Screw the D-rings to the back of the clock, angling them slightly toward the center of the circle. They should be attached on either side of the clock, approximately a third of the way down from the top. Cut a piece of picture wire twice the width of the clock. Loop the wire through each D-ring, and twist the two ends firmly together in the middle. Make sure the wire isn’t so long that it shows above the clock when hanging.
Make Your Own Roman Numerals
If you don’t have a Roman numeral stencil, or you just prefer to make your own, follow these steps.
1. Print out Roman numerals in your preferred font, making them 4 inches tall.
2. Cut a rectangular shape around each number, making sure to leave a small margin.
To transfer the numerals to the wood, lightly color the back of each numeral with a pencil, making sure to color slightly beyond each numeral’s outline.
3. Position the numerals around your clock. When placing your numbers, it’s easiest to place the 12, 3, 6, and 9 first. Make sure they’re straight and approximately the same distance from the edge of the clock. Then, using those numbers as your guides, position the rest of the numbers, and tape them in place.
4. Firmly trace the outlines of the numerals on the printout and against the wood. The pencil outlines will be transferred onto the surface of your clock.
Carrie Spalding discovered the power of DIY when she moved into a 1970s brick ranch in need of updating. She shares her DIY adventures on her blog, Lovely Etc. (www.LovelyEtc.com). This article is excerpted with permission from her book Wood Plank Projects (Skyhorse Publishing).