Weathered old pallet wood meets weathered Old Glory

us flag.PNGSometime after the Fourth of July weekend, I noticed that a staple had come out of the skinny dowel that holds the small American flag I stuck in the ground along the walk leading to the front door.

Typically, I put out small array of the little flags on the national holidays, especially the Fourth, Day and Veterans Day.  And because I’m way more cheap than I am patriotic, I tend to keep the flags for years and years.

Or at least until they fall off their miniature flag poles.

Continue reading


A new tool box with an old-school look


The idea to start this project emerged when I snapped the handle of the spade shovel that’s been in the backyard through each of the four season for each of the past dozen or so years.

But the root of the project goes back more than 30 years when my Dad gave me a tool box he had built out of some pretty nice Douglas fir 1X6. It wasn’t like a gift for a birthday or a rite of passage. As I recall, I said something like, “Hey nice tool box.” And he said, “Take it. I can build another just like it in about a half-hour.”

I’m not sure if he did build another one — or anything else,  for that matter. Not long after that, he was diagnosed with the disease that would claim his life. Continue reading

UPDATE: There was enough pallet lumber leftover for a wine rack


In the post last week about pallet lumber, I called the projects I made whiskey racks instead of wine racks because the bottles stood upright, and that’s no good for corked wine.

As it turns out, there was enough lumber leftover, plus a couple of other weathered boards I had laying around, to make another rack that would allow the bottles to lay on their sides. And to add a feature for hanging the wine glasses.

This one holds three bottles and four glasses. The top two shelves sit at 5-degree angles front to back to keep the bottles from rolling out and smashing on the floor. The bottom shelf is level, but I added a strip of leftover wood to act as a stop. Continue reading

The intersection of roadside rubbish and a rack for rye whiskey

rack 2 angle

Each morning on my way to work, I tool down a two-lane farm-to-market that separates an endless collection of hillside cedars from a finger of Lake Travis near the Cypress Creek Marina.

On the Friday before Christmas, I spotted in the right-of-way at the base of the hills a wooden pallet that might have slipped off a flatbed or jettisoned by someone who wasn’t in the mood to go to the landfill. I thought to myself, “If it’s still there tomorrow morning, it’s mine.”

It was. So I pulled over and pulled the pallet from the weeds and tied it to the roof-rack on my Ford Escape. Continue reading

Rescuing Grandma’s forgotten cedar chest

The chest after the restoration

The chest after the restoration

I have only the vaguest recollections of the cedar chest that was in my grandmother’s house in New Jersey where she and my grandfather lived when I was a kid.

Maybe it was in the guest room that siblings and cousins used when we visited from time to time in the summer. Or maybe it was in the finished-out portion of their basement they used as a game room and second living room. Maybe it was in their bedroom.

My first firm memory of it was in Grandma’s bedroom when she moved into my mom’s house in Texas in the early 1990s and stayed there until she died in 1994. The chest stayed in that room until we emptied out the house after Mom died about a decade later. Continue reading

A condo for the cardinals, doves and even the squirrels

feeder in NJ

Nearly all of the birdhouses I’ve built over the years were the basic four walls with openings representing doorways and windows, a little ledge out front and a pitched roof.

Typically, they were made from weathered cedar fence pickets that had to be replaced and hung from backyard tree limbs. After tossing in a handful of birdseed, it never took long for the birds to come. Some even built nests that would be used year after year.

The downside was that only a bird or two at a time could eat, and each spring the new leaves would obscure the house. And feeding the birds is pretty much an out-of-sight, out-of-mind deal — at least for me. Continue reading

Knickknacks, throwaways and wood doodles

Texas box

One of the byproducts of playing with lumber is that there’s always a stack of leftover boards of varying lengths, varying widths and varying grades cluttering up the workshop.

And because I consider wastefulness a sin, I’m always looking for ways to keep the leftovers out of the landfill. So here are a few examples some knickknacks that might have some value but were mostly made for my own amusement. I call it doodling with power tools. Continue reading