Wen Bandsaw Jewelry Box


This is a fun, fast, and easy rough finished jewelry box that can be done made in a variety of ways.  The tools that I used were a band saw,  router,  drill, and a belt sander, but hand tools can be used to make this box as well.  I used a very pretty piece of cedar log which gave the box a unique look. In projects such as these, I have found my band saw to be the most valuable tool in my wood working ventures.  Band saws can be bought for $130 and up and do get rather expensive.  I highly recommend the Wen 10″ band saw for any new wood worker.  At around $240 this band saw is of very high quality for the price.  The Wen 10″ band saw offers a the right amount of power and ability for pretty much any project a home shop wood worker would need.  For more information and reviews on this tool click the amazon link below.

Wen 10″ Bandsaw




$20 Podium Build


I have never been excited about nor proficient in the art of sitting still.  My inability to master this skill as a student would at times lead to issues in the classroom, my inability to master this skill as a teacher would lead to the construction of the podium displayed in the photo.  My first year of teaching I was constantly running to my desk to reference a textbook or source during classes when I finally had enough of the back-and-fourth and walking around with open books in my hand.  I knew what had to be done so I went home, got on amazon, and quickly realized that I would be building my own podium instead of spending between $80 and $1000 dollars for one.  I had no experience, examples, or instruction on podium construction so I came up with a design that was simple to execute and made sense to me.  The podium pictured is the exact podium that I built my first year of teaching.  It was very effective in the classroom but now resides in my shop were I still use it daily (hence the dirt, dust, and chipped paint).  Listed below are the materials needed and their approximate cost (not including paint and fasteners) as well as some close ups of how the podium is constructed.

Materials needed:

1 – 2″x4″x8′ untreated ($3.50)

1 – 4″x4″x6′ untreated ($7)

1 – 2’x2’x1/2″ plywood sheet ($6.50)

1 – 1″x2″x2′ wood strip ($2.50)

You will need to cut the 2×4 into four 16″ lengths and three 10″ lengths.


Cut the 4x4x6 to 40 inches in length straight on one side and at a 45 degree angle on the other.


You will arrange the four 16″ pieces of 2×4 as shown in the picture and screw them to both the straight end of the 4×4 as well as each other where they contact.



Keeping the top of the boards flush with the top of the 4×4 on the angled end, screw a 10″ long board into each side of the 4×4 as they will support your podium platform. Then screw the third 10″ board to the ends of the other two 10″ boards to reinforce them and give you even more support for your platform.


Next, align and justify the plywood on the supports and angled end of your 4×4 to your liking and screw it to all three 10″ supports as well as the angled surface of the 4×4 upright.

Lastly, align the 1″x2″ strip flush with the bottom edge of the plywood and screw it to the plywood platform. All that is left to do is paint or stain and your podium is complete.


Stuffed Animal Control (Kind of)


A few years ago my wife showed me a picture of one of these bad boys online and professed her love for it.  As I looked up from her phone after reviewing the picture I waded toward the front door in our living room knee deep in stuffed animals and went straight to my shop to begin the build.  I knew that I had some scrap 2×4’s and screws so the majority of the materials list was free.  My stuffed animal pen differs from the original that I saw in a few ways, but is very similar to it and others that I would eventually see.  I happened to have four stair rail spindles on hand so I used those for the uprights because I thought it would give it a unique look, but 2×4’s will do and look just as good.  The only material that I purchased for this project was the bungee cord and paint, which can be bought on amazon for around ten bucks (the links below will take you directly to the exact paracord and paint that I used).

Bungee Cord on Amazon

Chalk Paint on Amazon


The project was very simple and straightforward (basically assemble two wooden frames then attach them to upright supports, one at the top of each upright, and one at the bottom of each upright), and my girls loved their new animal pen.  Having a fun place to store their stuffed animals encouraged them to pick them up and put them where they belong.  The dimensions of my animal pen are 36″long x 24″ wide and 36″ tall, but I have seen them built both larger and smaller.  Apart from using different uprights I also deviated from the way most people build these by using a different method to secure the bungee cord.  Most builds include eye hooks that are screwed into the inside of the 2×4’s and have the bungee cord tied to them.  I found it easier and less of an eye sore to just drill countersunk holes through horizontal 2×4’s and tie a knot at each end of each piece of bungee cord.  This keeps anything from protruding out of the lumber and potentially poking or scratching a kid.  The best things about this project are that it is so easy to customize and so hard to mess up.  The build was fun and the final product is practical and appreciated.  Below are a few more pictures as well as a generic materials/rough price list to build this yourself.

5- 2x4x8 untreated lumber – $15

50ft Bungee Cord – $12

2lbs Wood Screws – $10

Paint – $12

If you have none of these materials lying around your house you can still build this animal pen for around $50.  Depending on what you have around your house or shop you could build this animal pen for $0-$50.  My build cost me about $25 but I could have cut the cost by over half had I used some of the paints that I already had.

Top of animal pen where 2×4’s are screwed to vertical support (upright)
Holes for the bungee cord. I drilled all the way through the 2×4 with a 1/4″ drill bit then went back with a 1/2″ bit about half way through the 2×4 to widen the hole enough for the knot on the bungee to be some what concealed.



That thing is packed.


This is a view of one of the shorter sides, and also of a few stuffed animal butts.


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I can probably count on one hand the things that scare me.  My daughters, forgetting to dvr the Saints game on Sundays, and my mom somehow knowing the language I use in my head when coaching my  football team on game days make up three of the four fears that I can think of at the moment.  Though the three fears listed are concerning, combined they do not scare me nearly as much as number four, the fear of discarding something that could have potential use to me in the future.  Fear number four is often viewed as a curse by many, including myself, but sometimes it pays off big time which gives it all the legitimacy I need to avoid any attempt to overcome it.

A few years ago when we moved into our house one of the first orders of business was to trim the seven oak trees that surround our house due to the limbs that were banging on windows and rubbing the roof.  One weekend my father-in-law loaned me his pole saw and warned to “not get carried away, you have to remember whatever you cut, down you have to pick up.”  That was great advice, I wish I would have used it.  So after I finished getting “carried away” I looked around my yard and saw nothing but huge piles of leaves, limbs, and logs everywhere.  The task of trimming the trees was done, but the work had not even started.  During my first of many trailer loads of debris I began to think that the wood I had cut down could easily be so much more than just firewood.  What exactly that so much more was I did not know at the time, but I knew there was potential for something.


Disgusted with the amount of extra work I had created for myself for not heeding my father-in-law’s advice and trying to imagine the potential other than making smoke signals this oak possessed, I did the only thing that I could think of, prolonged the end to my trimming job by creating more work for myself.  Still not seeing the light at the end of the tunnel, I began to cut the bigger branches into approximately two-foot sections and stored them in my shop for a later use that I had no clue at the time would be.  Fortunately I not only found “a” use for the firewood I had cut, but many, mainly making wooden spoons.


Above is one of the first utensils and just one of many different types of spoons and utensils that I have made with the oak that should have been burned.  I still have a decent bit left from that job, but I have branched out (pun intended) to using other types of woods to make spoons, forks, and spatulas as well.  It is a lot of fun and very rewarding to take an unimpressive log that should probably be heating someone’s home or setting a spooky scene for camper’s ghost stories and make something lasting and useful with it.  By no means are any of the utensils that I make perfect, but to me that is what makes them great.  Each one is unique.  With that being said, I have gotten a lot better and more efficient at making them thanks to all the practice I got from the wood off of my tree trimming extravaganza.  Maybe people are lying to me, but many have shown a great appreciation for them as well.


My fourth fear usually results in clutter and frustration for my wife, but it is not all bad.  Had my fears stopped at three I would have missed out on learning about working with wood, species of wood, and a pretty fun hobby.   I enjoy turning a simple firewood log into some type of useful spoon or utensil and have even made cups, coasters, a pig, boat paddles, and knife handles from them.  The possibilities are seemingly endless and I plan to continue to discover them until that is disproven.  Thank you for reading, if you enjoyed this article I would appreciate it if you could like, comment, and follow my blog.


School is in session!



Welcome to the Tool-school.  I have started this blog in order to develop a site that will be educational, informative, and a resource for those people not scared to tackle projects, maintenance, and repairs of whatever may need them.  Please feel free to contact me with any questions, comments, or concerns as well as give your expertise and experiences with different topics.  Thanks!