Dovetail Planter Box

I like to take every opportunity to practice my dovetails, especially when making casual and utilitarian projects. Here is the first of four planter boxes that will hold our herb garden on our back deck. The sides and bottom are made from half-inch cedar fencing, and the ends are from an old door frame I scavenged from a neighbor’s tree lawn.

I used the “Easy Dovetails by Hand” method, explained brilliantly and succinctly John Buller on YouTube. No marking gauge, no laying out, no measuring–just eyeball everything and start sawing. Amazingly, it all turns out even and symmetrical.

Mini Japanese Toolbox

This project was a Christmas present for my wife, Aggie. I wanted to build a Japanese toolbox after finding some articles about them at Daiku Dojo. The box measures 14″ x 10″ x 5″, and it was designed to hold papers at Aggie’s desk. So far, it’s just sitting in the bookcase looking pretty.

I usually enjoy making things out of wood that I salvage — stuff that people are throwing away, washed up on the beach, scraps from other projects — but this time I splurged on some nice half-inch poplar from the Home Depot. I didn’t expect it to turn out as elegant as it did.

The Rustic Mallet

Like the old recipe for chicken soup (first, kill a chicken), I began making my rustic mallet by firstly cutting down a silver maple in my back yard. I cut it down last summer and used my new antique froe to rive sections of the tree’s trunk into pieces resembling lumber. Months later when I got the idea to make the mallet, there was the maple — dried and split and ready to go.

I hadn’t planned to make a “rustic” mallet, but as I was using only hand tools, I wondered how the mallet would be improved by surfacing the outside faces. I couldn’t think of a reason, and I just liked the look of the bark and the split wood.