Simple gifts for woodworkers to make
Show off your skills and reduce stress by building these presents in batches.
Every woodworker is proud of the things that they make and the skills needed to make them. And every woodworker has felt the call to make gifts for the loved ones in their lives. While the idea of making all of your holiday gifts in a given year sounds really enticing, it can honestly be an absolute pain and can quickly make your holiday season more stressful than it should be. If you’re going to be making a lot of gifts, think of things that you can make in multiples. Below we’ve assembled some of our favorite gift projects that can be made in large batches. So what are you waiting for? Get building!
Cutting boards are a great destination for short or narrow offcuts of attractive wood. They’re an easy project, but depending on choice of wood can take on an elegance that belies their straightforward design, construction, and finishing. And if you use a template, like woodworker Tim Albers does, you can churn out stacks of gifts. Albers gives instruction on creating a safe surface for food preparation that will stand up to sharp blades and lots of moisture, while at the same time is beautiful and suited to its purpose.
Alan Bradstreet makes a comfortable living by working very small and selling very cheap — in very large numbers. He combines the attributes of a hard-headed businessman, an enlightened foreman, and an untiring worker. Though he’s made other pieces in the past, now he is all about bookmarks. One efficiency: His shop runs on scraps. Read more to find out his recipe for success in woodworking, and how to find excellence in the smallest of details.
Pen turning is fun, it’s a great use for scraps, and it can probably be done mostly with tools you already own and skills you already have. Barry Gross will show you what you need to get started, how to choose the wood, prepare the blanks, turn and polish the barrels, and assemble the pens. And in the time it takes you to read this article, you could put together a fabulous gift (or more than one). Give it a try!
Every woodworker I know has a bin stashed away somewhere full of little offcuts of beautiful exotic and figured woods, too small to use in most furniture pieces, but carefully saved anyway–just in case. Before long that stash becomes a heap, and it’s time to start looking for ways to pare it down. This easy turning project is a great way to use small pieces of wood and create beautiful last-minute gifts at the same time.
This project is a great way to share your passion for woodworking with the whole family. I have also used this project in my classroom as a way to grow students’ confidence in their abilities to adjust their handplanes. It’s as simple as using a bench plane and carefully controlling the chip breaker and mouth opening to produce curls that get glued together to create intricate designs. Once the plane is dialed in, everyone can give it a try and create an ornament which will grace the family tree for generations.
Here is a great chance to use scraps, no matter the species. It’s also a chance to get creative. Although these tea light candle holders are all tidily rectilinear, feel free to offset the parts and expand the sizes, numbers, shapes, and layouts. If you’re a turner, turn a disk and drill holes in it. If you’re a carver, shape and carve a nice slab and drill holes to suit. Most tea lights will fit into a 1-1⁄2-in.-dia. hole. If you want to get fancier (and safer), use glass inserts. You can turn out a bunch of these gifts in a morning.