I need woodworking gift ideas!
August 12, 2008 12:44 PM   Subscribe

What nice hand-made gifts can I make as a beginning-to-intermediate woodworker?

Members of my family make very nice handmade gifts on a regular basis, and I've never had the drive to do the same before this year. In the past year I've outfitted a decent garage workshop and become quite familiar with the tools I have. So, this year I want to try my hand at making my own gifts for them this Xmas.

I have some ideas already, bird houses for my 'birder' sister and father, and a zen garden for my wife's uncle, but I'm struggling to come up with other ideas.

The tools I have available are:

- Drill
- Mitre Saw
- Table Saw
- Router w/ Table
- Sander
- Rotary Saw

I have an array of clamps, and hand tools as well. I'm comfortable using all these tools, and I've had some practice with staining and finishing as well.

Bonus points for smaller items that can be easily shipped since the family is somewhat scattered across the country. Links to free plans would also be very much appreciated!
posted by WinnipegDragon to Sports, Hobbies, & Recreation (18 answers total) 7 users marked this as a favorite
Clocks, jewelry/momento boxes, picture frames.
posted by availablelight at 12:50 PM on August 12, 2008

Cutting boards or cheese boards in the shape of their favorite whatever. Glue up some different woods in a zebra stripe pattern, rub with mineral oil.
posted by fixedgear at 12:54 PM on August 12, 2008

Wooden blocks can make a great gift for kids (and fetch a high price if well-crafted).
posted by Shepherd at 12:58 PM on August 12, 2008

One of those little Puzzle boxes? I like the ones shaped like little animals. It looks crazy complicated to me, but I remember a friend made one in high school shop class, so it must not be too advanced. I suggest looking up books with little gifty box instructions.
posted by purpletangerine at 12:59 PM on August 12, 2008

How do you make clocks? Are there clock mechanisms for home woodworkers?
posted by WinnipegDragon at 12:59 PM on August 12, 2008

WinnipegDragon: yes, they're called "clock movements."
posted by contraption at 1:08 PM on August 12, 2008

Could you make up some bowls? I would love a set of handmade bowls. No that you would make them for *me*, but you know.

Puzzle boxes are cool too.
posted by KAS at 1:08 PM on August 12, 2008

Yes, if you go to Hobby Lobby or the like you can buy clock mechanisms to just put into whatever you want.
posted by fiercecupcake at 1:10 PM on August 12, 2008

Probably don't make generic gifts unless you want to see them in Goodwill at a later date. Custom make things for specific needs. Picture frames can be good if the person has some specific pictures they need framed. Shadow boxes can be decent, shelves, drawer organizers, etc can be useful. Clocks are kind of lame IMHO unless you can make something awesome that the person actually needs.
posted by JJ86 at 1:15 PM on August 12, 2008

I made a fairly simple jewelry box for my mother-in-law, and a humidor for my father-in-law. It wasn't particularly difficult work, just very time consuming. Spending extra time on the finishing goes a long way.
posted by leapfrog at 1:16 PM on August 12, 2008

JJ86 - In my family, it's still the thought that counts. I'm rather keen on the clock idea personally.
posted by WinnipegDragon at 1:25 PM on August 12, 2008

If you have any friends who knit, they would love to have their very own yarn swift. Here's one example, although you can Google up other designs and I think there's at least one guy who sells a nice set of instructions for one.
posted by cabingirl at 2:01 PM on August 12, 2008

posted by notyou at 2:11 PM on August 12, 2008 [1 favorite]

I've made a couple clocks. you can get the mechanisms at many craft stores. usually they will have a number somewhere like 3/4" or 1/2" and this is how long the shaft for the hands is. If your wood is thin, you don't want a long shaft sticking out from the face. At craft stores you can also find some awesome things like glass beads that make great markers for the "numbers" of a clock.
posted by silkygreenbelly at 2:14 PM on August 12, 2008

I just bought 2 really cool handmade wood toys for my kids. One was a 4-piece train set - very simple, made from narrow pieces of wood and the 4 'cars' could be connected/disconnected. Unpainted, just different types of woods and nicely sanded. The other was a simple jigsaw puzzle of a bird in a tree (puzzle shaped like a tree). Painted, but again very simply done. I really love them - they're sturdy enough to last through all 3 kids and I hope to pass them down to their kids. And the train set is attractive enough that I'd consider putting it on a shelf as decoration when the kids are done playing with it. Not sure what kinds of tools you'd need, though.
posted by widdershins at 2:26 PM on August 12, 2008

I've done picture frames, small boxes, bird feeders and toy trains. My strategy has always been to pick a project and mass produce it but then I've usually got about 15 people on my list. One thing to be really careful of is how much time you have to devote to various projects - especially if you're trying to do a bunch of different things it can really suck up the time and the last few weeks / days before the holidays can turn into a mild nightmare. For example the year I made boxes for adults and tried to do two trains for small people was, um, hectic. And one of the small people had to settle for a locomotive and a 'rest of train for your birthday thank god you're too young to remember this' card.

One good way to mass produce while also including some individuality is to make the same thing for everyone but use different woods. Good luck!
posted by macfly at 3:43 PM on August 12, 2008

Clocks, mirrors, boxes, toy vehicles. I would check out a store called Lee Valley Tools which is one of the greatest stores for woodworkers, gardeners, hobbyists etc. They sell a bunch of project kit parts for clocks, toys, barometers, thermometers.. etc etc etc. And theres a location in Winnipeg.
posted by Pink Fuzzy Bunny at 4:50 PM on August 12, 2008

I have wanted to make something like this clock. Or this one. I would definitely not throw it away or give it to a thrift store.
Here are some more clock ideas from Furni. I especially like that they name their products after skateboarding stars of my youth.
posted by MiggySawdust at 4:52 PM on August 12, 2008

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