View Full Version : Santa's workshop anyone?

Rich VanValkenburg
12-08-2002, 05:34 PM
How many of you spend the days/weeks before Christmas out in the workshop building a gift? And is the reaction that you get always the one that you like to see?

I've built toys, games, niknaks, furniture, heirloom stuff, and I always have a tough time wondering how it'll fit the givee's surroundings. I usually get my marching orders from SWMBO who tells me who's name I drew (big family), and what she thinks they'd like. I always ask myself if I'd want one of whatever was taking shape, or where I'd put it, hang it, you know. If I wouldn't want it, would they?

Ever been disappointed at the look on their face as they open it? What's the best reaction you've gotten?


J. Dillon
12-08-2002, 05:45 PM
Good topic.

I usually see favorable reactions. One year I made my grand daughter a sea toy chest complete with fancy beckets. Even carved a full rigged ship on the inside of the top flanked by dolphins and her name over all. Also signed the piece underneath so it could be a family heirloom.

I figure she would convert it to a hope chest when she gets in to teen age. The beckets were more work then the dovetailed chest by far. Fancy rope work is always appreciated. smile.gif


John Bell
12-09-2002, 09:52 AM
I built an easel/chalkboard for my kids last year out of scrap lumber left over from building Mr. Moon. It's been given nearly continuous use by the kids ever since with painting, drawing, playing school, writing lessons, etc.

Just last night I was thinking that I wish I had another project in mind for this year. Ideas anyone for a 6 year old girl and a 4 year old boy?


Bruce Hooke
12-09-2002, 10:09 AM
John - Do they have a marble track? If not that is a virtually guaranteed hit. A bell at the end of the track is a nice touch (the kids will love it, the adults may be a little less keen). My grandfather made a great one that was painted various colors. My father also made a great one that had an airplane at the top into which you dropped the marble to start it down the track. In case you aren't familiar with the concept, here are a couple of pictures I found in a google search:



12-09-2002, 10:13 AM
John here is an idea.


You must have missed my offer earlier for plans.

E-mail me.


Bruce Hooke
12-09-2002, 10:55 AM
I've made many Christmas presents over the years and I can't remember any that did not get a great response. Some of the things I've made in the shop as presents include:

Various bowls and plates on the lathe.

Wood apples with wood arrows through them, done so that the arrow looks too large to fit through the hole in the apple (the trick is to soak the arrow head, squeeze it in a vise, and then quickly push in through the hole in the apple (or heart for valentines day ;) ). Then use hot water to re-expand the arrow head.

Three sets of wooden children's blocks. I made these out of maple and it's not that hard to make something better than the sets that sell in the stores for $150. These have probably been loved and used more than all the other presents I've made put together :D . Kids are great that way!

Candle holders of various sorts.

Cutting boards.

A cherry mug rack to go on the end of a cabinet.

Picture frames - this is the major focus this year. I am making two small walnut frames to hold pictures of my Uncle who passed away last year, for his two sisters. I am also making a couple of maple frames for 'scenic' pictures that I am giving to other family members.

A set of Zebrawood coasters for my parents. I made these when I was a teenager and they are still in use.

- Bruce

Garrett Lowell
12-09-2002, 11:49 AM
Simple, brightly painted wooden cars have been a big hit with my young nephews and nieces. I am building a small wooden totem pole for my mother, to replace one I made about 29 years ago, and to honor my heritage (diluted as it is in my blood, my mother still closely resembles a squaw).

Roger Stouff
12-09-2002, 12:53 PM
Something I'm playing around with...don't even know what it is yet, or for whom.

Bill Dodson
12-09-2002, 02:25 PM
Originally posted by Bruce Hooke:
John - Do they have a marble track? If not that is a virtually guaranteed hit. YES!! :D There's an old one that's been in our family for a couple of generations at least... wonderful toy, great piece of woodworking, and kids & grown-ups love it.

I think it's in my parents' basement now. I might be able to take some pictures if anyone's interested.

What a memory... I'd almost forgotten about it. We called it "The Marble Machine." :cool:

Rich VanValkenburg
12-09-2002, 03:14 PM
John Bell, several years ago I took that easel idea and came up with something good for traveling. Not quite briefcase-sized with a surface big enough for 8 x 11 paper for drawing and hinged to a storage space underneath; compartments on each side that had roll-top covers, for pencils, crayons and stuff; a built-in pencil sharpener; and a carrying handle. The back was slightly concave to stay put on a lap. Turned out good, but the design time alone took days.


Joe (SoCal)
12-09-2002, 03:23 PM
Rich I would be interested in that for SWMBO Times are getting tuff here around the holidays and she has made mention that she would love for me to make her something but all I kept thinking was geeeee SHE dosnt want a boat smile.gif She is an artist and is working on the floor in the office on some paintings and a nice travel easel or what you said might be the ticket. Anyone have a sketch or plans I could follow smile.gif Pleeeeeeese

[ 12-09-2002, 03:23 PM: Message edited by: Joe ( Cold Spring on Hudson ) ]

12-09-2002, 03:25 PM

All it needs is a face, some hands and a pendulum and you've got a grandfather clock! :D

Is that cypress?


Roger Stouff
12-09-2002, 03:34 PM
Yup, it's antique cypress from a barn I tore down this summer.

It actually started out as an idea for a "Cajun grandfather clock" wherein the waist would have, instead of the clock movements, a gun cabinet. I thought it would be cute. In the process, I got fed up with the whole idea, and it's probably going to have shelves or hooks to display some of my dad's crafts.


gunnar I am
12-09-2002, 03:39 PM
Handmade jig-saw puzzle for niece Kate. I also make krumkager(Norwegian cookies made with an iron) and give those out. http://www.imagestation.com/picture/sraid42/p9bea41b9ebe2f6f58cf336b5b1fb8132/fcf378af.jpg