Wednesday, September 23, 2015

DIY Woodworking

Welcome to Woven Wednesday. Although my favorite crafts involve yarn or fabric, I enjoy all creative projects. But before I share my one and only endeavor in woodworking, I need to tell you a story. 

My journey into woodworking began when I bought my husband a complete tool kit for Christmas one year—saws, drill, levels, the works. Of course I had an ulterior motive. I wanted a particular kitchen cabinet called a Hoosier, named for the Hoosier Manufacturing Company in Indiana. It has a flour bin on the left, closed shelves, roll-up enclosure, drawers, and enamel pull out counter.

From the turn of the twentieth century to the 1950s every well-appointed American kitchen had to have one. It would fit perfectly in my 1950s retro kitchen. 

I had sentimental reasons for wanting this particular cabinet. My mother had one in her kitchen, identical to the one pictured, except it was all white. As I was growing up, my first attempts at cooking was at this free-standing cabinet. It was my space. The bottom shelf was filled with little boxes of cake, cookie, and bread mixes which I baked in my little tin cookset. Standing on an upside down Coke crate, I could reach the counter to mix my creations. This was before the Easy-Bake oven, so my tins went straight into the big oven.

I loved that cabinet, but after my mother passed away and her estate liquidated, I lost it. That loss sent me in search of a replacement, but antiques were too expensive. 

Why not a replica? I had no doubt my husband, Robert, could do it. I’ve been writing romance long enough to know a hero can do anything, and hubby is my hero. I'd given him a golf set one Christmas, and he started playing golf big-time. My logic said all I had to do was get him the tools for cabinet making.

True, Robert had never given me a shred of evidence he could build anything. In fact, he kept lending those fancy tools to friends and forgetting to get them back. While he's a wonderfully talented man in many ways, he didn't show any interest in woodworking. Still, hope doesn’t need much evidence, so I showed him the design layout for the cabinet. It included full drawings, cut instructions, and materials list. What else could he possible need?

He studied the design for a long time, then folded it into a little piece before handing it back to me. “My grandpa taught me all I know about carpentry, and he built his house with nothing but a claw hammer and hand saw," he said. "Did I ever show you the picture?” He ran off before I could answer. Why would I want to see his grandpa's house? I didn't want him to build a whole house, just a Hoosier cabinet. 

My husband’s grandparents on his father’s side were North Georgia hillbillies, and I’d already heard enough about them to know they were a colorful bunch. One glance of that picture of the house Grandpa had built told me I wasn’t going to get a Hoosier cabinet. All I can say is those shacks in Deliverance were pretty authenic. 

It didn't matter to me. Robert is a great husband, tender, generous and patient. He brought me breakfast in bed until we retired and would have continued except I didn't wake up in time for breakfast. How many wives can boast that? Besides, he has an incredible business sense and can fix anything mechanical. So he doesn’t have any carpentry skills and doesn’t want to learn any. So what? But I was determined to get something out of those expensive tools before he gave them all away. Which is why I decided to make something myself. The project I’m going to share with you.

I decided on a bench for my garden. This one is the simpliest design possible aside from a board set on blocks. Full disclosure—this isn’t a picture of the one I made, but mine does look like it. Unfortunately, my garden doesn’t look like this, so that’s why I didn’t take a picture of mine.

Here is the material list and directions, so rev up your drills.  

Aldo Leopold Design:
2 10 feet 2x8 pressure-treated boards (I used 2x10s because I need a wide seat)
16 deck screws
Wood glue

Cut 2 rear legs - 2x8 x 17 1/4 inches at 22 1/2 degrees (Measure 3 or 4 times. This is important.)
Cut 2 front legs - 2x8 x 36 inches at 22 1/2 degrees
Cut Seat - 2x8 x 42 inches
Cut Back - 2x8 x 45 inches

Lay out the pieces according to the picture and mark for screws. Predrill holes and countersink. (This requires a special drill bit. I learned that the hard way.)
Slather on wood glue at joints like you'd slather on cake icing.
Drill in the screws

There you have it. The perfect place to sit in the garden and read a good book. Speaking of good books, any comment through October 4 will enter you for the giveaway of Daughters of the Heart by Caryl McAdoo. May I also suggest you mosey over to to download my Annex Mail-Order Brides series.

We'd love to hear about your DIY projects, woodworking or any other.


  1. Bwahahaha! Funny post, Elaine. I knew as soon as your husband went running to get a picture, your project was kaput. I like his sense of humor. :) Having anything hand built by my husband is a pipe dream of mine. He has received quite a few tools throughout the years, but I have yet to see any handi-work. I have resorted to pulling up my own sleeves and getting to work if I really want a DIY project done. My hubby makes an excellent audience, though. I'm not complaining, b/c I am doted on in many other ways.

    1. Hi Terrill,

      Looks like we have a lot in common. I thought for sure Robert would like the tools. He enjoyed watching Home Improvement. But everyone has different talents, even husbands.

  2. I hope you get your Hoosier cabinet one day.

    My father loved to make things. I have all sorts of things from a doll house & doll cradle to small tables etc that he made for us.

    1. Good morning, Mary,

      I'm sure those things your father made are treasures to you. Wish I had more things from the past.

  3. Cute bench! Thanks for sharing :) Our big handyman project this year was a gate for the backyard... a big wooden one to keep two adventuresome kids from escaping! In the future we have planned a gazebo and a green house...though maybe what we need to do is combined the two.

  4. Hi Angela

    Those projects sound like things we could all use. Gazebos are so pretty but beyond my ability.

  5. Elaine, my husband also has several tools. He is good at making repairs and together we built our deck but he isn't so eager to build furniture. Thankful, however, that he wants to take care of what we have.
    cps1950 at gmail dot com

  6. This is such a nice post. I'm sorry that you lost your mother's Hoosier!