$4 Spice Rack from Yardsticks

This rack was made for bottles of E-juice, but could just as easily be a spice rack, nail polish rack, or curio shelf.

I bought four yardsticks at $0.99 each at Lowes, and stacked and cut them all at the 18 inch mark. I glued them up in the configuration you see, using the existing marks to measure, and starting with the right angles on either side, and then placing the horizontel braces.

I used Gorilla brand super glue gel in the interest of time, and then reinforced the joints with E6000.

This will be mounted to the wall using two heavyweight picture-hanging tabs – one at the top of each of the two side-braces, and shouldn’t have any trouble holding the weight, but you could reinforce it even further by gluing in small corner brackets in the four corners and beneath each shelf.

This cost $4 plus tax, about 15 minutes of assembly time, and one night of drying/curing.

Skull Goblet part 2: Father’s Day

I made a second skull goblet, this time as a father’s day gift for my dad. The skull is polyresin, purchased on Amazon for $35, cut with a carbon fiber cutting wheel, and finished with a file. The stem is ceramic, and covered in epoxy putty which is formed to look like reptilian skin. The claws are actual coyote teeth, purchased on ebay.

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What is a “door box” and how do I make one?

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I’ve probably made close to 100 door boxes in my life for family, friends, and for sale. If you know me personally, and you DON’T have one, you’re probably in the minority. People always seem to dig these, but they don’t realize how truly easy they are to make. You can sit down in front of the TV and make two or three in an evening.

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HERE are some examples of door boxes I’ve built in the past, so named because they’re boxes that you mount near a door (or THE door) and in/on which you store your keys and pocket luggage.

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Here are some things I’ve learned over time, if you choose to make your own:

1. Wood is good – Always choose a wooden box (cigar boxes and liquor boxes work great) because cardboard simply isn’t sturdy enough.

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2. Infringe on the default hinge – ALWAYS replace the hinges (small, strong hinges or piano hinge can be found at any hardware store). The initial hinges are intended to be disposable, and are often pinned in. They won’t support the vertical weight of the door. When attaching the hinges, glue them in place, pre-drill, then screw. Which brings me to…

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3. Glue AND screw – when attaching hardware, glue AND screw. Glue alone will fracture, or pull off the top layer of the wood. Screws will loosen over time. Use both. Also, get some good compound diagonal cutters so you can trip the portions of the screws that punch into the interior of the box – and they will.

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4. Don’t drag down the door – I used to attach all kinds of decor and hooks to the door, only to discover that the weight, over time, weakens and warps the hinges, and causes the door not to meet flush with the box. Keep the weight load on the door minimal.

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5. Silicon over super – I’ve used every possible type of glue when gluing in the shelves or attaching hardware. Flexible, silicon-based glues, like E6000, seem to work best. They dry slower, and they’re easier to work with, giving you a margin of error. They clean up easy, and they dry strong with just enough flex to avoid fracture.

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6. Magnets are a must – I’ve experimented with numerous types of closures, but the most user friendly are magnets. You can get good, strong magnets at the hardware store. Glue one to the inside of the door and one inside the box’s interior, such that they meet with the door is closed. Presto, magnetic closure.

 

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7. Shirk the shallow shelves – when selecting a box, avoid the shallower boxes (I made this mistake a lot in the early days). Shallow boxes make for shallow shelves, and shallow shelves are worthless save for pens, lighters, and your thimble collection.

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8. Feelin’ the Felt – put felt furniture pads on the back of the box, such that they keep the box from touching the wall when mounted. Otherwise, the box can damage the paint on your wall.

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9. Always Anchor – don’t mount your door box with nails or screws directly in drywall. Take an extra 5 minutes and mount it into drywall anchors. It’ll stay put until the day you’re ready for it not to. I’ve used 3M strips a couple times when anchors simply weren’t an option, and they work, but make sure you use more than you think you need to.

10. You really can make these. It’s a lot easier than it looks.

Go make stuff, wastelanders.

My Grandpa’s Urn

53660_memorialLast month, my grandpa Jack passed away at the age of 81. I posted a bit about it here.

As my mother, two aunts, and grandmother talked about what to do with his ashes, we discussed various options for urns. My grandpa was a simple, rustic farmer with no admiration for faux riche luxury or unnecessary expense. He wanted to be cremated because the idea of an expensive suit, burial, and casket simply didn’t appeal to him. Honestly, if he’d have been able to speak before his death, he’d likely have laughed and told us to put his ashes in a coffee can and tape a picture of him on the side. That was grandpa.

We discussed putting his ashes in his old moonshine jug – a symbol of him we all knew and loved, but ultimately, my grandma asked me to build a wooden box out of materials from the farm that would mean something to him. I was honored she would ask me, and was determined to make something she would be proud of.

I drove two hours out to the family farm on a beautiful Sunday, and harvested weathered barn wood from the smokehouse of the house my grandpa grew up in – boards hand cut and planed by his father (my great grandpa Madison). I also took the smokehouse’s hand-forged door latch. I took a horseshoe (I’ve been told it’s actually a mule shoe) from my grandpa’s workshop, the handle from his father’s handmade toolbox, and one of grandpa’s favorite flannel shirts.

Since Colonel Dad has much better tools than I do, and a few more years of crafting experience, I decided to make the actual fabrication of the box into a father/son bonding experience. We had a great time, and I couldn’t be happier with the final product.  I emailed pictures of the box to my grandma, and her response was simple, but extremely moving.  She emailed back saying, “Eric, you have done a very good thing.”

I can think of no greater compliment from anyone on the planet.

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Wasteland Raider Skills: How to Make a Human Skull Goblet

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Obviously, no, I didn’t use a real human skull, but I did use the most realistic replica I could find.  It’s not plastic, but resin, and I don’t know if it’s food safe or not.  To be honest, I don’t really care.  It’s only going to be used on special occasions, and the liquid being imbibed from it is far more unhealthy than anything that might be in the resin itself.

I started by using a dremel cutting wheel to cut away the rear base of the skull, and then used a metal file to round and smooth out the edges.  I sanded any loose imperfections off of the inside of the cranial cavity as well.

image (8)I accidentally busted the front teeth out while cutting on the skull, but I actually think it gives it a more authentic appearance.  Prior to making this, and on a completely unrelated whim, I had purchased some hand made clay wine goblets from an independent artist, and accidentally dropped and broke one as soon as I took it out of the box.  The stem portion was undamaged, and was still in my trash can, so I dug it out to use for this project.  I used strong epoxy to affix the skull to the stem, then build up epoxy putty around the joint to further strengthen and stabilize the joint, and also to visually ease the transition between the stem and skull.  I embedded dog/coyote teeth (purchase at your local bead store) into the putty while it was still soft, and also used the putty to affix the lower jaw to the base of the stem.

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