The Marginalian
The Marginalian

Woodworking for Mere Mortals: 5 DIY Wooden Gadgets

In today’s multitasking, digitally driven creative landscape, there’s something to be said for the joy of unitasking and hands-on, tactile work the output of which is something charmingly analog and tangible. Enter Woodworking for Mere Mortals, our new favorite creative craftsmanship fix — a portal for woodworking projects, video tutorials, tips and resources for de-appifying your leisure and impressing friends with remarkably memorable gifts. Several dozen woodworking videos teach you how to make anything from salad tongs to musical instruments, complete with downloadable templates and narrated with delightful quirk by Northern California woodmaker Steve Ramsey. Here are 5 of our favorites.


Who needs a vuvuzela when you can have a ratchet rattle? Show the other team who’s boss at the next sporting event you attend or institute an office-wide intercom alternative with this really, really, really loud DIY noisemaker.


Sure, you could just download the latest music-making iPad app. Or, you could make yourself a Zimbambwean mbira dza vadzimu thumb piano. (And then actually learn to play it as wonderfully as this guy does.)


The dear old toothpick may be on the verge of slipping into cultural obscurity, but we find it an ingenious incarnation of design minimalism — one you’d appreciate even more with a clown toothpick holder …especially if you happen to have contracted our recently developed cinnamon toothpick addiction.


Down with stereotypes — now you can be a foodie and a lumberjack, thanks to this DIY tortilla press. This particular project is a wonderful manifestation of the fruitful convergence of new media and traditional craft — after Steve posted the original video, he got feedback from viewers pointing out a functionality problem that resulted in really, really fat tortillas. Consequently, he’s been toying with the idea of a prototype for removable inserts that allow for multi-thickness tortillas.


For another wonderful anitdote to the appification of leisure, make yourself — or a device-dependent friend — a retro marble maze. Download the PDF template here. (For a slightly more modern DIY gaming diversion, the connect 4 project is also worth a look.)

For more on the art and craft of woodworking, we highly recommend Old Ways of Working Wood: The Techniques and Tools of a Time Honored Craft — the definitive blueprint to wood types, tools and techniques, adorned with more than 200 beautiful illustrations.

Published January 13, 2011




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