7 Great Woodworking Tutorials

Here are 7 great woodworking tutorials that I have put together for you in one easy to find place. These have all been featured on my site before, and have been very popular. I am sure that you will find something that you will enjoy making. Happy building!

Easy String Art Heart

7 great woodworking tutorialsI will start with my most popular woodworking tutorial to date. The String Art Heart. This is a smaller version of some of the massive string art pieces that are out there, and a great introduction to making this kind of piece.

There is a secret to getting your nails all lined up really nicely that I reveal in the full tutorial, and it makes everything very easy.

I’ll give you a hint, you are not going to be pounding in all those nails. With a little prep work, you can have an extremely even, well spaced project, no matter the size. In fact, you can use the knowledge that you gain from this tutorial to make a gigantic piece right away.  Read more “7 Great Woodworking Tutorials”

Easy DIY Photo Backdrop Tutorial

My wife makes cakes. For the longest time, she was taking pictures of them against a white wall, which did not have a lot of character. She asked for a rustic photo backdrop, which I was more than happy to make. This tutorial shows you how to make an easy DIY photo backdrop, and for a very low cost.

Easy DIY Photo Backdrop RusticThis is one of my wife’s cakes, sitting proudly on the photo backdrop that is explained in this tutorial. It is a marbled fondant two tier cake, with handmade flowers and gold leaf.

The background adds to the look of the cake, and gives it a more professional appearance in pictures. This is a huge upgrade over a white wall. Anyone who makes things to sell needs to have a nice photo backdrop.

My wife specifically asked for a stain color that was not very dark, but still somewhere in the middle brown range. This color is called Provincial, and it is made by Varathane.

For your photo backdrop, select a stain that you like, and feel free to use it for the project. The color you decide upon will have to do with your personal taste. It will also depend on what kind of items you will be photographing. If you are taking pictures of dark items, a lighter stain will work better. The opposite is true for lighter items. If you shoot for the middle like I did, then you have the best of both.

Rustic Photo Backdrop Construction and Shopping List

Easy DIY Photo Backdrop RusticThe basic construction of this photo background is really straight forward. It is made from one size of wood, which is glued and brad nailed together like the picture.

My backdrop has a pallet look. This is very popular, and has a nice rustic feel. You need one pallet for the back, which sits vertically, and one for the base which sits horizontally.

The dimensions of my backdrop are as follows:

The back measures 30 inches tall, and 35 inches wide, and the bottom measures 24 inches deep and 35 inches wide.

This size is plenty for even larger cakes, and will be great for just about anything of a similar size. If you are photographing something much larger, then scale your design to meet your needs. In this case, she is able to take pictures of her cakes without seeing past the backdrop. That’s the point. You want to make sure that the backdrop is large enough that you cannot see past it when you are taking pictures. If you can, then it needs to be bigger.

When you go shopping, pick up several pieces of 3-1/2 inch wide, 3/4 inch thick, and 6-8 feet long pieces of wood. Just add up the measurements of your project, and plan your cuts to figure out how much you need. For my size, it required 12 sticks.

Gluing the Backdrop Panels Together

Easy DIY Photo Backdrop RusticCut down the sticks to length on a miter saw or with a hand saw. This piece is the 24 inch bottom, so I cut 10 pieces to 24 inches.

Arrange the pieces on the bench, and flip them over until you can see the best faces. Play around with them until the best looking boards are facing up.

Then, flip them all over. Now, cut two more pieces from the same stock that are the same length as the width of the planks. For mine, this was 35 inches. These are used to secure the boards together, and give the project strength.

The boards are flipped with the good faces down. When you glue on the stretchers, they are going on the back side. Once you flip the piece back over, the good faces will be seen.

Square the boards first, and then glue the two new boards near the top and bottom of the photo backdrop. It really does not matter where you glue them. Just get them somewhere near the top and bottom. The easiest way to accomplish this is to spread glue on the new board, and brad nail it to the others. Repeat this building process for both plates.

Photo Backdrop Staining and Finishing

Easy DIY Photo Backdrop RusticI really wanted to have a nice rustic look for this DIY photo backdrop. The nice thing about working with Pine is that it has rustic built right into the wood.

What I mean by that is you can stain Pine, and because of the differing densities and grain, it will absorb stain unevenly.

Apply your stain, and make sure to wipe it away really well on the knot free areas. Over the knots, grind it into the surface and wipe away the residual. This highlights the knots and defects, and makes them look like they were treated with a darker stain. It also helps to not sand the boards after you have them glued and nailed.

Easy DIY Photo Backdrop RusticThe more sanding that you do, the more evenly the stain will apply. If you want a very even look, then seal the board first with a light clear coat after sanding. This way, the stain will hit the surface as even as possible.

I believe that the beauty of this look is in the variation in color. You can really have a good time with the staining process. Depending on how you wipe it on and off, you can create a wide range of contrasts.

In particular, boards like the picture above that have knots near the edges create a nice look when they meet a clearer section of board next to them. This adds to the rustic look, and creates a nice looking photo backdrop.

Final Steps and Use of your Backdrop

Easy DIY Photo Backdrop RusticOnce the pieces have been stained, set them aside and allow them to dry. The Varathane stain that I use said it takes one hour to dry before it can be coated with a clear. It also said to use a polyurethane as the top coat.

In general, you want to follow the direction from the manufacturer on the different staining chemicals that you combine.

Coat the dried photo backdrop with a light spraying of clear polyurethane from an aerosol can. Allow it to dry for several hours, and then the pieces can be used. Make sure to give it ample drying time. Also, adjust the time to be longer in places where it is cold or has a higher humidity.

Easy DIY Photo Backdrop RusticHinging this unit is an option, and you can easily place two hinges at the outside ends. I like the idea of being able to slide the back piece left or right for a different camera angle, so I left the hinges off.

The only down side of hinges, is that you may need to use a photo editing program to remove them from your pictures. If you have Photoshop, or something like it, then this is an easy task. If you do not, then leave the hinges off.

Find a nice level place like a dining table, and push it against the wall. Place the back piece on the end of the table, and lean it against the wall. Then, place the bottom piece on the table, and butt it up to the bottom of the back piece.

This configuration hides the joint between them better, and you will not see any light coming through the bottom corner. After that, place items on the bottom plate of the photo backdrop, and start taking pictures.

You will be amazed at the difference when you take pictures with a photo backdrop. The look of your pictures becomes more uniform, and professional. Also, the appearance of the pictures on your website or business documents look better too. A nice backdrop provides the extra level of professionalism that is needed for a business, which is why everyone does it.

Also, a nice backdrop makes your products look better. If I were to take a picture of this cake on top of my trash can, the cake would be exactly the same, but the presentation would be totally different. The opposite is true as well. If I hired a professional studio to take pictures of this cake, it would look even better than it does now.

The difference is that for a few dollars you can get a similar look to a studio, without the studio price. This brings better photography within reach of the average small business owner, and will surely make your products shine.

If you have any questions on my Easy DIY Photo Backdrop Tutorial, please leave a comment and I will be glad to answer them. Also, please share my work with your friends on Pinterest! Happy building.

Additional Information About Westfarthing Woodworks

While I publish the overwhelming majority of my woodworking content for free, I also have several books available as well. You can see them on my Available Books Page, and they cover several different woodworking disciplines.

You can also Join the Community, and receive updates from me about new articles, upcoming books, and when I release new books. It’s completely free, and full of great tutorials, freebies, and great content.

Lastly, if you like what I do so much that you want to help me continue my work, please look at my profile on Patreon. This is a way for the people who enjoy my content to help me create more and better tutorials, books, and resources for woodworkers.

How to Make Wooden Beads Tutorial

This is how to make wooden beads, which are a great gifts, and can even be used to make a little money with your woodworking. Wooden beads for charm bracelets are very popular, and they come with a pretty high price. Thankfully, they are easy to make.

how to make wooden beadsI bought my wife one of those name brand charm bracelets a while ago as a gift, and soon discovered that the beads and charms are very expensive when you buy them one at a time.

A single bead can range from $40-$90, and while beautiful, they are definitely on the expensive side.

Some companies are making a line of beads from wood, and even these are not much less expensive than the other beads and charms. Being a woodworker, it only took me a short time to come up with a way of making them myself. For only a few cents each. Using the instructions in this tutorial, you can make wooden beads easily in your shop.

Choosing A Wood Species For Your Wooden Beads

how to make wooden beadsJust about any species of wood will work for this tutorial, however the staining process in the end works the best on light colored figured or burl wood. The construction process will be the same either way, so don’t let the wood stop you.

I am using Briar for this tutorial on how to make wooden beads. Briar is a wood that is primarily used for tobacco pipes. It is a dense burl, and takes a finish beautifully.

Other types of wood that are great candidates for wooden beads are Mahogany, Cocobolo, Rosewood, Figured Maple, and Bocote. As long as you like the look and color of the species, then feel free to use it to make a wooden bead for a charm bracelet.

Some woods are gorgeous just like they are, and can save you time in the finishing process because they will not need to be stained. The Rosewoods are a great example. If you like natural woods, just take a trip to the store and you will surely find something amazing.

Prepping and Drilling the Wooden Bead Blank

how to make wooden beadsOnce you choose a species, you need to purchase ferrules to cover the ends. These can be found in craft stores, online, and in sewing stores. Look for ferrules that measure 1/4 inch on the smaller portion that will fit inside the bead.

Two ferrules are needed for each bead, one on each end. The center portions will nearly touch each other, so measure the distance between your two ferrules when the small ends are touching. This is the minimum thickness that you need to make your bead. If you go thinner than this, you will have to sand down the ends of the ferrules. This is more of a pain than it’s worth, so just size your blank accordingly.

how to make wooden beadsFor my blank and ferrules, I sliced off a slab that was almost 1/2 inch thick. Then, I sanded the faces very smooth until the blank measured 3/8 inch. This was perfect for my ferrules.

Cut out a blank that is about 1-1/2 inch square, and thick enough so that your ferrules can both be pressed in flush.

Then, drill a hole through the center for a pen making mandrel. In most cases, these mandrels are made with a 1/4 inch shaft. Choose a drill that matches the mandrel, and then drill a hole. Make sure to have a scrap on the bottom of the piece to prevent the hole from blowing out on the bottom.

how to make wooden beadsThe shaping process will take place on the lathe, and a little prep work needs to be done. In order to make turning easier, the blank needs to be roughed out.

First, draw a circle around the drill hole that is a little larger than 1 inch in diameter. Then, saw the excess wood off with a hand saw or band saw. This is unnecessary wood, and will make your lathe tools last longer.

After that, use a sander to refine the edge and knock down any sharp or pointy areas from sawing. Then, sand the faces flat to 400 grit, and make sure that all the scratches are removed. The faces will not be touched much on the lathe, so remove the scratches now.

Once the piece is on the lathe, the faces will be difficult to get to. Lay out a piece of sandpaper on a flat surface and just work the faces back and forth. Once you get down to 400 grit with zero scratches, you are ready to turn it.

Turning a Wooden Bead on the Lathe

how to make wooden beadsMount the wooden bead blank on the pen mandrel. Use a 7mm bushing on both faces, and keep it as close to the headstock as possible.

For the rest of the shaft, load it with anything you have to in order to get to where you can tighten down the knurled nut at the end, and secure the wooden bead blank.

It’s important to keep your turnings as close to the headstock as possible. This is a more stable area, and there will be less chatter while turning. Use the tailstock to stabilize the other end of the pen mandrel, and lock everything in place just as if you were turning a wooden pen.

how to make wooden beadsFirst, use a roughing tool to turn the wooden bead blank round. This can be a roughing gouge, skew, or a carbide lathe tool.

I made a whole set of carbide lathe tools that I describe in another article. These saved me a ton of money, and I don’t have to buy any sharpening equipment now.

Turn the wooden bead concentric to the mandrel shaft, and then size it down. This is a personal taste thing, as wooden beads can be made in any diameter you like. For most beads, something from 3/4 inch to 1 inch is perfect. I made this bead a little on the big side, so I turned it down to 1 inch with my homemade carbide lathe tool.

In general, sometimes going big can have a positive effect. Something bigger than normal stands out. This means it will be noticed more, and spoken about more. Going a little bigger than normal is typically OK, just don’t go too large. Subtlety still wins.

how to make wooden beadsNext, decide on a shape. Most beads are just rounded, but some are more pointed in the middle. Some are even made with beveled sides, and have a more geometric look.

Use a fingernail gouge or a detail carbide tool to create the shape you like. If you are interested in a traditional look, simply round the corners.

It is important that whatever shape you decide upon, that you make it symmetrical. Take some time and really check your work while it’s on the lathe. This is the easiest time to ensure that your wooden beads are good looking. The lathe allows you to remove material quickly, so take advantage of that and make your shape the best you can before moving on.

Sanding the Bead to Shape and Smoothing

how to make wooden beadsOnce you have your initial shape created on the wooden bead blank, you can now begin to sand the surface smooth.

Briar sands like a dream, and comes up to a polish rather quickly. First, take a look at your sanding marks and decide on what grit to start with. In most cases, starting with 150 is typically a good choice.

The 150 grit sandpaper is rough enough to remove material quickly, but not so rough that it leaves super deep scratches. After that, switch to 220, then 400, then 600, and then 0000 steel wool. Make sure to fully remove all scratches from the previous grit before moving on to the next finer grit.

how to make wooden beadsHere is a close up look at the wooden bead on the lathe. This is after sanding down to 0000 steel wool.

The Briar has an incredibly smooth look, which is normal for this type of wood. The species that you choose may or may not be as smooth, depending on if the grain is open or not.

The important thing to do at this step is to ensure that the surface is completely scratch free before moving on to staining. The staining and finishing process will not remove any scratches. In fact, it will only amplify them. The lathe does the overwhelming majority of the work. Spend the time necessary to get the surface completely smooth.

Finishing the Wooden Bead with Dye Stains

how to make wooden beadsDye stains are awesome. There is really no other way to put it that makes sense. If you are not working with dyes yet, then make this your excuse to buy a few bottles.

The Fiebings leather dyes are less than $10 each, and last a very long time. Invest in a few colors, and you will be impressed.

For the finish, I am going to explain how to use black, saddle tan, and yellow dye to create a contrast finish. You can use any colors that you like, there is just one loose rule. You need to have a very dark stain, and a might stain. Your dark can be a brown to a black, and your light can be just about anything else lighter in color.

These dyes can be found in leather working stores, online of course, and in some woodworking stores. The black is an alcohol leather dye, and the other two colors are the pro dye, which has some oil in it too. If you are interested in different colors, they have tons to choose from. The Fiebings brand is excellent to work with.

how to make wooden beadsThe first step to a great looking contrast stain is to apply a dark under color. After sanding, the Briar is pretty basic looking. It’s nice, but nothing super special. The contrast staining process will bring out the detail.

While the lathe is rotating, carefully dab a paper towel with black dye against the wooden bead, allowing it to grab color.

It will only take a few seconds while the lathe spins for the dye to dry on the surface. At this point, apply another layer. Keep repeating this until the bead is dyed very dark. You need to be sure that the sides get some color too, but remember that the ferrules are going to cover the areas right near the center holes.

Sanding Down the Under Stain Color

how to make wooden beadsAllow the dye to dry completely. Using a heat gun for a few seconds on a low heat setting can help set the stain. Now, you begin the process of revealing the grain.

The contrast staining process works by dying the grain lines in the Briar darker than the remaining wood. This is accomplished by dying the entire piece black, and then sanding.

Turn on the lathe and sand with either 800 grit paper carefully, or 0000 steel wool. The steel wool will be a little more forgiving, but it will take a little longer to remove color. The goal is to remove all the color from the flake, but leave color in the grain.

how to make wooden beadsStop the lathe frequently as the color becomes lighter and lighter. Keep going until you see a contrast that you like.

For this project, I want to showcase more of the top color than the under color. For this reason, I sanded the surface to reduce the black to barely anything. This will look great once a top color of stain is applied.

Make sure that you get around to the sides of the wooden bead as well. This can be a little tough, but if you fold the sandpaper you can hit the sides. Leave the sides a little darker than the rest of the bead, and you will have a nice transition from dark to light.

Adding the Top Color to the Wooden Bead

how to make wooden beadsInspect your sanding after the black stain, and once you are satisfied, move on to the top color.

This can be anything you choose, and for this tutorial, saddle tan and yellow are used to create the top color.

First, apply a layer of saddle tan. Turn on the lathe, and use a paper towel to dab on the color as the wooden bead spins. This is different than applying the black. The goal here is to apply one good even layer of color to the bead. If you want the color to be more pronounced, apply a second layer. However, one good layer while the lathe spins should be enough in most cases to add the top color layer.

how to make wooden beadsAllow the top color to dry fully, which can again be sped up with a little heat and air.

In order to apply the yellow, some of the saddle tan has to be removed. Since yellow is lighter than saddle tan, simply applying it over the top will not show the color.

Using 0000 steel wool carefully sand the middle of the bead while the lathe spins. This will remove just a small amount of the saddle tan stain from the wooden bead. If you want more of a transition, then remove more of the saddle tan. However, you do not want to remove it all. For this bead, I barely lightened the center of the wood. This is just enough to see a slight variation in the color of the final product.

how to make wooden beadsHere is a picture of the bead spinning on the lathe. This makes it much easier to see the center portion.

Use 0000 steel wool until the center portion of the bead looks lighter than the rest of the bead, which will allow the yellow to come through very slightly.

As you can see, the middle area of the spinning bead is definitely a little lighter than the sides and shoulders of the bead. Again, if you want more yellow to show, then sand more. What you don’t want is to remove all of the color. If you do, there will be a yellow stripe down the middle instead of a nice transition.

Applying the Second Top Color to the Bead

how to make wooden beadsTurn on the lathe, and apply the yellow dye to the entire bead. The areas where the saddle tan is at full strength will not show very much of a change.

The middle of the bead will be slightly more yellow looking than the sides, and there will be more color depth to the finished piece.

This coat is the same as the coat of saddle tan, because both are top stains. The goal is to simply get an even layer of color applied across the wooden bead, and then allow the stain to dry completely before moving on to the next step. Let the lathe spin for a minute or so, and the spinning will help the dye stain to dry.

how to make wooden beadsHere is a look at the wooden bead on the lathe, after the top colors have dried. There is a very subtle change in color from the sides to the top, and the color has depth and life.

If you have arrived at this point, then you can finish the wooden bead right on the lathe if you like. You can use any finish that you are comfortable with, though some friction finishes may remove too much color.

For hand applied finishes, use something like Tru-Oil, Arm-R-Seal, or Danish Oil. All of these simply go on with a cloth, and then allow them to dry. Thin coats win the finishing game, so be sure to apply very thin coats, allowing them to dry completely in between.

Hand applied finishes do not get the credit they deserve. Sprayed finishes are very popular, and sometimes are seen as being superior to hand finishes. While spray finishes are good, hand finishes are among the most beautiful in all of woodworking.

If you have not done so already, spend a little time working on your hand finishing skills. If you really learn just a couple pet finishes, you are good for almost anything. Learn how to use Tru-Oil and Arm-R-Seal, and you can finish just about anything big or small.

Buffing the Wooden Bead to a High Sheen

how to make wooden beadsFor finishing small wooden pieces, and getting a very high sheen, there is nothing better than buffing.

I wrote a whole article on buffing with the Beall Wood Buff System, which is what I use in my shop. If you are kicking around the idea of buying a buffing setup, it’s well worth it.

First, remove the bead from your mandrel, and thread it over a 1/4 inch dowel rod. The rod allows you to hold the bead, and there is much less risk of it flying away. Buff the wooden bead with Tripoli first, and then switch to white diamond. Finally, a buffing of Carnauba wax seals everything and adds gloss.

how to make wooden beadsHere is a look at the bead after buffing. The color and the surface take on an incredibly smooth and shiny appearance.

Once you buff wood, you will never want to finish any other way for small projects. This wooden bead went from the lathe to finished in only a few minutes. Plus, you can handle the piece immediately afterwards.

The grain on this piece of Briar really pops now thanks to the contrast staining process and the buffing. A good finish will do the same thing, though depending on your sanding it may not be quite as smooth.

how to make wooden beadsThe benefit of buffing is that you are really just sanding the wood with fine abrasives.

Buffing compounds are really nothing more than sanding grit in a cake form. The buffing wheel picks up the grit from the compound, and then the cloth rubs the compound against the wood.

The effect of the buffing process is that you have sanded the surface with very fine grits, which make it very smooth. You can do the same thing by hand with micro mesh papers, you will just have to leave the wooden bead on the lathe. Micro mesh is a great alternative for those without a buffing setup, and can create a very smooth surface as well.

Installing the Ferrules on the Bead Faces

how to make wooden beadsFinally, the ferrules are applied. The easiest way to secure the ferrules is with CA glue, though sometimes it can come loose if the bead takes a good hit.

It does take longer, but I really like to use two part epoxy for attaching the ferrules. It takes longer to dry, but the bond is incredible.

Mix up a little 5 minute epoxy, and use a stick to dab some on the faces of the wooden bead. Make sure to confine the epoxy to the areas under the ferrule. Also, wipe a little inside the center hole, but not too much. Sometimes, pressing in the ferrule can gum up the epoxy if you put too much in the middle.

how to make wooden beadsPress the ferrules in place after applying the epoxy to both faces. Look inside the center hole to make sure that the epoxy has not pooled outside the ferrules.

Also, check the faces and make sure that the epoxy did not spread onto the wooden bead.

If you have epoxy where you do not want it, simply wipe it off with a rag before it has a chance to cure. If you skip this step, taking it off later will be miserable. Inspect the bead well, and then set it aside to cure. Most epoxies take a few hours to reach light handling strength, and 24 hours for a full cure. Before you give this wooden bead away, make sure to give it 24 hours.

how to make wooden beadsHere is a look at the finished bead. It is a little larger than some of the store bought beads, but it will stand out on a charm bracelet.

These beads are very light, since they are made from wood. The extra size will not be noticed in the weight of the piece.

These thread onto most of the store bought charm bracelets, and look great next to any of the other charms. Wood comes in every color just about, so you can use a species or a stain color that goes well with the existing charms and beads on the bracelet. Beads like this retail for sometimes $40-$90, and you just made one for only a few pennies.

This is one of those projects where the time commitment and the cost are very low when compared to the retail price. Yes, you may not be able to sell them for the same price as the big guys, but even at half price you can still do very well.

I spent about an hour making this bead for the tutorial. Assuming a cost of $1, and a sell price of $25 each, you could make about $24 an hour making beads. If you end up making several of these and selling them, your time commitment may come down to half that once you are tooled up and have a good manufacturing process in place.

If you have no plans on selling these, they make excellent gifts. Something like this will be a treasure for the recipient. They will have it with them any time they wear their charm bracelet, and people will ask where they bought it.

For any questions about How to Make Wooden Beads, please leave a comment and I will be glad to answer them. Also, please share my work with your friends online. It gives me a chance to share my love of woodworking with even more people. Happy building.

Additional Information About Westfarthing Woodworks

While I publish the overwhelming majority of my woodworking content for free, I also have several books available as well. You can see them on my Available Books Page, and they cover several different woodworking disciplines.

You can also Join the Community, and receive updates from me about new articles, upcoming books, and when I release new books. It’s completely free, and full of great tutorials, freebies, and great content.

Lastly, if you like what I do so much that you want to help me continue my work, please look at my profile on Patreon. This is a way for the people who enjoy my content to help me create more and better tutorials, books, and resources for woodworkers.

Wine Ceremony Box Tutorial

Here is one of my most popular post series all in one place. This is how to make a wine ceremony box. By the end of the series, you will have your very own. This is a fantastic project for a new couple. It also makes a great gift that will be treasured a newly married couple.

My wife and I had a wine ceremony for our wedding. I also made the box that we used, and that makes the experience even more special. The wine ceremony box in this tutorial series was made for a couple friends. It was a pleasure as a carpenter to be a small part of their special day.

wine ceremony boxPart One – Making the Box: This part of the tutorial covers making the box itself, and fitting the slide top lid. The box that you will have made after this section is good enough on its own to be used for a wine ceremony box. If you like the clean look of a Pine box, then proceed to the finishing section and you are done.

The box in the instructions is made from Pine, but you can easily substitute any other wood that you like. If you are planning on binding the box in the second part of the tutorial, then pick a species that contrasts well with the wood for the binding. Having a contrasting wood choice highlights the different areas of the wine ceremony box.

wine ceremony boxPart Two – Binding the Box with an Exotic Hardwood: In section two of the wine ceremony box, an exotic wood is added around the edges. This is a great way to add a touch of high end woodworking to a simple Pine box. Not only does the addition of an exotic wood enhance the look of the wine ceremony box, it also adds some color contrast.

I chose Cocobolo wood for the binding, which I had in the shop. These are binding strips for acoustic guitars, and are easy to install. On guitars, these are normally bent. With a wine bottle box, they are straight. This makes the installation process much easier.

wine ceremony boxPart Three – Inlaying a Family Monogram: This part of the wine ceremony box explains the process for adding a custom inlay. The instructions are for a cheater inlay, but the results look great. If you follow these directions, you can add a date for the wedding, initials, and anything else important to the couple being married. This makes the inlay unique.

For this project, the couple wanted their first initials on the outsides of the monogram. They also wanted their last name initial in the middle. I added the wedding date at the bottom to complete the monogram. This inlay process uses wood filler, so the process is far easier than a normal inlay.

wine ceremony boxPart Four – Finishing the Wine Ceremony Box: These step by step finishing instructions make it easy to add a great finish to your wine ceremony box. I like simple finishes. This one is easy to apply, and makes the wine box look great.

Hand applied finishes are among the easiest to work with. All you need is a cloth, and you can apply a great looking finish.

If you have a different finish that you really like to use, then feel free to apply that finish. Since I did not have the ability to purchase spray equipment when I started woodworking, I relied on hand applied finishes. It only took a short time to learn to apply them well, and they always look great. They are less usually expensive too.

If you make a wine ceremony box following my instructions, please send me some pictures of your completed project. I love to see people successful at woodworking.

If you have any questions about my Wine Ceremony Box Tutorials, please leave a comment and I will be glad to answer them. Also, please share my work with your friends on Pinterest! Happy building.

Additional Information About Westfarthing Woodworks

While I publish the overwhelming majority of my woodworking content for free, I also have several books available as well. You can see them on my Available Books Page, and they cover several different woodworking disciplines.

You can also Join the Community, and receive updates from me about new articles, upcoming books, and when I release new books. It’s completely free, and full of great tutorials, freebies, and great content.

Lastly, if you like what I do so much that you want to help me continue my work, please look at my profile on Patreon. This is a way for the people who enjoy my content to help me create more and better tutorials, books, and resources for woodworkers.

How to Make a Wood Pendant Necklace

Here is my tutorial which shows you how to make a wood pendant necklace. This is a great project. It’s quick, easy, and makes a beautiful gift. This wood pendant necklace is actually a gift for my wife, which is why I stained it purple. She loves purple. Enjoy.

how to make a wood pendant necklaceWood pendant necklaces are becoming very popular. People really like to incorporate the natural look of wood into their style, and creative woodworkers are making some amazing designs.

The most simple wooden pendants are made from a single species, and left natural. In this type of pendant, the natural beauty of the wood is the centerpiece. Following the instructions in this tutorial, you can make a pendant in that style if you like.

There are also creative woodworkers using resin and casting pieces of burl wood. The resulting blank is then crafted into a pendant, and the beauty of both materials is shown.

Once you understand the basic process of making a pendant in this tutorial, you will be able to apply that knowledge to a resin casting if you so choose. The beauty of this technique for making a wood pendant necklace is that you can use the same process on many different materials. You can also change the shape, design, and style if you like. The process will remain the same or similar.

Wooden Pendant Necklace Materials

how to make a wood pendant necklaceI really like working with Briar. This is the premier wood for tobacco pipes, and it is incredibly beautiful.

The picture shows a Briar block called an ebauchon, and a couple slices of Briar too. The pieces do not look like much right now, but after a stain and a polish they will look amazing.

You can find Briar at a pipe making store, or a pipe making supplier online. Stores are becoming scarce, so you may just want to look online. If you do have a local place, they can help you select a nice looking block. It’s not cheap, but several wood pendant necklaces can be made from one block, reducing the cost.

The benefit to buying Briar online is that it’s less expensive. There is a local place in my state that has Briar, but they only stock very high end pieces. These start around $40 for a piece about the size of a baseball. If you look online for a place like JH Lowe, you can get a deal on Briar for your wooden pendants.

You can also make this project from a solid piece of wood. There are many beautiful species out there, and they can all be made into a nice necklace. If you are planning on staining the necklace, then I recommend a light colored species. For these instructions, I will be using Briar.

Reading the Grain For the Pendant Design and Layout

how to make a wood pendant necklaceSand the bottom of your Briar block until you have a smooth surface. This does not have to be perfect. Use a belt sander or a power sander to get through the rough exterior surface of the Briar. Once the wood grain is exposed, you can read it better.

Now, wet the surface with water. A few drops spread around with the fingers will do. Once the piece is wet, you can begin to see what Briar really looks like under a finish. This is your opportunity to read the grain, and incorporate it into your design. Since this is a teardrop design, plot out your shape so that the direction of the grain flows well with the shape.

Saw off a slab off the bottom of the Briar that is 3/8 inch thick, which you will use to mark out the shape of your pendant. If you like something a little thinner, then you can sand it down or cut a thinner piece. 3/8 inch is pretty good, because it’s thick enough to handle but not too bulky to wear.

how to make a wood pendant necklaceMark a line through the grain pattern than will be your center line. Base the decision on how the grain looks.

Then, draw a 1 inch diameter circle on the most figured end. About 2 inches away, draw a couple straight lines that form in the teardrop shape.

In order to drill the wood pendant, you need to create a flat surface and a drilling line. Make a line perpendicular to the center line that is about 3/8 inch away from the tip. This will be the hole for the necklace string. Then draw another line parallel to the center line and on the right. This is the flat section that will help you drill through the pendant before you cut it out. In this case, cut out the shaded portion on the right.

Drilling the Wood Pendant Necklace

how to make a wood pendant necklaceOnce the piece is removed, you have a flat area where you can drill more accurately. Extend the necklace string line around the end of the wood, and then mark the center.

Use a 1/8 inch drill bit to drill carefully through the necklace. Make sure to keep the drill straight, and you will see it pop out of the other end right on your line.

If you get the hole a little off, don’t worry about it too much. You can sand out the shape a little extra and minimize the mistake. If you drill it terribly, consider marking out another pendant and giving it a second try.

Cutting the Pendant and Initial Shaping

how to make a wood pendant necklaceAfter the hole is drilled, cut out the remainder of the wood pendant shape on the saw. If you have a band saw, this process is very quick. If not, use a hand saw and take your time.

Make sure to stay outside the lines when you cut out the pendant. The shape will be refined later on with a sander, so leave a little material to work with.

When in doubt, leave a little more versus trying for too much and altering the design. This is a small pendant, so if you dig into the design with the saw, you may need to remove too much to even it out.

how to make a wood pendant necklaceInitial sanding is done on the belt sander. Refine the shape of the edges only at this step.

I recommend that you sand the flat sections first, and make them even. Look at the wood pendant regularly, and only stop sanding once the two flats are even from both sides.

Now, begin refining the shape of the round portion on the bottom. Work carefully, and sand the profile to blend it into the flats. It is far easier to get the flat areas right and then do the rounded area. If you do it the other way, you will end up sanding the round area a second time after you make adjustments for symmetry on the flats. Once the shape looks nice, and the edges are sanded, move on to the next step.

Carving and Rounding the Pendant Necklace

how to make a wood pendant necklaceNow that the basic shape is set, the piece needs to be carved and sanded to make it more rounded.

The easiest way to do this is on a belt sander or a spindle sander. For my Briar piece, I used a 2 inch spindle sander with 100 grit paper.

Work slowly and carefully to round over the corners all the way around the wood pendant shape, and blend them. The first few will take off a large amount of material, since the corners are going away. The amount of rounding is up to you, but I recommend removing quite a bit so that the pendant has a pleasing shape.

how to make a wood pendant necklaceOnce you have the basic shape created on the power sander, switch to sanding by hand.

Start with 150 grit paper, which will remove material quickly. 150 grit is also nice because it does not leave really deep scratches.

Start by evening out any really rough areas, and blending them into each other. Spend as much time as you need with the 150 grit paper, and resist the urge to switch to finer papers before you are ready. It will take quite a bit of sanding to get your wood pendant necklace smooth enough to switch grits. In fact, the closer you can get it at this point, the better off you are when you switch to 220.

how to make a wood pendant necklaceHopefully you followed my advice from about 3 seconds ago and stayed with the 150 grit paper until the shape was perfect. If you did, this next step is going to fly by.

Switch to 220 grit paper and go over the entire wood pendant. Wipe it off, and go over it again to remove all the scratches from the 150 grit.

After the scratches are gone, switch to 400 grit paper, and go over the piece again. After some sanding with 400, the piece should be incredibly smooth. At this point, wipe it off and check the surface for scratches. If you find any, remove them with the finest paper possible.

Staining Your Wood Pendant Necklace

how to make a wood pendant necklaceMy wife loves the color purple. So, there was no other color that I could use for this project.

One of the best ways to stain wood, especially Briar is by using a dye stain. This color is a Trans Tint Purple, which I mixed with Denatured Alcohol.

Apply several coats. This type of stain dries very quickly, in a matter of seconds. Blow on it between coats. This makes the finish dry in a single breath, and you can wipe on another coat. I applied about 30 layers of finish to my wood pendant, and then blew on it for a few seconds to set the color. If you do not want to use a dye stain, then use a stain of your choice or leave the project natural.

Finishing Your Pendant

how to make a wood pendant necklaceBriar is best finished by polishing. I use the Beall Wood Buff System, which I have another post about.

If you are finishing this piece with a hand applied product, take a look at my article on Tru-Oil for great directions.

I buffed this wood pendant necklace with tripoli compound, and then white diamond. The buffing wheel smooths the surface of the wood, and adds a shine. Nothing was added afterwards, and the shine is from the polish on the wood. If you have never buffed wood before, I recommend trying it some time. Once you do, you will end up buying the system pretty quickly. It’s only about $100 too.

The last thing you need to do is run a string through the hole in the wood pendant necklace, and tie off the ends. You can also buy a nice necklace and thread on the pendant. For mine, I used a piece of black waxed cord, which has a rustic look.

If you have any questions on How to Make a Wood Pendant Necklace, please leave a comment and I will be glad to answer them. Also, please share my work with your friends online so that I can show more people the joys of woodworking. Happy building.

Additional Information About Westfarthing Woodworks

While I publish the overwhelming majority of my woodworking content for free, I also have several books available as well. You can see them on my Available Books Page, and they cover several different woodworking disciplines.

You can also Join the Community, and receive updates from me about new articles, upcoming books, and when I release new books. It’s completely free, and full of great tutorials, freebies, and great content.

Lastly, if you like what I do so much that you want to help me continue my work, please look at my profile on Patreon. This is a way for the people who enjoy my content to help me create more and better tutorials, books, and resources for woodworkers.

How to Make a Hand Carved Wand

This tutorial explains how to make a hand carved wand, which is a perfect gift for any young witch or wizard. The process is easy, and it can be done in a single evening. Hand shaping allows you to have a more rustic look, and incorporate curves into the design.

how to make a hand carved wandBoth of these wands are shaped by hand using tools, which is different than my normal process of turning them on a lathe. However, having carved dozens of guitar necks on the belt sander, the process itself is something I am familiar with.

The main wand in this tutorial is made from Walnut, is 12-1/2 inches long, and designed with a round pommel and grooves on the handle.

The second wand is made from Cherry, is 12-1/2 inches long, and is partially turned on the lathe. The two rings at the center begged to be turned, so I did that before I carved the rest by hand. This is completely optional, and you can carve this with files just as well.

You can use this same process to make any type or style of wand that you want. If you like my designs, please feel free to use them. If you would rather have something a little different, then modify them to suit your taste. There is no wrong answer as long as you like what you make.

Laminating the Blanks for the Hand Carved Wand

how to make a hand carved wandAll of my hand carved wands are made from a laminated bank. The blank measures 1-1/2 inches square, and 16 inches long.

If you head to the woodworking store and find a piece that is already big enough to cut out a blank, then feel free to use a single piece. In this case, I was only able to find 3/4 inch thick pieces, so I glued two of them together.

This is a great way to save money in general when woodworking. The thicker 8/4 pieces are always more expensive than the standard thickness. Besides, with a good glue joint, you will never be able to tell it was made from two pieces.

how to make a hand carved wandTo laminate the blank, cut two pieces that measure 16 inches long, and 1-1/2 inches wide on the table saw. Then, apply wood glue to both sides.

After both pieces of wood have glue on them, spread it evenly. Use a finger or a glue roller to form an even and thin layer.

Make sure that the glue covers both mating surfaces, and that there are no dry areas. Also, don’t hose the project with glue. A thin layer on both of the faces that are going to be glued together is just enough. The first secret to an invisible joint is an even film of glue.

how to make a hand carved wandNow, clamp the pieces together. The second secret to an invisible glue joint is to use several clamps.

Even clamping pressure and multiple clamps helps ensure that the pieces are held together well.

Apply a couple spring clamps on the ends to keep the wood from sliding. Then, start adding strong bar clamps in between. Once they are all in place, begin bringing up the pressure. Bring up the pressure evenly, which will help keep the wood from sliding around. Clean up any squeeze out with a wet rag, and allow the wand blank to dry overnight.

Drawing a Design for the Hand Carved Wand

how to make a hand carved wandThis is where you get to decide what kind of wand you like. If you look around online, there are a few places that will make you answer some questions and assign you a wand. The inspiration for these two wands came from a site like that.

The first step is to mark out the ends based on the size of the wand. In this case, they are 12-1/2 inches. Then, start laying out the rest of the design. For this carved wand, the top of the round pommel is 4-3/4 inches from the butt end, with a 1 inch ball, and 3/4 inch handle. The rest of the wand starts out a little smaller than 3/4 inch, and tapers to less than half an inch at the tip.

how to make a hand carved wandThe biggest part of laying out the design for your wand is keeping everything centered. The blank is square, so keeping the main details centered helps later on.

In this case, the handle, pommel, and middle of the wand are all centered. They will be easier to cut and shape later, and will have the most wood to work with.

The top 1/3 of the wand curves, so this is marked out off center on purpose. Since the top section is thinner, it really does not matter that it’s not centered. There will be plenty of wood to carve out the design.

Roughing Out the Carved Wand Blank

how to make a hand carved wandThe more you can remove on the band saw or with a coping saw the better. Carving by hand, even using power tools takes time. If you can reduce the bulk of the process by using a saw, then you will save time later.

Use a band saw or coping saw to cut off the waste wood that is outside the lines. Also, leave a tiny amount extra on the tip and butt of the wand. This little extra allowance will be trimmed off later. The reason for keeping a little extra is to make sure that the wand measures exactly as it should for length. After all, if a little wizard asks for a 12-1/2 inch long wand, that’s what they should get.

how to make a hand carved wandNext, draw more guides on the adjacent face of the wand blank.

Essentially these are the same lines as on the first round in most cases. In this one, the curve has already been set. So the design shows a straight cut for the top section of the wand.

The reason for these new lines is to give you more waste to saw off on the band saw or coping saw. Again, the more you can take off before sanding the better. Run the piece through the saw after you mark out the design, and be sure to stay outside the lines. Discard the waste, and you now have a roughed out wand blank.

Shaping the Hand Carved Wand

how to make a hand carved wandNow the fun begins. This is what the blank looks like after everything that can possibly be cut off by the saw has been removed.

It is starting to look like a hand carved wand, but it still needs to be sanded and shaped.

This is where you will need to decide on how to proceed. On these wands I used a spindle sander and a bench top belt sander for the vast majority of the work. The spindle sander was nice for the tighter areas, and the belt sander was great for hogging off large amounts of wood quickly. Even a palm sander or almost any other kind of power sander can be useful.

how to make a hand carved wandStart by refining the shape, and rounding the corners. If you have a large pommel or decorative feature in the design, start refining the shape.

Take your time, and work around the piece. Be careful not to remove too much from one area or another.

If your design starts to get a little off, remove material from the other side to even it out. A hand made wand will have a little variance in the design. This is normal. You just want to make sure that it looks intentional not accidental.

how to make a hand carved wandBegin rounding the handle and rounding the shaft area. This is easiest to do on a belt sander, but can be done by hand too. If you are working on this project by hand, files are going to be your best friends.

Even on a budget you can pick up a few wood files for this project. Look at a discount tool store or in a home improvement store. Most files have a medium to coarse set, and will remove wood nicely. It’s a much faster process than sanding by hand, and they are not too damaging to the wood. A basic double mill flat file and a square file are good to start with. Look for a larger diameter round file too if you can.

Adding Grooves on the Wand Handle

how to make a hand carved wandMeasure 3/4 inch in from the end of the wand and the base of the pommel, and make a couple marks. Then, make several more marks 1/4 inch away from each other.

Extend these carefully around the handle of the hand carved wand. This does not need to be perfect, and a little variation is a good thing,

Then, use a hack saw to create a small cut following the lines. The hack saw is perfect for this, and it will give the file a place to grip later. This process puts rings or grips on the handle, and gives it a really nice look. Simply clamp the saw in a vise, and carefully rotate the wand against the blade. Work it in the same direction as the teeth, not against them. It will mark just as well, and be easier to control.

how to make a hand carved wandNow, follow the cuts that you just made with a square file. Use one of the edges of the file to widen the saw cut.

Follow the cut all the way around the wand for each groove. Make sure to keep the point of the file straight up too. This will make it easier to get an even groove on the bottom, and means your file is not tipped one way or another.

Go back over the grooves one at a time and check for odd looking spots. Address them with the file and continue looking. Sometimes the first and the last grooves look really different. If they are, go back and even out the depth of all the grooves before moving forward.

Installing the Core Cover

how to make a hand carved wandIn order to give these wands a little mystery, I added a core cover to the end. Anyone who knows a little wand lore understands that wands have magical cores. Since I was all out of Phoenix Feathers, I had to improvise.

I liked the idea of installing a core cover, which makes it look like there is really a magical core inside the carved wand.

For the cover, you can do any kind of inlay that you like. In this example, find a small plastic rod and drill a matching hole. Then, drip glue into the hole and insert the rod. When dry, cut off the excess and sand the end smooth.

The dot that you see is the same material that is used for adding side dots to a guitar fretboard. I happened to have a few of these in the shop, so I used it for my core cover. What you use does not matter, it’s just for the story. It adds to the magic when a kid believes there is a core in their wand.

Staining and Finishing the Wand

how to make a hand carved wandStaining and finishing is a matter of personal preference. I had to match a darker color than the Walnut I was using, so I used a dark walnut dye stain.

Dye stains are great. In this example, coat the wand several times with dye, and set it aside to dry. Then, lightly sand, and coat again.

After the dye dries, you can use a finish of your choice to protect the wood. In my case, I used a buffed finish. Buffing the surface creates an even sheen, and polished the surface. It also allows the wand to be handled immediately. I buff many of my projects, and I use the Beall Wood Buff System, which I have a post about.

how to make a hand carved wandIn order to give the wand a worn and realistic look, buff the wood more in areas that the witch or wizard would touch more.

In this case, buff the handle extra hard, and the end of the handle. A hand carved wand should show some variation in the wood as well as the finish. This is where you can make it stand out.

If you look at the end of the handle, you can start to see the original color of the wood popping through the dark stain. This looks very natural, like the wand has been through a lifetime of use. It is easy to do, and simply requires buffing on that one area longer than on the rest of the wand. Buffing is sanding in a way, so it does remove material…slowly.

Hand Carved Wand Made From Cherry

how to make a hand carved wandThe Cherry is made the same way as the Walnut wand, with one exception. The double ring pommel is turned on the lathe.

I could have carved something like this by hand, but it would not have looked as good or as even in the end. This wand is the same size as the Walnut wand, and the pommel is in the same place.

Turn the pommel, or carve a couple of 1/2 inch rings that are right next to each other. These form the pommel, and give the rest of the hand carved wand a really sharp look.

how to make a hand carved wandAfter that, the process is largely the same as the Walnut wand.

Begin with the blank after turning and mark out the design for cutting.

Make sure to cut off as much waste as possible on the saw, which minimizes the amount of sanding to do later.

Then, refine the shape with power sanders or files and keep on going until the wand is exactly as you like it. In the case of the Cherry wand, I also drew a wavy design on the handle, and then went over it with a Dremel and a round nose bit. This lightly carved the design into the wood, and was easy to finish over.

Hand Carved Wand Final Pictures

how to make a hand carved wandHere are both wands after staining and buffing, and they came out great. You can also see the detail of the carving on the handle of the Cherry wand on the bottom.

Both of these were created using pictures as a reference, and capture many of the details.

The hand carving process allows you you craft any shape and style of wand that you desire, the only limit is your imagination. These wands were a pleasure to build, and only took one evening to complete. I love the rustic, hand-made look that is very different from lathe turned wands. These both look like they have age on them, and stories to tell.

Additional Information About Westfarthing Woodworks

While I publish the overwhelming majority of my woodworking content for free, I also have several books available as well. You can see them on my Available Books Page, and they cover several different woodworking disciplines.

You can also Join the Community, and receive updates from me about new articles, upcoming books, and when I release new books. It’s completely free, and full of great tutorials, freebies, and great content.

Lastly, if you like what I do so much that you want to help me continue my work, please look at my profile on Patreon. This is a way for the people who enjoy my content to help me create more and better tutorials, books, and resources for woodworkers.

How to Make Handmade Charm Bracelet Beads

handmade charm bracelet beadsThis tutorial on how to make homemade charm bracelet beads covers the entire process of making your own beads for a tiny fraction of the store bought price. I bought my wife an expensive charm bracelet, and soon found out that the purchase didn’t stop there.

As I wanted to add beads and charms, I saw that the beads were very expensive. What got me the most was that the wooden beads were just as expensive as the glass beads. Being a woodworker, I saw right through that.

In this tutorial, I show how to use store bought ferrules to create beads from wood, acrylic, trustone, or any other material you can turn on a lathe.

The process is easy, and if you have ever made pens or turned on a lathe before, the tooling is going to be recognizable. For example, a standard pen mandrel is used to turn the beads, and the basic 7mm bushings are used as well.

Handmade Charm Bracelet Beads – Preview

handmade charm bracelet beadsHere are what a couple of my beads look like after they have been completed. The one on the left has a more geometric shape than the rounded bead on the right. Both are made from an acrylic pen blank, and both have the same 1/4 inch metal ferrules.

When you see these up close the shine is far more than in the pictures. The secret is to use a buffing wheel, or polishing compound right on the lathe. Plastic polished really well. If you are making your beads from wood, the process remains the same. Simply follow along through this tutorial and you will be able to make a beautiful set of handmade charm bracelet beads.

If you do not have a buffing wheel, you can always finish the wood with a wipe on product of your choice. I have made beads using both methods, and they look great.

Handmade Beads – Supplies and Tools

handmade charm bracelet beadsThere are a few things that you need to start making your own homemade charm beads. The bulk of these materials can be found in any wood turning store or catalog.

In the picture there is an assortment of pen blanks, and blocks of wood. Some of the blanks are made from trustone, which is a man made material that simulates marble. Others are acrylic and plastic.

The wooden pieces are scraps from other projects, and can be cut down and used to make charm bracelet beads just the same. The ring mandrel at the bottom is used to hold the blanks while they are being turned.

Once you start making charm bracelet beads, you will become addicted. They are super fast projects, and you can really showcase fine examples of wood and other materials. The material you use becomes the star of the show. Remember that. Select something great looking, and your handmade beads will look great as well.

handmade charm bracelet beadsThe most important supply that you will need is what gives the charm beads the finished look, and you can find them in most craft stores or online. They are called Ferrules.

These ferrules are 1/4 inch diameter on the outside of the smaller section. The larger flattened section is about 1/2 inch. These come in boxes with several inside, and they are inexpensive. You can choose other sizes if you like, but they may not fit on a normal pen makers mandrel. Also, depending on the brand name of the bracelet, they may not fit on there either. These fit on most of the name brand bracelets, which is why I went with the larger ferrule.

The ferrules I purchased are made from basic metal for jewelry making, and are not very fancy in comparison to some of the materials you can buy. If you want to get ferrules made from silver, gold, or another precious metal, I am sure you could find them. You will need two ferrules per bead.

Handmade Charm Bracelet Beads – Preparing the Blank

handmade charm bracelet beadsGetting the blank ready is a straight forward process. The first step is to select the material that you want to use. For this tutorial, I am using a blue acrylic blank that I purchased from a WoodCraft store. It’s meant for pen making, and measures 3/4 inch square and 5 inches long.

Mark the center on the piece by connecting the opposite corners with a pair of straight lines. The intersection of these lines is the center of the face. Carefully use an awl or a very tiny drill bit to make an indentation at the center mark. This will help guide the drill. Select a drill that matches the diameter of the pen making mandrel. This is 1/4 inch for most standard mandrels.

handmade charm bracelet beadsAfter drilling, cut off a piece from the end that is a little wider than the bead size you want to make. Most of my beads are about 3/8 inch wide, which I like.

After cutting the piece off the blank, sand the ends flat using sandpaper. The easiest way to accomplish this is by laying out a piece of sandpaper on a flat surface.

Start with a coarse grit if you have a lot of material to remove, and rub the piece on the paper. As it gets flatter, switch to a finer grit and keep going until the faces are flat. After they are flat, sand them down to 400 grit to remove any scratches. The faces will still be seen beyond the ferrules in some designs, and it can be a little tight on the lathe.

Handmade Charm Bracelet Beads – Turning the Bead on the Lathe

handmade charm bracelet beadsHere comes the fun part. Thread a couple 7mm bushings onto a standard pen mandrel, then slide on the bead blank. Add two more 7mm bushings, and then fill the rod with anything until you can screw it down tight with the knurled nut at the end. In my shop I use a couple old pen blanks.

If you have an adjustable pen mandrel, simply adjust the length so that you have a little room on each side, and can safely turn the blank.

Once everything is tight, mount the mandrel and your charm bracelet bead blank into the lathe. Make sure that the mandrel is seated firmly, and that the far end of the mandrel is locked in place with the tail stock. Turn on the lathe to a comfortable turning speed, and you are all set to begin turning your bead.

handmade charm bracelet beadsThe first step is to knock off the corners and round out the bead blank. Use a carbide tool if you have one, or a gouge if you do not.

Start off slowly when you are knocking off the corners from the blank. Plastic can fracture easily under the stress from the lathe and the tool.

Once the shape has been rounded, stop the lathe and look at the blank. Make sure that there are not any flat sections on the bead. If there are, it still needs to be reduced in diameter before shaping. Get the bead down to size, and then move on to the next step.

handmade charm bracelet beadsAfter turning round, it is time to shape your homemade charm bracelet bead. This is where you can be creative.

Most of my beads lack creativity. I typically let the material I am using tell the story rather than the shape I turn on the lathe. However, there is some merit to doing things a little differently.

If you decide on another shape, simply use your lathe tools to apply that shape to the charm bead. I have done a few beads with angled sides rather than rounded sides, and they came out nice. You can also do cuts or lines down the middle if you like. The design is yours, so enjoy the creative process.

Handmade Charm Bracelet Beads – Finishing and Assembly

handmade charm bracelet beadsAfter the final shape has been created, it is time to finish your bead. Depending on the material you are using, this can be accomplished several ways.

If you are using wood, then please read my tutorial on Finishing with Tru-Oil for an easy to apply finish that looks incredible.

If you are using acrylic, you have a couple options. There are polishes you can buy that are sold in pen making catalogs and stores that are used right on the lathe. You apply them to your rag, and then buff the piece. They work great, and are a less expensive alternative to a buffing system.

handmade charm bracelet beadsHowever, if you have a buffing system, like the Beall Buffing System, then you should really use it. I love my buffing setup, and it was a lot less expensive than I thought it would be.

Whether you are using wood or plastic, the buffing wheels make short work of the polishing process.

The bead in this tutorial was buffed before I even took it off the mandrel. It was easier to hold, and it only took about 30 seconds to go from dull plastic to a wet looking shine. Any way you finish, make sure that the bead is nice and shiny before moving on to the next step.

handmade charm bracelet beadsThe last step is to fit the ferrules. Use CA glue to adhere one ferrule on each side of the charm bead, and let it set.

The only time that you need to do anything to the ferrules is if the centers are too long for the thickness of your bead. If this happens, sand down the smaller end until the ferrules just touch inside the bead.

The ferrules should sit flush on the faces of the bead after gluing. If you do not like using CA glue, then a two part epoxy will do the same thing. The only difference between them is that it can take longer for the epoxy to cure than the CA glue.

handmade charm bracelet beadsThis process is very easy, and can be applied to any type of material that you can turn on the lathe. The ferrules are inexpensive, and one packet of them is enough for a couple dozen beads.

I recommend that you experiment with different materials for your homemade charm bracelet beads. Wood comes in all colors and figures, and can really look nice on a charm bracelet. Also, spend some time looking through a pen turning catalog and you will gets lots of great ides. These catalogs are loaded with great looking blanks and materials. You are guaranteed to find something that you fall in love with, and even the standard blanks can be used to make several beads.

This is a great gift for someone special. Not only are these beads very popular, but the fact that you made it by hand puts it over the top. If you find a special color or relationship between a type of wood and your significant other, then a charm bead from that wood can be an incredibly unique gift. The effort, thought, and time that went into the bracelet bead will surely make a statement.

If you have any questions on How to Make Homemade Charm Bracelet Beads please leave a comment and I will be glad to answer them. Also, please share my work with your friends online. It helps me show more people the joys of woodworking. Happy building.

Additional Information About Westfarthing Woodworks

While I publish the overwhelming majority of my woodworking content for free, I also have several books available as well. You can see them on my Available Books Page, and they cover several different woodworking disciplines.

You can also Join the Community, and receive updates from me about new articles, upcoming books, and when I release new books. It’s completely free, and full of great tutorials, freebies, and great content.

Lastly, if you like what I do so much that you want to help me continue my work, please look at my profile on Patreon. This is a way for the people who enjoy my content to help me create more and better tutorials, books, and resources for woodworkers.

How to Make a Wooden Train – The Log Car

This tutorial on how to make a wooden train covers making the log car. It’s a open car with six uprights that hold dowel logs. This is an easy build, and makes a nice addition to any handmade wooden train set. The car base is the same size as the others in this series, and the look blends well with the rest of the cars. A preview of the entire how to make a wooden train series can be seen in the picture below.

how to make a wooden train tanker

The entire train making tutorial is broken up into several sections, one for each car. In total, there are instructions for an Engine, Tanker Car, Three Tank Car, Open Top Car, and in this tutorial a log car. The whole set looks great together, and is sure to become a family treasure. The simple design is easily recognizable and classic looking.

How to Make a Wooden Train Car – Assembling the Body

how to make a wooden train log carStart with a piece of wood for the base of the wooden train car that measures 2 inches by 6 inches, and 3/4 inch thick. Select a piece that will contrast well with the dowels that you use for the uprights.

For my wooden train, Walnut is used for all of the train car bases.

Next, measure for six drill holes. Three on each of the long sides. First, measure in 5/16 inch from the long ends, and draw two long lines that run the length of the piece. Then, measure in 1/2 inch from each end, and place marks perpendicular to the long lines. Finally, measure for the center of the lines, which should be about 3 inches, and make two more marks on the lines. Indent the six intersections with an awl or sharp nail so that the drill can enter the wood without walking.

This is an old woodworking trick. The indent gives the drill somewhere to focus. It helps prevent the bit from wandering before entering the wood. This is the most effective with twist bits that do not have center points, but is helpful with all bit styles. Long story short, it will help you drill the hole exactly where you intended.

how to make a wooden train log carNow, select a 3/8 inch dowel, and cut six pieces that measure 2-1/2 inches long. Chamfer both ends of the dowels, and select one end that looks the best on each.

On the good end, sand the chamfer smooth and make sure all of the scratches are removed. This will be the end that you see after gluing.

Drill the six holes using a 3/8 inch Forstner bit, stopping 1/2 inch into the surface of the wooden train car. Then, sand the pencil lines off the base. Blow out all the dust, and then drip glue into the holes. Insert the bad ends of the dowels into the holes, and rotate them for good glue coverage. Allow the piece to dry for a couple hours to set the joints.

If any glue comes out, be sure to wipe it off. It will be difficult to remove excess glue with the dowels in the way. Use a wet rag, and remove any glue that comes out of the holes while it’s still wet. You do not need a ton of glue to hold these dowels in place. A few drips that are spread around well is just right.

How to Make a Wooden Train – Making the Logs

how to make a wooden train log carThe log car needs to have logs on it to look accurate. Make these from another dowel that has a diameter of 1/2 inch.

I chose Oak for the dowel, because it has a grainy look and almost looks like small milled logs for transport. You can chose another species if you like, just make sure that it is not irritating to the child getting the train.

Cut 8 pieces from the dowels, each one measuring 6 inches long. Chamfer both ends with sandpaper or a belt sander, then focus on sanding them smooth. Make sure to spend the time cleaning up the ends, because they can be splintery if you are not careful. Sand the logs smooth, and check them carefully.

An optional non-toxic stain can be used to give the logs a more realistic look if desired, but the natural look of the Oak is pretty good by itself. For this wooden train set, I only use a clear finish. It’s completely up to you though when it comes to finishing.

how to make a wooden train log carHere is what the logs look like inside the wooden train car. The gap in between the uprights is one inch wide, so two logs will sit right next to each other.

If you want to have a look more like the picture, you can let them fall more naturally into the train car and they will stick upwards a bit.

After you are satisfied with your test fitting, set the logs aside for finishing. This will happen later in the wooden train tutorial, as everything can be finished at once. If you have kids that are going to lose these train logs, take the time to make a few extra for spares.

I give this advice after the fact, because I have no idea where most of the logs are now. My son has lost the majority of them already, and he has only had the train for a few weeks. Plan ahead, and you will have replacements at the ready.

How to Make a Wooden Train – Drilling for the Axles and Couplers

how to make a wooden train log carNow that the bulk of the wooden train car is made, it is time to drill for the axles and wheels.

Measure 1 inch from each end, and make a mark on the side of the train car. Do this on all four sides. Then, make another mark that is 3/8 inch from the bottom of the car.

Use an awl or sharp drill to make an indent at the intersection of these lines all the way around the train car. Then, use a drill press or a hand drill to make the holes. The axles are 3/16 inch diameter, so use a bit that is slightly larger to accommodate for glue and swelling. Drill the four holes 1/4 inch deeper than is needed for the wheel and axle to press into the train car body. This extra is for the glue.

I used a 7/32 drill for most of the axle holes. I found that it worked well, and allowed enough room for the swelling and glue. Some of these store bought axles and wheels are a little different sizes. The best way is to test a couple holes and try pressing in the pegs. The one that lets you push them in without too much resistance or wiggling is the right drill.

how to make a wooden train log carNext, the wooden train couplers need to be drilled and installed. Since the train couplers are all the same for the entire series, I show how they are made in this article. You will need two for this car.

On each end of the car, measure for the center by either connecting the opposite corners with straight lines or measuring for the center of the faces and edges of the board. Make an indent for the drill to follow where the lines meet. The dowels used for the wooden train couplers are 5/8 inch diameter, so use a 5/8 inch Forstner bit to drill a hole that is 1/2 inch deep. Do this on both sides of the log car.

how to make a wooden train log carNow, the hole is going to be very close in diameter to the thickness of the train car. Pay attention to the drilling, and make sure to find the center of the ends accurately.

If you plot the center well and drill carefully, the hole is an easy drill.

Make sure to set a stop on the drill press or mark the drill if you are drilling the train couplers by hand. It can be easy to go too deep, and since the couplers are already cut to length, they will sink in too far. Also, keep the drill as straight as possible to ensure that the couplers install straight.

If the coupler holes do not come out perfect, don’t worry. A little variation is not something that will be immediately noticeable. As long as the train couplers work, then the hole being slightly angled is not the end of the world. You can decide based on how off center the hole ends up. As long as it’s inside the end of the board, it should work fine.

how to make a wooden train log carDrip some glue into the coupler hole on the homemade wooden train and insert one of the coupler pieces. Rotate the coupler so that the entire inside of the joint is covered with glue.

Use an axle pin (without glue) to sight the hole on the coupler to be pointing straight up. Turn the coupler until the pin is pointing straight up, and then move on to the other.

Repeat the process for the other coupler. It is very important that the hole points straight up, so use an axle peg to help. Let the glue dry for a couple hours, and then the couplers will be very solid.

Remember, do not add any glue to this axle pin. The whole point is to just use the pin for easier alignment of the hole in the coupler. Once the coupler has had a few minutes for the glue to tack, the pin can be removed.

How to Make a Wooden Train – Sanding and Finish Prep

how to make a wooden train log carThe wooden train car is basically complete at this point. The only thing left to do before finishing is to sand.

This is meant to be a kids toy, so make sure to break all the sharp edges and round off all the corners. Start with 150 grit paper, which breaks through the sharp areas quickly. Then, switch to 220 grit for the final smoothness.

Check over the piece carefully, and make sure to address anything that needs more sanding. These are simple wooden trains, so there will not be much to distract people from large scratches and tool marks. Spend the extra few minutes and the project will come out great.

How to Make a Wooden Train – Finishing and Assembly

how to make a wooden train log carIt is far easier to finish the wooden train car before you assemble it. Once the wheels are in the way, it can be really tough.

Select a finish that is agreeable with the person that will be receiving this train as a gift. For kids, it is important to select a finish that will not irritate them, or cause any reactions.

My son has plenty of toys that were finished with Tried and True Danish Oil, so this is the finish that I use for the project. Use a clean cloth, and wipe on very thin coats. The thinner the better, as they will dry faster and more even. This is a good rule to follow for the vast majority of wipe on finishes.

Many people make the mistake in the beginning of dipping their project in finish, thinking that it will speed up the process. In reality, the thicker the finish applied, the longer it takes to cure. Wipe on a very thin coat, and after that dries, you can always add a second if you like. All of the pieces in my how to make a wooden train tutorial series are finished with just one coat.

how to make a wooden train log carAt this time, the logs, axles, and wheels can also be finished. Use the same finish on all of the pieces of the homemade wooden train, and they will all have a similar look.

For the axles, only finish the heads, not the shafts. The bare wood is needed to allow the glue to adhere.

The logs finish really quickly. A couple wipes with a cloth does the trick.

Set the logs and the wheels on a cloth to dry, and allow the product ample time. A good rule is to double whatever it says on the finish can, because the manufacturers tend to exaggerate their drying claims. Depending on your environment, drying can be longer or shorter. Once the wooden train is fully dry, move on to the assembly phase.

how to make a wooden train log carAssembling the train begins with the wheels and axles. Test fit the axles first without any glue, because some are larger than others. Find four axles that fit well, and set them aside for attaching the four wheels.

Drip glue into each hole one at a time, and press a wheel and axle into place. Make sure to leave a little wiggle room for the wheel to spin freely.

Then, glue a full length axle into one of the wooden train couplers. In the other, a shortened axle with a leather train coupler threaded onto the shaft. Make sure that the leather piece can rotate freely. The glue will hold both pins in place.

The wheels only need a tiny fraction of space to spin. Anything more will allow the wheel to wobble. Wobbling can lead to broken axles. Once the wheel spins freely, do not back out the pin any farther.

how to make a wooden train log carNext, add the logs to the wooden train car. Place them how you like, and make sure that the wheels are still able to spin.

Set the train car aside to dry for a few hours, and the piece can be added to the rest of the train from the tutorials.

This is a really easy build, and a couple of these look great on any handmade wooden train. If you make a couple, they can be spaced out on the train, or carried in groups. Either way, the log car is a great addition to a handmade train, and is sure to get quite a bit of play. My son loves taking out the logs and putting them back in. It’s fun for him, and he really loves this train set.

The rest of the how to make a wooden train series will be added over the next couple weeks, and each car will have it’s own tutorial. Check back from time to time and you will see them all. I hope you enjoy making this wooden train as much as I did. My son loves this train, and I couldn’t be happier to have made it for him.

If you have any questions on how to make a wooden train – the log car, please leave a comment and I will be glad to answer them. Also, please share my work with your friends online. It helps me reach more woodworkers, and share my passion. Happy building.

Additional Information About Westfarthing Woodworks

While I publish the overwhelming majority of my woodworking content for free, I also have several books available as well. You can see them on my Available Books Page, and they cover several different woodworking disciplines.

You can also Join the Community, and receive updates from me about new articles, upcoming books, and when I release new books. It’s completely free, and full of great tutorials, freebies, and great content.

Lastly, if you like what I do so much that you want to help me continue my work, please look at my profile on Patreon. This is a way for the people who enjoy my content to help me create more and better tutorials, books, and resources for woodworkers.

How to Make A Wooden Train – The Tanker Car

This is another part of my tutorial on how to make a wooden train. In this post, you will learn how to make a handmade wooden tanker car. This is an easy build, and it looks great in a toy wooden train. The rest of the tutorials will be coming out over the next couple weeks, and you can see a preview of the whole set below.

how to make a wooden train tanker

how to make a wooden train tankerThis tutorial covers the wooden tanker car, which is made from Walnut and Maple. The base of the wooden train car is Walnut, and the dowel for the tank is made from Maple.

The wheels are 1-3/4 inch diameter, and you can get these from most craft stores, woodworking stores, or online.

You can choose anything you like for the wheels on your wooden train car, just try to keep them about the same diameter as mine to preserve the look. My wheels require 3/16 inch diameter axles, which are also used for the couplers at the front and back.

How to Make A Wooden Train – Making the Body

how to make a wooden train tankerFirst, cut a length of 1-1/2 inch diameter dowel that measures 5 inches. This is going to be the tank on the tanker car.

Cut the piece to length on a miter saw or with a hand saw. Check the faces, and sand them to remove tool marks.

If you do not want to buy a dowel of this size, and have access to a lathe, you can turn a piece of wood to the same diameter. Alternatively, you could also glue two pieces of wood together, and round off the shape on the belt sander. It will take a little longer, but it will work just the same.

how to make a wooden train tankerNext, sand a flat portion on the bottom of the tank. This will help the piece sit on the train car base much better.

Press the dowel against the running belt sander until there is a flat portion along one side. Keep sanding until the flat section measures 3/4 inch wide. This is plenty to stabilize the piece.

It can be a little tricky to do this, just take your time and do not press too hard. Focus on keeping even pressure across the dowel, and watch both ends as you remove material. Take a second to measure from time to time, and once you are on the 3/4 inch mark, the piece is ready.

how to make a wooden train tankerNow, it is time to cut the base. Select a piece of Walnut, and cut a piece that is 3/4 inches thick, 2 inches wide, and 6 inches long.

You can use any kind of wood that you like for this project, just keep in mind that some kids are allergic to certain types of wood. My son has tons of toys that are made from Maple and Walnut, so I was comfortable using them again.

Place the tanker on the wooden train base, and line it up in the center. Check the flat area that you sanded on the tank, and make sure that it lays down on the bottom car nicely. If there are any large gaps, sand them until the tanker fits well.

how to make a wooden train tankerFinally, glue the tank to the train car base. Make sure to use a high quality wood glue like Titebond, as the joint will be stronger and last longer.

Measure from left to right, and front to back, and make a couple very faint marks where the tank will sit on the base.

Since everyone’s tanker will be a little different depending on how sanding the flat section went, you need to do this with your two pieces in hand to have the best results. Once you have your marks, apply a thin film of glue to both mating faces, and clamp the pieces together to dry. Let the piece sit for a few hours, or until the glue has dried.

How to Make A Wooden Train – Securing the Pieces

how to make a wooden train tankerNow that the pieces are glued together, they need to be reinforced. It is always a good idea to add strengthening methods to any wooden toys that you make. This handmade wooden train car is no different.

Use a pair of 1/4 inch dowels to secure the tank to the train base. Measure 2 inches from each end of the car, and make a couple marks.

Select a drill that matches the dowel you use, and drill through both pieces, stopping just before the top of the tank. Drip some glue into the holes, and press the dowels in place. Make sure they are seated all the way, and allow the piece to dry.

After the dowels have dried, cut the ends flush to the bottom of the car. Do this with a band saw or a small hand saw. Get as close as possible without scratching the bottom of the wooden train car. The more you remove now, the easier the sanding will be.

After the bulk has been removed, use sandpaper and a block to sand the ends of the dowels flush to the surface. You can also do this on a belt sander if you wish. Once the ends of the dowels are completely flush to the car base, the securing process is completed. This will add strength to the joint between the tank and the train car base, making a stronger toy.

How to Make A Wooden Train – Drilling For the Wheels

how to make a wooden train tankerI will confess that in my hurry to make this wooden train for my son, that I forgot to drill for the wheels until after I finished the car. It was fortunate that the car did not have anything sticking out that prevented me from drilling them, otherwise I would have needed to start over.

On the side of the wooden train car, measure one inch from each end and make a mark. Then, measure 3/8 inch from the bottom of the car and make another mark perpendicular to the first. The intersection of these marks is where you need to drill your axle holes. Use a drill press or hand drill to make these holes, two on each side of the wooden train car.

I used 3/16 inch axles. If you are using the same, select a drill that is just slightly larger in diameter, and use that to drill the holes. Also, drill about 1/4 inch deeper than the peg will go into the hole with the wheel installed. This extra space is for any excess glue.

How to Make a Wooden Train – Couplers and Connectors

how to make a wooden train tankerSince the wooden train couplers are the same for all of the trains in the tutorials, the information for making them can be found here. All trains need some method of being connected to each other, and these wood and leather couplers are perfect.

Once your wooden train couplers are made, the next step in how to make a wooden train is to attach them to the train body. The couplers are made from a 5/8 inch diameter dowel, and you will need a Forstner bit of the same diameter to secure them to the train car. If you do not have a Forstner bit, a paddle bit can do the same thing.

how to make a wooden train tankerOn each end of the train, measure for the middle, which should be about 1 inch, and make a mark. Then, make another mark that is 3/8 inch from the bottom. The intersection of these marks is where you drill.

Alternatively, you could also draw two lines connecting opposite corners, and the intersection would be right in the center.

Use an awl or small drill to make an indent at the center of the intersection, which will help the drill bite without walking. Then, drill 1/2 inch into each end of the car with a 5/8 inch diameter drill. Blow out the dust, and glue one coupler into each end, making sure that the hole is facing straight up.

An easy way to ensure that the hole faces straight up is to put an axle peg into the hole, and use it to sight the pin vertically. Don’t apply any glue, just use it to guide the gluing of the train couplers.

How to Make a Wooden Train – Finishing and Assembly

how to make a wooden train tankerIt is easier to assemble the homemade wooden train after the finish has been applied. There will be lots of small areas that can be tough to get into if you attach the wheels first.

When selecting a finish, make sure to look into any allergies that the recipient has, and select the safest finish possible.

For my son, he already has a ton of toys that are finished with Tried and True Danish Oil, so I used the same finish on the handmade wooden train. Apply light coats to all of the wooden pieces, and place them somewhere to dry. The lighter you coat the surfaces, the better.

On the tanker train body, make sure to get into the area where the tank and the train body meet. This can be done by pressing the cloth into the crease between the pieces and rubbing the finish back and forth. Once everything is coated and dry, begin assembly.

how to make a wooden train tankerFirst, test fit the axles in the holes. I found that some of these are larger than others, and have a hard time going all the way in. Identify any axles that need a little sanding, and start with four good axles that fit well.

Drip some glue into one of the axle holes and press an axle and wheel into place. Seat the peg nearly all the way, leaving a small gap for the wheel to spin freely.

Repeat this process for the rest of the wheels, and make sure that they all spin nicely. Next, insert a long peg into one of the train coupler holes. Then, the smaller peg and the leather piece in the other.

The directions for the train couplers shows how to make both pegs, and how to make the connecting leather strip. Make sure that when you glue the smaller peg on the leather strip, that the strip can still swing side to side. This needs to be able to move in order for the train to make tighter turns.

Once everything is assembled, allow the glue to dry for several hours. Then, the train car can be added to the rest of the set.

This tutorial on how to make a wooden train is a streamlined design, without all the bells and whistles of some designs. If you like that stuff, there is a whole world of wooden train accessories that you can buy online. Model train making is a huge hobby, and you can go nuts with accessories if you like.

Since I made this wooden train set for my son, I went with a minimalist design that reduces the chance of any small parts breaking off. He still throws things, and thinks everything is a hammer, so I knew those small parts wouldn’t last. If you are making this for an older child, then feel free to accessorize until your heart is content.

how to make a wooden train tanker

I am going to add more tutorials for making wooden trains over the next couple weeks, and you will be able to make the entire set. There will be directions for a Train Engine, Open Top Car, Log Car, Three Tank Car, the Tanker Car that you just built.

If you have any questions on how to make a wooden train – the tanker car, please leave a comment and I will be glad to answer them. Also, please share my work online with your friends, which helps me share my work with more people. Happy building.

Additional Information About Westfarthing Woodworks

While I publish the overwhelming majority of my woodworking content for free, I also have several books available as well. You can see them on my Available Books Page, and they cover several different woodworking disciplines.

You can also Join the Community, and receive updates from me about new articles, upcoming books, and when I release new books. It’s completely free, and full of great tutorials, freebies, and great content.

Lastly, if you like what I do so much that you want to help me continue my work, please look at my profile on Patreon. This is a way for the people who enjoy my content to help me create more and better tutorials, books, and resources for woodworkers.

How to Make a Wooden Train – The Open Top Car

The following tutorial will teach you how to make a wooden train, in particular an open top car that kids can fill with anything they like. This is one of several cars that I will be posting tutorials for in the coming weeks. You can see a preview of the full set below.

how to make a wooden train

I made this entire set as a Christmas gift for my son, and he really loves them. Choo Choo Trains are one of his favorite things, and my handmade wooden trains did not disappoint. It was an absolute pleasure to see him open these. He dropped an Elmo toy dead on the ground and went right over to his new trains. It made a father feel good.

how to make a wooden trainThis tutorial on how to make a wooden train covers the open top car. This is a great car to have in a homemade train set. Not only is this a quick build, but kids like to put things into the car when they pull around the train. (At least mine really does.)

The car is made from Walnut and Curly Maple, with a couple store bought accessories to make the build easier. You can shoose any wood you like for the project, just be mindful of allergies when making your choice. The wheels, axles, and coupling posts are all from a woodworking store. There are many places that sell wooden parts for toy makers. Most woodworking stores, craft stores, and several places online carry them.

You can choose any kind of wheels and accessories you like. As I explain how to make a wooden train in this tutorial, I will explain the exact materials that I use. All of these trains are very clean looking, but you can find lots of wooden accessories if you look online.

How to Make a Wooden Train – Building the Body

how to make a wooden trainStart with a piece of 3/4 inch thick Walnut that measures 2 inches wide and six inches long for the base of the wooden train car. You can use a different wood if you like, just make sure that it contrasts the sides of the car.

Next, cut two pieces of 1/8 inch thick Maple that measure 6-1/4 inches long and 1-7/8 inches high for the faces of the car. The Maple I used had a nice figure, and was originally going to be used for violin sides. I really like the look of Curly Maple. You can find figured Maple pretty commonly in woodworking stores, so the expense is relatively low when compared to other types of figured wood.

how to make a wooden train

Arrange the pieces so that the sides are placed against the long edges of the wooden train car base. This is the first assembly step.

Sand one side on each of the Maple pieces, and remove any defects or scratches. These sides are going to be glued to the Walnut base, and it will be difficult to sand them later.

The outsides will be sanded after assembly, but they will be easier to get to. For now, sand the two inside faces of the Maple pieces, and make sure that all obvious scratches and saw marks are removed. Once you are satisfied, move on to the next step.

how to make a wooden trainUse a high quality wood glue like Titebond to glue the two Maple pieces to the sides of the Walnut base.

Cover both faces that will be bonded together with a very light layer of glue. Then, arrange them on a flat surface.

Press the pieces flat against the surface while applying the clamps. This will help keep everything lined up well while gluing. Also, make sure that the Maple pieces stick over past the ends of the Walnut on both sides. This is intentional, and will be handled after the glue dries. Set the piece aside for a couple hours, or better overnight.

how to make a wooden trainAfter the glue has dried completely, remove the clamps and inspect the joints. Make sure that your glue up has no gaps, and that the pieces have adhered well.

Now, use a belt sander or sandpaper laid on a flat surface to sand the slight overhang on the Maple back flush to the Walnut. Spend a little time and make sure that the ends are made flat and even.

On the belt sander, this process is extremely quick. So quick in fact that you can take off way too much if you are not careful. If you are working on the belt sander, get it close and then finish with sandpaper on a flat surface by hand.

how to make a wooden trainOnce the two ends are flush, a couple of Maple end caps can be glued on. Cut two pieces of 1/8 inch thick Maple that measure 1-7/8 inches tall and 2-1/2 inches long.

Make sure that your Maple pieces extend past the two that were just glued on. This is similar to the last step, and the overhang will be dealt with later in the process.

Sand the inside faces on both ends to remove any scratches and saw marks. Then, apply a thin layer of glue to both bonding faces, and clamp the ends on the wooden train car. Press everything to a flat surface to ensure that all the pieces are even, and leave the car to dry for a few hours.

How to Make a Wooden Train – Sanding the Open Top Car

how to make a wooden trainAfter the glue has dried, the majority of the construction process is complete, and you are on to finishing touches and trim work.

Start by sanding down the excess overhang on the Maple ends. A belt sander can make short work of this.

Once you get close, switch to sandpaper and a block, and finish by hand. You can also lay a piece of sandpaper flat on the bench and sand the entire side of the wooden train car at once. Be careful on these ends, because the thin pieces of wood are only being held together by a 1/8 inch wide line of glue. It is enough for normal use, but not enough to be yanked on.

how to make a wooden trainNext, sand the bottom of the car flush. Even the best glue job will have a small amount of hang over from one piece to the next. This is fine, and is easy to deal with.

If you have a belt sander, simply press the bottom of the car on the belt and sand until the entire bottom is even. This will remove all glue residue, and even out the wood.

For those without a belt sander, the easiest way is with sandpaper laid out face up on a flat surface. Start with a rougher grit if you have quite a bit to sand off. Then, once you are very close, switch to a finer grit to smooth out the surface. Try not to tip the train car while sanding, and it will flatten out faster.

how to make a wooden trainNow the faces need to be sanded until they are smooth. If you used a nicer looking piece of wood for the sides of the open top car, this is very important.

The open top car is a very simple car. The sides and the bottom will be looked at quite a bit, and become a focal point of the train.

Spend a little time sanding and making sure that all tool marks and sanding scratches are removed at this stage. Also, do not round over any of the edges or corners at this point. If you round them now, it will be more difficult to get an accurate measurement for placing the train axles later in the process. For now, focus on making the homemade wooden train sides as nice as they can be.

How to Make a Wooden Train – Placing the Wheels/Axles

how to make a wooden trainThis step is very important, as placing the axles properly is a key part of how to make a wooden train. If the holes are placed poorly, the train will wobble, and not run true when played with.

For all of my wooden train cars, I placed the wheels the same way. This ensures an even look, and that all the cars will have some matching characteristic to them.

First, measure from the ends 1 inch, and make a mark. Then, measure 3/8 inch from the bottom, and make a second mark that goes through the first one. This intersection is where you drill for the axle pegs. Mark the open top car on both sides, for two wheels each. After they are marked, use an awl, nail, or another sharp object to indent the mark, which will help the drill enter the piece without walking.

how to make a wooden trainThe best tool for drilling these axle holes is a drill press, but you can do it by hand with an electric drill as well if you are cautious. Focus on making the hole as straight as possible, and perpendicular to the side of the train car.

The axles that I used for this project are 3/16 inch diameter. With that in mind, I selected a drill that was just slightly larger to make my holes. This way, there is room for the glue when the wheels are attached. Make sure to work carefully, and drill the holes as accurately as possible. Make sure to use a stop, and drill the holes about 1/4 inch deeper than needed.

To check that measurement, pop an axle through one of the wheels, and see how long it extends into the wood. Add 1/4 inch to that, and you will have your target depth. The excess is for the glue.

How to Make a Wooden Train – Final Sanding and Finish Prep

how to make a wooden trainNow that the holes have been drilled for the axles, final sanding of the handmade wooden train can begin. This is where you can start breaking corners and rounding off sharp edges.

In the end, this is going to be a toy that a child will play with. That being said, you need to make sure that there are no sharp edges or points on the train car.

Go around the car with 150 grit sandpaper, which will round everything off quickly. After that, switch to 220 grit paper and remove any scratches left by the 150. Blow off the dust and check for scratches that need attention periodically, and stop once the wooden train car looks good.

How to Make a Wooden Train – Installing the Couplers

how to make a wooden trainAll trains need couplers. These are used to attach one train car to the next. Since these are all the same for every one of the trains that I made, I show the process here in another post.

Once you have made your couplers, the process for installing them on the train is easy. On each end of the train, find the center of the 2-1/4 inch wide end, and make a mark near the bottom. Then, measure from the bottom 3/8 inch up and make another mark.

Make an indentation with an awl like for the axle pegs, and use a 5/8 inch Forstner bit to drill 1/2 inch into each end of your wooden train car. Apply glue to your train couplers, and install one at each end. Make sure that the holes for the pegs point straight up. This is easily done by putting an axle peg into the hole dry, and using it to sight the coupler straight.

How to Make a Wooden Train – Finishing and Assembly

how to make a wooden trainIt is easiest to finish the homemade wooden train before assembly. This way, there are less small spaces and confined areas that you need to get finish into.

There are a number of different ways that you can finish a wooden toy, but the most important thing to consider first is the final recipient.

Make sure that the finish you use is safe, and that you are not giving something to a child that they will be allergic too. I know that my son has several toys finished with Tried and True Danish Oil, and has never had a problem with any of them. Since an oil finish really pops the grain on wooden toys, it was an easy choice to use the same finish for the train.

Apply the finish you choose following the recommendations on the can, and allow it to dry for several hours. Use a clean cloth, and lay down very thin coats. This will help the finish dry better, and look smoother.

how to make a wooden trainAt the same time that you finish the body of the open top car, finish the wheels and the axles as well. Once everything has dried according to the directions on the finish you choose, the wooden train car can be assembled.

The wheels can be anything you like from a woodworking store, mine are 1-3/4 inches in diameter, with 3/16 inch diameter axles.

Start by test fitting your axles. I have found through error that some of them are a little wider in diameter than others, and they don’t like to go all the way into the hole. Test fit first, and make sure that all of your axles are in good shape. After that, drip some glue down into the hole, and press a wheel and axle into the side of the train car. Make sure that the wheel is slightly away from the body of the car, so that it can spin freely.

how to make a wooden trainRepeat the fitting process on the other three wheels, and then turn your attention to the couplers.

Install the taller peg on the front of the train, making sure to drip just enough glue that it does not press out.

The smaller peg goes through the leather piece, and is glued into the back side of the train. The leather strip should move freely, as it will need to flex from side to side as the train cars are pulled together, Once all of the gluing and assembling are finished, set the car aside to dry. In a few hours, the wooden train can be played with, and will be a great edition to any homemade wooden train set.

how to make a wooden train

I am going to be adding tutorials for the rest of the cars in this handmade wooden train over the next couple weeks. There will be instructions for a Tanker Car, Log Car, Three Tank Car, and an Engine. Each will be it’s own tutorial, as they are all fairly long.

If you have any questions about how to make a wooden train – the open top car, please leave a comment and I will be glad to answer them. Also, please share my work with others who may be interested. It’s a great way for me to help more people become successful at woodworking. Happy building.

Additional Information About Westfarthing Woodworks

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