Maker-Stuff Hobbies

This is a thread for showing off something that you’ve built/fabricated/constructed/sculpted/forged.

We’ve got a number of cool threads for people with artistic talents like photography, sketching, or fine-detail modeling, but nothing out there for creative activities that involve… I dunno… angle-grinders.

In the past six months I’ve gotten involved in my local maker-space. If you’re not familiar, a maker-space is basically a communal “shop”, filled with all the cool tools and machinery that you wish you actually had room for in your garage or basement. Our local place is pretty amazing, filled with a bunch of professional-level woodworking tools, high-powered laser-cutters, a full machine-shop, and even an industrial sewing machine and embroidery bench. And of course a slew of soldering benches, 3D-printers, and a mess of Arduino gear. Heck, we even procured a 3D-scanner the other week (though I’m not checked out on it yet).

But what drew me to this place was the anvils. It’s got like four forges, some six anvils, a couple grinders, and a pneumatic press. If you’re a fan of Forged in Fire, you know why I’d be drooling over all this stuff.

I’m now out there at least a couple nights a week, swinging my mighty (if inaccurate) four-pound hammer and every once in a while making something useful. For the most part I make some mild-steel garden implements or BBQ pokers, or else I practice making little leaf key-chain type things to practice my hammer-work.

But, as anyone raised on Tolkien and fed a near-constant diet of AD&D modules knows instinctively, forges plus anvils equals swords! And the only way to learn to make swords is to make knives… which is kind of where I am now.

So BEHOLD, my first knife, whose name in elvish is “Meithel Sikil”… which of course means “crappy knife”:

And it really is a crappy knife - not particularly well-designed for any real use whatsoever. The bolster in the middle is too long for a chef’s knife and not big enough where it meets the handle for a working knife. There’s no real “heel” on the belly of the blade that would make it safe to use as a chopper, and the tip isn’t aggressive enough to be a fighter. A buddy of mine pretty much pegged it as a good prison shiv, but that’s about it.

Flaws (aka “opportunities for improvement next time”): There are some scratches from the rough grinding that probably should have been sanded out, but fixing them would take another three hours of work for practically no payoff. Less fixable, the plunge-grinds (deep cuts where the sharpened areas meet the unsharpened ricasso area) are a few millimeters off from each other on the opposite sides. There is a very-slight twist to the blade that isn’t visible when looking down at the spine, but which you can see if looking up at the blade-edge. And finally, in the middle of the edge, the spine’s taper is a little thinner in one place, then thickens back out, before finally tapering properly to the very tip.

But, since it started life as a railroad spike and I was able to gently “convince” it to be a non-spike shape and then grind it down, I’m still pretty proud of it for a first attempt. I stole a chunk of mahogany from my dad when I visited him the other week and fashioned a respectable hidden-tang handle, sanded down to 400 grit and finished with some Tung oil. The blade itself is reasonably straight, decently hardened, and then tempered to be able to bend well. I polished the visible metal to 1200 grit, which isn’t quite mirror-shiny, but isn’t too far from that either.

Next up, I’ve got a chunk of 1060 steel that used to be a truck’s leaf-spring. I’ll weld a piece of rebar to it for use as a handle and start drawing it out a bit. This time I’m hoping that I can get it into more of a Bowie shape… hopefully more Jim Bowie, but I’ll settle for David if need be.

I have zero skills, but find this fascinating, so I shall lurk here and watch. I also have an old, good friend who is a caster/fabricator/sculptor who I will probably be able to get to join Qt3 just for this thread.



Pretty knife! I’ve never done any metal working. My son was talking about getting the welding merit badge, I’m thinking we might learn that together.

I make furniture in my garage. My goal is to replace every piece of Ikea type furniture we have in the house with home made, slightly-better-than-ikea furniture.

Here’s my latest. A coffee table sized for board games with some drawers for storing said games.

Damn, that table is wicked nice. The knife, too; I’ve always been fascinated by edged weapons and blacksmithing/forging.

Alas, my talents in the shop tend towards the inadvertent lopping off of extremities type.

Nice table! Is it all hard wood?

My wife and I were taken aback by quotes we’ve had from carpenters we were asking to build some shelves and cabinets in our living room; They would only work with MDF, some flat out refusing to use hardwood (even just pine), and in one case quoted three times the price for pine, even though the material cost is not that. I understand MDF is much easier to use, but nowhere near as long lasting, and will ding/scuff/bloat with moisture… anyway, I made my own by bolting Ikea billy bookcases together and gluing trim on the edges, and while I know it’s also chipboard and prone to warping and wear, it cost literally a fifth what the quotes were for from the tradesmen.

Any Mennonites living in your area?

The top and panels are maple veneered plywood the rest is maple.

That is odd about the quotes for pine shelves. The only thing I can think is that you were getting a ‘pain in the ass’ tax, they were charging you more because they have to go out of their way to obtain different materials and they know if you ask for this you are going to be particular about the whole job.

You can do some really cool stuff with Ikea materials. Post some pics!

That’s a really sharp-looking table!

I’ve done a small amount of very simple cabinetry here and there; mostly just bookshelves and the occasional desk. I’ve always been fairly disappointed in my results. Now that I’ve got access to the more professional-level tools in the maker-space I might give it another go. There’s a guy there that is running a class on making natural-edge “slab” tables that looks like a lot of fun.

I love the knife, it looks like a particularly vicious butter spreading knife. Something a bandit king would keep on his table in his forest fortress.

Lovely gaming table too! Nothing but respect for people who can output that level of quality as a hobby.

Ouch, I have been thinking of getting quotes for a new desk made out of hardwood but I am a wood newbie and am dreading trying to find people in orange county to do the work.

I want something that if I ding, all I see is a divot in the wood, none of this wood flakes, particle board, etc. I ding my desks with alarming regularity, my ikea looks like shit. My understanding from real, stained hardwood is divots and bumps just add character.

@CharlesC, did you draw up plans? I would totally try and build that.

Sorry no, I usually only sketch something out enough to get a rough idea what it will look like. Which causes all sorts of problems actually. When I finally got this together my wife decided it was too tall and I had to cut 1.5 inches off the legs.

That’s a huge compliment though! Thanks!

It’s 34x34x17 if that helps at all.

here they are, with my daughter a few years ago and a friend about to enter Narnia… (we haven’t seen them since, ha) You can’t see the trim I put on the top though, it brings it all together.

We’ve gotten lucky at estate sales and auction houses. We’ve picked up tables, desks, bedframe, dressers etc for the same price as Ikea stuff, instead made out of oak, mahagony. Obviously we had to be patient at the auctions but it was worth it. Real wood dings are indeed character building.

Maybe semi-custom? That’s how I ended up with my desk. I was looking for a Mission style desk. At a store that built their own furniture, I found one that I sort of liked, except it had a tiny keyboard tray and I wanted a really wide one, and there was a couple of other minor cosmetic things I didn’t like. Because the desk was substantially the same as the usual design, they were able to use the same plans / templates and just charged me as small fee for the modifications.

Fantastic! It’s amazing how small changes can make a big impact.

So I do a lot of woodworking - I have been doing this as a side business for the past few years. You can see some of my work at my website:

But today, I’m working on something for myself! This is a front door project that has been on/off for over a year. The plan is for it to be a black-walnut door and I want to have a very picturesque slab floating behind the glass. I got the rails & stiles done last year, but it’s taken 9 months to find the perfect slab. Consider this a build-a-long and I’ll post pics as I get sections done.

Today, I had to dry fit the slab, and I had to drill a 5/8 hole for a dowel to hold it in at the top. This took about an hour - I had to make a jig to make sure the hole would be perpendicular.

Here’s the tripple mortise / tennon for the base:


So now I fill the voids with epoxy:

More later!

Yeah! Now that’s the stuff! That walnut looks amazing! How is there no sapwood on those huge pieces?

Do you have to do a breadboard type thing with the mortise and tenon on that rail and stile?

The sawyers I get the slabs from really do a nice job drying them out - usually 2 years air drying and then a final 30 day low temp kiln to finish them out to 8-12%.

No breadboard ends - that’s only on table where you don’t want to see the end grain. The mortise & tenon is the way doors are put together - although this was my first triple. Kind of nerve racking, but this is where the CNC came in handy for the mortises. I did the tenons using my router with a jig setup to guarantee same distance between them, then I just input the measurements into my CAD/CAM and the CNC cut the mortises out for me. It was pretty cool when they slid together with just a few taps.

Amazing stuff man. You’re operating on a whole different level. Looking forward to seeing more.

Ok, Color me imprssed sir! That is some really nice woodworking!