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Make a Rustic Sitting Bench from a Log

25 Nov , 2015   Video

A friend of mine is a professional photographer and wanted a small bench for a toddler. It was for a series of family Christmas photographs for a Christmas card. I was provided a picture off the internet for reference and set to work finding the idea piece. The plan was to obtain a piece of wood from the cabin and combine it with a thick wide board from the lumber store. After numerous trips to the lumber store, I couldn’t find the right piece of wood. The boards were actually in too good of shape and would take a lot of work to distress to a more rustic look. Then I went home and looked around the workshop for a suitable piece of lumber, but just couldn’t find it. So, I grabbed a coffee and sat on my deck staring at the pile of wood drying in a neat row. My eyes picked out a piece that was sticking out from the pile and realized it was a little bit longer (19″) and wider (8″) than the rest of the logs. If it was cut lengthwise, it would make a fantastic bench. Note: The first bench (pictured above) was made from Cedar. YouTube video was the second bench made from Douglas Fir.

Bench- rough wood

Picture taken from the 2nd bench made for Douglas Fir. Note the rough cut marks from the chainsaw.

First, the piece had to be split to form a crude seat. Since my axe head broke off, I took an old splitting maul and positioned it a few inches off the centre. All it took was one whack from a 6-pound sledge hammer and the wood split. Did the same on the other side. A quick go over with a hand brush and all the surfaces sawdust off. Next, the piece was secured in the vice and the large burs were removed with a 3/4″ wood chisel. Lucky for me, the wood had been drying for about 2 years and the chisel easy knock off the imperfections.

IMG_9433 Bench
The next step was to sand the sitting part. The log was placed on top of a bench mate on a foam mat.  (I don’t like to sand inside the shop, the sawdust settles everywhere and the mat keeps the surfaced from being damaged from the hand sander.) Started with a 60 grit sandpaper in the orbital sander and then a 100 grit. Try to get in all the nooks and crannies. One the surface is fairly smooth, use a fine grain of sander paper like at 200 or 400 grit. I use one of those soft sponge like holders for the sandpaper. Works better for inconstant surfaces.

Before I put a finish, I like to put on the bench legs. Find a thick branch about 2 inches in diameter. It should be more than enough strength to hold a small child and the occasional adult (it happens).



The legs will be connected to the bench by a thread system. The nut will be inside the bench and the bolt will be secured to the legs. Go to the hardware store and ask for (4) 5/16″ x 2″ Hanger Bolts. and (4) 5/16″ T-Nuts. A hanger bolt is a bolt with a fine, machine thread on one end and a course, lag style of thread on the other. The lag part will screw into the legs. The fine thread will be simply screwed into a T-Nut. A T-Nut looks like a nut with teeth. It’s pounded into a piece of wood and then a standard bolt can be secured in.

Drill a 5/16 inch hole, at the end and middle of each leg. (I use the rings to determine the middle) To make things easier, it’s best to pinch the fine threads of the hanger bolt  between two pieces of scrap wood in your vice. Then just screw the lag part into the legs by hand. Ensure the fine thread is exposed.

The next step is to drill four 5/16 inch holes in the bench. Try to keep the drill bit as level as you can. It’s not the end of the world if the drill is on an angle, but you will run into problems screwing in the legs. Drill the holes about 1-1/2 inches id depth. The next step is to drill slightly bigger holes for the barrel (body part) of the T-Nut. Position the T-Nut over the hole and pound in with a hammer. Once the all the T-Nuts are in-place, try screwing in the legs for a test. Try not to tight the legs too much. It will grab the T-Nuts and shred the footings.

IMG_9434 Paint, stain or varnish
The next step is to add a finish to the bench. A spar varnish is a good route. Adds a glossy look and it very comfortable to sit on. The only downside, very stinky, expensive and will take a while to dry. I had some Minwax Fast-Drying Polyurethane left over from the Giant Jenga project. Whatever you choose to use, apply thin coats and sand with 800 grit, in-between each coat. I was in a bit of rush and only had time for 3 coats. The clear coat really brought out grain in the wood and made it look fantastic. IMG_9438

Once finished, the bench will work fantastic for little people. Depending on the type of wood, the bench can be easily picked up and moved to different locations. It also makes a great foot stool for the tired legs.


The first bench was made from Western Red Cedar. It was reclaimed from the firewood stack.


The second bench made from Douglas Fir


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Wedding Projects,Woodworking

Large, 3 Panel Chalkboard Photo Booth Project -Subscriber Request-

7 Oct , 2015   Video

This project evolved from a request from a subscriber. A person comment they liked the Chalkboard Sidewalk Sign YouTube video, but also asked about how to make a chalkboard photo booth.

Cedarworkshop-Chalkboard-backdrop A photo booth will be a hoot at a wedding, birthday or special event. The party goers can stand in front and have their pictures taken with props or just smile for the camera. If the actual backdrop was made from chalkboard material, the host can write thoughtful quotes and praise.
Hint: If you want to spread the word on social media, at the bottom of the photo booth, write down the Twitter hashtag for the wedding. For example, #ryanjennwedding2015 or #smithbirthday2015. Go to this link to create a Hashtag for your event.

I mentioned the project to my spouse and she suggested we make it for a family friends wedding in a few weeks. Great!

The photo booth had to be big enough to “frame” two people standing. The wings can be adjusted to the venue (or hide something).

The chalkboard photo booth consists of 3 panels, a wooden frame and door hinges. The frame was made from Western Red Cedar. Keep in mind to use a lightweight wood like a softwood (Pine, Cedar, Fir, Larch, etc) for the framing material. It has to be easy to set up or transport from the venue.

On the front, the frame corners were cut at 45 degrees for a classic look. On the backside, a standard 1″ x 4″ were used for structure. The chalkboard panels were sandwiched between the front and back frames. Make sure to use a good wood glue on the chalkboard panel and frame. Immediately after the glue was applied use a brad nailer with short, 1″ brads. If you don’t have access to brad nailer, wood screws can be used instead. Just screw from the back to the front. This way, the ugly screw heads will not be seen.

Cedarworshop-Panel-standing-by-car cedarworkshop-late-night-staining The panels are the same dimensions as the front door on a home. The panels are 36.5″ wide by 80″ tall. Tall enough for most people to fit under and the panels don’t hit the ceiling. Each panel was connected together with door hinges with removable pins. If the panel needs to taken down, the pins in the hinge can be popped out with a nail (or car keys). As an afterthought, I should have put a hinge on one side of the photo booth and the other on the back. Then the unit could fold up like a “Z”.

Two thin coats of Varathane interior polyurethane was applied to the frame to keep the wood fresh and protect the wood from any chalk dust.

Depending the condition of the door hinges and your budget, I suggest a spray on metallic finish by Rust-oleum. It will add a vintage look to the project.

Click the link to check out for Wedding or Special Occasions Project YouTube Playlist.


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Budget Workshop Project

Costco LED Shop Light Unboxing and Tested Off-Grid

1 Oct , 2015   Video

For the past year, I have searched for an efficient, bright and cost-effective way to add light to the off-grid workshop. The local Costco had a stack of LED shop light boxes on one of the aisles for $49.99. (Not on the Canadian Costco website). The lights were $10 cheaper than the Home Depot’s LED shop lights. The box claimed it starts up instantly when it’s cold and only uses 32 watts a power. Excellent! This would be perfect for the future workshop and hopefully they work off the 12-volt inverters. The LED shop lights was purchased and then taken up to the cabin the following weekend.

The box is not very big and easy to open


Carefully cut the factory wrapping with an Exacto knife.


Read the instructions for installation and piece of mind.


The LED shop light are basically ready to go. Just need to attach the supplied links into the ceiling joist. Then insert the shop light, factory installed hooks into the links. Note: The hooks do not rotate.


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Rant: STIHL (Canada) Is Not up to the Cut

30 Sep , 2015  

My family was heading from the West Coast of Canada to London, Ontario to visit my folks and sister. When I looked up London on Google for road directions and places of interest, it mentioned the head office for STIHL Power Equipment was located just south of the city. The website even had a special web page inviting customers to come for a visit. It’s located under Corporate-> Contact Us -> Your route to STIHL. Great! It would be cool to drop by for a visit. I considered myself a connoisseur of well-made equipment (Even though I only possess a few machines). So, in a nutshell, I was thrilled to go for a tour. The trip was at least 3 weeks away, so why not shoot them an email and see if a visit/day/time could be arranged? An email was sent to 3 Weeks went by and no answer. Flew out to London, had a great visit with family and came home.
A few days later, I sent STIHL Canada a follow-up email and mentioned how I was disappointed there was no response. Guess what, someone responded! I was given a generic reply… “sorry for missing your message and next time when you’re in London, drop by for a visit” Really! Maybe in 4 years. Flights in Canada are really expensive. The distance we flew was equivalent to Seattle, WA to Detroit, MI, at $740/person return. (It cost us more money to fly to Ontario than it would to fly to Hawaii.)
The generic reply really ticked me off. It’s typical, “copy and paste” reply for social media. A quick answer to make the customer go away. When it comes to social media, you have to engage your customer and reply within 24 hours of a question. Always follow-up and offer alternatives. For example, I missed the chance for an in-person visit, but, maybe there was a special event, like a tool tradeshow happening nearby. It would be handy to know for the customer and an opportunity for the retailer to get to know the customer. It’s a simply marketing technic, drill down and gather more data. Maybe even generate a future sale.


Buildings and Renovations,Wildlife

How to Make a Bat House from Scrap Wood- Part 1

24 Sep , 2015   Video

This video will show you how to construct a bat house from lumber and plywood scraps.
This is a fairly easy project and can be constructed with only a few tools. Most of the materials can be found free from a lumber yard or left over from a home renovation project. (Plans to come)
Bats are a critical part of our ecosystems. A bat house is a good way to increase the bat population and to control nocturnal insects.
I would like to thank Margaret from for her suggestions on plans and where to mount the bat house.



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Rant: Ad Blocking is Not Good For the Small Blogs

23 Sep , 2015  

google_no-cents With the rise of the Ad Blocking extension to browsers, I have decided to remove all the ads off the Blog.
I know 90% of my viewers and subscribers will be happy with this move. Online advertisements are annoying, the ads block the flow of the story and the reader has to scroll down to see the remainder of the article.
On the flip side, the ads help pay the bills. Hosting the blog cost $10.00/month and the domain name is $16.00/year. I knew there were costs going into the process of having the Blog. The Google Adsense account was more of an opportunity to learn about the process of advertising online. If I could make a few bucks, it would be a plus. When the Cedar Workshop YouTube channel started, in 2013, the supporting Blog generated about $8.00 to $13.00/month. Now, I’m lucky to get 1 cent/month. For that measly amount, it’s not even worth it.

How is this going to affect the Blogs future?
Well, I’ll have to be more resourceful with materials. If a project requires a new part, it will have to be put on the back burner. This will probably tick off a lot of people who want to work on a project and need to know all the steps and material required.

– The weekly videos will be cut back to bi-weekly. It takes a lot of time to edit, design custom thumbnails, descriptions and update the Blog, Facebook, Reddit, etc.

– Add a PayPal donation button. (I really dislike asking for money.)

– Sell a product: A few friends suggested I make some chalkboard sidewalk signs and log rounds on Etsy. I miss building cedar Adirondack chairs and selling them for $80. Costco killed that industry with the folding, pine chairs for $60.00 .

I’m not the only one, I have talked to a number of YouTube creators and they are in the same boat. We will have to see what’s in store.

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