Magnetic Coasters

Ever since Bob Clagett made a set of magnetic hexagon coasters on his I Like To Make Stuff YouTube channel, I’ve had it on my list of projects to attempt. Father’s Day seemed like a good excuse.

I decided to use up some scraps of 8/4 maple and walnut. I resawed them down to thinner pieces, jointed and planed them flat and then glued them together. The two pieces of wood together were somewhere a little more more than 1/4″ thick.

I basically followed the instructions directly from Bob’s video so I won’t repeat them all here. I did take a little different approach to cutting the hexagons though. Instead of drawing it on each coaster, I made some marks on my sacrificial miter gauge fence and used those to make all the right cuts. That worked very well and they came out very close to identical.

Honestly the hardest part of the whole thing was remembering to alternate the magnets when I put them in. They were such a tight fit that I really couldn’t get them out once they were in. At first I was using a bit of CA glue to hold them in, but in the end, I skipped it. I think the friction will hold them just fine and with the extra time to put the glue in each hole, I kept forgetting which way to put the next magnet in. By the end I had a good system down though. Dad, if those magnets start falling out, I’ll fix them on my next trip out there.

I finished up with five or six coats of spray lacquer on each side. After some really long projects, it’s fun to watch a project come together relatively quickly!

Shop Tour

I often find myself flirting with the idea of starting a YouTube woodworking channel, but I think that’s unlikely to happen. Still, I thought it would be fun to dip my toe into the water with a shop tour. Plus it’s a chance to show you all where I do my projects. It’s a good chance for you to hear how everything in my shop “works great”. I apparently say that a lot.

If you want to see pictures of my projects as they happen, follow me on instagram @martenswoodshop.

Instagram Photo Frame

A while back I stumbled across a coupon for 100 free 4″x4″ prints. I’ve had a project in the back of my mind that involved something about displaying a bunch of Instagram photos. This seemed like a good match so I ordered them. (By the way, I later discovered that if you use the Shutterfly app on your phone, you get unlimited free prints so this wasn’t much of a coupon.)

The 100 photos arrived and sat around for a while as I thought about how to do this. My initial thought was to get a ton of practice making frames and pump out 100 identical simple frames. That sounds painful, but what stopped me was realizing that I had no good way to attach them all to the wall without making at least 100 holes in the wall. Then I thought about making a single frame that could hold 100 photos. I’ll take you along the project in more detail that I have in the past. If you follow my woodworking Instagram account, some of these pictures will look familiar.

The first step was to figure out how big to make this and what aspect ratio it should have. I started laying them out on my table and quickly realized that a 10×10 grid of 4″x4″ prints was going to monstrous. I settled on a 6×6 grid.

Also sitting on the table in that picture, you can see a jig for making photo splines. I made that jig as well as a miter jig. Both came from David Picciuto over at

I figured out the spacing between the pictures and the resulting dimension of the frame and started milling up the walnut to make the outer frame. I cut a rabbet in the back to hold the glass and the plywood backer and then did a very slight chamfer on the inside of the frame. Then it was time to cut up the walnut into the individual frame pieces.

I thought I had nailed the miter jig, but with a frame this big and wide, even the tiniest error was amplified. My frame wasn’t even close to fitting.

I almost threw in the towel at this point, but ehh, it was already kind of ruined so why not try to fix it? I basically free handed the miters and nibbled away with tiny increments to all the corners until somehow it all came together! If you look closely, you can tell that I’m still off by the tiniest of margins, but hey, it’s not bad considering how I got there. I used blue painters tape for clamps and glued the pieces together.

The next step was to try out my spline jig. It looked pretty wild, but in reality, I felt like the whole setup was pretty safe. Everything was clamped on place and all I had to do was move the sled through the blade. But if I was going to do frames this big on a regular basis, I might make a bigger jig.

I then used a bunch of trial and error to cut splines that were exactly the right thickness. Those got glued into place, trimmed with a flush cut saw and sanded smooth.

At this point, I felt like the project was really going to work so I headed to TAP Plastics and had them cut a piece of 5/64″ P99 non-glare acrylic. They can cut very precisely there and when I brought it home, it was a perfect fit. I left the protective paper on until the end though.

The “only” thing left was to cut a grid of very thin maple strips to hide the seems between the pictures when I put them down in a grid pattern. <insert tire screeching sound> How was that actually going to happen? When I originally thought this up, I envisioned a system of interlocking tiny dado cuts, but I had also planned for these pieces to be 1/8″ thick. Have you ever tried to cut 1/16″ deep dados that are perfectly positioned? My tests were not promising so it was back to the drawing board.

As I lay in the dark waiting for my son to fall asleep one night, it dawned on me that I could double up the grid pieces. So imagine a grid made out of 1/8″ thick by 1/4″ wide pieces of maple. Then make another grid and rotate it 90 degrees. Glue the two grids together and it should hold together pretty well.

That plan worked but wow, there were a LOT of extremely precise cuts to make. Thankfully my wonderful new table saw was able to slice consistent 1/8″ thick pieces off of a 2″ thick block of maple, rip them down to 1/4″ wide and then, with a crosscut sled, make all of those tiny little pieces to fit together. Any gap at all was very noticeable so I took my time and did it right. Now comes a long montage of 4 or 5 nights and voila! The grid was done.

As I assembled the grid, I used a combination of CA glue and wood glue. The CA glue acted like a clamp and the wood glue gave it strength. I also used a couple pin nails to hold it in place against the walnut.

At this point, I finished the frame with a 50/50 mixture of boiled linseed oil and mineral spirits. I wiped on the finish, waited about 10 minutes and then wiped off the excess. I let it dry for 1 day between coats and I applied four coats. The final step in the finishing process was to apply clear Briwax and then buff it out. (This photo was taken before the wax was applied.)

I cut a 1/4″ sheet of plywood to size and used spray adhesive to attach 36 pictures. To align them, I first placed the plywood under the grid and used a pencil to trace out all the boxes where the pictures should go. This process went pretty quickly and I took extra care (and lots of changes of disposable latex gloves) to make sure I didn’t get any adhesive on the pictures.

I put all the pieces together and then secured it all in place with a new point driver tool. That thing was a joy to use, but I feel like I need to make some more frames to make it worth the cost.

For the final step, I rolled out some fresh brown paper, traced out my frame, sprayed adhesive down on the paper and then set the frame on top of it. I cut around the frame with a knife and voila, I had a nice dust shield on the back. I have a couple very nice frames and I always wondered how and why they added that paper. Now I know. Thank you, again, David Picciuto for teaching me that trick!

The back of the frame also got a wire picture frame hanger and little rubber bumpers on the bottom of the frame so that it would sit straight on the wall.

I don’t know yet exactly where this will end up in our house, but for how many times I thought the project was doomed, it turned out great! At some point I feel like we’ll want to replace the pictures, but all I have to do is cut out another piece of plywood and glue on some more pictures. I think next time, I’d probably do the collage on the computer and then print off a single large photo. That would be a lot easier to align.

Mother’s Day Gifts

Tyla and I don’t usually exchange gifts for Mother’s Day and Father’s Day, but I’ve been wanting to try out the vinyl cutter in the maker space at work and this seemed like a good excuse. You can easily buy a very similar sign on Etsy, but I wanted to see how hard it was to make one myself.

I had quite a bit of extra 8/4 maple laying around so I cut it in half and got it down to the approximate size of the finished sign. Then I spent some time on the vinyl cutter and cut out a couple versions of the sign, figuring that I’d screw one up and need to try again.

I stuck the vinyl down on the wood and the peeled up the letters, being careful to leave the interior of letters like A and O. Then I applied two coats of purple spray paint and peeled up the vinyl. That part took quite a while because the paint had made the vinyl brittle, but eventually I was done and it came out pretty well.

The final step was using a keyhole router bit to cut a notch in the back for easy hanging.

Will I do this again? Ehh… maybe if it’s something really custom, but it did take quite a while. If the sign you want is on Etsy for $20, it’s probably worth just paying for it.

Elijah also made a sign for Tyla. Ever since he saw this piece of purpleheart, he has talked about making it into a sign for Tyla. I bought a white pen and he wrote his name on the board. I finished it up with “loves mommy” and added a couple coats of spray lacquer.

Happy Mother’s Day!

Grizzly Bandsaw Riser Block Kit

Keeping up with the theme from yesterday, I realized that I haven’t written about the riser block kit for my bandsaw. I got the Grizzly bandsaw 1.5 years ago and have really enjoyed it. It gets used most often for curvy cuts and resawing thick stock.

I never really felt like I had the hang of resawing thick boards. I always got a lot of blade drift and I’d just try to free hand it to compensate for the drift. It sort of work, but I wasted a lot of material with wavy cuts.

For Christmas, Dad and Mom got me a riser block kit for the saw. The stock configuration gives you about a 5 3/4″ capacity but the riser block kit doubles that. I don’t usually work with 11″ boards, but I do regularly have 6 and 7″ boards so this is very handy. Getting the kit also meant that I had to get rid of my old blades and buy longer ones. I had learned a little more about blades by this point so I bought some nicer Timber Wolf blades. I have one for resawing and one for cutting smaller curves. I don’t know whether I have it all tweaked better this time or if the blade made all the difference, but wow, resawing with this thing is incredible! I can just set the fence to the thickness I want and watch the saw plow through. It has no problems going through 8″ of hard maple and when I’m done, I have a pretty smooth and straight cut. It means I no longer fret too much if I have to resaw a 1″ board into two 3/8″ boards. I know I can nail the cut right on the money.

P.S. If you follow my woodworking account on Instagram, you’d have already seen this picture. @martenswoodshop