Canadian Woodworking

New year – new blog

Blog by Rob Brown
Robs shop dog

Let’s start this year off a bit differently, as the last one didn’t work out quite how we were all hoping! Here we are at the beginning of a new year, and the beginning of this brand-new column I’ll be sharing with you each week. There have been a lot of little woodworking and home improvement topics I’ve never been able to write about, as there was never enough space in the magazine for them.

With this weekly column, I’ll be able to cover a wide range of topics; most will be very closely related to woodworking, though some might only slightly involve traditional woodworking or home improvement topics. When I’m writing for the magazine my style is a bit more formal. Here, I’m going to bounce around a bit to keep things fresh, and keep the focus on fun, informal and informative, though I may get philosophical once in a while.

One Unhappy Customer


Birdie wasn’t sure what to make of the new addition. She treated the new intruder with a healthy dose of suspicion and made sure to show it who’s boss.

Gift Projects

I didn’t share any of the gifts I made before the 25th on social media or in the magazine as I was trying my best to keep them a secret. I also didn’t finish them until the 24th, as is my preferred approach. Yup. That’s just how I roll. I work best under pressure, which is where I often find myself.

A new puppy means cleaning up a lot of puddles on the floor. It also means a gift opportunity. The side entrance to our house was quite tight before Birdie arrived. With an assortment of leashes and collars, slushy boots and winter jackets the area was impossible to navigate. A few hooks won’t solve all the world’s problems, but they will offer a place for coats and leashes. But as we all know, no self-respecting woodworker can just attach a few hooks to a wall, can we? I thought a scroll-sawn intarsia project would be a nice addition.

Once the image was selected, I traced it onto a large piece of paper, then used carbon paper to transfer that sketch to some 1/4″ Baltic birch plywood. A bit of quality time at the scroll saw, and a few coats of spray paint and the puppy jigsaw puzzle was ready for assembly. I glued the parts to a piece of 3/4″ plywood, then added a few coats of spray lacquer to the project. Three hooks (which were all that were really needed in the first place) were screwed to the base, and I tossed it into a gift bag late on the 24th. Yet again, perfectly timed. I’m getting good at that.

Marble Run

I’m not going to go into a lot of details here (mainly because there aren’t many yet) but my nine-year-old son and I started to build a marble run in my shop a few weeks ago. While we were driving down the road one day, this little voice from the back seat said, “Papa, I want to build something.” When he answered, “I don’t care” to the question “What do you want to build?” I knew I had to seize this opportunity to start teaching him how to work wood. After a short discussion, we decided a marble run was a project he’d enjoy. I also knew it required minimal skill, would bring in some of the science (gravity, friction, etc.) he learned over the past few months at school and would allow us to work on all sorts of beginner woodworking techniques. Perfect, as far as I was concerned.

We spent a few hours during the holidays working on it, and we’re pretty happy with the progress. Having said that, it’s maybe 1% compete. My two-story shop now has the beginnings of what I’m hoping will be a super-cool marble run. Only time will tell if it will ever materialize. Why am I mentioning this? Well, because I now have a soapbox. And I guess a part of me wants to make our marble run “official”. Once I’ve told you folks about it, I’ll have to follow through with completing it. You won’t let me forget it, will you? I’m guessing my son won’t either, though his nine-year-old brain is always working, and he just mentioned he wants to build a go-cart one day. I wish I knew more about motors, metal and welding. A wooden go-cart, maybe?

Stay tuned, and let me know what you’re working on at your bench.

It’s a Start


It’s not much, but my son and I like the first 1% of our marble run. The fun has just started to get rolling.

Lotsa Parts

I cut out the parts – 21, by my quick count – and glued them to a plywood base. The eyes and mouth were added with a V-gouge.

Lotsa parts

Good Sit!

This was the photo I started working from. I wanted to show Birdie in a familiar and common pose. Since this 15-week-old shepherd / collie / husky mix has mastered the fine art of a sit, I thought it was appropriate.

Good Sit!

Don’t Throw That Out

We cut a hole in the corner of a plastic container and positioned it in place to not only catch a high-flying marble, but to accurately direct it into a groove in a piece of wood.

Don’t Throw That Out
Last modified: September 20, 2021

Rob Brown - [email protected]

Rob is a studio furniture maker and the editor at Canadian Woodworking & Home Improvement. Instagram at @RobBrownTeaches

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *


Username: Password: