Canadian Woodworking

Napkin holder

Author: Ted Duquette
Illustration: Mike Del Rizzo
Published: February March 2006

While this article is written primarily for novice scrollers, advanced scrollers may be interested in the technique I used to attach the pattern to the project pieces. 


I used ¾” pine for this napkin holder, though you can use any other softwood or hardwood that suits your fancy. The project is fairly simple, consisting of two sides and a base, held together with dowels.

Areas to be cut out are marked with an x.

Project parts

Use tape as hinge to attach pattern

Fold pattern back and spray glue

Drill dowel holes

Dry fit

Prepare the Project Pieces

•   Cut your project pieces to size.

•   Trim the patterns to fit the wood. Do not cut the round corners off of the pattern, leave them square.

•   Sand the project pieces on both sides.

•   Use 2″ masking tape to cover one side of both upright pieces (A). Overlap the masking tape by about ⅛”.

•   Trim off any excess tape at the ends.

•   Dry fit the pattern to the upright pieces. Do not glue at this time.

•   Apply two small pieces of masking tape to the top side of each pattern. Then fold it over onto the upright pieces. This will make a tape hinge for the next step.

•   Fold the pattern back (like opening a book) and spray glue on the back of the pattern. Make sure you do this over some newspaper as the over spray will make your work area very sticky. Let the spray glue dry until it is very tacky.

•   Carefully fold the pattern back over the upright pieces and press it down. The tape hinge will keep everything lined up, but keep an eye out for any shifting of the pattern as you press it down.

Cut Out the Upright Pieces

•   Drill ⅜” holes that will provide access to cut out the waste areas.

•   Cut out the waste areas on the scroll saw.

•   Round over the corners on the scroll saw, or on a disk sander.

•   Remove the pattern from the upright pieces. Do not remove the pattern from the base piece until later.

Prepare the Base

•   Mark the location for the dowels on the bottom of the upright pieces.

•   Use a drill press to drill ¼” dowel holes ⅜” deep on these marks. Do not drill all the way through. (Tip: use a block of steel or wood to help hold the project pieces straight, so the dowel holes will be square.)

•   Insert ¼” metal dowel centers (Lee Valley Tools, part # 66J45.02) in the holes.

•   Position an upright piece over the side of the base to which you applied the pattern. Do this lightly until you are satisfied the upright piece is in the correct place. Then firmly press down on the upright piece. This will leave small indents in the base where you will be drilling your matching holes for the dowels. Do this for both upright pieces.

•   Use a center punch to make the indents larger, especially if you are using a hard wood like maple or oak.

•   Drill ¼” dowel holes ½” deep in the base.

Assemble the Napkin Holder

•   Dry fit the pieces to ensure that the dowels are not too long.

•   Do any finish sanding, rounding over the edges slightly, or use a router with a ¼” round over bit.

•   Use tape to mask off any areas where glue will go, then apply your chosen finish. I used clear polyurethane.

•   Once the finish has dried, glue the holder together.

•   Install small cork feet to the bottom of the holder.

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