Top 10 One-Day Projects

Summer is a great time for catching up with some woodworking, but spending an entire month or two on one project might not be possible. Rather than ruin your family's summer, take on a few one-day projects you can show off to your friends and family. One piece of advice: do your best to customize each of these projects slightly and you'll have a unique project you can be proud of.

By Rob Brown
Photos by Rob Brown

1. Serving Tray

From a single dressed board to a laminated panel, this is a simple project. You can opt for live edge, figured or regular material, and can add details like pyrography, relief carving, inlay or texture to spice the project up.

2. Candle Holder / Sconce

To make a candle holder use your imagination to cut a piece of wood to a nice shape, then bore a hole in it to accept a tea light. A wall sconce can be as simple as cutting a piece of wood to 5″ wide x 8″ long, attaching a medium-sized hook to it, and hanging a small square lantern that can house a tea light.

3. Sofa Sleeve

Essentially an upside down “U” that fits over your sofa’s armrest, with a cup-sized hole drilled into the top surface. It will hold your cup of coffee or tea, and can provide a surface for snacks.

4. Chop Sticks

Chop sticks don’t require much material, though using a fairly dense, strong wood is a good idea so they don’t flex during use. A block plane is the main tool for this job. Adding a little bit of inlay or texture to chop sticks will go a long way to creating a one-of-a-kind eating utensil.

5. Simple Band Saw Box

They can be a bit tricky to wrap your mind around, but if you’re familiar with how to create a band saw box you can make a simple one in a day. They also lend themselves to being creative.

6. Wall Hanging Light Fixture

First step: purchase a light fixture. Second step: come up with a simple, yet elegant, way to hang it from a wall. When it comes down to it you only need a few basic pieces of wood to make it work. The rest are just part of the design.

7. Simple Lidded Box

Whether it’s four mitred, rabbeted or butt / pegged joints, a small box can be a simple, useful project. Size it for tea bags, loose change or another useful purpose around your home and it will get used. A lid with a rabbet around its edge will sit nicely on top of the box. A groove can hold a bottom in place. You can even try your hand at making a box from a single piece of wood.

8. Coat Rack

Dress a board, cut it to size, attach a few hooks and hang it. You can fancy it up by using upcycled hardware, exotic materials or a unique finish.

9. Mirror / Picture Frame

Frames can get complex, but they don’t need to be. Four mitred pieces with a rabbet on the inner, underside to accept glass or mirror and you have yourself a frame. I use plastic retaining clips to hold in the glass or mirror, as they’re cheap and effective.

10. Beer / Wine Caddy

Showing up with beer or wine in a wooden case you made yourself is a great way to show off your woodworking skills. A base, two ends, a few strips of wood to hold the bottles in place and a handle between the two ends is all that’s needed. A bottle opener on the outside is a nice touch.


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