IMG_6598 (1024x768)

This is going to be a post where I’m proud of myself. The following are the first pieces of furniture I’ve ever made from scratch. Not from a class or kit–I started with sheets of wood and went from there. I did follow instructions, though; these pieces are both from The Scale Cabinetmaker, which is full of wonderful plans for all kinds of detailed pieces of furniture.

IMG_6590 (768x1024)

Armed with confidence from the classes I took in Tuscon, I scoured my back issues of the magazine, which I’d subscribed to long ago, to try one of the projects. I’d always wanted to but didn’t have the time, skill, room, or tools to do them, or so I thought.

I was looking for projects that had few parts, easy joints (butt joints versus mortise and tenon or others), and no parts that needed to be machine turned (I don’t have a lathe). I also needed proects that used standard thicknesses of wood (I don’t have a planer to make specific thicknesses).

These two projects were perfect–not too easy and not too difficult. They’re both 1″ scale.

The chair is from issue 16, number 4 of the Scale Cabinetmaker. It’s a side dining chair from a set of Southwestern / Mexican furniture.

I made the chair out of basswood, stained walnut. The plans called for it to be made from walnut, but I didn’t want to use more expensive wood if I was going to mess it up. But it turned out well enough that I’d like to try another in walnut.

IMG_6594 (619x800)

The most difficult part was the carved back splat and the carved piece in the front under the seat. I hand carved those with tiny cuts then used a needle file set to smooth out the rough carving.

The other difficulty was cutting the angled back legs, which are one piece (not two glued together). I cut it freehand on my scroll saw, but if I do it again, I’ll try a miter fence to help keep everything straight. A sanding block was a great help!

The backgammon table was fun to make. It’s more complicated than it looks, with a subtop, a bottom, aprons around the bottom, and the carved pockets in the top.

IMG_6593 (768x1024)

This was from The Scale Cabinetmaker Vol 17, No 3. The biggest change I made was the tabletop. Instead of drawing it by hand as in the article, I made the top on my computer using Paint Shop. (Probably Photo Shop would work, but I happen to have Paint Shop.)

I created a new file in the exact dimensions of the tabletop. The article gave the dimensions of the points (triangles), so I turned on “preset shapes” and created identical triangles, then filled them in with alternating red and black. I printed the tabletop on my color ink jet then sealed the picture with clear nail polish (about the only thing that doesn’t run the ink). It was perfectly sized (I was stunned it worked!)

IMG_6589 (1024x768)

The plans also explained how to make the dice and playing pieces. I changed the playing pieces–instead of cutting off thin slices of dowel, I painted some wood veneer and then punched out the pieces using a 1/8″ paper punch. I painted them red and ivory instead of red and black, because I wanted the pieces to be more easily seen.

IMG_6600 (1024x768)

I am so pleased with how these projects turned out that I’m eagerly looking for more to try!

(Back issues of The Scale Cabinetmaker are available here: