Simple shelf from one hardwood plank

When you do "knowledge work" for a living, there's an inherent frustration in not creating something concrete from your efforts.  Negotiating a case, reading cases to prepare a brief or a motion, appearing in court, all of these things have value to a client, but the value does not manifest itself as a thing you can touch and feel.  Matthew B. Crawford explores this concept in eloquent detail in Shop Class as Soulcraft: An Inquiry into the Value of Work, a book Mark Bennett recommended I read and I, in turn, recommend you read.

One of the ways to get that feeling of accomplishment, of making a "thing," is having a hobby where you make stuff.  I built a workbench so I could have a place to do woodworking.  The first project I wanted to build, a simple tic-tac-toe shelf from Spike Carlsen's book, Ridiculously Simple Furniture Projects: Great Looking Furniture Anyone Can Build, is done now.   

The completion of the project is shown in pictures below.  Total time was probably 3-4 hours, with gaps for the finish to dry.  All that was required was a 1" x 6" x 8' hardwood board (I used poplar).

The raw plank:

Cut down to four equal lengths:


Cut into arcs:

Ready for finishing:

Dry fit:

Finished with Medium Walnut Danish Oil:

Close up of the finish:

Mounted on the wall with picture hangers:

With a canister to give a sense of size on the wall:

Less than $30 worth of materials and about 4 hours of work and I have a very nice shelf for our dining room and a "thing" I can look at and think, "I built that."


Organize your shirts with the Army roll

I have a lot of t-shirts.  They're kind of like a scrapbook of places I've been and things I did over the last 20 years.  The problem with a lot of t-shirts is that they get crumpled and jammed in to make them fit, making it hard to find the right one, popping the hardboard bottoms out of the IKEA dresser drawers, and leaving a wrinkled t-shirt at the end.

The solution (other than getting rid of some of them) was to use the technique in this video:

To turn a drawer like this:

Into a drawer like this: