The Wall Shelf Build-Off: January 28-29

Everybody is Invited to Participate!

The purpose of the Wall Shelf Build-Off (#WSBO) is to encourage woodworkers from around the world to simultaneously build a project in their own workshops and share the process online January 28 and 29, just like the Shop Stool Build-Off that I hosted four years ago. I expect to see many returning participants and lots of new faces.

#WSBO Rules are Simple:

  1. Build a wall-mounted shelf during the weekend of January 28 – 29.
  2. Share the process online via social media (#WSBO), blog, and/or forum.
  3. To be eligible for prizes, pre-register, then submit your entry by Tuesday January 31 (see below).

#WSBO Pre-Registration

Use the form at the bottom of this page to pre-register.

Start Thinking About a Shelf Design

You can work from plans or you can design on the fly. You can use wood, metal or even some other material. One great thing about a wall shelf is that the design possibilities are endless. Check out my Pinterest collection of wall shelf ideas if you need some inspiration.

Two Days to Build your Wall Shelf

I hope to finish my shelf in one day, but the build-off will carry on through Sunday for those who require more time.

After the shelves are complete, I would like to share everybody’s work here on my blog.

We had a lot of fun and had a lot of participation four years ago with the Shop Stool Build-Off, and I’m really excited about this year’s Wall Shelf Build-Off!

Submitting Your #WSBO Entry

To be eligible to win a prize, send an e-mail to by end of day Tuesday, January 31 containing:

  1. one or two photos of your completed wall shelf (please label the files using your name – mine will be titled ChrisWong1.jpg and ChrisWong2.jpg);
  2. overall dimensions of your shelf;
  3. a list of the materials used; and
  4. a link to where you shared your build.

You can also include:

  1. a sentence or two about your greatest challenge during the build;
  2. up to 300 words about the shelf, your inspiration, construction techniques etc; and
  3. a suggestion for the next Build-Off.

Pre-Registration Form


End Grain Yew Cribbage Boards, Part 1

Earlier this week, I began work on a new cribbage board. The section of Pacific yew didn’t look like much at first.

Pacific Yew Log

I wanted to include this protrusion.

Keep this Limb

And wanted to exclude this chainsaw cut.

Exclude this Chainsaw Cut

I screwed a straight piece of wood on to one end of the material and used a scrap of wood to angle it parallel to my desired cut line.


Since the screws bowed the once-straight piece of wood, I used a handplane to restraighten it.

Straightening Fence

I set my bandsaw to make the cut furthest from the screwed-on fence.

Ready to Band Saw

This was the result of the first cut.

First Cut

And this was the result of the second cut after repositioning the fence.  At least the bottom cut was flat.

Second Cut

I sanded the top side smooth with 80-grit abrasive.

Top Sanded

I mixed up some West Systems epoxy to fill some of the voids. After mixing, I set it aside for about half an hour to thicken.

IMG_20150913_123427942Although most of the bark came off quite easily, a few stubborn pieces didn’t want to let go. I carefully used a block of wood and a mallet to remove them.

Removing Bark

While waiting for the epoxy to further thicken, I decided to cut a second cribbage board from one of the off-cuts.


I then sanded the more attractive side smooth with 80-grit abrasive and placed the two pieces face side up on some brown paper to protect my bench from any drips of epoxy.

Two Cribbage Boards

Using a spatula, I carefully applied the epoxy to the areas I wanted to solidify, focusing on small checks.

Epoxy Applied

Then I waited for the epoxy to dry.

By the way, I shared my progress live on Twitter, using hashtag #FlairWW.  Follow me @FlairWoodworks.


Earlier this month, my friend, Neil Cronk, started an online woodworking event called #HandJoinery. As Neil described it,

#HandJoinery is a way to share joinery skills and encourage people to get in their shops and put hand tools to wood while sharing and asking questions.

Alongside Neil and I, Wilbur Pan, Shannon Rogers and Adam Maxwell also cut the joint that week and, as they worked on it, shared progress pictures on Twitter for the world to see. Wilbur also summarized his work in a recent post on his blog, Giant Cypress.

Here is the joint that I cut two weeks ago – a lapped gooseneck.

Lapped Gooseneck Apart Lapped Gooseneck Together

The plan is to start with a simple joint and add complexity to it each week then switch to another joint style and increase difficulty again. #HandJoinery happens each week on Thursday at 5pm Pacific/8pm Eastern. *Note: due to a scheduling conflict, #HandJoinery will take place Friday this week.

The goal is to get woodworkers used to the idea of practicing these basic layout and hand skills so when they need to cut joinery in furniture they’re less intimidated and hopefully more practiced.

This week’s focus is the T-bridle joint.

T Bridle Joint


Live Builds Show that Woodworking is Not Without Hiccups

Did you build a shop stool this weekend? Remember to e-mail it to me following the guidelines. I will send you an e-mail to confirm that I’ve received your submission.

Saturday, as I built my shop stool, I monitored the other builds being documented on Twitter. I have gathered some of my favourite tweets and some of the ones that showed the adversity that builders faced.

Some of the Best Tweets

Live Woodworking Shows Real Adversity

My New Shop Stool

I am working on assembling an elite group of judges for the Shop Stool Build-Off. There are many categories and lots of prizes so everybody has a fair chance of winning something.

For a chance of winning a prize, make sure you submit your stool by the end of Tuesday, January 28.  Here is my entry, as per the submission guidelines:

My stool is 24-1/2″ high. The seat is 13″ diameter and the legs are splayed, so the footprint is 16″.

I used Western maple for the legs and butternut for the seat.

The build was documented here:

I had originally intended to angle the legs so they crossed in the middle (Plan B), but I didn’t cut them at the right angle, so the footprint ended up being too small. I ended up cutting off the angled tops and using straight legs instead – my Plan A.5, as I called it.

I used dado and rabbet joinery to connect the legs to the seat, which I shaped into a concave shape with a carving gouge. I left the texture of the carving gouge on the surface for decoration. It does not detract from the comfort. The stool is very solid and comfortable. Although I was initially disappointed that my crossed-leg design didn’t work out this time, I am very happy with the result.

Shop StoolShop Stool Seat Detail

Need Some Ideas for Your Shop Stool?

Register today to participate in the Shop Stool Build-Off and a chance to win a prize!

Saturday, January 25 is the date set for the Shop Stool Build-Off. Some woodworkers I have talked to are already working on designs and expect to do some material prep (including building bending forms) before the big day arrives. Others are just going to show up on that day and build a stool, making their decisions on the fly.

If you need some inspiration to get you going, check out the images of various designs of stools I’ve gathered on a Pinterest board.

Shop Stool Build-Off Ideas Board on Pinterest

My Pinterest board of Shop Stool Build-Off Ideas (click to view)

I (along with a few other dedicated followers) are working to secure some prize sponsors for the Shop Stool Build-Off. Please register for the event using the form on the page linked at the bottom of this page.


The Shop Stool Build-Off

Eleven months ago, two planemakers decided to each build a scrub plane simultaneously and share progress pictures along the way. It was later dubbed the Scrub Plane Build-Off. The two planemakers were Scott Meek and I.

The Inspiration

On Saturday, I was tidying up in the shop and noticed that my shop stool was in sad shape. I bought it many years ago from a department store and, while it has served me well, I’ve never been entirely happy with it.

I took a picture and announced that building a replacement would likely be the first live build of the new year.


Neil Cronk shared a photo of his very similar-looking stool, which he was also eager to replace, apparently.

Neil's Stool

Neil Cronk’s workshop stool

I proposed that we have a shop stool build-off and before long, a handful of other woodworkers agreed to join us.

The Shop Stool Build-Off: Saturday January 25

The idea of this build-off is to have a group of woodworkers simultaneously build a shop stool and share pictures along the way. I plan to share my progress on Twitter and Facebook through my Tumblr page. I encourage you to join me and build and share your own shop stool on January 25.

There are no rules. You can work from plans or you can design on the fly. You can use complicated joinery or simply cut a tree stump to an appropriate height. You can start with rough lumber, pre-milled boards, or even steel. One great thing about a shop stool is that the design possibilities are endless and the pressure to do the finest work isn’t there (at least for me).

The official start is Saturday, January 25th at 8 am Pacific (that’s 8 am for me, 10 am for Jim in Wisconsin, 11 am for Anthony in Ottawa and Rusty in New Jersey, noon for Neil in Nova Scotia and 4 pm for Jamie in the UK.), but if you wish to participate, you don’t have to start at that time. I hope to finish my stool in one day, but the build-off will carry on through Sunday if required.

After the stools are complete, I would like to share everybody’s work here on my blog. I’m really excited about the Shop Stool Build-Off!


Insanity 2

Insanity 2 is the working name for my latest speculative project.  As with most, I’m designing it as I go and using the materials as my primary inspiration.

Every project starts with an inspiration

This piece of ash was the inspiration.  It’s been sitting in my shop for years waiting for me to do something with it.  Honestly, the shape wasn’t conducive to use as a whole slab and I never had a need to process it.


Tired of having it in my way, last week I decided to do something with it.  I studied the grain, colouring and defects and started drawing potential cut lines with chalk.

IMG3090I cut the slab into a smaller, more manageable size.  I also made sure to cut it narrow enough that I could resaw it into thinner pieces with my bandsaw.  Before resawing it, I flattened the surface.


A design emerges

I resawed two 3/8″ panels from the ash crotch and experimented with different orientations.

I didn’t like the colour and pattern variance where the two panels met.


I liked this orientation, but felt that it didn’t make the best use of the tight, dark figure.


This layout didn’t really strike me.

IMG3103Ultimately, I decided to go with this orientation.  They looked like doors (and that’s what they are until I see them as something else, if I do).  To emphasize the book match, I wanted to keep the top edges as close as possible.


Making frames for the panels

To deal with potential warpage and issues with expansion, I decided to create frames for the panels.  I examined the grain of several slabs, looking for grain that followed the curves of the edges of the panels.  I found the best material in this 2-1/4″-thick slab.


I cut out the stiles, then resawed them to create mirror-image parts for each door.


Then, I cut out, resawed and trimmed the rails to fit between the stiles.  Notice how the middle stiles are half-dark and half-light, and that the light area is used to transition into the light-coloured rails.


I masked off the parts of the frame that I intended to remove and taped the panels to the fronts of the frames to get an idea of what the doors would look like.


I routed grooves along the inside of the frame components.


To feature the book match, I did some drastic modifications to the frame.  I cut away much of the front of the inside stile.  This design was a first for me, and possibly a first in the woodworking world.


It took me more than a day to select and cut out all the components for the doors and I spent all of Sunday fitting the panels into the frame.


So what’s next?

I think that my next step is to glue up the doors.  Because of my modified design, I intend to glue the panels to the inside stiles and let them expand outwards.  After that, I’m not sure what to do, but I’ll figure out the rest in time.  One big obstacle is figuring out how to hinge the doors, but what’s the fun of woodworking without a challenge?


Table in a Tree

Last weekend, I met with some of my fellow Artwalk participants and showed them the yellow cedar chair that I’d built to hang in the tree outside The Bistro Gallery where I will be showing my work.

Chair in a Tree

Chair in a Tree

They loved the concept and encouraged me to make another piece for a second tree.  So, that’s what I decided to do.

I documented my progress live on Twitter using hashtag #FlairWW (follow me @FlairWoodworks) which was useful because each update had a time stamp so followers could see the rate at which I progressed.  I compiled the photos and Tweets into a video (duration – 10:21).

This is the eighteenth slide from my PechaKucha presentation.


Relationship Study

Chair in a Tree

Saturday was a full day in the shop.  After breakfast, I went down to the shop and built 90% of a chair which will be installed up in a tree.  (In case you missed it, here’s the back story.)

ArtWalk Tree Art I documented my progress live on Twitter using hashtag #FlairWW (follow me @FlairWoodworks) which was useful because each update had a time stamp so followers could see the rate at which I progressed.  I compiled the photos and Tweets into a video (duration – 22:41).

This is the fourteenth slide from my PechaKucha presentation.


Something Like That