Weekend Project: Planter Boxes!

Last weekend I made three huge, turquoise planter boxes for my rooftop deck – check out the quarter for scale.  Naturally, help from other Makerspace members was key, as I relied on JackD and his JAMbulence for help transporting two sheets of plywood (Thanks!).  I safely sliced ’em up on the panel saw, and then glued, screwed and nailed them together.  After applying numerous coats of outdoor latex paint and a bit of sanding, they’re already in use in downtown Milwaukee!


Weekend Project: Kitchen Shelf

I’ve recently heard that the Milwaukee Makerspace has a reputation for only having members who are electronics enthusiasts. Well, in addition to the metal, wood, beerwater, whisky, fire, arduino, weldingoddaudiocasting, and numerous acoustic projects that I’ve worked on at the Makerspace, I’ve finished a few electronics projects here. My latest Makerspace weekend project is a shelf for my kitchen, pictured here with the Sad Bananaand three legged pig®.

Kitchen Shelf

Preschool playset remodel.


My youngest son and nephews pre-school is tiny. Literally it’s two classrooms, but it’s a great environment for them both which includes identical playsets in each class.

Hundreds if not thousands of kids have played on them. Being built in the 80’s when building codes weren’t as strict, they were no longer compliant.

While the wood is still good, had been sanded well and sealed well there were a few problems.  The banister rails been deemed to be too short and the handrails needed to have another one put on the bottom under the other two on either side.

The choices were to surround the play sets with a 6 foot giant landing mat around the sides, or to raise the banister rails and add another handrail. A landing pad would have taken up far too much room in the class so I volunteered to rebuild some of the rails so they met code.

Because construction was going to take a little while (actually it turned out to be a long while, started before Christmas it was finished in early April), the rail cutting / routing / sanding was going to take place off site and then assembled onsite during a weekend afternoon

First thing was to take lots of pictures, and lots of measurements.

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I did up some high-level sketches just showing how the rails would be raised.


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The next step was to cut up a whole pile of 2”x2” rails to the desired height with a 45 angel cut on the ends to match what was originally there. The rails also had been rounded off with a quarter round router bit, so I did that as well.




I knew there was no way I could match the old finish that was on the original wood so I decided to go with something a bit brighter and engaging for the kids mixing blue, red, green and white paints that I had my son pick out. Then it was just a matter of cutting and routing. Here are some shots of the wood after cutting but being painted. The coats ranged from 4-5 to get a deep coverage and then 3 coats of a clear poly to brighten it up.


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By some miracle the measurements all turned out perfect, which is nearly a first for me. We still have the bottom hand rail to make but that will be easy to do.

Tabletop Game Boxes

With Tabletop Day approaching and my great affinity for complicated rules attached to cardboard (see picture on leftDSCF0722 of what should be my linen closet) I thought it would be the perfect time to work on a few projects to improve some games that I much enjoy. On top of some other, smaller things I decided that the boxes that come with a great majority of card games are kind of worthless. Take for example. Gloom. A fantastic game in which you try to make your family as miserable as possible before killing them off in horrid ways all the time trying to make your opponents family happy so they cannot do the same (I realize I sound crazy but if you come down to the MakerSpace this Saturday I will have it so you should give it a shot. It really is fantastic). While the game is fantastic it came in was one of those that has the bump of cardboard in the middle between the two stacks of cards that is supposedly, in some fantasy universe where cards have different physics than everything else, supposed to keep them separate. This never works and the box usually breaks fairly quickly.

Being utterly fed-up with these boxes I decided to make my own for 3 games. Gloom, Cthulhu Gloom, and GOSU: Tactics. With the first two this also has the added benefit of being able to make the box large enough that I can fit expansions in with the base game and in the case of GOSU it is an opportunity to make a box that better fits sleeved cards and add a 3 turn counter to keep track of the round after the pass (If you have played GOSU you know it can get a little hazy when some people are taking a whole slew of turns per round).

After some playing with Inkscape, cutting out the first one on the laser cutter, realizing I suck at measuring, cutting things again, some gluing, and several layers of shellac later I had a few new boxes.

I had several people ask me how it was that I achieved this look on Baltic birch plywood so I thought I would go over that quickly. TheCGloom Box Open

inner part was just rag stained with some dark Minwax stain (I think it was Red Mahogany) so nothing special there but it adds a nice contrast to the lighter outside I feel. The outside is an amber shellac. I just applied 5-6 coats with a heavy sanding between the first two and a very light sanding between the rest. Nothing too exciting but it really makes this plain wood look pretty decent.



Nick Offerman, Come On Down!

Nick Offerman

You probably know Nick Offerman from NBC’s Parks and Recreation, though if you’re a maker, you may know him better for his woodworking skills. (There’s a great video tour of his workshop you should see.)

Well, Nick’s coming to Milwaukee February 23rd, 2013 for a show at The Pabst Theater, and while we’re sure he’s a busy man, we’d like to invite him to Milwaukee Makerspace to check out our workshop. We’ve got a nice collection of tools and a great group of makers who would love to show Nick some of the things we’ve made and talk about our love of wood.

Check out Offerman Woodshop for some of his amazing work, and if you’re on Twitter, ask @Nick_Offerman to swing by Milwaukee Makerspace and check it out!