Making a Condiment Tote (for beginners) #1: Preparing the Wood

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Blog entry by ~Julie~ posted 11-25-2011 08:11 PM 1601 reads 0 times favorited 5 comments Add to Favorites Watch
no previous part Part 1 of Making a Condiment Tote (for beginners) series Part 2: Cutting the side and end pieces »

This series of posts will show how I made four condiment totes for a local restaurant. I’m going to show most steps from rough wood to finished product. Most of you will find this basic, but hopefully I can help some beginners see how things are put together.

The restaurant wanted holders for ketchup, mustard, relish and vinegar that the waitresses or waiters could take to the table with them. (In Canada, some of us like white vinegar on our fries. On my trips to the U. S., I have had strange looks in restaurants when I’ve asked for vinegar, so I’ve given up doing that).

I first made a prototype to see if it would be appropriate:

Upon returning to the restaurant, my sample was a little bit too long, so it was decided to shorten it, so it would hold the condiments but not have much extra space. This way it would also take up less space on the tables.

The next step was to make out a Project “parts” sheet:

On this sheet I list how many are needed of each part, and the sizes needed. This way when I go to my stack of wood I can figure out how much to prepare.

This is my stock of rough pine. It’s about 6” wide and 1 1/4” thick and rough on all sides, meaning no smooth sides. I prefer working with wood like this. I can make it whatever size I need and find a satisfaction in taking the wood from rough boards to a finished product.

(You can read how I made my lumber rack here)

When looking at my parts list I see, for example, I need 8 sides at 6 3/4” long. Each board is checked over to see how the different pieces I need might fit best on it. I always allow a bit extra for knots or splits, so might allow 8” for those 8 pieces and therefore I’d need a piece 8×8”= 64” long for the sides. I find that length long to manoeuvre so I prefer two pieces at 32” for the sides.

The boards are cut to a manageable length on my sliding compound mitre saw:

The next step is to joint all the boards. Jointing makes one face flat and is done on the jointer:

Once one face is flat and smooth, the board is turned up on it’s edge to get a smooth edge that is perpendicular to the smooth face:

Now, normally I would go to the planer to get the other face of the wood smooth, but I only need my pine to be 1/2” thick. To plane from 1 1/4” down to 1/2” is not only a lot of work, but also a waste of wood, so…

I make my wood thinner. Unfortunately I don’t have a bandsaw, which is the proper tool for the job, so I use my table saw. First I cut the second edge parallel to the first, as wide as I can get the board, in most cases around 5 1/2”. Now there is one smooth face and two smooth perpendicular edges.

To narrow the wood, which is called “resawing,” I put the fence at over 1/2”, probably about 9/16” (just under 5/8”) and start with a cut about 1” high.

I flip the board and do the other edge, always leaving the smooth face against the fence.

NOTE: This is not for the faint-of-heart since the blade is fully exposed. Before performing this type of operation you must know exactly how the wood can react and what to do and not to do. (Not for beginners)

Progressively I raise the blade so that my saw is not cutting through too much at once:

I keep going until there is just a small band of wood left in the middle:

I use a handsaw to cut that small strip of wood out of the middle of each board: be continued…

-- ~Julie~

5 comments so far

View HerbC's profile


1773 posts in 2915 days

#1 posted 11-25-2011 08:42 PM


I know I was puzzled the first time I visited Canada and was offered gravy and vinegar for my “chips”...

Then I met and married a young lady from Newfoundland and we still have chips with gravy and vinegar.

I enjoyed this blog post. Your methods and sense of organization are admirable and your explainations are clear and concise.

I look forward to the rest of this series.

Be Careful!


-- Herb, Florida - Here's why I close most messages with "Be Careful!"

View StumpyNubs's profile


7609 posts in 2856 days

#2 posted 11-25-2011 11:01 PM

WOW- great blog. Can’t wait to see more!

(I love in Michigan and we ALWAYS eat vinegar on our fries.)

-- Subscribe to "Stumpy Nubs Woodworking Journal"- One of the crafts' most unique publications:

View MayflowerDescendant's profile


414 posts in 2842 days

#3 posted 11-27-2011 05:41 AM


As usual, GREAT work! I appreciate the effort it takes to explain the steps for the beginners – great stuff. At the same time, you are demonstrating the free sharing nature of woodworkers. Thanks for your ongoing contribution to our great community. Bravo!

-- Glen - Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada

View ~Julie~'s profile


607 posts in 3090 days

#4 posted 11-28-2011 12:37 AM

Thank you for the kind comments, I hope you do continue to read the rest of the posts.

-- ~Julie~

View sharad's profile


1117 posts in 3860 days

#5 posted 03-07-2015 03:53 AM

I came across this post in my search for projects I have missed and felt so nice to find it. Your presentation is admirable for the details which are useful for the hobbyist like me. Hope to find more from you.


-- “If someone feels that they had never made a mistake in their life, then it means they have never tried a new thing in their life”.-Albert Einstein

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