Good "assembly line" projects for holiday gifts?

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Forum topic by ADHDan posted 10-21-2013 08:05 PM 2741 views 0 times favorited 20 replies Add to Favorites Watch
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800 posts in 2107 days

10-21-2013 08:05 PM

Topic tags/keywords: question

I’m looking for ideas for projects I can make for holiday gifts for my and my wife’s extended family – probably 15 gifts, in all. Last year, I made picture frames and we gave them out with photos of our new baby, and they were very popular. I’m looking for other good ideas for gift projects that can capitalize on “assembly line” efficiency – i.e., projects that use a few pieces that can all be cut and (clamps permitting) assembled at the same time. My go-to idea is end-grain cutting boards, but I’d love to know what other people have done for these types of projects.

Because we have a lot of family, I’m also trying to keep costs down. I have a ton of premium pine and poplar I’d like to use up (I used it last year for the frames), and I have a large bin of small cutoffs/scraps filled mostly with oak and maple. So any projects that can use up my softwoods and/or scraps would be great. Thanks!

-- Dan in Minneapolis, woodworking since 11/11.

20 replies so far

View knotscott's profile (online now)


8013 posts in 3374 days

#1 posted 10-21-2013 08:21 PM

Clocks can be as simple as you like…it’s not hard to build a nice looking clock with a “fit-up” insert for $10-$15.

-- Happiness is like wetting your pants...everyone can see it, but only you can feel the warmth....

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156 posts in 1681 days

#2 posted 10-21-2013 08:22 PM

How about some wine Gift boxes. I make these and now that I’ve made one, I can make 4 in about 2 hours. They’re all made from scraps in my shop. The one shown is made from maple and bubinga. I also use Oak, Pne, mahogany, Walnut whatever is laying around. 16” x 4” so small pieces is all that’s required. All I buy is some 1/4” oak doweling. All else is Scrap. I have the plans if you want em.

-- Still got all my Fingers!!!

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5659 posts in 2812 days

#3 posted 10-21-2013 08:22 PM

Picture frames are always nice.

-- Willie, Washington "If You Choose Not To Decide, You Still Have Made a Choice" - Rush

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800 posts in 2107 days

#4 posted 10-21-2013 08:33 PM

Picture frames definitely fit the bill, but I’m not sure everyone on our list wants to get frames two years in a row. I’ll probably circle back to doing frames in a few years. For now, that wine box looks great (TaybulSaws, I sent you a PM) and end grain cutting boards are still in the running. Thanks!

-- Dan in Minneapolis, woodworking since 11/11.

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Monte Pittman

29226 posts in 2336 days

#5 posted 10-21-2013 08:39 PM

Wooden mugs?

-- Nature created it, I just assemble it.

View brtech's profile


1029 posts in 2921 days

#6 posted 10-21-2013 08:51 PM

A variation on end grain cutting boards are trivets. You can also do bread knives, but that’s usually more bandsaw work. Cheese plates, pizza peels and knife blocks can work.

The one I’m using for my family this year probably won’t work for you, but everyone I want to give a gift to has an iPhone, so they are all getting charging stands.

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800 posts in 2107 days

#7 posted 10-21-2013 09:25 PM

I have no bandsaw (or jointer, or lathe), so that limits my projects a bit – but trivets sound like the natural companion to cutting boards. Particularly because I can make nice large cutting boards for closer relatives, and trivets for more distant relatives – but still cut all the pieces at the same time.

-- Dan in Minneapolis, woodworking since 11/11.

View Jim584's profile


26 posts in 1691 days

#8 posted 10-21-2013 09:33 PM

Check out Steve Ramsey on youtube, he has several quick and easy projects on his page. Its Woodworking for mere mortals or WWMM, i’m currently building a few of his projects.

-- Just getting started.

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Jim Finn

2656 posts in 2920 days

#9 posted 10-22-2013 02:20 AM

I mass produce small “what not” boxes and they sell well. I make different sizes with 8”x11”x2” the largest.

-- Website is No PHD just a DD214 and a GED

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1222 posts in 2435 days

#10 posted 10-22-2013 02:38 AM

Another vote for trivets, either all wood or wood and tile. Also coaster sets. Clocks are always nice. I’m going to do a variation of this for gifts this year. Voitive candle holders. Wine bottle balancers are cool and easy too.

-- Tom Finnigan - Measures? We don't need no stinking measures! - Hmm, maybe thats why my project pieces don't fit.

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800 posts in 2107 days

#11 posted 10-22-2013 01:46 PM

More excellent suggestions – you guys rock! What do you use to finish coasters and trivets, to protect from heat or water/condensation?

-- Dan in Minneapolis, woodworking since 11/11.

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11626 posts in 2378 days

#12 posted 10-24-2013 06:42 AM

I finish my trivets with oil only as I doubt any finish will hold up to a hot pan.

-- Rick M,

View pmayer's profile


1028 posts in 3064 days

#13 posted 10-24-2013 12:40 PM

Here is one of the items that I am making as holiday gifts this year:

For a list of 15 people perhaps you could make one large and one small pair of tongs for each person. These would work great with your small cut-offs. I did a dry run the other night and made 9 of them in one night using only wood from my firewood scrap pile.

Last year I made a bunch of these:

Those are quick because they are a a single board project, no gluing or clamping. Mainly a sanding and finishing project. They are also unique, and people love getting them.

-- PaulMayer,

View oldnovice's profile


6850 posts in 3366 days

#14 posted 10-24-2013 06:04 PM

With one template, router, and router bushings you can make one piece picture frames, no miters to worry about!
I have made quite a number of these, they are fun and good looking!

Let me know if you want more details!

-- "I never met a board I didn't like!"

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1222 posts in 2435 days

#15 posted 10-24-2013 06:28 PM

Dan, for wood trivets I use BLO. If it has a tile insert, any finish will do as the tile should sit proud of the wood. With wood coasters I use solvent based poly or lacquer. Again , if it has a tile center use what you like on the border.

-- Tom Finnigan - Measures? We don't need no stinking measures! - Hmm, maybe thats why my project pieces don't fit.

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