Saturday night we went to an auction where we got to leave stuff. Let me rephrase that. Saturday night we were honored to donate various hand-crafted items to an auction benefitting our friends’ church camp. This is at least the sixth year we have been so honored. At least.

This year we donated four lots from the shop and one item given by my wife that did not functionally or aesthetically meet her expectation when received. Perfect for someone, just not her.

First lot was these wheeled wooden toys, subdivided into four lots:


Meet the truck, hippo, tanker and bulldozer.

Regular readers may think this looks an awful lot like our Toys For Tots offerings. Nothing could be further from the truth. These are entirely different. Just look:


There was a pig/bear in the Toys for Tots collection. Totally different.

Next was this dovetailed and painted nail carrier:


Any dovetail shortcomings are covered by paint.

It started life as the dovetailed nail carrier designed by Chuck Bender, late of 360 Woodworking. I showed the unfinished project to the camp director and his wife for approval. They suggested milk paint. I used General Finishes milk paint which really isn’t but that’s a story for another day.


My first prototype as Mr. Bender intended.

Keeping with the spirit of the church camp benefit auction, I donated a wine carrier based on a dynamite box:


Remember this one?


It is built to carry stuff. Usually just not California sparkling wine. I can’t call it Champagne.

Lest you worry that I might run out of dynamite boxes and various sized reproductions, be assured, I have more.


How do you spell OCD?

More on these later.

I, on occasion, build things as a proof of concept, or to see hows it’s done or because I want to. These items don’t always have a place to be and languish in the shop. This auction does give a forever home to some of these forgotten projects. Won’t you help?

There was one purpose built item, this unique pizza peel:


It’s called a pizza peel and I don’t know why.

It was my wife’s idea. I made her one a few years back. I didn’t love it. It was meant to be a prototype but it worked and she liked the look. I always knew I could do better.

Below is the sausage making. If you wish to continue believing I am brilliant and a design genius, stop reading now. Otherwise, prepare to be disillusioned.

I thought about it for a long time but didn’t start until I realized on Friday that it was due to be delivered on Monday. I raced to the shop and started looking through the wood pile. I found some 5/4 by 7.5″ wide maple long enough for the body. Then I found some 32″ long 6/4 walnut for the handle. My thought was that I would inlay an 8″, 10″, 12″ and 14″ circle for proper pizza dimensioning. The peel need to be at least 16″ wide. After four squaring the stock, I was short of design goals. I dug around and found some 1/4″ cherry, laid it out and still came out a bit narrow. More digging came up with the last of the thin walnut for the ears.

Off to the band saw to resaw the stock. The walnut was no problem. The wider maple was a problem. Either a dull blade or overly aggressive feed rate through the saw lead to the blade deflecting changing 1/2″ design goal to a 3/8″ design concession.

After the glue-up, a few passes though the drum sander, the 3/8″ design concession was almost met. You would never know if you didn’t have calipers. It sanded out well.

I used the previous peel as a template and the band saw made quick work of the dimensioning and shaping. An assortment of sanders made it pretty. Time with a spoke shave tapered the lip and contoured the edges.

At just under 3/8″, the handle was too thin. Back to the wood pile to retrieve the thin walnut and cherry and more glue and clamps. More time with the spoke shave and integration was complete.

On to stringing. A plunge trim router with a 1/16″ bit and home made circle jig made quick work of defining the circles. I had holly of the appropriate dimensions. Looking through my thin stock, I found some mahogany of the proper size. I used my table saw and a fine toothed 7.25 ” blade to rip off some 1/16″ stringing. Mahogany is a bit brittle but manageable.

More sanding and the peel was ready for a finish. Salad bowl finish went on and enhanced the colors. The maple went darker than I hoped and the holly popped more than anticipated. That is my only disappointment with the peel.

I think it turned out well in spite of my best efforts. The more woodworking one does, the more one is rewarded with accidental successes.

The peel went to good friends of ours, both turners. Last year he won this platter I turned:


The glued up platter from last year. I was trying to replicate the look of a Native American painted plate. Another example of the dominate culture appropriating indigenous artistic achievements.

(More on this platter later.)

At this rate, they will shortly have more of my finished pieces than I have.

This peel will never see the inside of an oven they claim. It will be mounted on the wall as art. I wish I knew that before I spent all that time tapering and thinning the leading edge.

My wife won this nice little bench:


By local woodworker Jeff Chelf.

This is a bench I could have built. The problem is I haven’t.