Don Johnson's Website

My Personal 'Stuff'

Pictures of various projects that I have made since getting involved in woodworking after my retirement

Click on each item to see a larger view
(Use your Browser 'Back' button to return)

A bench for the front porch - to aid putting on and removing boots!   This was my first 'real' woodworking project, and I made it using loose tenons!

A coffee table for the lounge - to match the rather solid oak desk

A smaller oak table -
for the Hi-Fi unit

Hobby horse for grandson Michael

And one for Patrick

Some woodturned bowls

A Noah's Ark for Patrick and Michael - about 20 inches long

Stocks for wet-sponge throwing at Village Show

A presentation 'wooden heart'

A 'different' Advent calendar

Wooden base for
Scout Presentation Trophy

A pull-along engine for grandson Patrick

A bespoke pergola for Avril
- roses to follow

. . . and gates to match the pergola

. . .  and a side gate to match the front ones

Roses planted - and blooming!

Computer-controlled milling system

Toy oven for grandson Elliot

Font Cover for local Church

. . . . and after a little modification!

Kitchen makeover
ESP - 'Easy Surface Prep'
primer was a great help

A Spice Rack for the Kitchen - to match the shelving units which replaced the white conti board versions.

My first try with Biscuit Joints
- Aligning and clamping the 9 top joints before their biscuits swell and the glue 'sets' on these and the bottom 9 joints as well, was a bit tricky to say the least!

Treehouse for grandsons William and Elliot

Page Top

Entertainment Unit

Avril decided that we needed to replace the large old TV, and that the new slimline version should stand on an oak cabinet which would match the rest of the lounge furniture

and Practice

It also accomodates the Hi Fi, DVD Player, 300 CD Player and Sky TV Tuner

My friend John Churchill - a superb craftsman in wood - made the revolving bookcase in the adjacent picture.  My version of his design is much simpler ('cos I'm not as good as John) partly because it had to be constructed solely in oak - to match the lounge furniture !

Bandsaw Box

The adjacent two pictures show a Library Chair/Steps in each of its two possible positions.
Made in Maple - rather plain compared with Beech or Oak!
It was made to sell at my Rotary Club's Art/Craft Sale - but will it go ?
Click here to see an animation of the transistions from chair to steps and back again.
(Use your browser's Back button to return to this page)

This HMV Model 130A Gramophone had been used as a plant pot stand.   The top veneer had started to peel in several places, and there was a large bleached area in the centre - all caused by water leaks.  (Unfortunately I forgot to take a picture of it in its awful initial state)  However, I managed to glue down the parts where the veneer was curling, and sanded off the remaining varnish.   It took about 8 coats of new varnish - plus some judicous use of touch-up pens to disguise the edge of the bleached area - to get the top looking pretty close to the rest of the case.

Two springs (one broken) drive the gramophone, and they were originally coated in graphite grease.  Since 1930, this grease had leaked from the spring container, over the drive and governor.  As all the volatile part had evaporated, this was now like hard black putty. Getting this off was difficult, as no solvent was effective - just scraping and elbow-grease.

Removing the 14 ft long springs from their container was difficult, but putting new ones back inside was even harder - once started, there was no letting go until each was in place!  It took all my strength and determination, and I ended up with as much new graphite grease on my overalls as there was on the springs.

The drive mechanism was cleaned, greased and tuned, and set so that the turntable actually rotated at 78 rpm when the adjuster pointed at that figure.

Finally, some new 'acoustically transparent' speaker material to replace the silk front that had shredded over the years, and the unit almost looked like new!
When it actually played 'Yes SIr! That's my Baby' by Hari Kari - borrowed from a friend - all the hard work was justified!

Marble Machine 2 - The adjacent picture shows my attempt at making the second version of Matthias Wandel's Marble Machine designs.

I made mine from plywood, pine and maple, with a couple of pieces of oak of suitable size laminated together for the bowl (which is the only part that requires the use of a lathe - the gears are cut on a bandsaw!)

I really enjoyed the build, and I have to say that Matthias's plans - including still pictures, text, and videos with clear and concise voic-overs - make construction very easy to follow.   His Bigprint program also made creating exact life-size drawings of the components simplicity itself.

I used a coat of Danish Oil to finish.
There is a video of the machine in operation - click here
(Use your Browser 'Back' button to return)

There are other versions on YouTube posted by Matt, including this one
I think my Grandchildren are gonna love this (They do!)

This is another bandsaw box - cut from endgrain oak this time.  Its unusual feature is the grey circular insert in the drawer front.
This was needed as I - stupidly - cut the drawer recess BEFORE cutting the front and back off the drawer!
The insert is actually a piece of small plastic guttering, which - by serendipidy - was just about the right size!

A growing collection of Bandsaw Boxes

A Cookery Book holder for my daughter

Another Rotary Bookcase

A rather sad tale is attached to this bookcase:    John Churchill, the designer of the bookcase I made earlier - shown above - was asked to make another. When I enquired how John was getting along with the job, he advised that he had started, but had not been feeling too well, so had not visited his workshop since. Eventually, after some pushing from John, his doctor sent him for tests to discover why he felt so ‘below par’. On the day that he got the results, John called in at my home to reveal that he had cancer of the colon, which had spread to his liver, and that it was inoperable.

During our conversation he told me that I was ‘needed’, and I assumed it would be help his wife Vanessa with driving to the hospital, etc.. However, John said that he wanted me to finish the bespoke bookcase for him. When I pointed out that I am not in the same class of woodworker as John, he said we could do it as a ‘masterclass’, with him sitting in his workshop, directing me to do the physical work, so I agreed.

I visited John a few days later, but he was already bedridden, so we could only talk about the project, though he showed me a sketch of how he had intended to do the top. My reaction was to say that I hoped he didn’t expect me to use this 'basketwork' design as it was beyond my capabilities. However, he had more faith in my skills than me, and said he was sure I could manage. We left the subject there, with me expecting to be able to talk to him about it again, but a few days later – 16 days from getting his test results – he died.

A little while after the funeral, I asked Vanessa if she wanted me to proceed, and she showed me the shelves, central columns, and side bars that John had roughed out, so I brought them home and started to wonder how to do the top. I have no experience of marquetry, and didn’t have much idea of where to get veneers.

To cut the story short, after much struggling with the 'how' and the 'do' I completed John's project, and with some trepidation waited to see if the buyers thought that it was up to John's standard.   Luckily they were delighted with it, but I feel that I may have had a little extra guidance from somewhere when I was working on it.

The lower picture shows the 'basketwork' top design

Yet Another Rotary Bookcase

I made this bookcase for sale at a small Christmas Fair organised by my wife, Avril.   Unfortunately, due to extreme bad weather and flooding in the area, the number of people attending the fair was quite small, and the bookcase remained unsold at the end of the event. 

The bookcase is 475mm square and 720 mm high (18.75" and 28.5" in imperial units) and has oak veneered shelves.   It is completed with solid oak slats and sapele wood edging.   The inlaid stringing is also sapele.   It rotates freely on a hidden circular base - rather like a 'Lazy Susan'.  

Finished  with  Danish  Oil  and  Museum  Wax,  it  will hold a number of books or ornaments - just like 'The one I made earlier'! - and add style and convenience to any room.  It resides besides Avril's chair, ready with reference books for use with her puzzles.

Rocking Horse

I s
tarted making some toys in advance for the Christmas Fair that Avril organises each year in the Village Hall.    This is the first of probably a few 'Pony Rocker' rocking horses I shall produce -  made from commercial plans

Page Top

This is my version of Steve Ramsay’s latest Countdown Calendar - or Advent Calendar as we say in the UK

He did modify the design so that a present could be concealed behind the door, but my version was already completed before he published the change - so no 'goodies', just block swapping each day of Advent.

Raised Panel Doors
Our friends Richard and Sue’s grandson has just reached the ‘into everything’ stage, so they were concerned that he might investigate the cupboard in the bedroom where he stays during visits, as it only had curtains closing off an area full of all sorts of stuff.  I made them a pair of  MDF doors,  routed to look like raised panels

Church Cross from reclaimed oak

Having previously made some items for our local church, it was no surprise to be asked by the vicar if I could make a cross on which to hang the poppy wreath on Remembrance Sunday.  He   said that he had some oak that had been removed when the church organ housing recently had been remodeled, and that was what I used.

Our village notice board had been in place for a number of years, but finally gave up the ghost a couple of months ago, when the softwood frame had rotted enough to start to fall to pieces.   Luckily, the window panes could be re-used – which was handy because they were made of Pilkington’s safety glass – so my design was pretty much the same size as the original. Luckily, one of our villagers runs a woodturning business and he said he had some Sapele off-cuts from one of his larger jobs which I was able to use.

Shoe Storage Box

My wife, Avril, spotted a Shoe Storage Box in a sales magazine and asked if I could make one for her. Although the cost of materials exceeded the price of the commercial version, I could make it from white melamine coated chipboard so that it would sort of match other furniture in our bedroom.

Dungeon & Dragons Box

My Grandson, Will, admired a box I made and asked if I could make him something similar to keep the dice and other items he uses in the Dungeons & Dragons games he designs.I decided to create a finger joint version using a jig I completed recently

Cotton Reel Organiser

Avril is a keen patchworker, and although she has in the past concentrated on hand-stitched items like quilts, with problems due to arthritis nowadays she is having to use her sewing machine more. I had already made a pine top for the unit upon which her machines stand, with an ‘upstand’ at the rear to stop items falling off the back. So, when she asked for a unit to organise her sewing threads so that she could easily see what colours she has – rather than searching through boxes – it seemed a good idea to modify a design I saw somewhere on the Internet to go on the pine top.

Bird Feeder

As the Cherry Tree in the front garden decided to succumb to honey-dew virus and died, we needed somewhere to hang bird feeders.

New Fence

We’ve had an ongoing problem with a patch of our front garden which contained a lilac bush which kept sending shoots up and making the area impossible to keep weed free. Finally, my wife, Avril, decided that this old bush needed to go, and the area should be covered with a weed-stopping membrane to reduce the maintenance work needed. Our gardener-helper put in a framework, with a section left for a camelia, and covered the membrane with stones.

‘Whilst you are doing that’, said Avril, ‘could you hide that nasty chain-link fence?’ – Well when SWMBO asks, I obey, so I put in some posts and rails, and found some wood to cut into pickets at our local ‘Woodpile’. I cut the picket tops in a curve to match those on the front and side gates

Raffle Ticket Tumbler

Each year, at our village Christmas Market that my wife Avril organises, we have a raffle – with lot of prizes donated by the stallholders, and usually, a hand-made quilt at the major attraction. As the winning visitors may not be present when the draw is made at the end of the day, we get them to put their name and ‘phone number on a numbered sheet, but we still use raffle tickets to make the actual random selection. Whilst doing this with the tickets in a shoe box this year, I thought that it would be more sophisticated to use a proper drum, so made this version I found on YouTube.

ACME Bomb Clock

This is my version of WIL E COYOTE'S surprise present for Road Runner

Another Pony Rocker
In natural finish this time, as a present for a child in the village

Tambour Top Box

Having been given some offcuts of Ash, I looked on the Internet for something to make from them, and came across this box.

Bread Bin

Using some of the strips left over from the Tambour Box, I made a Bread Bin for the kitchen.

Page Top