Top 10 Easy Gift Projects

Easy build projects that make great gifts.

All of these projects can be made over a weekend or a week of evenings. For those who like to build from plans, we’ve included many projects from previous issues. If you’re really pressed for time, make sure to select finishes that dry fast. Shellac, water-based finishes and acrylic paint are good choices.

1. Chopsticks
Once you get in the ‘zone’ you could make dozens of these from small scraps of leftover wood. The sticks can be round, square, or rectangular. Using exotic wood will really make them stand out. Chopsticks.

2. Play Blocks
Not all the blocks have to be square or rectangular, as long as they’re large enough not to be swallowed. You can create surface texture and decorative details with a table saw, router, rotary tool, rasps, chisels, and other hand tools. Sand all the corners and stick to foodsafe, non-toxic finishes, or better yet, leave the blocks unfinished. Children’s Blocks.

3. Memory Box
Children love playing with messy, gooey things and adults love to preserve those early childhood memories. This project is great for both. Childhood Memory Box.

4. Cutting Board
Family or friends who love cooking will appreciate a custom-made, food-safe cutting board. Choose a dense, close grained wood like maple, cherry, or purpleheart. Don’t be confined to a square or rectangular shape – concave and convex curves, or even a harmonic curve, easily cut on the bandsaw, will add a lot of pizzazz to the board. Use a waterproof glue, and finish it with lightweight mineral oil. Super Simple End Grain Cutting Board (Dec/Jan 2020); Inlaid Cutting Board

5. Toy Train
This toy is bound to fascinate any youngster. You can make all the parts, or purchase the wheels and other locomotive gear – headlight, whistle and smokestack – from a craft supplier. Toy Train

6. Keepsake Box
Just about everyone has their own little ‘treasures’, knick-knacks that we like to hang onto. You’ll find lot of ideas in last month’s issue of our magazine. Keepsake Box.

7. Smart Device Stand
Because of its adjustable height and adjustable viewing angle, this tablet stand makes it much more comfortable to use a tablet for prolonged periods of time. Whether you’re sitting at a desk or table, or standing at a kitchen counter or a workshop workbench, your tablet viewing from now on will no longer be a pain in the neck. Tablet Stand

8. Tool Caddy
A length of dowel, five short boards, and a handful of screws or nails is all it takes. The fun part is in the variation: substitute a bamboo pole or neat looking tree branch for the handle; chip carve the top edge of the long side boards; or stencil the recipient’s name on the side. They make great gifts for gardeners and painters alike. Build a Kid’s Toolbox.

9. Bird House
Bird houses are fun to make, and it’s a great way to attract and keep birds in your back or front yard. You can use almost any wood, even plywood. While you can apply an exterior finish, don’t put a finish on the inside of the box. You can use any shape that comes to mind, but the crucial part is the overall size and access hole size. For a list of dimensions for common Canadian birds, visit canadianwoodworking.com/birdhouse-dimensions. Housing for the birds.

10. Bookmark
The easiest way to make a bookmark is to cut a 1/16″ or so slice from a 1″ thick (2″ wide or larger) board about 6″ long. Hand plane the edge of the board before each cut so you’ll only have one side of the bookmark to scrape or sand smooth (don’t run the piece over the jointer as it’s much too short). You can then chip carve, paint, or stain the bookmarks.


Carl Duguay - [email protected]

Carl is a Victoria-based furniture maker and the web editor at Canadian Woodworking & Home Improvement.

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