Home #Makerspace: How to Make a Light Box for Art and Play

This week, art class happened at night.  Using some leftover holiday string lights and acrylic sheeting, I made a light box for my two young boys to draw, play and design on.


Light boxes lend themselves to lots of different explorations.  Bits of colored paper become kalidescope-like confetti, simple photographs become complex tracings, colors combine unexpectedly and learn the physics of light.  Plant life and structures light up to the biologist.  Plus, with a little red and yellow construction paper, you can light a fire for ghost stories!


This tutorial utilizes a table saw to create the necessary rabbets and miter joints.  These are great intermediate table saw skills to learn, practice and utilize in your work flow.  Strong, clean joinery really sets your project apart from the pack.  While kid-focused, this project isn’t really designed to be made with young maker help.

Continue reading “Home #Makerspace: How to Make a Light Box for Art and Play”

Making a Makerspace: What Do We Make Here? Some Capabilities and Tools for Your Educational Makerspace

This is Part 3 in my Making a Makerspace series.  If this interests you, catch parts one and two. A makerspace is a space for a group of interesting and creative people to make something.  Makerspaces differ from traditional constructional spaces in schools such as woodshops, auto mechanics shops, tech labs, etc because making brings three ideas into the classroom: collaboration, communication and personal fabrication.  Personal fabrication brings new, ever-cheaper technologies, such as 3D printing and desktop CNC machines, into the classroom for educational use.  Collaboration focuses on group and community work, whether in the shop space, your local community … Continue reading Making a Makerspace: What Do We Make Here? Some Capabilities and Tools for Your Educational Makerspace

Making a Makerspace: Planning the Steamworks

This fall, I move into a brand-spanking new classroom.  As part of this move, I’ve been heavily involved in the planning, organizing and logistics of moving my school’s Math & Science program into our new digs.  In the words of a close colleague of mine, what a great problem to have!  Long term readers of this blog have probably noticed a distinct drop off in posts over the past year – well, this massive move has been the main focus of my long-term planning and energy, leaving little left over for blogging or new projects.IMG_6409

That’s about to change.  This is the first of a series of posts on how I’m transforming an empty 20′ x 20′ room into a Makerspace.  I will be posting progress reports throughout the Fall 2013 semester, so keep checking back.  This post will focus on planning out the Makerspace, which I’ve named the STEAMworks. Continue reading “Making a Makerspace: Planning the Steamworks”

This Week In the Shop: In-Progress Bed Design and Build

You may have noticed a distinct drop off in the frequency of posts here on WoodshopCowboy since the beginning of the year.  In that great crucible of life, demands of life has reduced my shop time. Mostly, though, a majority of woodworking time has been caught up in a commission from my wife: a bed. I’m chasing the look of Crate and Barrel’s Atwood platform bed in a queen size.  It looks something like this: And here’s what I have so far – racked in clamps.  I’ve dovetailed the corners of the case.  The back panels and frames float in … Continue reading This Week In the Shop: In-Progress Bed Design and Build

This Week in the Shop: Mirror, Mirror

I swear the conversation went like this: Wife: “What dress should I wear?” Me: “I don’t know, you look great in anything.” Wife: “This dress?  What about this one?” Me: “I don’t know if you’ve been watching me, but I haven’t taken my eyes off you in forty minutes.” Wife:  “I need a full length mirror, I can’t see anything here.” Me:  “I can handle that.”  Exit stage right. I know a good exit line when I’m handed one. Mirror from Lowe’s, sans frame.   A saw kerf down the middle makes a perfectly sized dado.  Pocket hole construction.  The … Continue reading This Week in the Shop: Mirror, Mirror

Community Watch: Build A Box!

Eight students, six boxes built and finished.  It was a long day in the shop – nearly seven hours with only a few breaks for liquids.  I can  think of a number of great moments: the first box getting nailed together, the last coat of shellac being applied, the look of what-have-I-got-myself-into as the students tackled nearly 40 linear feet of hardwood for the first time.  We captured the moment which stands out most for me in the picture below. Take a good look at the boy in the white shirt.  Take a good look at his smile.  He didn’t get … Continue reading Community Watch: Build A Box!

Community Watch: It’s Build a Box Day!

Today at TX/RX Labs, I’ll be leading a class in building a few of these tea boxes.  I’m sending a box to one random contestant on WoodshopCowboy Facebook page, just in time for Christmas. Remember to like WoodshopCowboy on Facebook! And remember: Make it safe & keep the rubber side down this weekend. Continue reading Community Watch: It’s Build a Box Day!

This Week in the Shop: Merchandise Display

It’s taken me a few years, but I’ve begun accepting commissions.  A friend of mine came with a project I couldn’t refuse.  He wanted a chest to haul around the merchandise related to his rock band.  He said he wanted something that light up the event and highlighted the band’s name.  I knew just what he wanted! I started with this SketchUp draft: It has room for CDs, t-shirts, bumper stickers and t-shirts.  My final design veered a little from this, but the basic shape was there. I began with a 30″ long, 18″ deep, 7″ high box.  I chose … Continue reading This Week in the Shop: Merchandise Display