The gift-giving season is upon us…
And for a lot of woodworkers, that means a mad dash in the shop — hammering out gifts with a hard deadline hanging over your head.
Unless you’ve got an assembly line of elves helping out, it can be exhausting.
So to save you some effort, I’ve put together this list of 6 easy woodworking gift ideas you can build at the last minute.
Your family and friends are sure to love them…
And you won’t have to be huffing sawdust into the wee hours of the night — when not even a mouse is stirring.
WHAT MAKES A GOOD LAST-MINUTE WOODWORKING GIFT?
When it comes to making gifts for the holidays, the ability to batch out projects is key.
Yes, you can make every friend and family a custom, specialized project.
But that’s going to take a lot of time.
Simple projects you can make in batches let you cover everyone you care about without getting caught up in the weeds.
And as an added bonus, giving everyone similar gifts means you can easily hide which family members you really don’t like that much.
Got some thin strips taking up space in your trash bin? Time to put them to use.
This “build” is ridiculously simple. But with a bit of creativity, it can be super special.
Just set up a thin rip jig on your table saw and cut some thin strips from a board with interesting grain.
Then cut the strips to length, soften up the edges, add finish, and you’re done.
In just a few minutes, you can make a bookmark for all your friends and family.
Want to add more customization? Pick up a wood burning pen and experiment with pyrography. Draw the recipient's initials, a little doodle, or even your own logo.
A lot of imbibing goes on during the holidays… and people are going to need a place to set all those drinks!
Coasters make awesome gifts and are easy to batch out. Best of all, they can be as simple or complex as you like.
Make them from a single board, or use “woven wood” glue ups to create crazy wavy designs (here’s how).
You can even add a bit of adhesive cork to the bottoms to keep them from sliding.
Bonus points if you make little trays to carry a set of coasters.
3. TEA CANDLE / FLIGHT HOLDER
Whether you’re looking for some candle-lit ambience or a classy way to enjoy a fine whiskey flight, this versatile build covers your bases.
And it couldn’t be easier. Use a forstner bit to drill a few appropriately sized non-through holes in a board — and you're done.
Use your creativity to add some flair to the base.
Make it curved with the bandsaw, glue up multiple species of wood, or add an inlay like @woodnotesstudio did in the picture above (one of our recent Creators of the Week).
4. SERVING TRAY / CUTTING BOARD
You couldn’t make a list like this without mentioning cutting boards.
Why? Because if you keep it simple, they are SO easy to batch out.
Mill up a board. Slap some handles on it. And voila.
I’d avoid trying to make multiple end grain cutting boards as holiday gifts if you’re pressed for time. They take a lot more effort than long grain boards.
Use a bandsaw to cut them into funky shapes for a bit more visual interest. Here's a video where my mortal enemy Jason Hibb's of Bourbon Moth shows how.
And as a bonus, include a small container of cutting board finish for the recipient to maintain it!
5. BOOK DISPLAY / TABLET STAND
Holidays mean food. And whoever finds themself in the kitchen is going to need somewhere to place their cookbook or tablet with a recipe pulled up.
You can build this gift so many different ways, using any joinery style you’re most comfortable with.
My buddy Matt Estlea has a video series showing how to build one using scraps (watch it here).
Add a hinge to make it foldable, a hook to hangable, or any design elements you like to really make it pop.
6. SIMPLE PLANT STAND (PLANT INCLUDED!)
We could all do with a bit more greenery in our lives (not like that you dirty hippy).
And this versatile build lets you give your loved ones a calming house plant PLUS a classy wooden stand.
There are a million and one ways to build a plant stand.
My old friend David Picciuto from Make Something has a great video showing multiple plant stand versions that are quick and easy to build.
It’s a great chance to practice your half lap joinery — and is fully customizable to whatever size plant you get.
MADE LAST-MINUTE WITH LOVE
Homemade woodworking gifts are truly special — and are an amazing way to show your appreciation for loved ones with your wood-crafting skills.
But building a bunch of gifts doesn’t need to be stressful.
With the projects above, you can create truly unique gifts that stand apart… even if it’s just a couple days before the holidays.
Want some tips on good beginner woodworking projects? Read this.