Wood You Like a USB Flash Drive?

So I’ve been experimenting lately with USB keys. Seems I have a penchant for making USB keys encased in fine hardwoods. They are so much more organic-looking than the silly plastic cases they normally come in. I’ve got a few samples in my gallery to look at so far. They are a bit bigger than the teeny plastic ones they manufacture now, but considering it’s enclosed in a wood shell which is much more resistant to cracks, etc. I think it’s worth it. I can make them out of just about any wood you can think of. Two of mine are from wood salvaged off of pallets. I used walnut. I am working on one now that uses a Sandisk Cruzer 1Gb flash drive with a pop out USB connector. A bit more tricky than the others, but it should work out OK. I am considering offering them for sale if anyone thinks they might be interested. Haven’t done any promotion of them as yet, but I thought I could do custom orders as well. Sort of “send me your flash drive and I’ll mod it for you” type of thing. Mostly any memory key will work, and each one is handmade. I use a basic oil finish to complete the key, so they have a decent amount of protection from wear and tear. I drill a lanyard hole in the end if you want to be a real geek and hang it from your neck… If you’re serious about one, you can use the contact form here to get a hold of me.


Tongue Drum Project

I just completed the latest project from the Bushwood shop. It’s a Tongue Drum, or Slit Drum. I made it from plans found in Wood Magazine. It’s a plan designed by a woodworker/musician named Steve Roberts, who makes some pretty cool instruments. My son enjoys it a lot, and I made an identical one for my friend Woody. They are made from Anigre1, Sapele2, and Makore3, which are imported hardwoods. The mallets are just hardwood dowels topped with a simple medium-hard rubber ball (like a super bouncy ball).

Update 12-20-06: I just recently embarked on building two more drums. Theses are made from African Padauk 4 and Black Walnut5, and one is a commission for a friend of mine. I built them exactly the same as above, but added a couple more coats of Formby’s Gloss Tung Oil for extra protection and shine. They have a better pitch and tone than the others, but both sound equally nice.


  1. Botanical Name: Aningeria | Family: Sapotaceae | Specific Gravity: .54 | General Description: Anegre is a light tone wood that normally come mostly defect free. It has a creamy white color with tight growth rings. It also has good density. | Origin: Africa []
  2. Botanical Name: Entandrophragma cylindricum | Specific Gravity: .62 | Description: The heartwood is pink when freshly cut, but it matures to a red-brown or purple-brown color, with an interlocked and wavy grain pattern | Origin: Africa []
  3. Botanical Name: Mimusops heckelii | Specific Gravity: .59 | Description: The heartwood color varies from pink or light reddish-brown to a rich red brown, sometimes with a grayish tinge. The grain is usually straight, but may be interlocked. Wood with interlocked grain displays an attractive mottled figure, with occasional dark streaks. | Origin: Africa []
  4. Botanical Name: Pterocarpus soyauxii | Description: When freshly cut the wood is bright orange red, becomes reddish brown. Moderately hard and heavy. Medium texture, but with large pores. Saws and planes easily to a very smooth surface. []
  5. Botanical Name: Juglans nigra | Description: Usually steamed to match sapwood and heartwood. Fine but open grain. Moderately coarse texture. Excellent to work including turning and carving. []

Spook Box

Thanks to Wil Wheaton (and if you don’t know who he is, go see his website), he mentioned a game that I recently purchased from my local comic and game store. The game is called Spooks, and is from Steve Jackson Games.

UPDATE (2/3/2014): Wil Wheaton is now involved in a gaming Youtube channel called Tabletop where they discuss a variety of tabletop gaming. Worth checking out. This Spook Box was done WAY before the show was started, but I figured it deserved a mention anyway.

A very fun game, and also a prime candidate for a woodworking project. After getting a hardbound idea book with plans from Woodsmith magazine, I made a card storage box from Anigre (an imported hardwood).1

It fits the cards perfectly, and has some nice box joints. I made a small recess for the label, which I cut from the game box. It came out OK, but if I had to do it again, I’d be a bit more precise with the box joints.


  1. Botanical Name: Aningeria | Family: Sapotaceae | Specific Gravity: .54 | General Description: Anegre is a light tone wood that normally come mostly defect free. It has a creamy white color with tight growth rings. It also has good density. | Origin: Africa []

Comptone Drums

A little bit about Woody’s hobby, which is very akin to my own – woodworking. He makes fantastic drums.1

The interior is sealed. And you can see on the left a problem on the bearing edge of the bottom that I elected to repair with high-density wood filler rather than shorten the drum a tad and recut the edges. Sometimes knots and imperfections are hidden until the edges are cut. Thankfully, the insides are pretty as well. More sanding tomorrow…2

Inside is sealed and the internal paper badge is applied so I know when it was built. "Swing Fire" is the name of the kit. The lugs are held in place with drum key screws so all that is needed to completely dissasemble the kit, is a drum key.3

The complete drum with shortie legs installed. I make shortie legs as floor toms are usually to high for my midget ass. Also the floor toms legs are just too long. Ever put a Floor Tom all the way up as high as it can go? It’s way too high for any human!4

The full kit. All "vintage mahogany" shells from Keller. 12, 14, 16, 18 and various 12" snares. It is very boomy and full. The kit is incredibly portable due to the small sizes and is very light as well. I have a 10" tom as well, but I rarely use it.5

  1. All quotes property of Woody, and Comptone Drums []
  2. drum1.jpg []
  3. drum2.jpg []
  4. drum3.jpg []
  5. drum4.jpg []

The Spokeshave Project

So here it is. My next tool. And it works too. I made a spokeshave. It cuts fine shavings with a small adjustment of the blade, easily done with two brass screws underneath the blade, after loosening the blade from its brass knobs.

The brass pieces were milled for me by someone at my job, who works in our prototype shop. I filed them a bit for the tool to work properly, and then sanded them down using progressively finer grits of silicon carbide paper up to 1000 grit. Then I used some polishing compound on a buffing wheel on my grinder, and made them very shiny. I then coated the brass with a bit of spray lacquer so they won’t tarnish.

The body of the tool was made from African Sapele, and the finish was two coats of tung oil, followed by Johnson’s Paste Wax. The blade was obtained from Hock Tools, and came ready for use. A very fine blade made by an expert, and the service from Hock was among the best I’ve worked with.

The tool plans themselves were from the #84 issue of Shopnotes #84 (my favorite woodworking magazine.)