All posts by Bob Wessel

New Ideas, Variations and a Very Different Possibility

New Ideas: Smallish planters of various shapes

This idea originated as another use for a construction method known as “birdsmouth construction.” This technique is used to build cylindrical (think long tubes) masts and booms for small boats (although it is used for some quite large – 40′ masts). You can see why it is called “birdsmouth” from the illustration.


I have been experimenting with the technique and decided that one of my test pieces could be repurposed as a planter, specifically for a cactus. But discussions with the intended recipient lead to the idea of different shapes – octagon, triangle, square (cube), and rectangle – only one of which uses the birdsmouth technique.


And so, a line of small boxes – these could be planters or just containers for stuff (the cylinder will make a nice pencil holder) – is in the prototype development stage. Figuring out sizes, construction processes and sorting out details.

Variations: Adult Beverage Flight Tray

Browsing the internet, I saw a good idea. Thinking about it, the concept morphed into a “new and improved” variation of the Whiskey Shot Flight Tray I made this past winter.


As this new variation develops, I’ll share the process.

A Very Different Possibility

My sister contacted me about building a “chalk box” for an artist friend of hers. He is a very talented artist who does some amazing sidewalk art with chalk. The box he is using now is, apparently, on its last legs and he is looking for a replacement. We’ll get together mid-week to discuss what he wants and need. This is an exciting opportunity to improve my box or dove-tail joint skills. I’ll share the progress of this project.

Oh, yes… winter is definitely on its way out!

Winter is almost gone

We’re back from a pre-spring break in pleasantly mild Atlanta! Warm, sunny days are quite soothing to a winter-weary soul. Winter is lingering here in Michigan – snow is still on the ground but spring is on its way out and winter is almost gone…

The break was good on so many levels:

  • A warming of the heart and soul
  • New ideas/designs for WoodDot Designs
  • New concepts and boat-building techniques that may carryover to WoodDot Designs
  • A new, albeit barely discernible, platform for this blog
  • A creative decision to do some cross-blogging and,
  • Finally, perhaps a clearer idea of where WoodDot Designs is headed

New project ideas are percolating and prototypes will be coming out of the workshop soon.

Good Enough?

That always seems to be the question, “Is my stuff good enough?”

Maybe that’s why I haven’t promoted my Etsy store very much (or at all) other than an earlier post. I’m not convinced my stuff is good enough.

We all seem to do this, questioning our own work, to some degree or another. For some it is merely a passing thought on their way to their next masterpiece. For others it can be debilitating. I’m somewhere in between those extremes.

I was given a nice reminder today that no one’s work is good enough… at first. But things improve with practice (which reminds of what I often told my children but which I seem to have forgotten: Practice, practice, practice.) Whether it is good enough in the marketplace doesn’t seem to matter as much as whether it is good enough for the creator. What I see in my mind’s eye doesn’t seem to come out of my hands – but I see improvement. My second boat is “better” than my first boat; today’s coasters are “better” than last year’s; and today’s napkin rings are “better” than the first ones I made three years ago.

So, I see improvement over time and that improvement keeps me going. One of these days, my stuff will be “good enough” for me! In the meantime, I will Practice Practice, Practice!

By the way, according to the calendar, Spring is only 20 days away…

Over the Top!

The Kickstarter campaign to raise funds to publish Tom Pamperin’s book, Jagular: (mis)Adventues in a $300 Sailboat, met its goal of $5,500 over the weekend! I guess my daily vigil worked… or maybe it was the great community of small-boat builders, sailors, friends and family that did it. Whatever works! Meeting the goal means the book will be published!

I know Tom appreciates all of our contributions.

Kickstarter, as a vehicle to bring What If, What Else and Why Not creativity to fruition, is a good resource to have available.

I’m looking forward to reading Jagular’s adventures…

Random Thoughts…

…on a Friday afternoon:

What happened to the last 12 days? I dunno but it doesn’t seem like 12 days since my last post here…

Waiting for Tom’s KickStarter campaign to reach its goal is a daily vigil. Sometimes I think, “What the heck, bump your donation and put it over the top!”, immediately followed by, “Wait until the last day of the campaign…”, followed by the thought, “How many of us are sitting around waiting for someone else to put it over the goal?” As of this afternoon, $5,399 has been raised toward the goal of $5,500. So close…

Etsy news: First sale shipped today!

So, waiting for that first sale seemed to take forever but the calendar says it was less than three weeks… Impatience in the modern world. Better Etsy news: my first customer has asked about a custom order… Great and it could lead to more sales, too!

The calendar says spring will be here in 35 days. Oh, it’ll be spring in 35 days but I think we’ll still have snow on the ground and coldish weather to deal with but, warmer weather will mean I can finish outfitting the shop and have more time to create WoodDot Designs!

A Very Worthy Endeavor

Tom Pamperin is a boatbuilder and sailor. I first “met” Tom by way of the WoodenBoat Forum, where he is a regular contributor. Tom and I attended Sail Oklahoma in October 2011 and I had the privilege of sitting at the table while Tom interviewed John Welsford. Tom and I attended Howard Rice’s Small Craft Academy in Mackinaw City, MI in June 2012, where, in addition to the classroom work, lessons and exercises, we shared an enjoyable late afternoon sail from the beach back to the launch ramp.

Tom also teaches English at the high school and college levels (not necessarily at the same time…) and writes – often of small boat adventures. A number of his stories have been published in magazines and on-line. Tom is talented, generous, well-spoken and an all-around good guy.

Tom is now writing – perhaps it is already finished – Jagular Goes Everywhere, (mis)Adventures in a $300 Sailboat. Having researched the publishing options available, he has decided to self-publish his book which is, to me, another great adventure for him. Here is a link to his KickStarter fundraising effort. KickStarter Campaign For Jagular

Take a look and, if you are so inclined, help him get the book published by making a contribution. The KickStarter fundraiser will close on March 12, 2014.

Winter Woes…

We live in Michigan. Michigan winters are cold. I get that. So far, I have avoided openly complaining about how cold it is because, well, this is Michigan. However, the last ten days have been COLD. And WINDY. With SNOW. So, yes, consider this my complaint about this winter. I don’t have the historical data to back this up, but, “This has been a cold winter, maybe one of the coldest ever.” And it doesn’t matter if I can support that statement with data because in the here-and-now of this winter, I really don’t care if there was a colder winter sometime in the past – any past. We’re cold NOW!

We heard what sounded like a snow plow go by early this morning but, judging by the condition of the road, I am pretty sure it was a Zamboni.

The landscape has been blown, swept, scoured and now sculpted by the winds. The drifts are interesting to watch and pretty, but digging out a drift in front of the garage so we could get the car out was not so much fun. The sun is shining, at least for now, lifting our spirits and helping us ignore the new drift building up in the driveway.

While the cold weather has made it pretty much impossible to get anything done in the shop, I have been working a few new ideas in the warmth of the kitchen. Of course, seeing new projects in my mind’s eye or drawing them out on paper isn’t has much fun as actually building them. I’ll just have to be content with the “passive creativity” of dreaming up new ideas until I can “actively create” them in the shop. Oh, and by the way, the WoodDot Design shop on Etsy? It opened this week! It is still a work in progress, for sure, but it is fun putting my things out there for the world to see. WoodDot Designs on Etsy

Fifty (50) days until the calendar says it is Spring!

Evolution of the WoodDot

The WoodDot has evolved over time…

My original Tear-Drop napkin ring came into being one afternoon in the summer of 2011while epoxy was setting up on my boat-building project. The tear-drop resulted from experimenting with using white cedar. Stars, triangles, circles and squares didn’t really work well, particularly with the tools I had available at the time. The plain tear-drop did work and it was different – and quirky – enough for me, so I made a couple of them and used them at home and during my Epic West Coast Road Trip that fall.

Next came the contrasting stripe – which allowed different looks using different combinations of wood.

Later, after using dowels to reinforce the mitered corners of small picture frames, I realized that the contrasting dot was a pleasant design element and I incorporated the WoodDot into the tear-drop napkin ring.

Recently, I have taken on the WoodDot as my signature design element. It can be quite prominent – with sharply contrasting woods.

Or, it can be very subtle – as in these coasters.

Really, there is a WoodDot in those coasters!

Okay, so the WoodDot didn’t truly “evolve” from the stripe… but I like it.

Welcome To WoodDot Designs

What is WoodDot Designs? It is my platform for exploring and sharing creative ideas and efforts. My creative energies find expression in small woodworking projects such as napkin rings, tea-light holders, coasters and other decorative and functional items. However, recently I began hanging around with a talented woodworker and learning new skills by helping with small peices of furniture, so I am hopeful of expanding my efforts.

Why the WoodDot? Well, the Dot evolved as a distinctive design element for my small wooden items. While the Dot is not unique to my work – others use dots as decorative accents – it does represent a focal point for me, visually as well as mentally.

For me, that little Dot symbolizes the concepts of

  • What If?
  • What Else?
  • Why Not?

This is the mantra of the book, Fanning the Creative Spirit, by Maria Girsch, Phn.D & Charlie Girsch, Phn.D, which aims to simplify creativity. The book helped me understand that we are all, despite our own doubts, creative.

WoodDot Designs, the blog, will explore and share creative ideas, my woodworking adventures (and misadventures) and the occasional social commentary.