For those of us who have taken the plunge into hobbyist carpentry and repurposed wood, being inside for winter can feel even more burdensome. Actually, cabin fever happens to just about everyone when the weather gets frigid, and with that, we find ourselves pacing, wishing and wanting for something to do.

Well, the good news is that woodworking doesn’t have to stop just because it’s too cold to play outside. There are lots of small, fun and worthwhile projects that a budding carpenter can get into at the kitchen table or in front of the fireplace.


With just a few simple hand tools, some sandpaper, patience and natural DIY wood preservative, the winter indoors can turn into quite a productive time for hobby carpenter. It provides ample time for practice at honing skills and completing the small stuff that might otherwise get pushed aside.

1. Sliding book ends

Books on a shelf can be downright frustrating when they refuse to stand up straight. While there are all sorts of bookends in existence, clamp-on sliding book ends can be a fun carpentry project for those with these problems and some scrap wood sitting around. Using two squarish planks, cut out slots the thickness of the bookshelf, such that the planks will slide into place and hold the books up. Otherwise, large, attractive blocks of wood, well-sanded and oiled, can work as bookends atop the shelf.

2. Toolbox/bench

This is a relatively small project, so it can be done mostly inside. It’s also one that can become very useful for the home DIYer. It’s a wooden stool with a cavity for holding tools in it. So, when it’s time to get down to business, a DIYer has both the equipment to do the job and a comfortable perch from which to work. It can be made with those ubiquitous scraps of plywood or easily done with pallet wood.

3. Cutting Slab/Serving Board

Many people are obsessed with those striped cutting boards made from old scraps of wood. Granted, the mix of colors on them is stunning. However, there is a lot to be said for a cutting board made purely from one piece of scrap wood plank, particularly some old nugget of hardwood. In this case, it’s just a matter cutting out the shape you’d like (handle, no handle, a hole to hang it from, a rectangle, whatever) and sanding it down nicely. Then, after oiling it a few times to bring out the grain and natural colors, it can be a display or a functional cutting board.


4. Serving Tray

Nothing says spoiling your lover like breakfast in bed, and it just wouldn’t be complete without a serving tray. Instead of buying something, up the ante and use some repurposed wood planks to make a sturdy and attractive serving tray. Essentially, this is just combining enough planks to get the size of tray you’d like, then adding the outer rails to hold the planks together and keep stuff from sliding off. Screw on a couple of repurposed handles and doubly wow that significant other.

5. Whittled Wizard

Whittling seems one of those pastimes of a bygone age, but it doesn’t have to be. It’s actually a really fun hobby, and surprisingly, it doesn’t take that long to become a respectable novice at it. This is a great thing to do with old end cuts off of boards, or even with nice-looking sticks and branches that have fallen in the yard. It can be done in front of a fireplace or at the kitchen table with little more than a sharp pocket knife and some newspaper to catch the wood shavings.

6. Coat Hanger

Projects built around rogue leftover planks of wood are always winners. A coat hanger could be a basic rectangle, or it could be a scrap something live edge. The basic idea is to cut the wood scrap to a desirable size, sand it and oil it. Then, attach some hooks to it and hang it on the wall next to an entrance door. That’s a good-looking, rustic, DIY coat hanger. Similarly, this can be a coffee cup holder, or replace the hooks with clamps and it’s a notice board.

7. Feature Wall

This is the large-scale project of the group, but it’s also one that makes a heck of an impression and only takes an afternoon or two. Essentially, the idea is to attach planks to an existing wall to provide some rustic warmth to a space. Many people like to use pallet wood so that the coloring is randomly varied, or repurposed shiplap siding also works. After the boards are sanded nicely, it’s as easy as gluing them to the wall with liquid nail or an equivalent product.


Sometimes winter can get us down. It’s just the nature of, well, nature. But, keeping ourselves busy indoors is one way to get over those winter blues and come away with some pretty cool crafts while we are at it.

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