When you enjoy woodworking, a lot of your projects are gifts for friends or commissions for clients. No surprise – if you own some tools, word gets out.
It’s another experience all together to take a friend into your shop and show him how to build a project from the ground up. No doubt, it sure does stroke the ego when a friend basically says, “you’ve got skills and tools I want to use.”
With that, it’s my great pleasure to report that in July a friend of mine shot me a text with a picture:
“Hey. Wanna help me build this bed?? I’ve got no idea how to do it, but my son wants one. Show me how, I’ll give you beer.”
Notwithstanding the absolute breach of safety protocol to suggest the combination of sipping a fine selection of nut brown ales while operating power tools, I took him up on the deal. (Fret not, we settled the safety implications).
Why? I’ve got two reasons, maybe you can identify with them:
If there’s anything I can do for my friend Wil, it’s to solidify his status of hero in his son’s mind. In certain stages we parents keep up the Santa Claus sham. In matters of building things, we do this. Or something like it. Bring it on, Batman.
Here’s how it all went down to make a super-awesome Jeep-shaped bed for a little boy who has no idea it’s coming.
First, Wil bought the plans from this Etsy shop for 30 bucks.
Good project plans aren’t free because creating good plans take an inappreciable amount of time and energy. The plans set us off on the right path to get this project done in a week with few headaches.
The plans step right through all the pain points, so I won’t cover each one here. But one of the reasons Wil summoned my help was to show him how to get good, crisp, clean edges in all the cutouts. In his words, “I don’t think my Sawzall can do that . . . ”
And he’s right. The trick is to make a template, rough out the cuts with a jigsaw, and then trace it with a router armed with a flush trim bit for the final clean up to make a perfect match.
On the classic Jeep grill slots, we made a small template exactly the size of one slot. Then we figured out the spacing for each slot, and traced each one with pencil on the work piece. Then drilled.
It should go without saying, but the rules with roughing out a part with a jigsaw are:
On the grill slots, we used the slot template, clamped it in place, routed, moved on to the next one.
But on the doors and windows, we just made one side of the Jeep first (the left), then used it as the template for the right side.
What made this a breeze was the Whiteside router bit #2702. It’s a flush trim and pattern bit in one, meaning it has a guide bearing on the top and the bottom of the bit. That’s useful because sometimes it’s simpler to have your template on the bottom of the workpiece, and sometimes it’s easier to have it on the top. This bit relieves you of some guesswork.
True to the nature of the project, anything worth doing is worth over-doing. Wil owns a local off-road shop so he knew exactly how to deck out this Jeep with proper headlights, decals, Rhino tires, winch cable, recovery shackles, LED accent lighting, and snazzy custom license plate.
He knocked it out of the park. Glad I could help out.
Vice President of Operations – Woodworkers Source
We’re a family-owned lumber & woodworking supply retailer with 3 delightful stores in Arizona, and 35 friendly employees.
Mark oversees the company and creates tutorials on wood finishing and woodworking tips for hardwood lumber.