What is the one enemy of my shop time? Wrestling band saw blades? Sharpening dull plane irons? Re-grinding chipped chisel bevels? While those are all time consuming, they can’t compare to the true enemy of shop productivity – Spending 5 minutes out of every hour looking for my stupid shop pencil!
I’ve got the wood workpiece on the bench, tape measure in hand and I look around for a simple marking tool. None are to be found. How is that possible? I know I’ve got bunch in here…somewhere…but I can’t find a single one.
I’ve yet to actually buy a pencil for the shop. All mine come from my wife’s desk or, if I’m extremely desperate, my kid’s pencil box. Which means that buried in my shop are possibly a dozen pink Disney princess pencils or overly cheerful Christmas pencils doing hard time lost behind the drill press or in a pile of cutoffs below the radial arm saw. They could be anywhere now.
In order to save myself further rebukes from my family for my pencil stealing ways, I entered a 12 step program (technically, this is a 8 step program). First off, we need to come up with a plan! How about a special pencil drawer!?
Here’s how I did it:
1 – Drill a 35mm hole in the workbench
This size isn’t set in stone depending on what dowel diameter you go with (step 2). I know, it’s hard to drill up the bench, but we make sacrifices for the good of our shop time. Or, at least I did.
2 – I took a 1″ dowel and trimmed it down to the depth of my hole
Next, I trimmed off an end piece. Save this, it will be re-glued back on later to keep your lead from getting loose in the hole.
3 – Rip cut a section off the dowel to give it a flat surface
This will be the drawer top. Use your band saw with a clamp to hold the dowel, or just put the dowel in a vise and take a few passes with your bench plane.
4 – Hog out that center material
There are many methods, but I just used a 3/4 straight bit in my router table to form the drawer channel. Take it in small passes so you don’t strain the bit. I took about 4 passes or so.
5 – Next I turned a drawer pull from some scrap pear wood I had
You could just as easily buy some wooden pulls from the hardware store.
6 – Then glued it all together
This is end grain to end grain, but there is zero stress on the joint. I think I waited about an hour or so.
7 – Add to hole, insert pencil
8 – Put the pencil back when I’m done
Or at the very least put a few in the drawer before I begin each project…
For a video overview of the entire project, check out this video:
The pencil drawer project was so easy, I plan on making a few more of them. Heck, I think I’ll put one in each corner of the shop! If you have any enhancements or comments, please share them in the comments section below.
New Author Bio
Peter Brown is a professional computer geek and a hobbyist woodworker in Northern California. He spends his weekends renovating his 1960’s house and escaping to the shop whenever his family declares that he’s “helped enough for one day.”