In my constant search to find something interesting to make that is also useful, I hit upon the idea of tidying up my desk at work.
We often use video conferencing, and I have a large headset+microphone sat on my desk with trailing cables etc. This normally just gets laid to one side of my keyboard and adds to the general clutter of everything else that just gets dumped within easy reach.
So in my ever present desire to make things that are interesting AND useful I realised this was an opportunity to make something that I would actually use every day, and it would make my work environment just a little bit nicer. I always look for any excuse to get some nice wooden objects into my daily life, something about the natural material, in particular when it’s something I’ve made, that I love to have around.
The idea was pretty simple, I wanted a free standing item, with something I could hang my headphones on high enough off the desk to let them hang freely. I turned to my trusty makers notebook and sketched out a few possible designs. I had wondered about turning a hoop which I’d cut in half and use as a curved ‘hook’ to hang the headset from, but a quick sketch helped me see that I didn’t like the resulting look.
Instead I went for something super simple, a long spindle mounted off at an angle from some base, and a shorter spindle connected via a round tenon to the top of that at an angle to provide a horizontal bar above the base.
As with all great impromptu designs, it wound up significantly guided by what I happened to have laying around. Which in this case were some strips of beech(?) that came from a larger block when I cut it down to make an earlier project (I forget what at the moment)
I cut a strip to make a long spindle square section, having guestimated the length required by measuring from the bottom of my ears to the top of my head (the height of my headphones) and allowed a little extra for hanging space, and for having the long spindle at an angle rather than straight up.
I gripped one end of the square section in my long narrow chuck jaws, and used a revolving centre at the other end. Rapidly turning down to a cylinder, I used it as a chance to practice a little with a skew. Once cylindrical I decided not to make it too ornate, but to add some detail for interest. A few burn rings always go a long way to lift an otherwise plain piece so I put some near the top end of the spindle. I also turned a small bead at the bottom where it would insert into the base piece.
In the above picture you can see that I have 4 burn lines, two wide spaced and two narrow spaced in the middle. This was a design I came up with after realising I’d spaced the last of the original 3 too far down and I was left with an uneven spacing that didn’t look right. Once again my motto of ‘keep calm and redesign’ came into play to rescue the situation 🙂
The short spindle was a very similar process, but shorter. On both I turned a 10mm tenon. For this I used a trick I picked up from a demonstration at my old woodworking club. I have a set of fixed spanners and I just selected the 10mm one, and held it against the back of the tenon whilst I turned the diameter down from the front, once it slipped all the way on I knew I’d hit 10mm. this worked great as when I drilled 10mm holes for them to fit into they both fit perfectly.
The bit I thought might go wrong was getting the angles right to end up with a horizontal bar. I chose 10 degrees as my angle offset based on a quick check holding the two spindles to figure out what would get the horizontal spindle over the centre of the base at that height.
I cut a 10degree angle off the still square top section of the long spindle to provide a surface into which I could drill a 10mm hole. I drilled by hand judging by eye to keep the proper angle. Sadly I managed to drill slightly off centre, and so the finished piece has another little unintended design flare…
Once the spindles were connected together and gluing, I was left with figuring out the base. I knew it needed to be heavy enough to provide a stable structure, but not be so big that it used too much desk space. My original plan was to chisel a 10 degree sloped recess into a small block of the same wood I made the spindles from. The chiselling went well, but when I drilled things went adrift from where I intended and the whole wound up too big.
Back to the drawing board I noticed on the floor a block of spalted beech that was a little hole riddled from woodworm, but mostly a nice block of about the right size and weight. I decided that the wormy holes provided character, and that instead of repeating the chiselled recess issue, I’d instead take 10degree angle off the whole bottom of the block, such that the entire top face would be slopped to the right angle. This meant I could drill an nice easy straight hole on the drill press. then cut the angle on my bandsaw and sand to finish.
This worked great, I used some sanding mandrels in my large chuck to sand the block, and ultimately to buff the wax finish.
And lastly I assembled everything to find all the angles worked great!
and here it is at the office
Sure, I could have just bought a headphone stand from amazon
However this gave me a chance to play in the workshop, and produce something more useful than yet another bowl.
I’m always looking for ideas of functional items to make, if you have a suggestion please post it!