There isn’t anything more satisfying in woodworking than putting the finishing touches on a project. This is even further amplified when it has been a project that has taken weeks or even months.
But sometimes, there are days when I want to knock out a small woodworking project in a day. Go out to the shop and go from start to finish without leaving a huge mess or wood in clamps taking up all my free space.
As an Etsy shop owner who doesn’t have much free time (thanks, kids), I focus on selling woodworking projects that I can quickly batch out. Some of my best-selling items I can complete in around 15 minutes!
Small Woodworking Projects
Here are some of my favorite small woodworking projects that you can finish in a single day.
This rustic picture frame project uses weathered 1×2 boards, some brad nails, glue, and clothespins. Almost no tools are required, and you can go from start to finish in under an hour.
Looking around my shop, I’d probably grab some short offcuts of cedar fencing to use for the frame. I’ve been looking for a way to put them to use rather than throw them in the trash, as they are too short for any garden projects.
Adding a whitewash stain would add a nice rustic look to the finished picture frame.
Live Edge Wall Art
I really enjoy making these live edge wall art pieces. A few years ago I bought a bunch of live edge walnut boards from a woodworker who was shutting down his shop and unloading all his tools and wood. I think he had originally bought them from Rockler to make live edge charcuterie boards.
I ended up using most of them for my Etsy shop but saved a couple and resawed them into 3/8″ thick boards. The boards were then inverted so the live edges faced the middle and I attached them together using 1″ wide x 1/2″ thick strips of walnut with small screws and wood glue.
You could take this project up another notch and add resin or glass to create a rive table look but I like the simplicity of doing it this way as I can finish up a piece in just a couple hours.
Rolling pins are a great choice if you’re looking for a small woodworking project on the lathe. They can easily be made on either a full-sized or benchtop lathe and don’t require any fancy chucks or tools.
I make mine with a spindle gouge, but they can just as easily be made with carbide tools. I like to use sandpaper stapled to a board about the same length as the pin to ensure I can get a flat, smooth surface the length of the pin.
French rolling pins can be made from 8/4 (2″ thick) wood, while traditional rolling pins are best made starting with 10/4 (2 1/2″ thick) wood.
Sapele is one of my favorite woods for turning kitchen tools as it finishes beautifully, and the grain doesn’t get fuzzy even after dozens of uses.
Small Charcuterie Board
Charcuterie boards are a super simple woodworking project that can be finished fast. I made this board from a single piece of walnut that had some sapwood on both sides of the board.
I cut the live edges off each side, sanded them smooth, ran the board through the planer, and sanded everything down to 220 grit.
After raising the grain, I sanded the board at 220 grit and finished it with some wood butter. From start to finish, this small woodworking project probably took an hour.
Wood pendants are a great way to show off small, figured pieces of wood. The wood can also be combined with resin to create a unique look.
These small pendant projects are great for small shops as they don’t need many tools.
Salt and Pepper Shaker
Salt and pepper shakers can be made either with or without a wood lathe.
I sell both the above shakers in my shop. The maple shakers are shaped into a geometric shape on the disc sander, while the walnut shakers are turned on the lathe.
The shakers use 8/4 wood and stand at around 3″ tall, so they are fairly small and easy to make. I use a 9/16 forsner bit to drill out the inside and these plugs from Amazon. I found the best size for the holes on top of the shakers to be a 3/32″.
Wood, or a mixture of wood and metal, wedding bands have become increasingly popular over the past few years. The cool thing is that they can be finished in an hour and are a really popular seller.
I like making these rings as they are a great way to use tiny scraps of nice wood that I might otherwise toss into the burn pile.
There are a lot of sellers on Etsy to buy metal ring cores, inlays, etc. The cores come in various metals, from stainless steel to damascus and even black carbon!
At our last house, we had a pile of madrone branches left by the previous homeowners. I grabbed one of the thicker branches, about 4 inches in diameter, and cut 3/4″ thick slices on the miter saw.
After a quick sanding and a couple of layers of finish, we had a new set of coasters for our new house.
This small woodworking project can be as simple as that or can be turned into a real eye-catcher by laminating different woods together or integrating epoxy.
Turning a wood pen is a must-do project for any wood lathe owner. I turned dozens in my early woodturning days as they are easy to make and a fun way to experiment with some expensive woods without breaking the bank.
Pen kits are relatively inexpensive and come in a wide variety of styles.
Wood trivets are a quick woodworking project that leaves much room for creativity. Trivet projects can be made from solid wood or strips of wood tied together with brass tubing, rope, or other pieces of wood.
You can also create a frame and inlay an inexpensive piece of tile into the middle to make a more traditional-looking trivet.
If you have a bandsaw with a narrow blade or a scroll saw, cutting out wooden animals is fun to give to kids.
With a 3-year-old and 5-year-old at home, I’m always looking for activities to keep them busy. One of our favorites is to pick out an animal that I will trace onto a thin piece of wood and cut out on the bandsaw.
The kids can then color it with paint, which buys me a few moments of peace during the day.
Succulent plants are quick and easy to make, requiring only a drill press and disc sander. I make these walnut planters out of 10/4 walnut and drill a 1″ hole in the middle. The corners are then chamfered on the disc sander.
The planters can either be used for succulents or as tea light holders, depending on the hole depth.
Wood robots are a fun project to do with your kids as, once the pieces are cut out, the assembly and final painting/decoration are pretty straightforward.
I’ve made them for my kids, and the woodworking portion only takes ~15 minutes. Giving the kids a selection of paints, buttons, googly eyes, etc., makes for some fun final results.
Rustic shelves are a great way to put those pocket hole jigs to use. Some careful design considerations can hide all the screw holes on the back of the shelves, so the fronts are left with a clean look.
We sell a plan for an entryway shelf in our plans shop. It incorporates a shelf and key hooks and is easily customizable to fit your needs.
The shelves are designed to be made with 1x6s from a big box store so that they can be easily completed with just a miter saw and pocket hole jig.
Mountain shelves are another way to turn an otherwise boring 1×4 or 1×6 piece of whitewood into a cool piece of decor.
A miter saw and a brad nailer are the only two tools you’ll need to make one of these shelves. The brad nailer can be optional, but keeping everything aligned during glue-up can pose a real challenge.
I’d usually go with a birdhouse here, but bat houses could use a little more love. These houses are easy to make and provide a home for our mosquito-eating friends in the sky.
I made one a few years back, mainly using old cedar fencing boards and some leftover maple. There are a few details to make sure the bats have a safe place to roost, but overall, it’s a really easy project that will only take a few hours at most.
Name signs are a great item to spice up your home decor or start selling on Etsy or craft fairs.
These signs can range from a super simple piece of plywood that is hand-painted to custom cut and painted letters on the CNC.
These signs are hugely popular for baby nurseries, so adding your custom touch can be a great way to make a little extra money from your woodshop.
Our 5 year old loves to draw, so when he wants to learn something new, we’ll pull up a Youtube tutorial for him. Rather than leave the tablet on the table, I whipped up a quick stand using a scrap piece of walnut.
I made the stand by setting the table saw angle to 75 degrees and taking a couple of shallow passes near the middle of the board. Once the cut width was thick enough to hold the tablet, I quickly sanded everything down, and it was finished.
Since the kids are the primary users, I didn’t even both with finish as it will probably get colored on within a few weeks!
The stand has been super helpful in the kitchen as well as it makes for a great recipe stand as well.
There are a lot of really cool, modern clock kits available from Amazon or other woodworking sites. These include the mechanism, clock hands, and, sometimes, numbers.
All you have to do is find a nice piece of wood, shape it to your liking, install the kit, and hang it on the wall. I’ve seen clocks that range from simple to circles to utilizing the natural look of burl slabs or resin and wood combinations.
I’m not a huge fan of a lot of the woodturning kits out there on the market. A lot of them feel kind of cheap and kitschy to me. However, one that is not that is the ice cream scoop kit from Woodcraft.
We’ve had one of these scoops in our kitchen for years now, and it is hands down the best ice cream scoop I have ever used.
Turning the handle is super simple and can be customized to fit your grip. You’ll only spend waiting during this project while the epoxy dries, attaching the scoop to the handle.
Wooden doormats are a surprisingly easy project to make.
All you need is some wood that is at least as long as the finished doormat length, some rope, and rubber spacers.
Cut the wood into inch wide strips until you have enough to make the doormat wide enough. Then drill a hole in each piece about an inch from the end.
From there, it’s as simple as running the rope through the holes and putting a rubber spacer between each piece of wood. Tie knots at the ends of the road, and you’re done.
I saved the best for last as bookmarks are one of my favorite small woodworking projects. I always seem to have a ton of scraps of nice burl wood or figured wood in my shop that I can’t find many uses for.
Every so often, I’ll set up the bandsaw with a resaw blade and set it to cut about as thin as possible. Then I’ll run my scrap wood through and put all the strips into a pile. Whenever I need to make some gifts, I’ll pull out a few, sand them down, finish them with wood butter, and that is it.
A super simple, small woodworking project that looks great and is always helpful around the house or as gifts.
Derek grew up woodworking in his father’s shop and has since gone on to start up a successful woodworking business on Etsy. In his spare time, you can find him mountain biking, skiing, or writing.