Crosscut Sled

Best jig I've built. Also useful for ripping small pieces. This was the jig that let me build Thud.

Sketch for a Physics Ramp

Not all woodworking needs to be fine. These plans are to build a reinforced ramp for physics experiments out of basic home-improvement store supplies.

Walnut and Maple Squares

One of the worst ideas I've had (but still looks pretty here in the picture). Currently in a project to be reborn as a large cutting board. See the epilogue on the Thud Board for why cutting little squares is a horrible method to build a chess board.

Thud / Chess Set

Sometimes you take on a project; sometimes the project takes you on. It was going to be a present for my friend Bill's 39th birthday. He got it before he turned 41...

If you are a fan of the late, great Terry Pratchett's Discworld, you're likely familiar with Thud, the immortal game between Dwarfs and Trolls. Thud is a great asymmetric game of strategy. Dwarfs move quickly, but have weak attacks; Trolls move slowly, but their attacks can take out up to eight Dwarfs at once!

I had decided that I wanted to build a board that would start off as chess, and then morph into Thud, allowing Stealth Chess as an option along the way.

All put away

This is what the set looks like when all pieces are stored in their trays in the box.

Dwarf Chess Pieces

I wanted themed pieces that were also easily discernible as their chess roles.

Thud Pieces

Originally, the Dwarf pawns were going to be reused in Thud, but that made chess unplayable.

Troll chess pieces

Stealth Chess configuration

Pieces in their tray

Top row of the Thud add-ons

So, why did this take almost two years to make?

Turns out, when you are making a chessboard, cutting out little squares (like the ones pictured up at the top) is the wrong way to do it. It might not sound like much, but being off by 1/16 of an inch in one dimension means that you're off by 1/2 an inch over 8 pieces, and nearly a whole inch over the span of the Thud board (which is basically a 15x15 square with the corners cut off). And that's if you are consistent, which I was not in cutting the squares.

It took me being wrong, walking away and redesigning my process, trying the new process, realizing that the new process was fine, but my technique was not, refining the technique, building a new jig (the crosscut sled), and only then could I build a Thud / chess board that was square. Even still, my "squares" are off by between 1/64th and 1/32nd of an inch in the two dimensions.

Settlers of Catan Box

This is one of my earlier game boxes, but it's still one of my favorites. This is built to hold the base Settlers of Catan game, Cities and Knights, and the two 5-6 player expansions you need for them. This was one of my first attempts at box joints.

I don't build custom boxes every game I have. In this case, this one box allowed me to condense the pieces from four boxes. If I have one complaint about Setters it's that the base game is for only 3 or 4 players, and you have to buy separately expansions for 5-6 players.


Mind the gap. Never was too happy about that mistake. Taught me about oversanding.

Top Layer

Gap notwithstanding, this is one of my favorite pieces. The trays hold everything in their place.

All the Bits

The trays are removable; the little boxes for the basic pieces come out and the rule cards slot in.

Other Game Boxes

Poker Chip Case

An early piece. Remember when Texas Holdem was all the rage? I built this that long ago.

Munchkin Box of Maximum Holding

One of the simpler pieces I've built. I figured out that the cards fit perfectly above a pre-sized 3.5 inch piece of 1/2 inch stock. Very little joinery used.

Plant Stands

The only plants I have a chance of keeping alive are succulents. Please don't ask how many of the plants pictured here are still alive.

The back of the top light holder in this stand is on the right.

This is what holds the top light in the stand to the left. It's angled, open, and through Mortise and Tenon joints. Easy for you to say!

Office Furniture

Modular Desk / Return

Made entirely of plywood, this is three pieces: top, storage, and support. It's designed to detach and allow the storage and support to switch places. I was experimenting with leaving the plywood edge exposed (which is nice, in my opinion), but, if I were to to it again, I would re-evaluate the details of the attachments.


Built to go with the desk / return,most of the joints are lap joints. There's way too much metal used to attach things, if you were to ask me know.


When I designed the set, I wanted the ability for the drawers to fit under the desktop and over the support. The finish is simply polyurethane. It's held up surprisingly well over the years. Though, I will say that I might have a couple of shims underneath it to keep the top level.

Computer Desk

I made this desk when I was working at WPI (getting my masters). The design constraints were that it had to fit in with the other student desks (at least size wise). It's currently in my home office and, you know, being a work desk.