A number of years ago, the company I was working for recognized extra efforts by employees through the awarding of recognition points. One year, after completing a particularly challenging project, I was rewarded with a large grant of these points. As I pored over the catalog searching for how I wanted to “spend” my points, I came across the hardware section.
Before my eyes were all of the wonderful power tools I had always wanted but could never justify buying for a single project. I suspect many wives have caught on to the fact that the reason most men enjoy doing projects is because it requires them to buy new tools to complete said projects. But with these points at my disposal, I could get any of the tools I had always wanted without busting a single project budget on an expensive tool.
With my points, I was able to purchase four different power tools: a table saw, a belt sander, a drill press, and a hand sander. It was like Christmas morning for a toddler when all of my new tools arrived on my doorstep. And as with any youngster with brand new toys, I was ready to play with them. So rather than a project sending me off in search of a needed tool, my new tools sent me off in a search of a project.
It has been too long to recall what planted the seed of an idea for my first project but it was to make wooden slatted doormats. Today, if you Google “diy wooden doormats,” you will get a plethora of different design styles. But for me, it was seeing one in a home and garden store that gave me that “modern art” feeling (the one you get upon seeing a modern art painting and thinking, “I could have done that”, but of course you didn’t). But with my new tools, I could do it!
I settled on a simple design of parallel slats connected by small blocks made from the same wood. Deciding to use 1 X 2 inch unfinished boards for my project, I just needed to figure out what the dimensions needed to be and how many slats would look right. This I determined empirically (as any good scientist would do) by cutting a number of boards to the desired length and simply laying them out on the floor of the garage in different patterns. I concluded that 11 slats with three columns of interconnecting blocks were what was needed to give the right proportions.
This design feature settled; I next had to figure out how to connect it all together. I knew with an electric drill press, I could accurately, consistently, and repeatedly drill holes uniformly in each board.
Lining up all of the holes, I could then run a threaded rod through and fasten nuts on each end to secure the doormat. With the aid of my drill press, I could even counter sink the two outer slats to allow the nut to fit flush with the board being virtually hidden.
Off I went cutting and drilling.
Our house had four different outside doors so I made one for each.
Since our front door had sidelights on either side of the door, I decided to make a longer version for there.
I was having so much fun I decided to make more doormats and give them to all of my siblings and some of our friends, too.
I even explored making them to sell at a friend’s garden store until I realized my labor, unless I was willing to work for slave wages, would make them too expensive.
Having run out of people I could give doormats to, I wanted to make one more project with my new toys. Using the same design, I decided to make a bench for our bathroom. I chose to use a nicer wood, beech wood, as I seem to recall since it would not be exposed to the elements. I also wanted a wood that would accept a stain as I wanted to finish it as well.
The only new detail I needed to work out was the base upon which the seat would rest on. After exploring several different options (e.g., Goggle “slatted bench”), I settled on a simple four-post base connected with a centered, central post for strength. In looking back through my old photos, I unfortunately did not find any photos taken as I progressed the construction. But here is the finished bench 13 years ago…
…and here it is today.
Seems to have held up pretty nicely.
Even my doormats, which have been exposed to the elements all of these years, have weathered quite well.
Recalling and telling this story has renewed in me a desire to pull out all of those fun toys and find another project. Maybe I could build a doormat for my grandson to put outside his dorm room when he goes away to college.
Well, I guess considering he hasn’t even learned to walk yet, I have a while before I have to get started…