Last Minute Elf Project

Handmade Maple and Purple Heart Christmas Ornament
Maple and Purple Heart Christmas Ornament

If you are a woodworker and you don’t know who Tom Iavino is, you need to head over to Tom’s Workbench. Be sure to take your ear protection with you, as Tom has the reputation of being the loudest guy in the room.

This year, Tom started the Last Minute Elf contest. Its purpose is simply to get woodworkers out in their shops to build a special gift for someone and to share ideas for projects that could be completed at the last minute.

The rules were pretty straightforward.

Build a simple gift project that can be completed on a weekend in an average hobby workshop, and the design needs to be your own (not pulled directly from a commercially produced plan). Submissions needed to include photos of the completed project and shop drawings/instructions.

Be sure to select which category you want to submit it to:
1. Best Turned project

  1. Greenest project (using recycled materials)
  2. Best project that will fit inside a large USPS flat rate shipping box (12 inches x 12 inches x 5 1/2 inches)
  3. Best gift for a younger child (ages birth 12 years old)
  4. Best gift for a Teenager (ages 13 – 20)
  5. Best gift for an adult (20 or above)
Woodworking courses taught by master craftsman Brain Benham

Several well-known companies in the woodworking world put up some great prizes to support the event.

Wood Magazine is throwing in a box of six Two Cherries bench chisels

• Bessey Tools is throwing in a pair of 24″ Revo Jr. K-Body Clamps

• Infinity Cutting Tools’ six-piece router bit essentials kit.

• The Wood Whisperer’s two-book combo – Finishing and his new Hybrid Woodworking book.

• Fine Woodworking’s Basic Box Making DVD with Doug Stowe

• Two pairs of MicroJig’s Zero Play guide bars

• The Consulting Woodworker’s two-book combo – Sand Shading and Frontier Log Building

Popular Woodworking’s DVD of editions from 1995 – 2012 plus a one-year subscription. I’m excited to say that my submission was chosen as one of the winners. Winning the popular woodworking DVD collection and a subscription.

I’m excited to say I won Thursday`s Last Minute Elf Project for a turned project. I won the Popular Woodworking Magazine package!

Here is my submission.

Handmade 3 Tier Maple wooden Christmas Ornament
3 Tier Maple Christmas Ornament
handmade Christmas Bell maple and strandwood
Christmas Bell maple and strand wood

Handmade Maple and Purple Heart Christmas Ornament

Maple and Purple Heart Christmas Ornament

Custom Made Poplar Christmas Bell
Poplar Christmas Bell
Sketchup Courses for Beginners and Advanced users


I know Tom is asking for a shop drawing along with each last minute elf Project; however I think a shop drawing is not necessarily for a turned project, and honestly would take all the fun out of it. To make these Christmas ornaments all you need to do is pick up some scrap wood off your shop floor, chuck it in the lathe and start turning. Let your creative spirit flow and come up with unique ornament type shapes of your own. The lathe is my newest tool in the shop so I’m not the most proficient turner out there, but I can usually turn out 2 to 3 ornaments in an hour, and was able to make enough to stuff in each person’s stocking. To make the one with 2 woods, I glued a scrap of purple heart to the end and let it sit overnight. Because this is an end grain to end grain glue joint my 1st attempt blew off. For my 2nd attempt I use an epoxy and had much better success. For the ornaments that has the brass hardware on them. I went to the craft store and found some brass beads and other ornamentations in jewelry making section. I tacked those on with some brass brads and hot glue. As far as the sizes go, I tried to keep the diameter under 1 1/2″. I made a few from 2″ wide stock and I’m concerned the weight will be too much for most tree branches.

I hope Tom will do this again next year. So if you want to enter for next year, you have a year to come up with something, or of course, you could wait until the last minute. At the very least, get out in your shop and build something. A special thanks to Tom Iovino from Tom`s Workbench and Megan Fitzpatrick from Popular Woodworking.

I’m the owner of Benham Design Concepts, a mixed media art studio where I design and build custom furniture and other works of art using wood, glass, stone, and various metals.
In this blog, I talk about the art I create, my journey, and the things I learn along the way.

Leave a Reply