What's better than a free woodworking plan? How about a free woodworking plan that's doable in a weekend, doesn't require Norm's shop, and doesn't leave you hunting around for obscure materials or strange, exotic hardware items. That, we think, is what makes Rockler E-Z Plans such a perennial favorite. Perfect for woodworkers with beginning to intermediate skill, the free E-Z Plans lean toward compact projects that require only affordable, readily available materials, nearly all of which can be purchased right here on the Rockler website.
But on top of that, there's an added bonus tacked on to many of plans, and we can't even take the credit: quite a few have gathered a legacy of customer reviews that not only offer an unbiased opinion on the overall quality of the project, but also include tips and insights that can help make the project go smoothly, or even help you decide if it's the right one for you.
Say, for example, you're wondering whether your modest shop is up to the task of our Mail Truck E-Z Plan, you might take heart from the results customer Wayne A. Tippin Sr. got with just a few basic tools:
"I saw the mailbox banks on your website and I wanted to make them for my four grandchildren, hoping the trucks would remind them of me many years from now. Unfortunately, I don't have a table saw, a router or any sophisticated machines. What I do have is a circular saw, an orbital sander, and a hand-held jigsaw. Well, we must make do with what we have, right? I had to hold the edges against the sander to round them. I think they're not so bad, for an amateur.
"Thanks for the bank idea - they aren't professional, but 'Grandpa made it for them.' It means more than you know."
Or, if you scroll down the page a little ways, you might decide not to follow the instructions at all. After all, the plans are just suggestions. We're always happy to see creative departures, like this custom mini-mailbox posted by Marvin R Lybbert, from Moses Lake, WA. along with its inspiration and a few kind words:
"After being a Letter Carrier for 42 years I wanted to make a mailbox bank that I used every day. So I built the collection box bank pictured [to the right]. Your products and your service is 'First Class'."
None of the Rockler E-Z plans will land you an elaborate and gorgeous period highboy, but they will give you a fun, manageable project to keep for your own enjoyment or give as a gift. If you're not sure which one to try, the customer reviews can help you choose. Or they may help you think out side of the box and put your own custom spin on a project, like A. O. from San Diego, CA did with our Hour Glass Timer project and a little ingenuity:
"I ordered this hourglass and made one for my boyfriend's 40th birthday. It was a challenging project as I do not own a router or lathe, but I purchased 7' diameter x 3/4' thick pre-cut wooden pieces from a craft store for the top and bottom, and drilled a 1/2' hole partway into the center of each wood piece to allow the hourglass to 'seat'. (The blown glass piece has a metal covered protrusion on each end that is 1/2' in diameter.)
"I used 12' threaded rods (covered by steel rods) for the spindles. This allowed me to adjust the height of each rod by screwing cap nuts ('acorn' nuts) onto the threaded rods to level the piece. (I countersunk holes halfway into the top and bottom wood pieces to allow the nuts to sit deeper into the holes.) The nuts became the 'feet' of the piece, and looked great with the steel rods. I agree that a template for the holes would have been quite useful -- that was the most difficult part of the project for me.
"I sprayed clear coat on the steel rods (after cleaning and polishing them) to protect against rust, and sprayed the wood pieces with a dark grey gloss paint prior to assembly. I also used small black O-rings from the faucet repair section of my hardware store between the rods and wood, and on the ends of the glass piece to help it seat into the wood.
"The finished product turned out just as I had envisioned it, and was more modern and "metallic" looking than one made with turned wooden spindles and stained wood. My boyfriend said it is the best gift he's ever received! I really liked that the glass piece from Rockler is so large, and the color of the sand (light tan) was much better than other similar products I found with white sand. I would definitely order this product again."