5 Maker Projects Perfect for Independence Day

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“An Army Of One” Lighted Box from Sterling Davis

Well, it’s official. Summer is in full swing. Out here in Las Vegas, the thermometer has cracked 100 degrees every day for the past two weeks. On the upside, the Fourth of July is something even this heat-averse curmudgeon can look forward to. And while Independence Day has long been celebrated with backyard barbecues and patriotic displays, makers tend to do things a little differently — and holidays are no exception. Here are five ways you can Make to celebrate.

“An Army Of One” Lighted Box from Sterling Davis.

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In honor of his daughter Amber’s service in the US Army, Sterling Davis combines traditional woodworking with intricate scroll saw work to create an artistic patriotic theme in an elegantly simple mitered frame, while a strip of stick-on LEDs provides backlighting and dramatic appeal. With the colors cycling between red, white, and blue, the effect is striking. Happy 4th, Sterling.

Making a Wood Burning BBQ from Scrap Metal by John Heisz.

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People use barbecues to make delicious food. John Heisz goes one step further and makes the grill. Using an inexpensive flux-core wire-feed welder and some scrap metal, Heisz creates his own wood-burning barbecue grill. The video includes some clever tricks, including how to get clean bends in sheet metal without the use of a metal brake. Heisz works in a variety of media, but his go-to for most projects is wood. Like all woodworkers, he has amassed a sizable collection of scrap hardwood over the years — perfect when you want that delicious smoky flavor on your meat of choice. This project is also ideal for those woodworkers who can’t dispose of their scraps in a fireplace or fire pit, like me. Not that I have any interest in increasing the ambient temperature right now.

Outdoor Pallet Table and Benches by Get Hands Dirty.

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Cristiana Felgueiras at Get Hands Dirty helps some friends prepare for a gathering by building picnic furniture from pallets. Felgueiras’s approach is clever in that it doesn’t require disassembly of the pallets. Instead, she just cuts them apart with a circular saw and then puts the pieces back together. The entire project can be completed with basic tools. It’s a great way to make quick-and-dirty furniture when company is coming and you don’t have enough seating for everyone. Just remember: when you’re out at the store picking up food, drive around back and grab some pallets before you head home.

DIY Giant Hammock Made from a Cargo Net by HomeMadeModern.

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In Las Vegas, “Summer” means “Stay inside and don’t come out until October.” But in the rest of the world, summer is the time for lounging outdoors. Ben Uyeda at HomeMadeModern builds a giant hammock on his deck using a cargo net and some basic supplies and tools. The result is large enough for several people to lounge in, especially when installed in a nice shady spot.

Burn It #1: Milk Blank by Peter Brown.

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In addition to barbecue and outdoor fun, the anniversary of the nation’s founding also means fireworks. Peter Brown, known for his experiments with casting resin and occasional hilarious failures, teams up with his wife to destroy the unsuccessful “milk blank.” This project was originally intended as the handle for a cheese slicer (Brown is a big fan of physical puns; check out the vegetable peeler with a slice of bacon embedded in the handle). Unfortunately, the milk blank did not turn out as intended. In theory, the casein in milk can be used to make bio-plastic. In practice, Brown got something less like plastic and more like poorly-made cheese.

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But in the spirit of good-natured fun, Brown turned his wife (a “full-blown pyro”) loose on the failed milk blank with a giant resin lens. Not satisfied with the rate of destruction, the pair upgraded to a propane torch. Fried cheese, anyone?

Have a safe and happy Fourth of July, everyone. Make the most of your holiday!

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Bill is the owner of http://onecarworkshop.com, where he makes videos about optimizing a small workshop for maximum effectiveness. He lives in Las Vegas, NV with his wife, their dog, and two guinea pigs.

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