DIY Slide - Rule Wood Desk Calendar

Friday, December 13, 2019 -
How to build woodworking a modern DIY wood and metal sliding desk calendar Make a great DIY gift idea 

*This post is sponsored by DAP Products and The Home Depot. I have been compensated for my time and provided with product or payment in exchange. All opinions are my own. This post contains affiliate links. 

Like I'm assuming many of you do, I love making handmade holiday gifts for my friends and family. Last year I made several wood candy machines and the year before that was easy DIY mancala game boards

This year, I found some gorgeous 3/4" x 3/4" hardwood square dowels / rods at my Home Depot. They were only labeled as "hardwood" and didn't differentiate between the species of wood. A group of darker colored, redish rods caught my eye and I was pretty sure they were mahogany. 

I posted a photo on my Instagram stories and had several people tell me the thought it was Sapele, which grown in Africa and is sometimes called Sapele Mahogany. Either way, I decided it was beautiful and brainstormed an idea to show it off. This year, everyone is getting a DIY slide-rule style desk calendar! 

Check out the video for the full building process and secret tips I learned, or keep scrolling for the FREE building plans. 

Materials List:

Cut List:

  • (5) 3/4" x 3/4" rods @ 11"
  • (2) 3/4" x 3/4" rods @ 6-1/4" (cut into trapezoid - 60 degrees on one end, 30 degrees on other)
  • (2) 3/4" x 3/4" rods @ 4-3/4" (one end cut 60 degrees off square)
  • (2) 3/4" x 3/4" rods @ 2-7/8" (one end cut 30 degrees off square) 

  • (4) 1" square aluminum or steel tubing @ 1-1/4" (pre-drill first)

 1. Triangles

Make two triangular shaped end frames. Cut triangle components from 3/4" x 3/4" rods. Apply glue to joint areas and join pieces together. Clamp or tape the pieces in place while drying and secure in place using 1-1/4" pin nails.

OPTIONAL: Once both triangles are assembled, use a miter saw or 
hand saw to cut off the top point of the triangle, parallel to the bottom edge. Remove approx. 1-1/6" from the highest point. 

TIP: I almost always use the "dual glue trick" when I'm assembling my wooden projects. I apply a thin layer of Weldwood Original Wood glue to the joint, but then follow up with a couple drops of quick setting RapidFuse All Purpose Adhesive. The RapidFuse grabs the wood quickly and dries within seconds, acting almost like a clamp while the longer lasting Weldwood Wood Glue fully cures. Try it. I promise you'll never go back. The "dual glue trick" is especially handy for small and angled builds like this one which are difficult to get a traditional clamp on. 

2. Back Rail

Align the 3/4" x 3/4" x 11" back rail flush to the back, bottom corner of the first triangle. Secure in place using glue and 1-1/4" pin nails. 

 3. Add Decals to Rails

The hardest part of this pretty basic build was figuring out how to transfer the writing onto the wood. Serendipitously, my good friend Tamar from 3 x 3 Custom had just uploaded a video tutorial demonstrating how to make and use water slide decals.

Following the steps from Tamar's video, apply water-slide decals on the remaining 11" long rails. If you don't want to use decals, stickers or vinyl transfers would work as well. If you are blessed with pretty handwriting, you could even write the numbers and letters with a very fine paint pen.

4. Front Rails

Space the four front rails 5/8" from each other, flush to the inside of the angled side of the first triangle. Secure in place using glue and 1-1/4" pin nails. 

5. Make Metal Sliders

Before cutting your aluminum or steel tubing, mark and drill four, 3/4" diameter holes through one face. 

Cut four, 1-1/4" lengths of tubing, each centered over a 3/4" hole. You can use a variety of tools to cut the metal. If you are using aluminum, it can be cut using standard woodworking tools, like a miter saw. An angle grinder with a cut off wheel is always a good option too. If you are using steel (or want to baby your expensive saw blades), I highly recommend picking up a Diablo Wood and Metal Circular Saw Blade. It fits on a standard 7-1/4" or 6-1/2" circular saw and cuts through both steel and aluminum like butter. 

Yep. You heard me. You can cut steel with the same Ryobi saw you break down your plywood with. 

Once you have sanded any rough edges and finished the metal sliders however you'd like (FYI, aluminum doesn't have to be sealed to protect against rust like steel does), slide one metal slider over each of the four front rails. 

6. Second Triangle

Align second triangle on the opposite end of rails. Apply glue and secure in place using 1-1/4" pin nails

7. Sand, Fill Hole and Finish

Normally DAP PlasticWoodX is my jam. I love how it starts off pink and lets me know when it's time to sand by turning beige. However, when I work with darker colored woods like walnut and this apparent mahogany, I prefer to use a colored wood filler like Plastic Wood All Purpose Wood Filler

Especially since I had no intention on staining this piece, even the tiny 23-gauge pin holes would have been really obvious if I didn't use a dark colored filler. I went with the color "Red Oak" which matched almost perfectly.

I gave the entire calendar one final hand sand, then followed up with 3 coats of gloss lacquer. Ready to see how it turned out?

Whether you call it Mahogany or Sapele, I'm loving the look of this wood.

I love the rare aluminum against the warm wood. I think the next calendars I'm going to make with poplar (my favorite) and spray paint the sliders black. 

As soon as my husband saw my design sketched up on the computer he asked if it could be his. I think it will look just perfect on a civil engineer's desk, don't you?

Now I'm off to go make the 6 other calendars I've been procrastinating. Nothing like waiting till the last minute. Good thing they only take a couple hours each to build.

Ready to make your own DIY wood desk calendar? Check out the build video above and feel free to pin the image below to save the idea for later. Happy Holidays friends!

how to woodworking wood metal modern DIY desk calendar video tutorial

If you like this project, you'll love these ideas: 


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