How to Make a Wooden Napkin Holder

Every kitchen needs a napkin holder, and better if it's the wooden napkin holder. A perfect housewarming gift, or craft-fair item, the napkin holder can be personalized in numerous ways. From painting creatively, adding names, or using a unique combination of rare woods will make each project a work of art.

Tools and Materials Needed:

  • 3/4 by 6 by 32 inches walnut board
  • Jointer
  • Table saw
  • Radial arm saw
  • Band saw
  • Straight edge
  • Compass (or string)
  • Mortise machine and 3/8 inches mortise bit
  • Sandpaper (80-grit, 120-grit and 220-grit)
  • Wood glue
  • Hand screw clamps
  • Hammer and 1 inches brads
  • Wood filler
  • Stain (optional)
  • Polyurethane & natural bristle paint brush
  • Tack cloth

Step 1 - Cut Pattern Pieces

Straighten one edge of walnut board with jointer. With a table saw, rip (cut) a 5 1/2 inches wide piece. Joint the cut edge to eliminate saw marks. With a radial arm saw, cut pieces as follows:

  • 2 at 5/8 by 5 1/2 by 7 3/4 inches (front & back)
  • 1 at 3/4 by 5 1/2 by 9 1/4 inches (base)
  • 2 at 5/8 by 2 13/16 by 2 3/4 inches (sides)

Plane the front, back and side pieces to 5/8 inches thick.

Step 2 - Shaping Pieces

Round the corners of the base of the napkin holder (3/4 by 5 1/2 by 9 1/4 inches) by marking a 3/8 inches radius on each corner of it. Place the center of the compass (set at 3/8 inches radius) such that the circle drawn will nest in the corner of the base. Cut each corner with a band saw. Smooth with 120-grit sandpaper.

Step 3 - Mortise and Tenons

Cut two 3/8 by 1/2 by 7 1/2 inches mortises in the top of the base piece with a mortise machine. Alternatively, use a drill press with a 3/8 inches bit. Drill 1 hole at each end of the mortise then continue alternating back and forth to complete the total length. Sand the drilled mortise. With the radial arm saw, using a dado blade, cut tenons on the bottom edge of sidepieces. Cut the tenons 1/8 inches deep on both sides. Complete the tenons with a band saw by cutting 1/8 inches notches on the edges.

Step 4 - Assemble Napkin Holder

Use the different grit of sandpaper to hand sand every piece of the napkin holder with 80-grit sandpaper, and then with 120-grit sandpaper and finally with 220-grit sandpaper. Remove all dust with tack cloth. Apply glue in the mortises and on the tenons and assemble. On the 2-side pieces, apply glue along the sides and bottom edges. Place sides such that they are flush with the front and back pieces. Secure with hand screw clamps. Hammer 1 inches brads down the side edges into the front and back pieces.

Step 5 - Finish Napkin Holder

Fill all cracks and holes with wood filler. Allow to cure for 24 hours. Lightly sand the wood with 220-grit sandpaper, smoothing entire surface. Wipe entire project with tack cloth to remove dust. Apply polyurethane with natural bristle paintbrush, sanding lightly with 220-grit sandpaper between coats. Allow polyurethane to dry at least 24 hours between coats, and allow final coat on the napkin holder to dry at least 48 hours before use.