Looking to practice a new building skill? This Tic Tac Toilet paper holder is fun, functional, AND a great project for learning half-lap joints! Just above beginner level woodworking, but nothing you can’t handle!
GUYS! I won Graduate of the Year for 2022 for ALL of the career colleges in Ontario! Talk about Gob-smacked, flattered, honoured and unbelievably surprised! My cabinet-making school – North American Trade Schools – held a ceremony to present me with an award, then had a film crew present to create a short video of what the award meant to me to be presented at the Career Colleges Ontario banquet in Niagara Falls.
I’ll be honest; I answered questions and spoke for at least a half hour, but the interview was edited down to about 30 seconds… and I think they picked awesome soundbites, because even I like me better after seeing the video! 😂
So what does this have to do with a Tic Tac Toiletpaper holder?
Well, it was in cabinet making school that I learned about half-lap joints so I could share it with you! (Thanks Kyran!)
A half-lap joint is where you cut a notch halfway through two pieces of wood. The boards are then interlocked together at the notch to create a strong joint with no hardware, that is flush on the surface. Perhaps a photo is a better way to show it?
This tic tac toe frame is a cute addition to your bathroom, and a great way to practice this type of joinery.
- (5) 22″ x 4 ½” x ¾”
- (2) 1 ½” 4 ½” x ¾”
- (6) 6 ½” x 4 ¼” x ¾”
Amazon affiliate links to the items I used and own. For full affiliate disclosure, please see bottom of the page.
- table saw
- tape measure
- painter’s tape
- crosscut sled (building plans for mine here)
- wood glue
- paint or stain – optional
You’ll want to have a few extra pieces of wood on-hand to practice with.
Begin by marking your 22″ boards into three sections. On either side of those marks, mark another line 3/8″ out. This should give you a ¾” wide marking at two points. Transfer this mark using a square so that lines are visible on the edge and one face of the board.
Below are the measurements I used if that’s any easier.
I used painter’s tape to hold two boards together at a time so that my cuts would match perfectly from board to board.
Set up your crosscut sled on your table saw and raise the height of your blade so that it is half the width of the wood.
This is where you’ll want to practice with some extra pieces of wood. My blade height is at 2 ¼” ABOVE the thickness of the crosscut sled.
To cut a half lap joint, run the board over the blade just inside the two lines you’ve drawn. (Please be careful and wear protective glasses!) Then run the board over the blade at 1/8″ increments until you have hollowed out the section between the marks.
Un-tape your boards and then try to slot one into the other. If the boards do not fit into each other, make another run over the blade to widen the joint. If they don’t sit flush once put together, you’ll want to raise the height of your blade slightly and re-cut until they do.
It’s a bit of trial and error to get it perfect, but once you have the blade height correct, the repeated cutting is easy.
You’ll notice an error in the photo below; I cut one half lap joint on one side of the wood, then (wasn’t paying attention) and started cutting the second joint on the other side of the wood. 🤦🏻♀️
It did work out fortunately, but I’m just fessing up that I did screw up as far as the “proper” way to build this tic tac toilet paper holder.
You’ll want to cut four 22″ boards with half lap joints. The fifth will remain intact.
Test to make sure that your boards will fit together like below.
For ease of finishing, I sanded these boards with 150 grit sandpaper while the tic tac toe frame was apart. I also added two coats of paint before adding wood glue to the half lap joints and clamping it to dry.
I used ¾” plywood for this build, so the tic tac toe frame had to be painted or the plywood edges would have been visible. If you use ¾” wood, you could stain it instead.
It was right about here that I realized I’d need that fifth 22″ board… without it, you can’t store TP in the bottom squares unless you keep your holder on a counter or the back of the toilet.
To keep consistency in spacing, but to keep the look of a tic tac toe board, I attached the uncut board to the bottom of the frame with wood glue and finishing nails. I also glued on the 1 ½” pieces underneath it so the board didn’t look unbalanced.
I clamped the frame together for the glue to set while I went about cutting the X’s for the tic tac toilet paper game.
It’s a matter of finding the centre of your 6 ½” boards, marking a line 3/8″ on either side of centre, and then using your crosscut sled to first cut just inside those lines, then make repeated cuts until you’ve hollowed out a section.
For efficiency without being dangerous, I cut two boards at a time – again after taping them together.
This is SUCH a great project to practice a new skill without wasting wood. It’s also the first time I’ve actually used the crosscut sled I built, so that was fun too.
This is a birthday gift for a friend that mentioned she wanted one (and therefore inspired me to try) – so I added a little ribbon to the TP rolls to make it a little more event-appropriate.
I’ve seen versions of this tic tac toilet paper holder with more X’s than the 3 – but then you can’t store as much toilet paper on it. I’ve also seen the X’s swapped out for small succulent planters which is very cute.
Hang it above your toilet and keep TP close at hand in a cute and decorative way.
I’m feeling pretty stoked about half lap joints right now – what else should we tackle?
Have a great one!