When my daughter wanted to produce something hand made as a birthday gift to be presented the next day she sketched out a slice of tree with holes drilled in it, asked if I could make a start on the project then hurried away to school. I picked out this slice of elm, an offcut from another project still making slow progress, and began faffing about with the block plane trying to smooth the end grain. The problem was holding this shallow, irregular wooden disc securely - a conventional planing stop was useless and every attempt to clamp the piece in the vice ended in disaster.
When I eventually engaged my brain I alighted on a scrap of MDF (yuck, what's that doing in my workshop?), sketched a gothic arch wide enough to accept the piece, then sawed it out with the bow saw. With this holding device clamped to the bench, and the disc of elm lodged inside it, planing was transformed. The piece could be rotated and locked in place again within seconds for planing in any direction.
Were I to develop the idea further I'd add a couple of posts to engage with dog holes in the bench - like the Veritas planing stop from Lee Valley which, however, can only be used for planing square-ended timber.
Annie completed the project by drilling the holes for pens and also three sawn-off pencils arranged in a slight curve so as to 'spring' a small photograph into position. Happily, it made the birthday deadline!