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Free woodworking plans. Easy woodworking projects. Fun woodworking videos. Woodworking for Mere Mortals.

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Sunday, August 29, 2010

Make a toothpick holder

Well sure, who doesn't need a toothpick holder?

Seriously, this was a fun little project to make and gave me an excuse to fire up my old scroll saw. The idea here is that when you pull the clown up, the toothpicks pop up and his hands pop out.

I almost decided to eliminate the springing hands because I couldn't figure out how to accomplish the effect. I'm glad I stuck with it because really, the spring-loaded arms are the whole point of the project. They are what make it unique.

The solution came in two parts. 1) A spring from a ballpoint pen, and 2) 1/4" drip irrigation tubing. If I could make a point here, it is to never abandon your ideas. Sometimes it may take a while to figure out how to accomplish something, but in the world of woodworking, anything is possible. Just stick to your guns and solutions will come to you.

Same goes for designing projects themselves. Allow your imagination to lead you. The logistics will follow. Start with your right brain then let your left brain kick in.

Peace! Zenwoodworking guy is OUT!

Here's my clown template (with hands) if you'd like to download it for this or any other purpose. (pdf format)

Friday, August 27, 2010

Just some Friday fun

If you haven't already seen this DeWalt ad, enjoy. Now that's torque!

Thursday, August 26, 2010

Bandsaw Box tutorial

It seems bandsaw boxes are all the rage in the woodshop these days, and it's no wonder why: they are super easy to make and with a little creativity, the possibilities are endless.

So I was delighted when Bruce (aka: Wood Chuck) up in Canada sent me this great tutorial on how to make them. He takes you step by step through the whole process in a clear, straightforward manner.

Check out his work:

So what's holding you back from making one? Oh yeah...you need a bandsaw. Again, here's Bruce's Bandsaw Tutorial  (pdf format)

Thanks Wood Chuck!

Monday, August 23, 2010

Globe frame

Thanks for all your comments on the Man vs. Wood thing. That was a lot of fun to make, but I have to give a lot of the credit to my son Wyatt, and his sensibilities with the camera. One of these days I'll upgrade to an actual video camera! Right now I just shoot on my little Sony Cybershot still camera in movie mode.

We've been cleaning out a bunch of old junk (I guess all junk is old) and decided to toss out a hopelessly out-of-date globe. You know they are old when they still list the U.S.S.R.

As I was busting up the sphere itself, just cardboard, I got to looking at the spinning frame that supported it and decided to save it. Once again, junk is making its natural progression from house to shop before landing in the garbage.

But it's really a cool thing! I know, I say this all the time, but there has got to be something I can make with this! Any clever ideas?

Friday, August 20, 2010

Man vs. Wood

Here we go folks!

Yeah man...it's Man Vs. Wood! Don't you dare try this at home. Go to your neighbor's house. But wear your safety glasses.

Thursday, August 19, 2010


I finished up the TV stand today and set it all up. I'm pretty happy with the way everyting turned out. The best part about this was that I began to learn how to use SketchUp.

My advice to fellow woodworkers is to download a free copy of SketchUp, watch some video tutorials and give it a shot. For me, I think what helped the most was having an actual project that I wanted to design. It sort of put a fire beneath my ass to seriously learn how to use the program. More so than just building your basic box.

Thanks for watching this series. I'm not sure how useful it was, but maybe you picked up something out of it.

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

327,000 board feet and Twinkies

I just got back from a mini-vacation with the family. We went down to Santa Cruz, mainly to go to the Beach Boardwalk and ride the Giant Dipper roller coaster which we haven't experienced in a couple of years.

Now, the question is, how can this relate to a woodworking blog? Well I thought about that and came up with this: the Giant Dipper uses 327,000 board feet of lumber. Yeah, that's a lot of wood. At least more than I have in my shop.

Let's see...oh yeah, I was able to use my non-tape measure, measuring skills to determine that they make donuts that are about 6" in diameter.

And speaking of the food pyramid,  I ate a Deep Fried Twinkie! Yeah man, a Twinkie dipped in batter, deep fried, sprinkled with powdered sugar, then dipped in chocolate. If only they could deep fry it in beer and wrap it in beef jerky: now there you'd have something!

Lastly, I thought it would be really cool to do a chorus line with a Brazilian showgirl while wearing a Mere Mortal tee-shirt. Strangely, she never once asked me about Bandsaw Hero or this web site.

Well, that's what I've been up to. More woodworking tomorrow!

Sunday, August 15, 2010

TV stand: Part 2. Almost done

I thought I would finish it up today, but ran into a couple of setbacks. At any rate, here's a second video. I should wrap it up tomorrow!

Saturday, August 14, 2010

Nearing the home stretch

Wow, sorry I haven't posted a blog entry in a week. Here's an update. I shot a very special video this week and will post it on Friday. I hope you guys like, watch, or are at least familiar with Man Vs. Wild on the Discovery Channel. Oh yeah, Bear Ramsey is in the house!

I am determined to finish this damned TV stand this weekend. It's really become a pain. When it's done I can get back to posting videos with normal projects that you might actually want to make. But for those of you who are actually interested in my progress, here's what's new.

I have completed the rear support tower. This thing is going to be really heavy. Not what I intended.

I cut the shelves out and applied dye to the top surfaces.

I like using dye because it comes in a lot of colors and is far more forgiving than stain.

Finally, I need to deal with the plywood edges on the shelves. Here's my plan, in (sort of) keeping with the Art Deco feel. Copper plumbers' tape. I am going to try to apply epoxy and screw it in. I've never tried this before, but we'll see!

Update: I just dry-assembled the unit. Here it is:

Saturday, August 7, 2010

49" wide MDF. Who knew?

I didn't have a lot of time out in the shop today, but I did get started on the rear support for the TV stand. I didn't get very detailed on my SketchUp plans on exactly how to put this together, so I just started making it up as I went along.

I decided that I should probably use plywood for the core of this piece. Something tells me it will be sturdier than MDF for supporting the TV. So essentially all I got done today was making an open box, or really something more like a trough.

Can't say it's the most exciting looking thing right now, nor did I use any sort of jointery techniques to assemble it. Butt joints glued together and tacked down with brads. But it seems really sturdy. Next, I will wrap it in layers of MDF, which will provide the stair-stepped, Empire State Building effect as well as act as rear shelf supports.

I'm really not sure if this is all the brightest way to have approached the construction. It's very time consuming and repetitive, and I have a feeling the entire unit is going to end up being very heavy. But when it is standing upright, it strangely reminds me of the monolith in 2001: A Space Odyssey.

Now, getting to the title of this post, since the rear support is 48" long, I figured it would make for short work cutting all the MDF slabs down to size along the short edge of the boards. This goes into the category of "things I can't believe I didn't know until now". MDF is sold in sheets that are a little over 49" wide. Huh. Did you know this? Probably. So, I guess the question I have is this: why? I mean it seems as though all sheet goods are sold in 4' by 8' sizes.

Lastly, on a personal note I just wanted to commend my son Wyatt who is performing all this weekend in A Midsummer Night's Dream. This is simply the best take on the Bard's play I have ever seen. This version takes place in a post-apocalyptic world trying to rebuild society, not unlike ancient Athens that was originally building a society.

Last night's show sold out. I have never seen a play in which the audience roared as hard as in this show. It was killer funny. For those unfamiliar with Midsummer, Wyatt plays Flute, a bellows-mender who is part of a traveling group of (really bad) actors who are staging a performance of Pyramus and Thisbe for the Duke of Athens. Well, Flute is reluctantly forced to take on the role of Thisbe, Pyramus's lady love. Wyatt, as Flute, as Thisbe, ends up performing in a gaudy red dress and has lipstick applied by a blind man. Of course there are the other storylines concerning a love quadrangle (played by 4 girls, I might add), a band of forest fairies and a guy who gets turned into an ass.

Yep. That's why I love Shakespeare.

Wednesday, August 4, 2010

Enterta...er...TV stand build. Part 1 of 2. Or 3.

Here's the beginning of the construction from this past weekend, although I'm not sure how much construction actually took place. Well, like I said, I was able to complete the front legs.

I'm not certain how far I will get this weekend as I will be busy with The Most Lamentable Comedy and Most Cruel Death of Pyramus and Thisbe. I play the part of a thespian's dad who drives around a lot.

Tuesday, August 3, 2010

TV stand: the front legs

I haven't had time to examine my fridge and figure out where and how I can add some coolant. Thanks for everyone who had suggestions on how I can cool my beer. Actually, one of the best ideas is just to get a box and an ice brick. I think I'll keep scouring Craigslist for free mini-fridges, like they have in hotel rooms. Then I gotta my old one up to the dump and pay a $40 disposal fee. At least that's what they charged about five years ago; I suspect it's more now.

But on to more important matters. I spent the weekend working on the two front legs of the TV stand. (For reasons I can't really identify, I am going to stop calling it an entertainment center.) It's a good thing I don't do this for a living because I would never reach deadlines. I can't believe all I accomplished over the course of two days was two legs.

Well here they are:

They sort of look a combination of the Chrysler Building and Golden Gate Bridge. I've always been intrigued by Art Deco style, even though I'm not completely sure how to define it. I used MDF for these because I plan on painting them. It's just a one inch core surrounded by layers of 1/4" MDF.

I'm a little stumped on how to securely attach them to the lower shelf. They are pretty heavy and could easily become weak links and break off when the unit is moved. I'm thinking about joining it all together with a couple of thick dowels. The trick will be getting it all lined up. 

I also went to Target and priced some TV wall mount brackets. Holy cow, the least expensive unit was about sixty bucks. I don't see any reason why I can't just install some metal strips behind the upright. I'd rather spend a few bucks than sixty. We'll see.

And my final concern to ponder this week is if the entire stand will be stable on just three legs. I think it will as I tend to overbuild these things.