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

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Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Lee's work

Lee Minton sent over this photo of a bandsaw box he made. I absolutely love this crab design. It's made with zebrawood:

Not only that, but he had the patience to make two triple cubes. One of the nicest parts is how smooth the wood looks. That's a lot of tricky sanding.

And lastly, yep, another slit drum! The top is padauk:

Thanks Lee. That's some fine work!

Sunday, March 27, 2011

Kids woodworking

As a dad who has a fourteen year old son who has never been to school (well, that will change in a few months!) I am always on the lookout for education that is inspirational and gets kids to understand that learning is far more important than schooling. Here's a video Tim Sluder tipped me off to:

Friday, March 25, 2011

Make a wood doormat and make money

This project began as a germ of an idea. My wife took a picture of a rustic door mat she found that was made entirely out of sticks. I had never thought about wood doormats, so I looked online to find some precedent. Turns out, there are many.

Door mats are expensive!

But what caught my interest the most were the prices being charged: typically between $100 and $200 each.

I mulled it over a while to see if I could design something just as durable, yet easy and inexpensive to make. My first thought was to essentially make a miniature version of a deck. The problem here is that I didn't want to have to attach the individual planks with screws, which would look unpleasant. Plus, spacing the boards would be difficult: if they are even slightly askew, it would be blatantly apparent on such a small scale.

After many sketches, I finally came up with an elegant way to build this. It solves the problem of screwing in planks, and allows for expansion and contraction. But the best part: the board cost me $12. The only other supplies needed are two steel rods and 30 flat washers from the plumbing department. Total cost: $24. I'll bet you could sell these for over $100. If you use teak, you could double the price. Hey, why not try making some extra cash?

Tuesday, March 22, 2011


On my Facebook page, I've been watching Jack Read building an electric ukulele. I am really eager to hear what it sounds like. Until then, here's a video of Jack and his first uke. Acoustic.

This really sounds cool!

Nice work, Jack.


In other entertainment news, my son Wyatt has finally completed all fifteen performances of A Midsummer Night's Dream. The entire company really put on 15 great shows, touring for two weeks. Here's Wyatt during a curtain call at one of the performances. He played Duke Theseus, and wow: actually wore a suit.

Congratulations also Wyatt, for getting accepted into The Marin School of the Arts, beginning next fall. A lot of kids audition, but only a few are chosen. I imagine it will be somewhat like Fame, only without the leg warmers. I think. I hope.

Friday, March 18, 2011

Silverware drawer organizer

Adjustable? Bah.

A word on things that are adjustable. I have learned over the years that anything I buy that is adjustable never gets adjusted after its initial setup. I have bookcases with adjustable shelves. I set the shelves to fit my books and never change them. I built adjustable shelves for my hutch in my workshop. Nope, I never change anything.

After careful consideration, I think the main reason to build anything adjustable is if you want to sell it. That makes sense: the buyer can customize it to his or her needs. But if I am making something for myself, I am going with fixed components and shelves. What's more custom than that?

This is version 2.0 of my silverware organizer. It took me a while to use my old one before I figured out how to improve it. Having adjustable dividers was my biggest mistake on the beta version.

Thursday, March 17, 2011

Spring projects

It's hard to believe Spring begins this weekend! That means two things: Mother's Day is sooner than you think, and you might want to emerge from indoors and build an outdoor project.

For Mother's Day, you simply can't go wrong with jewelry boxes, but you might want to get started soon. Rick Beale made three, using curly redwood that was headed to the dump. It's astonishing what one man's scrap can yield to a woodworker. Nice work Rick. Check out the grain here:

And here's a great springtime project Laney sent over. You could certainly build this in a day or so. He used pressure treated lumber and some scrap cedar. The hanging baskets are my favorite.

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Brass rivets

A number of people have been asking where they can find the brass rivets Ian sent me for the Fibonacci Gauge. I'm surprised at how elusive they seem to be. Seems like something any hardware store would carry. Or at least Rockler or Woodcraft.

At any rate, you can buy them from Lee Valley Tools. They come in three sizes. Phi it up!

Friday, March 11, 2011

Phi and the golden rectangle

You may recall back in December when Ian sent me a photo of his Fibonacci Gauge. I was completely intrigued by the whole concept of Phi, the golden ratio. It only took me three months to finally get around to making one of my own.

I have learned that this ratio is everywhere! Logos, for example:

It's really quite amazing and can come in very useful when designing woodworking projects. If you would like to make one, Mark Whitsitt designed one  you can download, with all the correct dimensions. Here's a PDF version and a Sketchup version.

Thanks Mark and Ian!

Wednesday, March 9, 2011

Thangs Yankees don' know

When I made my magic propeller toy last month, I wasn't aware that it is called a Gee-Haw. Well, Daniel Stephens found a couple of great pictures. Yeah. a Gee-Haw Whimmy Diddle! I love it!

Monday, March 7, 2011

Nine Man Morris

I remember playing this game as a kid, but I don't remember what we called it. Well, it's Nine Man Morris.

Walter sent me this:

I found this game in a book I was reading and introduced it to my students.  We began by drawing the board on paper and using checkers.  I had some time this weekend so I made a board out of wood using my drill press with a round rasp bit, my wood burning kit and bench top sander. It only took about 30 minutes to make and turned out pretty cool. 

Nine Man Morris is an ancient game over 3,000 years old. It was played by American Indians from the Inuit to the Pre-Columbians, by the Vikings, the Ancient Egyptians, and early Europeans.

 To start the game, the players place their pieces (marbles) in any of the available circles on the board. When all pieces are placed, the game enters the second part. Players now move their pieces. A piece can be moved from one circle to another along the lines. Pieces can never be placed or moved to a slot that is already occupied.  Whenever a player forms a mill (three pieces in a row), they can take one of their opponent's pieces.  The game ends when a player cannot make a move or they only have two pieces remaining.

Very cool. I love the idea of burning the lines. I can imagine endless ways you could make this game. To be correct, Walter tells me his board is actually a Six Man Morris game. I see there are also three and twelve man versions.

Great project to crank out on a lazy afternoon.

Friday, March 4, 2011

Metallica autograph frame

I received some fantastic suggestions for ways to complete my Metallica picture frame: making inlays with guitar picks and blackening the wood with a torch were a couple I really liked. Ultimately, I decided to keep the frame itself somewhat simple: I felt adorning it too much would detract from the guitar and the autograph.

I ended up cutting out the Metallica logo with my scroll saw using 1/8" plywood and placing is over MDF painted black. I am not much of a scroller, but Laney suggested I get some spiral blades. That really helped, even though I broke a lot. My biggest struggle was figuring out how to handle the holes in the As, which I have affectionately dubbed A holes. I tried connecting them using thin bridges, but it just didn't look satisfactory. Finally, I just ended up cutting out teeny triangles and gluing them in place with epoxy. Worked out great.

Guitar strings
I am very pleased with the way the guitar turned out. That was a ton of fun to make! The tricky part was figuring out how to string it. After everything was assembled, I discovered that six strings didn't align properly all the way from the tuning knobs to the bridge. I learned that guitars have a "nut" at the top of the neck that aids in alignment. I cut another tiny piece of wood, added some slots and restrung the six strings. Worked perfectly. Plus, it hides the seam between the head and neck.

Theme framing
If you're like me, you've probably made more picture frames than you care to count. I've sort of developed a system that works out pretty well, but it gets boring. What fun to take a new approach to framing! The next time you have something really special to display, try to come up with a "themed frame".

Enjoy the video. It goes fast. Gimme fuel, gimme fire...!

Tuesday, March 1, 2011

Still puzzling

If you are a Sketchup user (if you aren't, you really should give it a try) here's a very detailed plan for the 10 Cent Labyrinth drawn up by Wood Chuck Bruce. I'm always amazed at the work people are able to do with Sketchup. Thanks Bruce!


Speaking of puzzles, Timothy Sluder sent over this one. I am definitely going to make one of these. I think I'll need to actually build one before I can wrap my brain around how it works.

Not only that, here's a plan:

Thanks Tim. Puzzle on!