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

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Monday, October 31, 2011

Japanese style

Here's some nice work. Tino Wilson in Canada works mainly with Japanese hand tools and his projects reflect that. And wow...that's one clean shop!

Hand tool shop.


Garden Bench

Garden Box. Love the bonsai.

Saturday, October 29, 2011

Wood Whisperer's baby and other stuff

Quick Mere Minutes and congratulation to Marc and the birth of his son.

Friday, October 28, 2011

Skeleton hand project

Since I didn't have a Halloween project in last week's video, I thought I would make another Halloween video. I really didn't know where this project was going until I got about halfway through it. Once I started laying out the individual bones, it became clearer.

I thought about running a stiff wire through the bones so that the hand could be bent into various shapes, but drilling straight holes through the fingers proved nearly impossible. I suppose the way to have done this would be to drill the holes before sculpting the bones. So I ended up inserting small dowel pins and gluing it together.

I made this bony hand almost completely with my 1" belt sander. It's really a fun tool to shape wood.

Thursday, October 27, 2011

More folding stool plans

Big thanks to Bruce (AKA Wood Chuck) for taking the time to design another version of the folding stool. This one is in Google SketchUp. I've also created a PDF of all 6 pages of views, if you would prefer that.

So here's a bunch of options:

Give this a shot. It's a great project!


Mere Minutes

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Pinewood derby transformer

It was just a few years ago when my son was in the Cub Scouts. The biggest event of the year is always the Pinewood Derby. Kids design and build their own cars and then race them. They always come up with some outrageous designs.

Don helped one of the boys in his church built this. I have to say, I have never seen a Transformer car! Check out the complete build here. Thanks Don!


Here's what I finished making today. Just in time for Halloween weekend. Video Friday.


Oh, and in case you somehow missed last year's Halloween show, here's a rerun:

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Full sized Halloween coffin

Nighthawk, from New Zealand, sent over pictures of his Halloween project. This is really cool. Check out his web site to see the complete build. Creepy.

Monday, October 24, 2011

Dust collectors

I made my first attempt at hand cutting a dovetail joint this weekend. It were pretty much the most pathetic looking dovetail you will ever see. Even worse, I shot a real-time video of my attempt. Shawn over at Worth the Effort Woodworking is having some guys make dovetails and then practice for a week and see how/if we improve. I think I should do better next weekend. I'll post his video when he gets it done.

It seemed like a good idea at the time.

I have a dovetail jig that works perfectly and, well, I hardly ever use it. It's something I bought a long time ago thinking that I would be making dovetail joints all the time. Mainly, it's complicated and I always forget how to use it. As a result, it sits around and collects dust. So I'm looking forward to learning how to hand cut dovetails. Maybe I'll be more likely to use them.

We've all acquired tools that seemed useful at the time, but end up getting very little use. I would almost include my biscuit jointer in this category, except that I have gotten a fair amount of use out of it and I still use it for edge joining panels. But for the most part it collects dust.A lot of us jumped on the biscuit bandwagon years ago when Norm Abram seemed to use it for every project. I think pocket hole jointery has replaced it for the most part.

Do you have any tools that make you wonder why you ever bought them?


Mere Minutes

Friday, October 21, 2011

Thursday, October 20, 2011

Folding stools

About two years ago I made a folding step stool and I have always had people asking for plans. Unfortunately, like most of my projects, I never make any detailed plans.

To refresh your memory, here is one that Robert Naylor made. (He also made the drill press table with vise I posted last Sunday)


Tim Barker took the time to strip down the instructions in my video and actually make a set of plans.  Download the PDF here. Thanks Tim!

Here's the video from November 2009:


Finally, I received a really special gift in the mail yesterday from 1st Battalion, 7th Field Artillery. It's flag that was flown in Iraq. It included a photo and document signed by CSM William Bauer and LTC Andrew Gainey. There was no note in the package, though. So if you sent this, let me know! I am planning a project for it to be posted on Veterans' Day. 11-11-11 this year!

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

These kids today

Kids of every generation get a bad rap. When I was a kid, Judas Priest and Iron Maiden were certain to corrupt every kid that listened to their music. I dated a girl who dyed her hair blue. Horrors. Things haven't really changed that much: we latch on to a few examples of "kids gone bad", ignoring the fact that most kids are like we were and do some really cool stuff.

My son Wyatt is rehearsing for a musical. He goes to school at 7:30 in the morning and gets out at 6:00 in the evening when rehearsal ends. He rehearses every Saturday from 9:00 to 3:00. Starting next week he has two weeks of rehearsing until 10:00 at night. And Sundays are thrown in too. He does that, squeezes in homework, and even managed to go to the Homecoming dance last week. My schedule was never any where near that daunting.


Over on my Facebook page, Austin Hall posted his first woodworking project. He is 12 and has a very limited set of tools: a handsaw, a drill bit, a sander, a protractor, a ruler, and glue, yet managed to design and build a birdhouse. (I'm pretty sure my first project was a birdhouse, too.)  To make the hole, he drilled a series of holes around a circle and popped it out. Having a desire to achieve something is the first step in any process.


Luca Browski is a friend of my son's. She's 14 and filled with talent. Check out her singing in this video. And she plays the ukulele, which is just so cool. Drop by her YouTube channel, especially her recent live performance up in Napa and leave her some comments!

Sunday, October 16, 2011

Drill press table with vise

Check out this idea. Here's a drill press table Robert Naylor sent over. Nice table with a fence. But he added a thick removable center piece that can be swapped out at needed. But not just swapped out with another sacrificial piece, he attached a vice to one insert. Really creative way to hold stock into place:


Mere Minutes

Saturday, October 15, 2011

This is a woodworking blog? Yup. Wait, what?

Today was a thrilling day in the wood shop. You wouldn't believe the incredible time I had building stuff out of wood!

[cliched cricket sounds]

Gophers and ants

What did I do? Well, I mowed the jungle that I call a lawn. Discovered several new gopher mounds. Rather than doing something with those mounds of dirt, I decided to just mow over them.

Naturally, the lawn mower objects to this practice and makes horrendous sounds while throwing clouds of dirt throughout the atmosphere. I looked at the biggest pile, or what remained of it, and noticed it was moving...or pulsating.

About 33 billion ants had determined that a gopher mound was a perfect place to raise a family and were now frantically darting every which way carrying little white bundles of baby ants. In a strange way, I really felt guilty. Ants are cool. Just as long as they stay outside. Once they march into my house and discover the cat's food, I have no regrets using the most non-environmentally-friendly ant poison. I believe doing so builds up immunity.

We pay for dirt! Dirt! It's everywhere!

Wait, I'm getting off track. But it still involves dirt, just not the gopher or ant variety. Dirt that people actually have to purchase and move from place to place. Why on earth we buy earth is a puzzle.

We have four raised flower beds that I built ten years ago. They have held all sorts of plants, but this Fall my wife decided we need onions in two of them. It's a good winter plant to grow, and I really shouldn't complain because I do most of the cooking around this dump and I and use lots of onions. And as if I haven't mentioned it before, I hate spending money. So growing your own food is awesome.

But the dirt levels in those planters was down about two feet from the top. Yep...the mysterious disappearing dirt. I understand that it can compact, but that doesn't account for this volume of lost dirt. It just simply vanished. I think dirt evaporates and rains back into places that sell it.

Trip to Colored Gravel.

"Colored Gravel". That's the name of a place here in Novato that sells all sorts or rocks, dirt, and rock-and-dirt-related products. I had them dump two loads of topsoil into my truck: one cubic yard. That pretty much fills the bed of a full-size truck. It's daunting to look at and know that you'll have to unload it.

Yeah, it was way more than we needed to fill the raised beds. We filled them to their brims and had to find places to put the remainder. I avoided the vegetable garden option. I have no doubt I'll need to repeat this process next spring for my tomatoes. Just where does the dirt go?!

Moving dirt sucks.

Look! It's...dirt!
There is no way around it. I have nothing but admiration for guys that have to shovel stuff for a living. Seriously. It's hard work and they deserve better pay than whatever they get. Two hours of that nearly kills me.

Got the planters filled. Marveled at (outdoor) ants. Spent no time in the shop. I almost completed my Halloween video though. I'm still trying to figure out an ending. Video editing is hard, but it's total weenie work compared to moving crap around.


Mere Minutes
I actually have a tip here. Not woodworking, though.

Friday, October 14, 2011

Picture frame and a spline jig

Just gluing miter joints together is not particularly strong, but splines add strength to them. Plus, they take your woodworking to the next level by adding interesting visual elements. Andy Glass sent over this cool oak picture frame with walnut splines.

Here's the jig he used to make the spline slots. It doesn't take much to make something cool. Thanks Andy!


Mere Minutes
Got any Halloween projects? I'd love to see them. In fact, just send me pictures of anything cool you're doing for Halloween!  zrammedia (at) gmail (dot) com. 

Thursday, October 13, 2011

Vises and clamps

Stephan Passon is 20 years old and lives in Germany. He's been working wood and metal for 11 years. Here are a couple of vises he uses often. This one for his CNC mill:

In this age of planned obsolescence, it's nice to know that tools can function for generations just as they were intended. This vise is from Stephan's grandfather and is 100 years old.


Matthew Dean Wilson built his own vise. Clever design. Maybe someone will be using it in 100 years.


Store-bought clamps are just way too expensive. Shaun Harmer built his own clamp for 10 bucks. It's a cool design and something I really want to try. To operate it, you move the sliding jaw near the work piece, drop the bolt into a hole and tighten the knob. Then you turn the threaded rod to tighten the jaw. Great idea.

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Another plane collection

Cosmin sent over pictures of his favorite tool collection: planes. He writes:

They have not been inherited as I come from a long line of geeks; all I got was a stack of computer punch cards. I have gathered the planes over less than 2 years, which is just about as long as I have been interested in woodworking. I took some photos of the warzone to give some perspective. Then I placed the planes on item #1 from my honey-do list (11/4 thick walnut bench) and took somes shots. For reference, the walnut piece is exactly 12" wide. I promise I did tidy up the place before I took the shots and I chose the best available angle. 
My current interest is building stave shell drums. I am slowly getting there. In the mean time, I am developing a huge interest in hand tools. Next on my list is a Roubo workbench, braces, more drawknives, a beam drill, and a few more drawbore pins.

One car garage shop from several angles


ECE planes I acquired from a local retired piano builder, and a Knaus plane

Vintage violin maker planes

Stanley block planes, first is low angle, second is a 60 1/2, 
last one is a modern day Stanley plane that I use as a counterexample of quality

Japanese chamfer plane, size 4 Gage plane, coffin plane, Stanley 132 with broken tote top,
Wien brand jointer plane (could not find any info about the brand) 

Stanley planes: 40, 3, 4, 5 1/4, 5, 5, 6, 8, 8 
(this last #8 is a mongrel plane as I have put it together from parts)

Patternmaker plane with removable wooden round bottom, and a 
Made in USA Craftsman dado plane (to my surprize, Craftsman was at some point made in USA)