Welcome to Woodworking for Mere Mortals.

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

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Thursday, May 31, 2012

Kitchen and garden projects

I'm always on the lookout for clever kitchen projects. Don Gottschalk made this unique napkin holder. In the summertime, we have a fan in the dining room that is forever blowing napkins around the table. This looks like a good solution!


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Wanted to show you another garden bench, this one built by Jim Jarvis. Hey, he even picked out a color similar to the one I used! If you haven't tried one, they are really easy to build and customize.



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Reminder: vote for your favorite videos in the Mere Mortals Kreg Tool contest! Winners announced tomorrow. A couple of entries are running neck and neck.



Monday, May 28, 2012

Video contest finalists




111 people submitted entries into the Mere Mortals video contest. Wow! I had no idea I would get that many. Thank you all who entered. But now it's time to make some decisions.

I looked through all of the videos several times and eventually selected my top 20 favorites. It was not an easy task. Please take a few minutes to watch them and vote for your favorites with a "thumbs up" vote on YouTube.

I'll announce the winners on Friday.

You can view the playlist here and see all the likes and comments.

Or, you can watch them all at once in this 4 minute video:




Friday, May 25, 2012

Redwood hanging planters

Here are a couple of hanging planters I made using two redwood boards. My local lumberyard sells six foot "fence boards" in a couple different widths. I used one 8 inch wide board for each of these planters. The great thing about those boards is that they are pretty cheap. Each one cost a little over $6.00.

I can tell you this, it was a lot of repetitive cutting! I guess the key is just to work out some sort of assembly line and keep organized.





Thursday, May 24, 2012

Paper towel holder and book recommendation

Looking for a simple project for this weekend? Check out these paper towel holders Jim Jarvis built. I think the rod just wedges into the base hole.


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I picked up a cool book at the library yesterday I wanted to tell you about: American Woodworker's The Great Book of Woodworking Tips.

It is packed with all sorts of handy tips to try out in your shop. Every article is super short. Hey, great bathroom reader!







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Mere Minutes

Wednesday, May 23, 2012

Math clamps. It's science!

But before that, I wanted to show off this bench made by Dan, in Wheeling, West Virginia. For his beefy version, he used some old 4x4s he had lying around. Best part?
"If a tornado comes we can all hang on the bench. It's not going anywhere!!"
Ha! Definitely looks sturdy. Thanks Dan!


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Here's a really cool idea from Brian over at GarageWoodworks.com. He calls it a Bernoulli Spiral Shell Clamp. I remember my first lesson in the golden ratio, Phi, and Fibonacci, a little over a year ago when I made a Fibonacci Gauge. (Which I still find very useful.)

It seems Bernoulli is another name associated with some sort of math that I really can't comprehend, yet find incredibly fascinating. 

Whatever the math and science involved, check out these clamps which are supremely clever and quite useful.





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Reminder. Win Kreg stuff in the Mere Mortals video contest! Video entries due by Sunday.

Tuesday, May 22, 2012

Garden bench plans

A couple of updates on last Friday's garden bench. A lot of people have been asking for some plans and whatya know: a couple of people have helped!

First, Tim Sluder took the time to write up a cutting list, detailing everything you will need. Download his cut list here. (pdf)

And Jeremy Greiner (of Cutting Board Designer) drew out a SketchUp plan. Download it here.

If any of you make that bench, send over pictures! There are a lot of ways it can easily be improved.

Thanks Tim and Jeremy!

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Reminder. There is still plenty of time to enter the Mere Mortals video contest. And if you haven't checked out some of the entries, pick out some that you like, give them a thumbs up and leave comments. There are some really good ones just within the last couple days!

Sunday, May 20, 2012

Contest entries

There is one week left to enter the Mere Mortals video contest. Lots of time to submit your video!

Take a look at the entries so farIf you see any you like, leave them a comment and "like" their videos. Everyone likes a little feedback!

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Mere Minutes

Friday, May 18, 2012

Build a really simple garden bench. And a contest!

Here's a really easy project anyone can build in a weekend. I was inspired to build something that required very few tools and would be a nice summer project. To build this bench, you will just need a saw (any kind), a drill, and some screws. I built mine with four 2x4s and six 1x3 boards. Total cost: $30. I can imagine all sorts of ways to enhance this bench too!


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Update: here are cutting sizes for the boards:



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I also wanted to showcase a few tools from Kreg that can make the project even easier. I have a video contest this week and Kreg was kind enough to offer up some prizes.

Grand Prize: 






First Prize:


Second Prize:


Two bonus prizes.
Be the neighborhood show-off with a mere Mortal Tee! 

To enter, watch the following video for instructions. Basically, shoot a ten-second video illustrating the theme: "A Mere Mortal..." Supply your own verb and finish the sentence. Get creative! Then post your video on YouTube as a video response to this video. Hurry! Contest ends Sunday, May 27th. Good luck!





Thursday, May 17, 2012

An olio of ideas

I have been dutifully writing in the word "olio" in my crossword puzzles for years and decided to finally put it to real-world use. Still, I will forever confuse it with "oleo". 

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When I mentioned that I would be making a garden bench for tomorrow's video, Jason Othoudt sent me over a picture of in indoor bench he built out of 2x4s, plywood, and box joints. Super cool design.




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 Lucas Marques sent over a picture of his version of the guitar pick box made with Purpleheart.


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And here's one Dimitris Fragoulopoulos made for his brother.


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Ian Mills made some of my hair accessories. Cool!


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Finally, check out Seth Lavallee's beautiful version of my Kindle case with spectacular inlay.


Monday, May 14, 2012

Fine Woodworking's elitism

"Vet"  (verb) To thoroughly check or investigate particularly with regard to providing formal approval. (Wiktionary)

I was really glad to have read Tom Iovino's article about a couple of woodworking snobs over at Fine Woodworking Magazine. If it hadn't been for Tom, I would have never even been aware of their video podcast. One hour of pure tedium.

Hey Kids! Wanna be a woodworker? Listen to FUN guys like US!

In thrilling Episode #5, entitled "A Perfect Storm of Stupidity" the self-righteous editors of Fine Woodworking spend ten minutes bashing anyone producing video content online because the information "hasn't been vetted". In other words, the fact that individuals can publish whatever they like, without a big publishing house's approval is alien to these pompous coots.

I won't ask you to sit through the entire video ( I certainly didn't) but watch the first ten minutes where the dude on the left lambastes regular people who like to exercise their freedom. He compares YouTubers to children who simply post vanity videos.

I'm not sure if the guy on the right serves any function; he just sits there and nods to the other guy. Naturally, they don't post their videos on You Tube where the public could comment.

I vetted out their video and determined it is far to dull to embed on my web site, so here's the link.

It's curious to watch people in a sinking industry desperately grasping for anything to keep them afloat, rather than creating their own relevant content. It's easier to attack people making and distributing free videos than to compete. I'm sure Fine Woodworking offers overpriced DVDs (also a dying format) featuring these guys. Can you imagine trying to sit through one of those without falling asleep?


A little more on the swivel lid

A little catching up on the guitar pick box.

Mere minutes



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And on an unrelated note, my son clued me in to this video. Enjoy:

Friday, May 11, 2012

Guitar pick box

This turned out to be a pretty simple box, once I figured out how to make the swiveling lid. Mostly, I didn't want any hardware to show, so I decided to use a dowel attached to a nut. The box itself is really just a bandsaw box; the lid and base are sliced off a single chunk of wood. Then I used my scroll saw to cut out the inside.



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Wednesday, May 9, 2012

Viewer projects

It's always fun for me to see the ways people interpret my projects. I like to think that most of my video projects are simple enough to nudge people into the shop. Once there, the designs are easily modified in all kinds of ways.

Nick Pelliccione in Brooklyn tells me he learned a lot by overcoming various challenges faced in his chess board build. It turned out beautiful. If I didn't face problems on every project I build, I think I would quickly tire of woodworking.




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Guillaume Riesen got quite ambitious for his first band saw box. He made this for his mom's birthday. Nice job Guillaume!




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Finally, Ted (a different one!) made this Cajon for a fellow church member who will be visiting a sister church in Kenya this June. It's great to hear someone play it who knows what he's doing! This cajon sounds really good.





Monday, May 7, 2012

Router table vise

Really ingenious (and simple!) router table built by Domink in Germany. It even converts to a horizontal router table. The second video shows his home-made lift.

Thanks Domnik! Great idea.





Sunday, May 6, 2012

Bandsaw fence

Brian Parks clued me in to this video of a Universal Bandsaw Fence you can make really easily. I think it's an incredibly simple idea. This is from American Woodworker. Note, the first two minutes of the video are enough to show you how to make it. The rest of the video shows some techniques using the fence.

I've never had much luck using a fence on my band saw. I usually get too much drift and the fence ends up binding the blade. Do you guys use a fence? Is it practical mainly with wide blades? I may try one of these out though.


Saturday, May 5, 2012

My old lathe

Thought you might want to check out my old lathe. My dad bought it in the 1940's, but it still works fine.

Mere Minutes


Friday, May 4, 2012

Wood hair accessories

Here are some really easy-to-make hair accessories. I made them all using scrap wood cut-offs sent to me by a viewer a long time ago. I'm not exactly sure what kinds of wood they are, but they look nice when finished.

The idea here is that all these pieces can be mixed and matched. Big thanks to my friend Lily who gives a demo at the end of the video.



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Thursday, May 3, 2012

Sawhorse plans, compressor cart, and playhouse.

Want to thank Don for taking the time to draw up this SketchUp plan for the sawhorse I made last week.


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And while I'm at it, a few people have asked for a stackable version. While there are plenty online, it's definitely worth checking out Matthias's horses over at Woodgears. 




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David LaNear sent over his Spring project, which is also a storage project. He bought the plans for this compressor cart online for $4 and modified it to suit his needs. Cost him about $75 to make.

Here's a photo of the original cart:



Here's how David built his:
"The original plans had side openings for accessories but I wanted an enclosed area to keep dust and critters out. I added the removable tray and 2" to the storage. I used urethane caster wheels instead of the larger utility cart wheels. The original plans called for screws, glue and clamping. I used pocket whole screws and glue, instead. I also changed the hose hanger. Instead of a square hose hanger I made it curved. Also I made a little shelf under the hanger to store adapters I use more often. I used a stain/urethane to seal the wood."




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Finally, I wanted to show you a big little project from Ted Morgan. This is such a cute playhouse! I love all the details.