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

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Friday, June 29, 2012

Make a door harp

Here's a project I thought about making a long time ago and they forgot about. Last week I ran across this harp and was reminded of my door harp idea. It's a good idea to take pictures of interesting wood things you see throughout the day. They may inspire you to build something.

There are a lot of different ways to make a door harp. I kept mine simple, using only three strings. Making the box was easy. What gave me the most trouble was figuring out a way to attach the strings. I looked at a number of methods that guitars and other stringed instruments use and then browsed around the music store to see what I could come up with. Aside from being expensive, most people don't want to hunt down specialty parts for a weekend woodworking project. So I came up with a method or tightening and tuning the strings using a nut and a bolt.

If you would like to try this one out, here's a PDF template you can download and print out.

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Monday, June 25, 2012

Back to business! And a whole heap of mallets.

Hi guys, I am back from my week off and feel fairly rejuvenated. The biggest problem with returning from a vacation is trying to catch up on all the email and messages that have piled up over the week!

I was thrilled to discover how many of you busy bees have been making mallets. So let's dive in.

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Wes Woods in Idaho made his using oak from an old pallet and added black walnut wedges.




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Carmen Salamone had the great idea to fill the head of his mallet with pennies. I think I'll try that next time!



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Here's Denny Scharringa's take using birdseye maple, ipe, and mahogany.




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Ron Ward made a mallet without the help of a table saw, but it came out great. I especially like the head shape.




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James Everett raided his scrap pile and put some red oak, purple heart, and walnut to use.



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Bill Wilson checked in with his walnut and padauk mallet. He used lead weights from black powder bullets for the head.


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Mere Minutes
I am making a door harp for Friday's video. Plus a little of what I did on my summer break.





Saturday, June 16, 2012

Outdoor projects

I never really know which of my projects will strike a chord with viewers, but I think I have had more people send me versions of my garden bench than any other project.

Here's Will Smith's version. He went with 1x4's instead of 1x3's for the slats. That makes it even easier!

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Jim Shelton's bench. I like the dark color.


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And Bob Stoehr's:



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Sam Rusch built his bench without arms. (The bench, that is, not Sam.) Total cost of lumber: about $10.


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Here is Adrian Thewlis's take on my recent planter box. He's got bell peppers planted in his. Plus, it turns out Adrian is a local boy...friends with my neighbor two doors down.


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Here is a great idea for an outdoor table. Jim Feickert built this using old pallets. Very cool idea.


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Finally, I had to show you this pair of "punisher chairs" from Ron Buchanan. Halloween is right around the corner, you know.


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Mere Minutes


Friday, June 15, 2012

Make a wood mallet

I made my first mallet six years ago. Since then, I have made four more. I picked up this technique from Woodsmith magazine and really like it. I especially like the method of creating a mortise without needing to bore a square hole.

I went to the sporting goods store the other day to pick up some fishing sinkers: little lead weights that I usually use to fill the mallet's head. After looking at the price (I would need about $15 worth of them!) my son suggested I try filling the head with sand instead. It worked well, but it is no where near as heavy as the little lead balls. Live and learn. But it is still has a nice weight to it.





Sunday, June 10, 2012

Shop-made clamps, projects, and woodworking inspiration

In what has to be a record, Neil Buchan made a secret-compartment pencil holder hours after I posted the video! Can you guess he made it for his daughter?



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Ty Lam, from Boston, is just getting started on woodworking but starting out big. Check out some of his work. This is a really beautiful table made out of 2x4s and scrap marble. He even had a go at my candle holder.






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If you do any woodworking, you will make picture frames. And as soon as you start, requests for more will never end! Les Cain has been cranking out lots of versions of my simple picture frame. Those are his grandkids, CJ and Hope. 



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Mere Minutes

Dave Rutan sent me a shop-made clamp. It's very clever and looks pretty simple to make. Plus, you can make is with scrap lumber...a lot cheaper than buying clamps. (Seen how much clamps are lately? Ouch.) Dave was also kind enough to write up instructions on how to make your own!
Here are a couple of PDFs:











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Wanted to share this quick video from Johnny and Joe, who entered my video contest. (That a 1950's Craftsman bandsaw they showed in their video entry. Pretty cool.) But mostly, kids like these are further indication that the future is not a bleak as some of us old guys want to believe. Thanks gentlemen.







Friday, June 8, 2012

Secret compartment pencil holder

I think it's great that a lot of kids watch my show. So I decided to come up with a project that almost any kid can make with very little experience and just a few basic tools.

The hard part was coming up with an idea that wasn't boring. I see a lot of "woodworking for kids" projects that are often just dumbed-down versions of projects for adults.

So I thought about the kinds of things that fascinated me as a child and one of those was anything with a secret compartment. Even today, I think it would be awesome to have a secret room in my house. Especially if it had one of those Scooby-Doo spinning bookcases for entry. But, for now, here's a pencil holder that holds a hidden compartment with a secret for opening it.


Wednesday, June 6, 2012

Huge whirligig

Now here's a whirligig! Jim Jarvis made this one from plans he bought at the Winfield Collection. He said it worked great until some high winds tore it apart. (Is there a certain irony to that?)



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And even more garden benches keep rolling in. Here's Bob Daniel's version of my bench. He made his without the arms. Looks great!


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A lot of you have probably seen a box such as the one mentioned in today's Mere Minutes. To me, it was new, but my wife told me what it was for. 




Tuesday, June 5, 2012

Woodworking cartoons and zombies

Want to make a really simple garden bench? Check out this one Shannon Bickel from Timberlake Ohio made a few years ago, based on plans in Family Handyman Magazine. Make it in 15 minutes!



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Dezri Dean recently met a woodworker cartoonist at a garage sale. Check out Liggy's cartoons over at Woodlaughs.com


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In my last video, I mentioned the possibility of making a zombie-themed whirligig. Well wouldn't you know it, of course there's one on YouTube! Check this out:




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Finally, a little bit more on my wood-chopper whirligig. It seems I put the blades on backward. Oops! But it still works. Finally had some wind the other day so you can see it in action.






Friday, June 1, 2012

Whirligig. And Contest winners!

Thought I'd give a shot at building a whirligig for the yard. What fun to make! I discovered that there are tons and tons of incredible, beautifully intricate whirligigs people make. There are even a few books on Amazon devoted to making them!

Mine is certainly an entry-level whirligig. It's pretty easy to make. The trickiest part was figuring out what kinetic action I wanted it to do. I decided on a lumberjack; sort of a classic whirligig. Instead of the typical clothing, I decided to paint him as a character I envision from a Steinbeck novel. If you would like to try this one, here's a PDF  template you can use to cut out the pieces.





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Mere Mortals video contest winners!
There were so many good entries. Thank you all for entering!