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

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Friday, August 31, 2012

Make a shishi-odoshi fountain

The first time I saw a shishi-odoshi was in the movie Kill Bill. I didn't know what it was or that it is also called a "deer scarer", intended to frighten deer and birds from crops with its slow, rhythmic knocking.

Last month I picked up a bunch of bamboo that my son's theater didn't need any longer and have been thinking about something to make with it ever since. This was a fun project, and gave me a chance to try out some new things.

These fountains come in all sorts of arrangements, but I decided to make mine as one self-contained unit. My first thought was to attach the bamboo to a container or pot of some sort. What I discovered, was that it was really hard to find one that I had in mind: fairly large yet shallow.

So I decided to make a wood container. After soliciting a bunch of opinions on Facebook about how to make a wood box watertight, a few people mentioned the best method: do nothing. Water towers and buckets have long been made with wood, which just expands to fill any gaps. For mine, I dicided to protect the outside of the box with deck stain/sealer and I squeezed out a bead of silicone along the inside seams just for good measure.



Bonus video!

Wednesday, August 29, 2012

Bamboo building and many mallets

I've been building a shishi-odoshi this week with that bamboo I picked up from my son's school last month. It is proving to be more difficult that I thought it would be. Lots of fussiness. I should have it and the video done by Friday. Here's where I was with it last night. Then I had to think about it overnight.

After I posted my garden gate video, a few people sent me great examples of gates they have made. But I think this is my favorite. From Romano Bertarelli in Germany, this one speaks for itself!

Wait, more mallets? Sure, why not. If you haven't jumped on that bandwagon yet, try one! I'm tellin' ya...you'll find all sorts of uses for it.

Here's one from my pal Brian Gidney:

And Bruce Thom's version: 

Now Bruce has also been busy making boxes. Check out this bandsaw box...only his second one. Very cool.

Larry Briski made a couple of projects based on videos I posted eons ago. A beautiful jewelry box:

And a drill press table! Out of all the home-made shop upgrades and jigs I have made, noting is more useful than my drill press table. I highly recommend building yourself one!

Now Daniel DeKeyser is a very busy 17-year-old woodworker who has made not just a mallet:

But the drill press table too!

A table saw sled, 

and a router lift for a router he doesn't have yet! Wow. That's ambitious!


Monday, August 27, 2012

Swinging into Christmas

As I like to say all year long, it's never too soon to start in on Christmas gifts. You'll be sitting back and chuckling as the rest of us are scrambling to build gifts in December!

Jarrid O'Bryan did just this, in a way. He made a set of Christmas ornaments as a unique wedding gift for a couple whose last name is Ramsey. No relation, but naturally, I had to show this off!

The ornaments are turned from cherry, the box is maple ambrosia with a hand turned, walnut and oak knob and a features a simple sliding top. Jarrid burned the lettering by hand and finished with poly.

I think Christmas ornaments make for a perfect wedding gift. Every December when it's cold and gray, the couple will be reminded of their wedding and your handiwork.

Then, after the newlyweds are together for a while, you can start in on a project like this. Alan Ward made this beautiful doll's crib for a friend's granddaughter. It's built with mahogany, oak, and ash. Alan's wife made the bedding. This will become an heirloom piece for the family, I'm sure. I like gifts that keep on giving.

But wait! In the upper left corner observant viewers might notice a version of my flower-pot swing from 2010. Thanks Alan!

I haven't heard from very many people who have made that swing but oddly, the very next day Justin Stiltner sent over a picture of his BIG version. Five feet high and three feet wide! Made from old pallets.

Mere Minutes

As an update for those of you who have been following along with my vegetable garden this summer, I decided to shoot a quick video showing a couple of salsas I made with my tomatillos and tomatoes. This hasn't been the most productive summer for vegetables, but what I have are really tasty!

Speaking of cooking, Hilah Johnson, my absolute favorite cooking diva is going to be making tostones using the tosonera I made a while back. A couple months ago I sent it to her to see what magic she can create. I'll let you know when her video is out. 

Friday, August 24, 2012

Picnic tote

Next weekend, (September 1-2) is Labor Day weekend here in the U.S. It has become the unofficial start of Autumn and we tend to mark the occasion with picnics and barbecues. So I thought it would be fun to make a project that can easily be built this weekend and used next weekend.

It was a stroke of luck that a couple weeks ago, viewer Fred Wiegand send me some pictures of a neat little tote a friend of his was using while out camping. The best thing is that the design is simple enough that it can be easily modified.

I didn't really care for the elongated handle and decided to add a round hole in the back for lifting. I also thought it would be nice to add some storage for plastic utensils. But as I began building the project and playing around with these modifications, I was struck by the simplicity of what I was making and ditched those plans.

While trying to figure out a way to glue the middle panel onto the dowels, it occurred to me that it didn't need glue. In fact, it works better with a sliding center divider. That way you can press it against the napkins to keep them from blowing away.

Funny how projects often work themselves out in the shop rather than on paper. If you ever get stumped, try just diving into a project, even if it's only partially figured out.


Wednesday, August 22, 2012

Now that's a gate.

Riaan Kritzinger sent over pictures of his gate that he made out of English Oak. It's really stunning. I like gates that have the top rail, like a door. It looks nice and really strengthens the gate.

Wanted to share this project from 12-year-old woodworker Avery L. who made a display case using his dad's jig saw. Nice work Avery!

Last week I posted a video from Festool showing how to make a really neat peg-cutting jig. It's a great, inexpensive router technique from a manufacturer of really expensive tools! Scott Claridge jumped right on that and used it to make a whole bunch of tenons for a balustrade fence.

I love this cutting board design from Mark Dennen. For his first attempt, he built this using Oak and Walnut. If you still haven't made a cutting board, give it a try. They are fun and make great gifts.

And just when you were really tired of benches, Bill Wilson, (I've posted lots of his stuff here) jumped on that bandwagon. He is now a member of the club. We need a secret handshake.

Having a bit of fun with my Facebook cover image this week, changing it every day. Well really just adding to it. Kind of an interactive art piece built by viewers! Haha. Check it out. I'm curious what it will look like on Saturday.

Friday, August 17, 2012

Building a gate

This is a project I have been putting off for about five years. My old gate got to the point where it simply wouldn't open without pieces falling off!

Not really a woodworking project, but building this didn't leave me time to shoot a video of something else, and I figured this might be useful.

Wednesday, August 15, 2012

Woodworking ideas and a really cool jig

Making toys is very rewarding. Paul Jobbins made this "bead board" sorter for his son Zach. Any of you with toddlers know that toys such as this fascinate little ones. Its open-ended play fuels their imaginations.

Bill Bumpus sent over this picture of a head band holder that I found very clever. Makes me want to try making a wood headband, too.

Not only that, but he's been cranking out trivets too!


Benjamin Zupancic from Slovenia is back with more versions of my projects. He modeled this one after my sliding-lid box, but added a magnetic lid.

And yes, he made a garden bench, too. I really like his modifications and the ways he shaped it.

And here's Don Roberto's bench with a new, beefier take on the backrest.

Not enough benches you say? Ha. Simion Horatiu from Romania built these two. One similar to mine and the other with a cool storage area in the seat.

Here's Dan Cook's version of my Shaker style coat rack I made just about a year ago. He made his out of cedar and it looks gorgeous.

Finally, Hans S. from the Czech Republic clued me onto this video from Festool showing a really cool home-made round peg jig. This one looks easy to make and a lot of fun to try. (If you don't speak German, you'll have no trouble getting the gist of this video.)

Friday, August 10, 2012

The Locker Docker

I wanted to make a back-to-school project this week and had the idea to make something for a locker that would include a dry-erase board and a mirror. As the project evolved, it thought it would also be fun to make it into a mini-locker, for storing small items.

I couldn't figure out exactly what to call this so i posed the question on my Facebook page. You'll see some of the suggestions at the end of the video. My favorites are "Locker Docker" and "Look-n-Lock".


Thursday, August 9, 2012

Woodchat interview

Here's a recording of the show I did last night with Matt and Chris.

Mere Minutes
Today's odds and ends.

Tuesday, August 7, 2012

Woodchat tomorrow

Tomorrow, I will be a guest on Woodchat, hosted by Matt Gradwohl and Chris Wong. The show begins at 6:00PM Pacific time. You can watch it live on Google+ or YouTube and ask questions via Twitter #woodchat. I think I got all that straight.

The easiest method is to just go to the Woodchat chatroom at 6:00. The show will also be recorded if you are interested in watching it later.

I'm really not sure what to expect, nor am I sure what exactly I have to offer but I think it will be fun. It looks like these guys are definitely more polished at running a live show than my attempt a couple weeks ago! Hope you can tune in.


Now, this was posted on Lumberjocks and I think it deserves attention over here too. I absolutely love this video. It is really inspiring (and tiring!) to watch someone who can build stuff from scratch using hand tools. Such a craftsman and such a well done video.

Monday, August 6, 2012

Viewers like you!

Wanted to catch up on some recent viewer projects.

Michael Davis and his wife made this really creative trivet with cherry and included holly splines. He used some leftover tiles and added a horseshoe!

Kevin Facemire says his wife has been asking for a new stepstool for two years! It pays to be patient. Kevin used redwood for the steps, and a redwood spline to join the pine sides

Jeremy Greiner took a shot at my garden bench. Looks great painted white. He described the process over on Lumberjocks.

Haye Galama from Holland made a spinning top that works the same way as my recent toy top. It was a good chance for him to try out his brand new lathe!

Benjamin Zupančič sent over a bunch of photos hes has made from his shop in Slovenia. This one, a flower table or plant stand really caught my eye. My first thought was making something similar to this using some of that free bamboo I picked up a few weeks ago.

Bill Wilson is always busy coming up with creative woodworking projects. Here's his version of my clock from early this year. he made this out of canary wood and gave it to his church's pastor. I love the octagonal shape. 

All woodworkers should take time once in a while to make an heirloom project. Bill Pryor made this copy of his brother-in-law's 1964 Kenworth log truck that he used for 30 years. It's made with bubinga and maple and took Bill about three months to build. This is a stunner.

Saturday, August 4, 2012


Hey guys, eReplacementParts has coughed up a DeWalt drill to give to one lucky Mere Mortal! It's a DCD775B 18V 1/2" Cordless Compact Hammerdrill.

Enter over on my Facebook page.

Remember Elliot? (Or was it Mark?) Here's a video he put together for eReplacementParts. Plus he built my garden bench project Yay!

Friday, August 3, 2012

Wood Olympic rings

This project was really just a challenge to myself. I found this picture and after studying it a long time and thinking it over, I posed the question on Facebook. "How would you make this?"

It's one of those projects that looks simple at first, but upon closer inspection has a number of problems: cutting the circles identical and even. Then there are the notches. I thought a while about making half-lap joints but quickly came to my senses. I'm not sure if that would even be possible!

Eventually I worked it all out. It was a really interesting challenge. And if you ever have a need to cut identical rings, the jig I made for this works really nicely.