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

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Wednesday, October 31, 2012

Happy Halloween!

I just heard from Alexander Lutz, in Bavaria who tells me people really enjoyed his skull & crossbones candy dispenser at his Halloween party. He modified it by angling the hole for the moth so that all the candy is dispensed, and he added a lid on the top for refilling.

And Don Steffens, (who made the original skull dispenser) is already thinking ahead with these Thanksgiving turkey dispensers!

And this just in from Steve Schafehen in Wisconsin. He painted it using dry brush techniques and an airbrush. Thanks Steve!

Mere Minutes:
Handy woodworking tip time!

Monday, October 29, 2012

Transferring photos to wood

Νίκος Ζαγοραίος (Nick) in Greece sent me pictures of a guitar he decorated with photos. Using Mod Podge is a great technique for certain projects. Definitely a custom job! Nick took the time to rub this out to a nice glossy finish.

And here's a totally cute video explaining the technique:

Saturday, October 27, 2012

Ma and Pa Rocking Chairs / Book recommendations

I wanted to show off some beautiful work that Bryan from Maryville, Tennessee shared with me. He and his uncle run a sawmill and kiln drying business.

He built this pair of walnut rocking chairs for his parents, steam bending the legs on the larger one, and joined everything using mortise and tenons. He even upholstered them after watching a few You Tube videos.

And Bryan made this gorgeous quartersawn white oak couch. 

Mere Minutes
I have a couple of book recommendations this week.
Creative Wooden Boxes from the Scroll Saw, by Carole Rothman
Making Simple Musical Instruments, by Bart Hopkin

Friday, October 26, 2012

Make a candy dispenser

If you are looking for a quick Halloween project to build this weekend, here's one you can make in an afternoon. Don Steffens posted his candy dispenser on my Facebook page last week and it became a hit with everyone.

Using the same simple dispenser mechanism, you can easily modify this into any character you want. Since the front it clear, I thought it would be fun to make a zombie head and fill it with red candy to represent brains!

If you would like to try this out, here's a template to print out.

Happy Halloween!


Monday, October 22, 2012

When the hurlyburly's done...

While it's not Halloween related, I had to show off Paul Lewickyj's shop in the U.K. Paul is currently on a  7 month tour of Afghanistan with 15 Sqn Royal Air Force Regiment. Nice shop! And he definitely appears to be a fan of WWMM! Woohoo! Nice looking stuff there.

Bill Bumpus sent over some of his Halloween projects. Love the witch's hat intarsia! Double double, toil and trouble.

Tim Sluder is always carving. Here's a really cute jack-o-lantern, 2" tall and carved from basswood.

Halloween 2009

Thought I'd rerun some of my past Halloween videos. Most of you probably see this every year, but in case you are new, here is my first Halloween video from 2009:

Friday, October 19, 2012

Halloween stick mustaches

Why spend hours at the costume store and thousands of dollars on a Halloween costume when all you really need is a mustache?

Make these using scrap wood and be the life of the party!

Maybe bring beer too.


Here are the templates.


Tuesday, October 16, 2012

Simple box joint jig

Handy Woodworking Tip Time

Here is the first in what I hope will be an ongoing feature. I often have viewers ask me how to make certain jigs or perform certain techniques. Frequently, I have covered these topics in my videos but it's difficult to sift through them to find a certain tip. So I decided to start compiling these tips into their own short videos on my Mere Minutes channel.

I was inspired to do this because viewer Per Almered took the time to create a brilliant little jingle for me. I thought it was funny, clever and decidedly quaint, so why not build a series out of it?

Per is quite talented. Please listen more of his music here.

Box Joints

I thought I would start out this series with a simple box joint jig I used in my Knitting Box video back in February. I doubt many of my viewers are into knitting and may have missed this technique.


Monday, October 15, 2012

Keeping summer alive

One thing leads to another. Sometimes working on one project inspires us to build something else. Such was the case when Dan Johns set out to make a wood letter opener for his wife's birthday. The next thing he knew he was tackling custom wood scissor handles, a project more challenging that you might imagine:

"After shaping the scissor handles, I had to rip them in two, and then carve out channels for the scissor tangs. getting the two handles to sit right and line up when attached was terribly complex. God bless the Dremel. In the end, it worked, and I added a fancy holder for the two tools that included a business card holder on the front. These were all made of old scraps of glued up exotic woods that I had laying around for a year or so."
Looks great! Another unique idea for a gift project.

Think it's late to be making a garden bench now that summer's over?  Not a chance! Here's Dave Klinkefus' bench. I love the way he has made the seat concave. I think if I make another one, I'll do something like that.

And check out Jennifer Reilly's bench. Oh yeah...this was her very first woodworking project. Pretty cool, Jennifer. When I am asked what a good starter-project might be, I usually suggest making a small box, but based on the number of people who have built this bench, I think this is my new recommendation.

So yeah. It appears as though Bill Wilson is going into picnic tote production. Why let summer end?

Mere Minutes

Friday, October 12, 2012

Wind chimes

I've been thinking about making a set of wind chimes for quite some time. It was one of the projects for which I was considering using the bamboo that eventually became my shishi-odoshi.

My main criterion for a set of wind chimes was that it not be annoying. I have encountered many that are too high-pitched, atonal, or just produce a clacking racket. What I do enjoy listening to in a gentle breeze are low, dulcet tones.

Soon after I began researching wind chime design, I came across An Engineering Approach to Wind Chime Designby Lee Hite. No other research was needed on my part: Lee has done it all in one comprehensive web site. It's a really easy weekend project, so if you decide to make a set, spend a little time learning how to make them sound pleasant.

I made mine using scrap wood and inexpensive 1" electrical conduit. It has five deep tones that sound harmonious.


Tuesday, October 9, 2012

Jadwiga Jankowska, woodworker

I recently heard from Andrzej Jankowski who, about a year ago, sent over some wonderful bandsaw boxes he made. Andy has just started woodturning, and wanted to show me some of what he has already completed. Looks like he's had better luck at making spinning tops than me!

But what really fascinated me were pictures of his mother, Jadwiga Jankowska, who was the first woman carpenter in Poland after the second World War. I love that planer, and would just love to explore that shop!

Andrzej has a rolling pin , dough board, and a potato masher she made in 1954. These look as though they were made today. 

Thanks Andy. I just love this kind of stuff!

Sunday, October 7, 2012

Intarsia follow-up

If you are interested in trying some of your own intarsia (and if you have a scroll saw, you really should give it a shot) you will definitely want to check out Judy Roberts' aptly named web site, Intarsia.com. Just tons and tons of great patterns.

Patterns such as the one Randy Cosgrove used to make this delightful piece:

(The picture wire was only temporary to take a shot of the finished piece)

Randy has been making intarsia pieces for a few years now and offers a few more tips:

  • There is a lot of sanding involved and the best thing I found to soften the edges is a pneumatic sander that chucks into the drill press. You can pump it up to be as hard or as soft as you want and it really makes getting an evenly rounded edge easier.
  • I usually do the finish sanding on each piece with a 220 grit mop sander before assembly. Seems to give the pieces a nice burnish. 
  • It became a lot less messy when I finally got around to rigging up a small hose from my dust collector to “hover” around the sander.

Mere Minutes

Friday, October 5, 2012

Beginning woodworking intarsia

Intarsia has always fascinated me and I've been meaning to try it out for years. I like the artistic nature of it and the limitless possibilities of "painting" with wood.

I want to thank everyone over on my Facebook page this week who helped me out with all sorts of tips and hints. Especially Steve Carmichael who had recently attended an intarsia class and sent me the notes he took.

I found the process to be pretty simple, but a lot of work. Plan on a lot of time sawing and sanding. If you would like to try out my scarecrow, download the pattern here. Mostly, try to cut exactly on the lines and take it very slowly with your scroll saw.


Steve Carmichael's list of helpful intarsia tips and notes:

  • Intarsia is cutting pieces from separate parts of wood and joining them together. Segmentation is cutting the entire design from one piece of wood, like a puzzle, where the wood grain matches through all the pieces of the project. You can make segmentation project look like an intarsia project by painting the pieces separately then gluing them together.
  • Cut as close as possible on the line to ensure good fits.
  • Use a soft drum sander on a drill press with to round all edges and avoid having 90 degree edges. This can help hide any gaps. They sell sanding drums that are soft and spongey...flex sanding drum I think.
  • When adjoining pieces are cut from the same wood, cut them in different grain directions to add contrast.
  • Cut all pieces out first and number each piece on the back. For tiny pieces that are too small to write on, stick them onto blue tape and write the number on the tape.
  • Glue the pieces together starting from the center of the design and work your way to the outside edges. This way any mistakes will throw off pieces only half the distance. For example, if your project is 10" wide and you start from the center, any mistakes will only affect 5" of the project. If you started on the left side and worked your way to the right, any mistakes will affect all 10" of he width of the project.
  • Use Aleene's Tacky Glue to glue pieces together. It sets fast and it dries clear.
  • To glue pieces together, lay down a print out of the design. Cover it with wax paper. Glue pieces together laying them on top of the design as you go. Any glue squeeze out will not stick to the wax paper.
  • When done gluing pieces together, sand the back to remove any glue and to level uneven pieces.
  • Cut a piece of thin plywood backer board that is inset 1/8 inch from the edges of the design. Mark the location for a keyhole where it will best hang on a nail, if you plan to hang it on the wall. Cut the keyhole in the plywood, then trace the keyhole on the back of the glued project. Use a forstner bit to drill a recess in the back of the project that will be covered by the keyhole, so that when you glue it to the backerboard, a nail head can go into the keyhole for hanging. Glue the project to the backerboard with Titebond II.
  • Use different colors of wood and different thicknesses of wood for effect and spray clear coat on top.  
  • When cutting small pieces on the scroll saw, use one of those business card refrigerator magnets for zero clearance so the piece does not fall into the hole. Just cut the magnet about half way through and stop so it covers the hole in the table.
  • Use woodgrain and different species with only a clear coat, along with different thicknesses of wood, and let the wood naturally create the 3D effect
  • Use a heavy bag of sand or similar material so it can conform to the uneven thickness of pieces in the project. The bag conforms to the uneven face and applies pressure to both the high and low pieces.

Monday, October 1, 2012

Customized sound and storage

Woodworking is always most interesting when we are able to customize a project or a plan. Even if you follow a very detailed plan while building a project, there are many opportunities to modify it to your own tastes. So I always love to see how people get creative with some of the projects from my show.

Ron Ward used my shop storage cabinet as a starting point to build this set of drawers for his shop. He mentioned how much he learned by making it. So true. I learn more about woodworking with every project.

If you want to make a musical instrument, a cajon would be a good one to start with. No fancy wood needed, just some plywood. I really love seeing all the different ways people have tackled this project. The art shows up in the customization, such as this beautiful one from Dan Johns that includes french ash burn inlaid dots. 

It was just a week or so ago that I became fascinated by unusual bookcases. Samuel Taylor's daughter asked him to build a bookcase for her. After much design consideration, she settled on a tree. This kind of bookshelf system is just plain awesome. No plans, Samuel just winged it. 

Mere Minutes

From this past weekend. Mostly some updates on recent projects. And forgive me, I have painted.