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Monday, December 31, 2012

Happy New Year!

In my wrap-up video I mentioned that my garden bench and mallet were two of  my most-built projects of the year. I think I could add another to that list. The Quarto game. Here are some recent entries:

Andrew Lund (remember him? WWMM contest winner!) came up with a very clever way to store the game pieces. A trap door slides out allowing the pieces to drop into holes, then the door slides shut to seal them in.





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Ted (you may recall his cajon video back in May) wins the procrastination award by starting to build his Quarto game after dinner on Christmas Eve. That's some last-minute gift-making! It's all made out of Baltic Birch plywood and stained. Instead of turning the pieces on a lathe, Ted made the round pieces hexagons. That's a good option for non-lathe owners.


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John Schutz's version is a bit more compact, about 7.5 inches square. The board is 1/4 inch walnut glued on top of 1/4 cherry faced plywood. He then drilled the shallow holes revealing the cherry beneath. That's a good method and makes the glue-up a lot easier.



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Now Leo Mordini in Spain (see his beautiful bass guitars) came up with one of the most innovative Quarto games I've seen. It is made of padauk and maple, with inlaid maple circles.Instead of hollow and solid, the pieces are smooth and grooved. Leo also incorporated rare earth magnets between the layers of the board and screws at the bottom of the pieces, so the pieces snap into place. Then he hangs the whole set on the wall for a unique decoration!





Oh yeah, Leo joined the wooden mallet club too with this gorgeous one made out of bubinga, maple, and padauk!


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And Bill Wilson joined the garden bench club. Wait, isn't he already a member? I forget. He make a lot of stuff! And a lot of benches from the looks of this picture. I love the cup holders.



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And do you have a whistle to ring in 2013? Here is a slick looking version Ayman Al-Harmi made for his kid. It seems to have a race car look to it!



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Mark Price made a couple of whistles. A train whistle and a small safety-whistle that he attached to a key chain. Not a bad idea!




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Let's go back a way, to my planter box project in April. Here's one Michael Desiderio made using his Kreg Jig to fasten it all together. Who says outdoor projects are for spring and summer only? This one will look good indoors too.




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12-year old Avery Lohman  (see his display case from August) sent over another project. Here's a face grain cutting board he made out of walnut and mahogany using a circular saw. He cut handles using his router to aid in picking it up and also added pads on the bottom to keep it from absorbing moisture while sitting on the counter top.



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Unrelated to Christmas, Randy Cosgrove became a new Grandfather.a couple weeks ago. Claire may not appreciate this now, but will cherish it when she gets older:


And Randy knows how to entertain: he made custom wood boxes to hold his wood snowflakes, then gave them to his Christmas dinner party guests!




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Speaking of boxes, check out this stunner from Dan Hamilton in Pulaski, New York. The colorful woods make it really eye-popping.




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Sounds like Walter Masten has a crafty family. He designed and built this  leather-working bench for his wife. The top can be arranged for the task she is doing by moving the wood and tile. It has a removable tray for her tools and such on the right.







Friday, December 28, 2012

2012 wrap-up

Some of the highlights of 2012. This has been a very productive year and I'm happy with most of the woodworking projects I completed. The best part about woodworking is that it just never gets monotonous; we are always learning and growing. I hope that in a year I will look back on projects I made this year with fondness, yet knowing that "I could do that much better now."

Thank you for all your support this year. The web site and my You Tube channel have grown immensely. And if you aren't already liking my Facebook page, take a moment to sign on. There are about 6500 of us and it has become a very special community. I really enjoy seeing everyone's contributions there.

The most satisfying part about producing a woodworking show is seeing the projects you have made based on my videos. All people are inherently creative. Sometimes we just need a nudge to get started. Keep sending pictures of your projects!





Saturday, December 22, 2012

Last minute gift projects

The Christmas projects keep rolling in. You still have a whole weekend left to make last-minute gifts, too. Then things can begin to get back to normal!

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When people ask for gift project ideas, I always mention candle holders. They make great gifts and you can make on in a couple hours! Here's a beauty from Bill Wilson. Made with paduik and okume, its scalloped edges make it unique.


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Train whistles! If you haven't made any these yet, give them a shot. All you need is a scrap of 2x4 and a dowel. Here are two from John Schutz. He used a fine-point Sharpie to draw the design, then finished with polyurethane.



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But  Robert Mclennan took the whistle to a different level of creativity with this train train whistle! 



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Stocking hangers! Still time to get these made before Christmas Eve. Hey, Santa doesn't even mind if you don't have a mantel. Pantelis Beglis (Παντελής Μπεγκλής) made these two on the balcony of his apartment in Thessaloniki, Greece. (His second woodworking project!) He donated them to his son's  kindergarten's  Christmas Bazaar where they fetched 10€ each.



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High School art teacher Kevin Babcock, up in Maine, got very creative by making five stocking holders.




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Quarto! It's all the rage this year. Mike Stone cranked out a bunch! I like the inlaid circles and the storage. Made with birch, oak, and walnut.


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Finally, Alain Vaillancourt (The Woodpecker) just made his own version. Here's his video. 




Friday, December 21, 2012

2012: One year in a minute

Since I won't have any new woodworking projects until January, I thought I'd post this video today. I've been working on it for almost a year.

I thought it would be interesting to shoot a photo of myself in my shop every day and make a time-lapse video. The main thing I learned is that it is very difficult to stay dedicated to taking a picture every day. It might have been easier if I had a dedicated camera set-up. Instead, I marked off three circles on the floor where my tripod would go each day.

Another problem was maintaining a consistent exposure each day with my Sony Cybershot camera. I shot each picture at different times of the day and used the flash on all of them. It didn't take me long to decide I wasn't going to worry about it and let the exposures vary. I didn't want to spend more than a few seconds each day on this.

Shortly into the year I decided to make reference to each weekly woodworking project I was building. Again, I didn't always remember to do that, but you should be able to see some of them. I also tried to use an expression that reflected how I was feeling on each day.

What I find the most interesting about this video is watching my tools move around on the pegboard behind me. I find it hypnotic!



Monday, December 17, 2012

A really big Mere Mortal nutcracker

John in Hadley has been working on this soldier for a while and recently finished it. Quite an ambitious project, and he's already considering another one for 2013!

Not only that, notice the logo on the hat...a Mere Mortal nutcracker! Thanks John. This is inspiring!





Here's how John describes the build:

The lumber was old rough cut 2x3's from a demo along with a few other scraps. All the 2x3's were cut to 28 inches to start, with a total of 42 pieces. Each arm and leg was 5 pieces glued up, squared and spun on the lathe. I used Titebond 3 and gave it several days to cure since it had to hold up on the lathe at 1000 rpm.

Snipe on the planer was a big issue and left many of the glue joints open. I decided to call it 'rustic' and live with it, but did worry a bit when spinning that right leg since an entire joint was open. The chest and head glue-ups were both done as semi circles, each piece cut at 36 degrees, then run through the planer to get them flat again. 

 On final glue up, I added lumber to the chest for width. I used an electric hand planer to shape them and then a side arm grinder to finish. The chest is capped on top, however the bottom piece is permanently attached to the the top of the legs. There are eye hooks on the the top of each leg and chain that goes up to an eye bolt that goes through the top of the hat. I used a horseshoe washer so that I can thread the bolt with nut already on it to assemble. 

The hair came from the dollar store as did the plume. I need to redo the hair next year as blonde doesn't quite work. For paint I bought Behr exterior paint samples in black, white, yellow, red, blue and hunter green and a tiny bottle of Folkart outdoor Inca gold acrylic.

Like most all of my projects, it does have a hidden bottle wrench, but I decided against making it a functional nutcracker since it could be somewhat dangerous for the size (although I did consider how nice a clamp it would make - you can never have too many clamps.) And finally, I decided to hijack a logo since this fellow is a proud member of the army of Mere Mortals.


Friday, December 14, 2012

A Very Special Christmas Special

I knew rounding up a bunch of woodworkers would be similar to herding cats, so I began working on this video back in early September.

I want to thank these guys for taking time out of their schedules to shoot five minutes of video of which I would end up using only a few seconds. And mostly out of context!

Visit their web sites:
Merry Christmas!


Thursday, December 13, 2012

Snowflakes, calendars and cannons

Michael Adle confirms that wooden snowflakes are fun to make and that he has lots of sanding to do. He has certainly created a stockpile:



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Calenders make great gifts, too. Here is a really cool idea from Yorch Buenfil in Mexico. A perpetual calendar made from laminated mdf, pine and styrene with vynyl decals. I really like this project and may make one myself.



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Curiouser and curiouser: here's a "Beer Cannon" from John in Hadley. He says it also doubles as a wine bottle holder for "lesser mortals". 



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Reminder! Don't miss the mere Mortals Very Special Christmas Special tomorrow, featuring an all-star cast!

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Finally, it always feels like Christmas around here when I hear this song on the radio! (No picture on this video.)





Tuesday, December 11, 2012

'Twas a fortnight before Christmas

Let's see. Today is the 11th of December. That means Christmas is two weeks away. No need to panic: there are still a couple weekends left to make gifts.

And don't forget, this Friday is the Mere Mortals Very Special Christmas Special! Don't miss it if you can.


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Here's what some viewers have been up to.

Randy Cosgrove has been cranking out the wood snowflakes. These came out great!


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Here's Steve Pretsch working on a train. Trains make for great outdoor decorations too.



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Here's a cool idea from Corey Turner. A guitar-shaped cutting board!


And he's been making frames: always great gifts. Here's one similar to one I made in a video a while back. Hey, is that Chuck Berry in there?


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And check out this rustic frame from Dallas Diehl. It's made from a juniper fence pole that has been holding up barbed wire for 100 years. 


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Here's Joe Dandy's entry into the advent calendar club! Too late to make one for use this year, but here's an idea: make one now and have the kids paint the ornaments on Christmas Eve. Then you'll have it all ready for next December 1st!



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And from Bill Wilson, the busiest woodworker around, this tongue drum made with paduik and maple. These are really fun to make and are great gifts for kids or adults.