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

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Monday, January 28, 2013

Organizing the shop...and lots of clamp storage ideas.

One thing leads to another as I organize my shop. It really just started by wanting some clamp storage racks. That got me to make a new lumber storage rack, which inspired me to go through my wood hoard. Now I have a bunch of wood in my driveway I need to get rid of.

The clearing of excess lumber got me to clean out a bunch of other junk under my workbench. Mostly, a large pile of towels that have been doing nothing but collecting sawdust for a couple years. When my wife buys new towels for the house, the old ones become shop towels. And shop towels are not like clamps: you can definitely have too many.

Now I have seemingly tons of extra space in my shop. I'm going to give this all some thought before I start slapping up shelves willy-nilly. Need to fully examine the long-term implications.

Thirteen-year-old Connor DeWald (so close to DeWalt!) began organizing his clamps with this DIY rack. Connor sent me over a shop tour, BTW. Great looking shop in the making.

Here's a clamp rack Wil Wilson built with his father-in-law to store his massive collection. Wow!

And Bill Wilson was able to organize some of his clamps using my rack:


Looking for a simple clamp storage solution? Check out Dallas Diehl's system. PVC pipes! This make a lot of sense.

And just in case you've been wanting to buy some green clamps and having a hard time finding any, it appears Michael Calhoun bought them all.

But you won't need to buy any clamps at all if you make your own. Here are Dave Rutan's homemade bar clamps and awesome fold-up storage system. Check out the full story here.

Tomas Johansson shows how clamp storage is done in Sweden. Well, at least in his shop. Very organized!


Lest you think people have stopped making Quarto games, here's Ibrahim Al Abdulaaly's all-in-one board with storage. He made it using an old Ikea bench!

Patrick J. O'Rourkemade this version with oak and walnut pieces (love the shaping on those pieces) and used a glass cutting board for the game surface. Clever!

Shane Rudnik really took Quarto to another level by making a dual-function game table. Quarto on one side, chess on the flip-side. Sweet.

Mere Minutes
Here's an update on the lumber rack from last Friday.

Friday, January 25, 2013

Make a rolling lumber cart

This week I finally decided to do something about the less-than-adequate storage system I have been using for my lumber. The biggest problem for me has been finding a good way to store plywood and other sheet goods.

Most of us rarely need to store a full sheet of plywood. I buy sheet goods to meet the requirements of whatever project I am building and use them right away. At most, I may need to store them for a day or two, in which case I just lean them against a wall or — if it's not raining — simply leave them in my truck.

Sometimes I don't use all of the sheet however, so what I needed was a way to store a half-sheet or so. This lumber cart solves much of my storage problems, and after building it I discovered that it holds a lot more wood than my old rack and takes up less space.


Building plans:


Update: Thanks Fabian V. Valinskas for drawing out a cutting diagram!

Wednesday, January 23, 2013

Kids of Emek Hebrew Academy

Got a note from Jonathan Benzaquen who teaches at the Emek Hebrew Academy down in Sherman Oaks, California. This past semester, the school wanted to incorporate educational electives once a week into its curriculum.

Johnathan decided to teach woodworking to thirty 4th-5th graders once a week and thirty 6th-8th graders once a week. He is obviously a brave man!
"What began with three hack saws, miter boxes made from scratch and some glue and sanding paper, has slightly evolved to a drill press (donated by a grandparent), clamps and circular sander. Hopefully it grows into something more." 
In this age of vanishing shop classes, it inspires me to see a group of kids eager to work with their hands to build something useful and fun. Kids haven't changed: our desire and commitment  to help them learn manual skills has.

Big thanks to guys like Johnathan who are willing to take on tasks like this and enrich the lives of so many kids.

Check out these sweet looking menorahs they made. After building them they made some Mere Mortal  whistles with the leftover wood. Oh, and look in the background of the group photo. Is that a WWMM logo back there?

Saturday, January 19, 2013

Clamp rack follow-up

Answering a few questions about yesterday's clamp storage video.

Hey, if you haven't picked up the latest issue of Wood Magazine, it's worth buying for page 20 alone.

Friday, January 18, 2013

Clamp storage systems

It seems everyone has a different method for storing his clamps. For too long, I have kept my clamps in a mishmash of ways in various parts of my shop. I have never liked it and decided to organize them this week.

My biggest problem was finding space for them until I had the revelation that there is unused space behind my door. It's not very deep — a little over six inches — but perfect for clamps.

If you would like to try (or modify) any of the clamp racks I came up with, here are plans:
SketchUp file
PDF version


Bonus video!
You might be a woodworker if...

Monday, January 14, 2013

Catching up on viewer projects

Catching up on some viewer projects.

It seems Quarto turned out to be my most popular project this past Christmas season. It has been fun seeing all the variations you have come up with. Jeff Hammond had the clever idea to add a chalkboard top to this one he made for his nephews so they can keep score as they play!

Bill Wilson made his version for his granddaughter. Not having a lathe,  he used dowels for the round pieces:

"Byrdie" as he is known around the interwebs, made a couple of Quarto games as gifts and had the great idea to include a set of instructions with each one. If you would like to make a game as a gift, you here are his instructions all ready for you to print out.

Quick project idea! Even though Christmas has passed, there are always occasions to make quick gifts. Marinos Georgopoulos, a new woodworker in Greece with limited space and no power tools made these candle holders for his first project. Woodworking gifts don't have to be complicated to me well-received. I love the colors on these.

Another first project. This one from Mike Chambers who was ambitious enough to make this hickory and maple jewelry box for his wife. I always like to tell new woodworkers that boxes make good projects to start with. You can learn a lot of basic woodworking techniques by making one.

And speaking of boxes, check out Freeman Coleman's first hardwood project he made out of tiger caspi wood. (It's based on a video I made ages ago.) Freeman says he never touched a saw until a month ago! Not bad at all.

It seems no update is complete without including a mallet! Here is one that Eric Duran made from olive wood. 

Mikk Sülla in Estonia has been making end grain cutting boards. Cutting boards are great projects and leave a lot of room for creativity. He made these using oak, ash, birch, maple and walnut. Every woodworker should make at least one cutting board!

This little snowman from Randy Cosgrove is too cute not to share. Maple, walnut and padauk. Randy recently got a lathe and discovered Carl Jacobson’s web site and wood turning videos. Even if you don't you have a lathe, Carl's weekly videos are worth watching!

Don't forget: it's storage and organization month! Here's a great storage project for you winos. I mean wine drinkers. Stan Peters' wine rack.

Mere Minutes
A follow-up to Friday's charging station video.

Friday, January 11, 2013

Build a device charging station

Do you have an area in your house that looks like this?

For some reason, our kitchen counter has been our recharging area for a long time. It is always cluttered and as we get more electronic devices, it becomes more and more confusing to find the right cord for the gadget you need to charge. Plus, it's right next to the stove. Not the best place for all this.

I made this charging station so we can easily charge all our devices (well, six of them at least) and keep all the messy cords hidden. Only one cord plugs into the wall: the one attached to a power strip that hides in the back behind a sliding panel.

The charging cords fit into slots, preventing them from sliding back into the box when not in use.

I made this using 1/2 inch and 1/4 inch plywood, but it would be a great project to build using some special wood you've been saving. If you would like to build the charging station, here are a full set of plans:

PDF version (with cutting template for sides)


Monday, January 7, 2013

Spice rack

Got an email from Darrin Larson suggesting I make a spice rack for January Junk month. If you spend a lot of time in the kitchen, having spices handy is important. We used to keep our spices in the pantry where it was always a challenge to find the one needed.

A spice rack for people who actually use their spices. And use them a lot.

Quite a while ago I made this spice rack that takes advantage of wall space above the countertop's backsplash. We bought special jars to contain the spices, printed out labels for them, and arranged them alphabetically. Transferring store-bought spices from the odd and various-sized containers they come in makes it much easier to store. Best of all, since the shelves are only one jar deep, nothing gets lost or hidden.

I absolutely love this system. It transformed the way I cook.

These pictures should give you an idea of how to build it. Nothing too complicated: just some oak shelves and sides and a quarter-inch back panel. The biggest expense of this project is buying the jars, which can be quite expensive.

You should also consider whether you want clear or dark jars. Having clear jars makes it easy to quickly identify a spice and grab it, plus all the colors make a nice display. However, I have read that spices should be stored in opaque containers to keep them fresh longer. From my experience I can tell you that parsley, oregano, basil, and cayenne pepper do tend to fade in color over time, but I haven't noticed any discernible change in flavor.

Update: Here's a SketchUp drawing. 

Friday, January 4, 2013

Get organized! Canned goods dispenser.

Junk month

All this month I will be featuring storage and organization projects. If you have anything you'd like to share, let me know!

January is a perfect time to start anew and spend some time organizing stuff. It is actually one of the more popular resolutions. And unlike "drop 30 pounds", organizing is easy to dive into and the rewards are much quicker!

Here's a project my wife has been wanting me to make for some time. We have a shelf on which we store canned food and it is always a mess. Somehow the cans always manage to intermingle, making it difficult to find what we are looking for.

I spent a lot of time getting back into SketchUp: I haven't used it in a while. (It's one of my resolutions!) So while I can't say it's the best plan in the world, it should help you to build this. I hope to really improve this year. If you want to make the dispenser to fit into a smaller space, just eliminate a couple of the dividers and scale it back.

Sketchup file

PDF file.