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

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Friday, February 22, 2013

Make a table saw miter sled

Many of you may remember a miter sled video I made a while back. Although the sled worked, I always thought that it was an unnecessarily complicated way to build it.

Since I seem to be getting backlogged on pictures that need framing, I built a new miter sled this week. It is much easier to make than the old one. And you'll get perfect mitered corners every time!


Bonus video!

I experimented with making a plywood picture frame for a print I've been wanting to complement with something unusual. I like the notion of embracing the plywood's edges and featuring them. I also experimented with using kitchen food coloring as a wood dye. Worked out fine!

Tuesday, February 19, 2013

Aggravation (the game!)

No, it takes a lot to aggravate me. But making Aggravation games sounds fun! I remember playing it as a kid: it is similar to Pachisi and a few other board games. The aggravation enters when one of your playing pieces (usually marbles) is just on the verge of entering "home" after a long trip around the board, and an opponent sends you back to the beginning.

It seems Bill Wilson likes to make multiples of his projects. (Garden bench, cajon, wind chimes, etc.) He made an Agravation game for me a wile back that is just beautiful. Now he's coming up with new designs. To distinguish the various players and their colors, he used different types of wood. Classy.

And speaking of classy game boards, check out Thomas MacSkimming's Quarto game. It is fascinating to see all the ways people interpret this project. By the way, Thomas and others have asked me if it is okay to build and sell my projects. Certainly! Making money at woodworking is tough, but if you can do it using any of my designs, go for it. I'd be honored. Besides, I didn't invent Quarto or most of the projects I build. They are just variations of stuff that already exists. 

Oh, I've been meaning to post this project Zach Mustard made in shop class for his girlfriend. A lighted heart for Valentines Day. Now that beats Hallmark any day.

Dale Prohaska built my charging station project. Not only that, get wrote an article about it. Check it out!

Here's a good idea. A charging station for your power tools. I like how Ron Ward made this one and painted it in DeWalt colors!

Another recent WWMM project. Here's Clifton Withrow's lumber rack. Looks great. I am so glad I made mine and only wish I had done it sooner!

And going back to a project I made a little over a year ago, here is Kevin Maxson's take on my "Non-Yankee Woodworker" clock. He used purpleheart, spalted tamarind and oak dowels. A Valentines gift for his wife.


Mere Minutes
Here's an update on my Credenza project from last week.

Friday, February 15, 2013

Building a credenza

A credenza is a sort of low cabinet that was popular in the 1950s. I am not entirely sure what it's main purpose was, but I remember my grandparents had one in which they stored records. They must have used it for something else too, but I was very little and I just recall the LPs.

Mid-century Modern

My grandparents would have been amused by is the fact that "Mid-century Modern" furniture is quite popular now and very expensive. I have seen ads online for a company that specializes in '50s style furniture and a new credenza (not an antique) sells for upwards of $7000.

I love the look of furniture from this period. It was experimental, yet practical. It seemed to look forward to the space-age, yet was grounded in simple, Shaker lines.

When I was researching my design, I was struck by the heavy squareness of these pieces and the unadorned, spindly legs that almost look too delicate to hold the weight of the cabinet.

A credenza for 2013: Early 21st Century Retro-Modern

I think one of the reasons these cabinets are popular today is that they are the perfect height for televisions, which should be viewed at eye-level from where you are sitting. Not to mention credenzas come equipped with storage perfect for stereo and home-theater components. Plus, there is just something cool about setting a large LCD TV on such a retro-looking piece of furniture.

I made mine with two doors and an open section. The doors can slide to any position, always leaving one third of the case visible. On the back I've included large cut-outs for electrical cords and such. I used two sheets of 3/4" cherry plywood and a half sheet of 1/4" plywood. The trim and legs are made with solid cherry. If you wanted to save money, you could use pine plywood and you can buy 6" legs very inexpensively if you haven't a lathe.

Building Plans:

Wednesday, February 13, 2013

More plywood cutting methods

After Last week's sheet goods cutting video, I had a few people send me their methods for breaking down plywood.

A few people mentioned making one of these long boards with a built-in "fence" to ensure accurate cuts every time. Here is Ted Sobocienski's version.


Jerry Ormes has the same idea, but also sent over a Sketchup file for you do download.

I really like David Higgins' system and may make one myself.

"I made this system for beaking down sheet good, you just set up on saw horses. The grid system allows you to cross cut or rip cut, and your work will always be supported, also the system breaks down and leans against a wall when not in use. One other feature is you through a sheet of ply on top, and you have a great work surface."

Friday, February 8, 2013

Breaking down plywood

Dealing with cumbersome sheet goods is one of the least pleasant woodworking tasks, but something most of us encounter. A 4' x 8' sheet of plywood is very heavy and nearly impossible to cut on a table saw unless you have a really big set-up.

So the trick is to figure out a method to cut the sheets down to manageable sized pieces closer to the sizes needed for your project.

There are many ways to do this. Mostly you just need to figure out how to physically move the full sheet without breaking your back or worse, chipping the plywood edges! I like to cut plywood as soon as I buy it and use my truck as a workbench. After loading plywood into my truck, I rarely have to lift it again.

I then like to set up a straight-edge and make rough cuts, usually a half inch greater than I need, using a circular saw. I have also had success using a jig saw. The idea is to get the pieces small enough to square up on my table saw.

Here are the rip guides I use:

Empire Level 900 edge cutting guide
Kreg Rip-Cut

This video is my contribution to "Get Woodworking Week" over at Tom's Workbench, a whole week of links and articles just for beginning woodworkers. Check it out.


Tuesday, February 5, 2013

Get woodworking!

If you are new to woodworking, you will be happy to know that this is "Get Woodworking" week, dreamed up by Tom Iovino over at Tom's Workbench. All this week, lots of woodworking bloggers and video guys are providing content specifically for beginners. Check out the list of articles and contributors on Tom's site each day this week. If that seems like a daunting task, just wait until Friday: That's when I'll submit my contribution.


I want to start off with a project from Gonzalo Gallegos in Chile. He made this cart and sent me pictures a several months ago, but the Christmas holidays kept pushing it back in my queue. Now that it is February and spring is right around the corner, it seems like a good time to post it! Bonus: Gonzalo also sent over a SketchUp plan for you to download. Thanks man!

Also going back into the archives are these sets of maple dominoes from Heath Fitts. Some really fine work, and definitely a lot of work! Projects like these require a really good set-up to make sure you can make a bunch of repetitive cuts accurately. And lots of sanding!

Falling into the "what little girl wouldn't want one?" category, is this kitchen Clay Morris built for his kids. Clay says he just winged it, using no plans. Cute!

Clever storage ideas

I really like using the empty space in walls for storage. As long as it's in interior walls, it's wasted space! Brenton Rawlings in Australia came up with this key cubby. Great idea!

Other often-overlooked storage spaces are corners. Here's a great corner system Joseph Petruszkiewicz built for his compressor.
"The shelves are 3/4" plywood that I had lying around. I cut a 3.5" hole in the back so I could reach in and empty the drain, and added a shelf for my nailers and extra nails. I put a piece of molding around the top shelf so the compressor wouldn't "walk" off the shelf when it's on.
The best part of the shelf is that I added a receptable/switch combination ($6) to plug it in. When I want the compressor on, I can flick the switch in the box without having to get on a step stool to reach the switch on top of the compressor. I just wired the box to a plug end that I can stick in an outlet. My support brackets were ripped down to fit the electrical box perfectly. I have a retractable air hose reel that I am going to attach beside it."

Kitchen storage is always a challenge. Raymond Levesque made these under-cabinet slide-out shelves using wooden slides from Rockler. We have pull-out shelves like these under out stove and I can attest to the fact that they are indispensable. Once you have them you'll wonder how you ever found anything before.

Here's a familiar looking router cabinet. Dick Hitchcock made this one based on the one I made last year. It looks great! I probably get more requests for plans of this project than any other. Now that I am learning SketchUp, it's one of the projects I intend to draw up some plans for. 

I was happy to see than someone else decided to make a gadget charging station! Here is Bob Zimmerman's version. 

Randy Cosgrove seems to be having fun with his new lathe. I think more than any other tool, using a lathe really makes you feel artistic. Like a sculptor. Nice work Randy!

Viewer favorites
Some of my projects that continue to be popular. Kevin Maxson has joined the mallet club with his purpleheart and mahogany mallet. If you haven't made one yet, get on it...they are really easy to make and useful to have.

And here is Bill Akins' Quarto game made out of oak. Read more about it over on Lumberjocks

A lot of you have made my garden bench. Now that spring is on it's way, it's a good one to get you out of the house! Bill Wilson made this one which includes cup holders. I really like those arm rests. Bill made this one to raffle off for his church's youth retreat and raised raised 280.00 for the bench! This is a picture of the winner: the pastor! Divine intervention?

Friday, February 1, 2013

Make a wooden book keepsake box

Valentine's Day project

I started this project with the idea of making a wooden "book". It would open to reveal a heart-shaped picture frame on each side and could be displayed open on a table.

The logistics of pulling that off were a bit more than I had time to deal with, so about halfway through the build, I decided to just make a simple frame insert and call it a keepsake box.

Most of my time on this project was spent in the design: specifically how to make the box look like a book, yet let it to swing open. Since real books generally don't have visible hinges, I didn't want any to show on this one either.

Thankfully, I have a terrific bunch of helpers on my Facebook page who came up will lots (and I mean lots) of ideas. The one I decided to go with was using a dowel as a hinge. It works out great and doesn't require any glue.

This is a pretty easy project to make. Mostly, you will spend your time on the hinge mechanism and shaping the cover and spine so that it swings properly. Take your time to test it along the way and you'll be fine. Most importantly, resist the urge to force the cover to swing if it sticks: the dowel holes are so close to the edge, it will likely cause a split. And by the way, use a hardwood. Pine will almost certainly split.

Download plans: