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

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Friday, March 29, 2013

Rustic side table made with pallet wood.

Spring is here! Time for outdoor DIY projects. 

This week I've designed a shabby-chic side table for your deck or patio. Anyone can build this project with just a few basic tools and no large workshop space is necessary. I made this entire project using free wood obtained from old pallets.

  • You can make this entirely using hand tools, but it will be much easier if you have a jigsaw and a power sander. Both are inexpensive, easy to use, and will save you a lot of time and muscle aches. 
  • If you would like to try your hand at busting apart a pallet (it's quite easy to do) you will need a crowbar and a hammer with a claw for prying out nails. 
  • I used 1/2" dowels for the exposed pins. These are decorative and not necessary for the strength of the table. If you would like to include them, you will need a drill and a 1/2" bit for boring holes.
  • I used wood glue, 1", and 3/4" nails to assemble the project. The glue gives the table it's strength: the nails are just needed to hold the pieces in place while the glue dries.
  • A couple of clamps would be handy.
  • I finished my table using Spar Urethane. It's a great outdoor finish that will protect the wood from the elements.
  •  I used 80 grit (rough) sandpaper, mostly to clean off dirt, and stopped there. 

If you would like to give this project a try here are some plans:
Building it is very easy. If you are new to woodworking, maybe a new home owner who wants to get ready for outdoor entertaining this summer, this is a great project to start with. There is no need to get too fussy about any of it: it's supposed to look rustic!



Don't forget to follow me on Keek for tantalizing project updates throughout the week! Here's where this week began:

Wednesday, March 27, 2013

Easter is on its way

Just in time for Easter, Randy Cosgrove sent me over this picture of a project he made. Unlike chocolate eggs, this one is much better hollow! Love the little chick inside.


Easter is all about kids, so here's a cute kids, awww... shot! Greg Tokley's daughters are standing on a two-person version of my two-step stool. Great for brushing teeth as well as watching TV.

Need a quick gift idea? Of course...another Quarto game! Bill Wilson made this one travel-sized. Maple and mahogany pieces, polar and oak board, it is under five inches square.

Programming note

In addition to this Friday's regular WWMM episode, be sure to tune in next Monday for a bonus video!

Saturday, March 23, 2013

Setting sun

I think intarsia is one of the most fun and artistic woodworking techniques around. If you haven't tried it, take an afternoon to give it a shot! Just grab a bunch of wood scraps, all different thicknesses, and make a design with them. Every time I see one, I get the itch to try another one.

Here's a fine intarsia example from Bill Bumpus. This is "Setting Sun".


A lot of people make a cube-in-a-cube. It's a fun project. Paul Heimerl didn't just make three, but made a display stand. Great idea!

Mere Minutes

Friday, March 22, 2013

Making a hat stand

I was asked by Wyatt's director if I could make a Victorian style hat stand for a play they are working on. Usually stage props are inexpensively made and not meant to be seen at close distance, but I decided to try to make a real hat stand instead. Like a stage prop, I made mine inexpensively using cheap poplar. Unlike a stage prop, this took me a lot of time to build!

All poplar!
Poplar is often thought of as a cheap, secondary wood not meant to be the star of the show. But if you take the time to dig through the poplar bin at your home center or lumberyard, you will find pieces of all different colors.  The darkest board I used for this project almost looks like walnut.

This project threw me a lot of challenges. Most of them revolved around how to connect the turned sections and the legs. I used  sliding dovetail joints to attach the legs and the spindles are joined together with round tenons.

Mostly, now that it's all done, I can finally take a deep breath and relax. This one wore me out!



Mar 21, 2013 | set by SteveRamsey on Keek.com

Monday, March 18, 2013

Central Florida Woodworkers' Guild

Quick shout-out to Eric Rusch of the Central Florida Woodworkers' Guild who was demonstrating my folding step stool project this past weekend at The Woodworking Show in Tampa. Hello Florida CFWG members!

Apparently there was a bit of controversy at that show too. I had never heard of the guy involved, but here's my take:

Mere Minutes.

Friday, March 15, 2013

Jetsons wall clock!

Jane, stop this crazy thing!

While decorating my retro living room we decided a new wall clock would be nice. I searched around and found several oh-so-funky examples that led me to this design.

There was a certain optimistic vision of the future portrayed in the Jetsons and in the show's design style. The jumble of odd shapes and angles paired with pastel colors evoked a sense of dazzle for the future, while keeping us grounded in the present. (50s and 60s present, that is.)

I decided to build this project using only my hand-held power tools to remind us that:

  1. Woodworking can be accomplished with very little investment in tools. A jig saw doesn't cost much but is incredibly versatile. There are very few cuts it can't handle. 
  2. You don't need a lot of space to do some woodworking and make some cool stuff for your house. This project and the tools I used can easily be stored in an apartment closet.

I hope you can pick up some ideas from this project and make something of your own. I've packed the video with a plethora of tips to get you thinking differently about woodworking and realize that it's something anyone can tackle. All you need is a little imagination. Kind of like the Jetsons' universe.



Wednesday, March 13, 2013

Imaginary coffee table

Matthew Pausley, an obvious genius at Sketchup and 3D design, send over a couple variations on my retro coffee table. In his imagined versions, he uses classic '50s materials: plastic & metal.  One includes a Lucite top. I absolutely love these designs. If you built them, they would draw a handsome fee.

Tool storage. If you will recall, I wasn't thrilled with the method I used to hang my handsaws on the french cleat. Here's a solution Ofer Elimelech sketched up. I like it.

Joshua Blevins came across another solution from Woodsmith. Check out the article here.

Got a real nice note from Jon Hillstrom describing how his son Preston got him motivated him to get back into woodworking. Now Jon makes projects with his father-in-law in the garage and is planning on building a shed just for woodworking. Common interests can go a long way.

Cute alert. Here's Preston with the toolbox Dad made for him:

And here's a clever project. Jon made this toy organizer for his mother. The grandkids each have their own storage box with their names on the fronts.

A while back I experimented with some wood bending and made a quilt rack. Jeff Galak made one! Oak with walnut dowels. Beautiful! Read more about it here.

And speaking of bent lamination. Check out this instrument stand Dan Johns made. I love how graceful it looks. That's an oud on it, by the way. A beautiful-sounding instrument.

Finally, if you are interested in short updates in my shop, I've started experimenting with posting videos on Keek. It's sort of the Twitter version of YouTube: videos are only 30 seconds long. It's kind of fun to shoot quick updates on my phone and instantly upload them. Watch videos online or download the Keek app for your mobile device. You can also subscribe to my feed if you want update notifications on your phone. Here's my page.

Saturday, March 9, 2013

Coffee table follow-up

Following up yesterday's video with answers to some questions. And a little bit on rabbets vs. rabbits. And dados.

Mere Minutes

Friday, March 8, 2013

Build a coffee table

Retro style

For years I've been wanting to make a new coffee table. After making the credenza/TV stand a few weeks ago, I was motivated to make another "mid-century modern" piece. This time I wasn't adhering exactly to any particular '50s style coffee table, but rather I wanted something to echo the credenza's design. After years of building up a mish-mash of furniture, it is nice to finally have a couple pieces that go together!

A lot of the construction of this is similar to the credenza, so in this video I tried to focus on a few techniques that I glossed over in the other video. I know, I know: retro furniture isn't to everyone's taste, but you should be able to pick up a few tips in this that might help you do design your own coffee table.

But if you do like this style as much as I, and want to build one just like it, here are plans for the coffee table:


Tuesday, March 5, 2013

Organizing the shop

There is something quite satisfying about clearing space in a workshop. I started out the year with an organization state of mind and it still continues.

Warren Downes decided to make an extra large version of my lumber cart that also holds jigs, sawhorses and other stuff. He added extra casters to ensure it wouldn't sag.

Jeremiah Giehl removed the stand from his table saw (same one as mine!) and built this space-saver that includes a space beneath in which he can store hand-help power saws. Built with scrap wood, the whole project only cost him $5.29 for the hasp. I love having a mobile table saw. Not only is it easy to store, but it's great to work outside on sunny days!

Allan Voisin decided to organize his clamps using my system. Looks like a big space! I can also report back that I still love the racks I made a couple months ago. They really work great.

For a long time, well years, I've been wanting to make sense out of my router bits and drill bits. They tend to be all over the place. Ray Levesque made this tool box for his leather-working tools. I think I may build something similar to this for my router bits and accessories. 

Milan Gigel in Slovakia sent over a picture of his french cleat system. The thing I like most about french cleats is that they are so customizable. Milan builds boxes and holders to fit whatever changing needs arise. He can remove the shelves and take them to his work space then return them when he's done.

In the kitchen organization department, Andor RĂ¡bay and his wife Timea in Hungary sent over some very cool projects. They are a very creative couple. I really like the napkin holder made with scrap wood and reeds. The serving tray was Andor's first router project. And oh man, those paprika potatoes look good!

Check out this box Matthew Denny made. It's a kind-of modified bandsaw box and would make a great, let's see, oh yeah...Mothers' Day project! Ha. Just when you breathed a sigh of relief that Valentines Day was over.

Finally, Phil Keirnan built one of my book-boxes for his wife's fifth wedding anniversary. (Well, I guess it's his anniversary too.) Made with Euaropean Oak. Beautiful work!

Mere Minutes.
Here's a follow-up to the french cleat video from last Friday.