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Oct 24, 2017

ManMade Essential Toolbox: Why Every Person Should Own a Speed Square

In this edition of the ManMade Essential Toolbox, we're looking at the speed square, a simple carpentry tool that does more that you might think. 

Speed square essentials - why you should get one and how you can use it correctly.
I love a tool whose common name indicates its purpose. Oh, what's a screwdriver do? A citrus squeezer? How about a box cutter? The function is all right there in the name. 

In many ways, a speed square falls right into the category. It tells helps you determine "square" – that is, when one edge or line is exactly 90° to another – and it helps you do it quickly. Done. Right? Wrong. 

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Oct 18, 2017

The Craftsmen of Etsy: 10 Wooden Products We Love

Bike Rack WoodenI've wandered through the Etsy offerings in the past, sometimes for inspiration, sometimes because something interesting has caught my eye. But lately, more and more great ideas are popping up on the handmade-centric site, and they're amazing. Here's a collection of Etsy's wooden offerings that are really worth highlighting.  

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Oct 09, 2017

Weekend Project: Make a DIY Wood and Leather Magazine Rack

Long live the print magazine. Seriously. We know the entire publishing industry is in a bit of flux, but we'll do everything we can to help them pull through. Because as far as a casual reading experience goes, the magazine format is just about perfect. 

Of course, there's that other issue of being a subscriber: the inevitable mass of to-be-read copies. Whether the always-cited-and-lamented stacks of The New Yorker or a random selection of last month's issues you just haven't gotten around to yet, being a subscriber means there's always pile in your house somewhere.       

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Oct 05, 2017

How to: Make Simple and Easy DIY Stacking Wooden Storage Cubes

DIY Modern Modular vinyl crates

With all music heading to online streaming, I tend to buy my favorite albums on vinyl so I can cherish them for years to come. As my collection grows my need for space grows with it. So I had to quickly find a solution. Here's a simple project to create some stacking cubes that will hold records, books and more!

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Oct 02, 2017

Minimalist DIY: Finishing Up My 30-Day Workshop Purge

It's finally done. My first major step on my journey to have less stuff is complete. My shop was cluttered, inefficient, and completely out of hand; and now I'm back in control of my space. Well, mostly. Here's what I've learned from the first 30 days of purging my shop.   

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Oct 02, 2017

How to Build a Sturdy Workbench in a Single Day

This post is sponsored by the DIYZ® app.

A good sturdy garage workbench is one of the simplest, most useful projects any woodworker can embark upon. In fact, it's probably the first project every woodworker should embark up. And yet it tends to go by the wayside. You see people building remarkably complicated pieces on rickety, unimpressive workbenches. 

There's a saying about the cobbler's shoes that goes here but I can't figure out if it works or not. Anyway, the point is, having a rock-solid work surface on which to build other things is really important. And you can make a great workbench without spending too much money or much

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Sep 28, 2017

How to: Make a Simple Wooden Smartphone Speaker

Happy Monday, ManMakers! Today, I'm super excited to share an exclusive project with you. It's an excerpt from the new book Build Stuff with Wood, which is all about making cool woodworking projects with the most basic of tools.

The book is written by Asa Christiana, the former editor of Fine Woodworking magazine, and, I'm proud to say, a close friend of mine and all-around good guy. It features a variety of everyday objects you can make armed only with a cordless drill, a circular saw, and a jigsaw, plus a small palm router on one or two. There's a section on setting up a workspace, building a basic tool kit, and how to get great furniture-quality results from construction-grade tools. (Plus, a nice section on shop safety featuring a few photos of yours truly.)  Plus, the intro is written by Nick Offerman, so...enough said!

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Sep 21, 2017

How to: The Easy Way to Remove Pencil Marks from Your Woodworking Projects

Saws are exciting, and chisels and hand planes look really great on top of your workbench. But if you ask me, the number one most-important, guaranteed tool I use on every single project is: the No. 2 pencil.

created at: 07/19/2016

It's essential for everything from sketching to measuring to layout and marking parts, and its "easy to remove" nature makes it perfect for seeing now, disappearing later. Except, have you ever actually tried to remove pencil from wood before applying a finish?   

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Sep 18, 2017

When I Make Something For You, I Am Offering You My Humanity

Earlier this year, I agreed to complete a woodworking project for my wife. Actually, I offered and volunteered myself to do it. She has a particular storage need in her office, and because of the weird layout, access issues, scale, etc, it's not something that exists anywhere. It has to be custom built, and installed in the space.

The truth is, I've been avoiding it. It's a big project, and it was easy to move to the bottom of the project list when it was the height of summer. We had houseguests coming in and out of our home, and the days were long and full of activity. 

But now, that season is over, and it's time to start building. I realized this week why I've been putting it off: I'm afraid. It's beyond my skill level, and requires a lot of moving parts that need to line up, just so. In any other situation, this wouldn't be something I'd agree to do, because it's too big of a leap; I need to learn to do too many new skills inside the same project. 

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Sep 12, 2017

How to Build a French Cleat Organizing System for Your Workshop

created at: 08/27/2015 A well organized shop is a productive shop. But we all know that as our skills and interests grow and change and our projects vary, its nice to be able to switch out grab-able tools and organization systems to meet the needs of what we're currently working on.   

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Sep 08, 2017

How to Make a Rustic Phone Charging Stand from a Slab of Hardwood

DIY Wood slab phone charger dock

Sponsored by the DIYZ® app

I love the idea of combining modern technology with natural textures. I keep my tablet in a case made from an old linen-covered notebook, and my sleek and shiny DSLR in a worn brown leather bag. So, I wanted to make a simple place to house my smartphone, while warming it up a bit. I went with the most natural thing I could think of: a big slab of forest tree. 

I like this design for a DIY wooden smartphone charging station because it fits the charging cable nicely, but it isn't stuck in place, so you can remove and use it elsewhere without the stand.

Enough talk! Let's make one!       

DIYZ® is THE

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Aug 30, 2017

How to: Make Simple Wooden Triangle Shelves

Executing a well-designed project doesn't always have to involve high-end materials, elegant shapes, and complicated techniques. Sometimes, the most affordable wood will do, and to bring it together: just a little math.   

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Aug 24, 2017

6 Simple Tools Every DIYer Needs

created at: 11/16/2014

Have you ever had to cook dinner at a friend's kitchen only to find out they don't even own a cutting board? Not only have I had that happen for me, I've noticed this kind of thing happening in my friend's workshops. It's easy to get caught up in making things and overlook some essential tools that can really help you get things done right.    I thought I'd share a few tools I use almost every time I work on a new project. Some of these are almost laughable, but I guarantee some of you are going to read through these 6 tools and think to yourself, "Oh yeah, I need one of those."    

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Aug 23, 2017

Shop Update: Rehabbing & Fixing Up My New 8" Delta Jointer

For the last couple of years, I've been mostly set on woodworking tools. I've been collecting my large, stationary machines for nearly ten years now, and although I do plan to upgrade a few of them, I've been able to accomplish most of what I've set out to do with a little creativity and patience.

The one standard machine that's been missing from my shop is: the jointer. I knew I didn't want to buy a tiny benchtop machine, or even a too-small 6" model. I told myself I'd wait until I was in my "forever" shop, then get the machine I wanted; one I could use for the rest of my life.

Once we bought our house last year, I started a Craigslist alert, and painfully watched every listing from ubiqituous Harbor Freight tools to overpriced secondhand things from people who have no idea that what things are actually worth.

Over the last eighteen months, only a few 8" models even came up for sale. The woodworking community in my town snatched them up as soon as they were listed, and so I waited. And waited.

And then - enter this Delta DJ20. Built in the 80s when machines were machines. Complete with parallelogram beds, dead flat and coplaner tables, and an awesome fence, this was being offered at less than the price than the new Grizzly it's based on, plus no shipping, no assembly or degreasing, and it came with a mobile base.

I made my offer, went to check it out, and - boom! - I'm now the owner of a vintage 8" Delta jointer.    

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Aug 22, 2017

7 Things I'm Totally Obsessed with This Month (August 2017 Edition)

These are thoughts, the artwork, the news stories, the tools, the food, the conversations, and whatever else we just can't get out of our heads this month.      

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Aug 15, 2017

Shop Skills: How to Care For Your Cast Iron Table Tops

If you're like me, the cast iron in your shop sits atop the most prized tools you have. Those tops are solid, durable, stay dead flat, and make working wood just a bit easier. But to keep them at their best takes a bit of routine work, fending off rust and staining doesn't take much but make sure you do it. Here's how.  

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Aug 14, 2017

(How I Totally Screwed Up) Trimming Out My Final Shop Window

When I built out my basement shop space last fall/winter, there remained a couple of unfinished spots that I knew I'd need to deal with. Case in point: this obscure glass window. (This half of the shop was intended to be a bathroom, and this would have sat right over the tub.)

Last week, I got a new, very large, very heavy stationary woodworking machine (more on that soon), which I'd planned to store right along this wall. So, I figured if I didn't trim it out now, I'd never do it, and it'd look exactly the same in twenty years. 

So, I got to work. And it was kind of a disaster.    

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Aug 09, 2017

ManMade Essential Toolbox: The Key to Keep Yourself from Going Crazy in the Workshop

ManMade Essential Toolbox: Bin Storage

Small-parts storage is one of the biggest steps you can take in creating the perfect workshop zen. When all those little fasteners, nails, washers, odds and ends all have a home you can work in peace, not pieces.

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Aug 03, 2017

How to (Safely) Age and Antique Hardware for Your Woodworking Projects

 

Let's face it: modern hardware leaves a lot to be desired. Sure, it's inexpensive and abundant, but visually, it looks...well, cheap. No character. You spend weeks on a project, choosing wood grain carefully, sanding and planing to a glass smooth finish, and then you're forced to add some blindingly shiny yellow brass or bright blue metal to finish your project. 

Of course, there are high-end hardware makers out there producing specialty hinges and components for period furniture, but I wanted a less expensive way to transform general home center hardware into something I actually want to use on my projects.

So, I called my dad.   

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Jul 28, 2017

How to Make the Ultimate Sanding Block

When it comes to sanding, the rules are simple. When you're dealing with curves and soft edges, you can use the contours of your hand to back up the sandpaper and naturally mimic the shape. But when it comes to flat surface: never sand without a sanding block. This keeps the paper flat, which means your final project will also stay flat. 

I was in the bad habit of cutting a new one every time I went to finish a project, which sometimes meant I went against my best judgment and ignored the sanding block rule when working on flat panels and tabletops. (I know, I know.) So, I decided to spend an hour and whip up a block I'd be excited to

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