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Preview: Dinsmore's Workshop : wood ipod cases and stands

Dinsmore's Workshop

Dinsmore's Workshop is about woodworking, projects and design ideas . I sell some of my my work on Etsy. My work has been featured in many places, including CNN, Gizmodo, Apartment Therapy, Washington Post, Mighty Goods and many others.

Updated: 2018-03-05T22:34:32.236-05:00


Roubo Workbench Update


I've been using my workbench for a while now and it's been working great!  I've successfully finished a few projects and it's been a joy to use.  I wish I had made it earlier!

One thing I didn't add when I first built it was a tail vice.  I was definitely missing that, so I decided to make one.  It was simple enough to make.  I just bought a screw from Lee Valley Tools and used that along with handmade parts for the rest.  I should do a post on it with more detail.

I just recently flattened it.  This takes about an thirty minutes to an hour with my handplane.  It's fairly easy to do and the time goes by quickly!


Compost bin


Spring will be here before you know it. Or, depending or where you live, it might already be here! In New England, we still have snow on the ground.  I'm already thinking about the spring cleanup and getting the garden beds ready for another growing season though.  One of the best things for gardens is nice, fresh compost.  I wish I had a bunch available, but I don't.  However, there's something I can do about it - I can make my own!

The first thing I needed to do was build a compost bin.  When I was younger and lived in Vermont, I had plenty of space to just have compost piles (a few in different stages of decay).  Now where I live in Massachusetts, space is at a premium and I don't have the luxury to have the same setup.  A compost bin is a great way to have one in a smaller space.

For the design, I went with a simple tall box with a screened lid to help keep out any pests.  I used 2"x4" studs as the stock for the sides to be attached securely to.  I use ring-shanked nails to keep things together when it's full and left one side open.  On the open side, I made a simple sliding wall so that I could pull it up and dig from the bottom to get the older compost out.  I used a simple rail to keep the sliding wall in it's track.  The photo shows a detail of this.


Roubo Workbench Part III


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I finally got the better part of the Andre Roubo workbench done. I should add, I have the whole thing assembled and the front vice on, but I've yet to design and add my tail vice.

I'm waiting until I have my tail vice designed and built before I drill the holes in the top my workbench so that I can be sure they line up properly with whatever I come up with. I'd have to have things all askew! I already have a tail vice screw that I'll use so it's simply reviewing different tail vice designs and using or adapting one for my own.

Somewhere in the process I managed to lose my workbench book written by Chris Schwartz. What a pain! I had sketched out all my pieces on paper to refer to so it wasn't a complete catastrophe though.

If you have any particular tail vice design that you really like then please send me an email or leave a comment below! I'd really appreciate hearing what works or doesn't from someone who has already been through this process.

I also have a Part I and a Part II for you to read!


Hand carved sign


I had never tried hand carving signs before, but I figured there's no time like the present to learn. I volunteered (again!) for the local community garden to make a sign for the trail going into the garden area.

I had never done hand carved lettering before but I figured it couldn't be too bad. After starting the project, I soon wished the sign was shorter than "Hamilton Wenham Community Garden". That's a lot of letters to hand carve with just a chisel!

I think it cam out okay for a first attempt. I learned a few tricks that I'll use on my next sign -- like making sure I cut deeply and cleanly when making cuts with the grain so it won't accidentally remove more wood than I was planning.


Goodbye tree!


It's hard to decide to cut down a tree. Especially when it's perfectly healthy. In this case, the blue spruce was just too big and too close to the house. It was even too big to be a Christmas tree! It had to go. Goodbye tree!


Cedar picnic table


Our town is making a community garden and I volunteered to make a picnic table to donate for people to use and enjoy. I figured that a table would be a nice place to sit down and enjoy some really fresh vegetables -- for those who can't wait to get home and enjoy them! It also makes a great place for gardeners to get together and socialize and trade gardening tips.

I used some pretty standard 2"x6" lumber for the main tresses and supports with 1" dimensional lumber for the seats and tabletop. I used the quintessential and timeless picnic table plan for this project.

As you can see from the photos below, it wasn't a complicated project and the results were excellent! (Note: I really hadn't finished connecting the pieces in the last shots -- I was just dry fitting them to make sure things were good. I wanted to really assemble it on the gardening site to make it easier to transport!)


Making a chessboard


I have been doing a lot of house projects lately. Maybe too many. I don't think I've had much time to get into my workshop and do some woodworking. At least I can rest easy knowing that all the fascia and soffit boards are nice and new as well as the gutters!

Even though I haven't had much time to work on some new projects, I did manage to squeeze in enough time to make a nice maple and mahogany chessboard. I decided to make it into a box so that I can just easily store the pieces and clock inside it.

I'm not into turning, so I didn't make the chess pieces. That's not something I think I'd want to get myself into. I think if I was going to do it again though, I might dress it up with some inlay or maybe some decorative, but simple, carving around the edge. I'm using some embedded rare earth magnets as the means to keep the lid in place and right where I want it. Checkmate!(image)

Laying a tile floor


As promised, here's a few photos of the tile installation.  They funny thing about it, is that the amount of work to get to this point was quite considerable!  Since I was putting in a tile floor, the sub-floor needed to be very stiff so that it wouldn't flex and pop the tiles.  The larger the tile, the more important this is.  My tiles were ten inches square so they were definitely big enough to be concerned about it.So what did I do for prepwork?  First, I had removed the old oak strip flooring to get to the sub-floor.  Once I could visually see it, I made sure it was structurally sound and didn't have any rot or other problems.  This bathroom is on the first floor and above a crawlspace so I ended up doing some crawling too.  I went in the crawlspace and inspected the joists.  They were spanning the entire distance and were two by eights (2x8).  That spanning distance for that dimension lumber was at the near maximum allowed so I had to fix that.I ended up getting three two by twelves (2x12) that were sixteen feet long and glued and bolted them together to make a single large beam.  This beam was set in the middle of the joist run to reduce the span load and strengthen the floor.  This was one of the 6 ways to stiffen a bouncy floor as detailed in the Fine Homebuilding magazine.  I used custom made Simpson Strong-Tie joist hangers to attach it.With that out of the way, I laid down some Durrock using thinset and screws to attach it.  Next, I laid out all the tiles and looked to see how they looked.  Since the Italian tiles are hand-made, the color glaze is slightly different for each one and I wanted to make sure it looked pleasing to the eye.I numbered each tile with a piece of painters tape before I pulled them all back up.  I didn't want to lay them back down in the wrong order, since I spent some time rearranging them.  I put down the thinset for the tiles and quickly got them all put into place.  I left off the few I needed to cut for the toilet and pipes.I used a piece of cardboard and made a template for the hole in the last tile so I could accurately measure it when I was in the shop cutting it.  The tiles were thick so cutting it took quite a while - and expensive enough I didn't want to break it!  Luckily, when I had measured out the bathroom, I had the perfect dimensions so that I didn't need to cut any of the side wall or end wall tiles!  That definitely sped up the tile installation!I let the thinset dry for a few days before I came back and put down the grout.  As you can see in the picture above, I had the tile for the toilet cut because I really wanted that in place before doing the grouting.  I had a couple more holes to cut for the water supply lie for the toilet and the radiator on the opposite wall.  I used a tile / stone diamond hole saw to make those holes. I actually ended up replacing one of the tiles because the plumber had tried to cut the hole with a plain hole saw and ended  up cracking the tile.  After telling me the tile was too strong and it couldn't be cut without making bigger holes, I proceeded to do it properly and told him to let me know if there's any other holes to be made - as I didn't want to replace any more tiles that he would break.I think the final result came out excellent.  Tile work isn't too hard, but you need to be patient and don't mind working on your knees![...]

Finished bathroom


So I really should have posted some pictures by now!  Trust me, I definitely would be hearing about it from my wife if I wasn't done with the bathroom project! 

Luckily, the rest of the bathroom project went smoothly.  I had laid the subway tiles on the Durrock for the shower enclosure easily enough without too many problems.  Perhaps my biggest mistake was miscalculating the number of tiles from the top lip of the tub to the bottom of the window.  That, combined with the slight slope of the tub, I ended up having a slightly larger gap between the tiles on one end.  This looked kinda poor and very noticeable before I grouted.  I  was pretty concerned how it would come out, but with the white grout instead of the dark gray of the Durrock, I couldn't tell at all!  Relief!

I used greenboard for the ceiling since it's a high moisture area and used V-groove wood boards for the walls.  The boards made for a more interesting wall than just drywall or plaster.  It was pretty fast and easy to installed too!

I lucked out on the floor tile too!  I was modified the length of the bathroom just before I framed, and that slight modification (2 inches) made a big difference.  I had used a cobalt blue Italian tile that was ten inches square.  With my slight modification, the only floor tiles I had to cut was the ones around the toilet flange.  I actually had to do the toilet tiles twice, as the plumber had broken the tiles trying to install the toilet, so I had to pull them all back out and lay them back in.  To my relief, he left the flange there, so I could do all the cutting and pre-drill all the holes so they wouldn't break any more.

The bathroom ended up turning out very nicely, if I do say so myself.  It was nice building it out when you have another full bath available -- there isn't quite the rush to finish if there wasn't one.  In addition, the location of the new bathroom was "off the beaten path" of everyday foot traffic, so the dust and tools didn't get in the way with day to day activities.(image)

Bathroom framing begins


With the walls of the old closets removed, the framing could begin to form the layout and physical boundaries of the new bathroom.  It also meant that the design could be modified (easily) so we had to be certain about our plans.Photo: Screws used for framingI have a small compressor that's great for finish and brad nailing, but not framing.  I decided that it'd be cheaper and easier for my small project to use screws for the framing instead of renting a larger compressor and framing nail gun.  I had picked up a nice Bosch impact driver that did the trick -- it's light and plenty strong enough to whip through the project I had.The framing was straightforward, the only delay was laying down some new oak flooring to patch in where there was plywood on the floor (hidden by our washer and dryer).  In addition to the framing, we put in a new window so there would be some natural light into the bathroom.  We didn't want a full size window because it'd be in the shower area and the water would destroy it pretty quickly.  We decided upon a vinyl window and I'd use some waterproof material to frame it in the tiled bath.Photo: Starting to frame bathroom wallThe window went in quickly, as did the rest of the wall.  I put in insulation, plastic/waterproof layer and then finished with some felt paper.  I had to use some odd spacing to make sure there was stud walls where I need them, but those were in addition to the 16" OC walls I had.  I wanted to make sure I had something to nail into at the end of the tub as well as decent blocking for my sink! Photo: Electrical for fan and sconce lightsPhoto: Insulation on wallI had also decided to add some sound-blocking insulation since the kid's playroom would be just opposite one of the walls.  This would keep things quiet and personal in the bathroom even if it wasn't really critical or necessary.The electrical was pretty straightforward.  I had put in a fan at the end of tub so I made sure it was UL approved for a wet location -- which it was, as long as it was on a GFCI circuit.  I also made sure the GFCI outlet was on a different circuit breaker than the lights in the bath per code. With the walls in place and some insulation on them, I could really see the shape of the bath and get a feel of the space.  The plumber came in and put in the tub and roughed in the other plumbing.  Things were really moving along![...]

From closet to bathroom!


We had plans for a considerable kitchen remodeling project. That project entailed the removal of an existing (full) bath to make the kitchen larger. We found a couple of closets in an addition that we could tear out and add a new wall to make a decent sized bath.
Photo: Two closets to remove

Finding the space to put in the new bath was the easy part!  The demolition would be straightforward, but laborious. All I needed to do was tojust take out a couple closets and walls, right?

The demolition did prove to be fairly straight forward,even if it did take a little longer than planned.  It was good to see the walls removed and easier to visualize what the new space was going to look like.  It did require us to move the washer back downstairs after we had moved it upstairs a couple years ago.  We left the dryer where it was since I had rewired it to the current location.  Note to self -- having the washer and dryer in different locations is a real pain.  It got worse, that that's another story.
Photo: Closets removed

With the walls down, it was clear there was a lot of work to be done in order to make this a nice bath.  One of the first things would be to finish removing the framing and drywall on the wall and exterior wall sides, as well as add a window on the exterior wall so natural light could get in.

Stay tuned -- the next steps of the project are soon to follow.  Luckily, I remembered to photograph most of the project!(image)

Bathroom and Kitchen Renovation


More renovations in my house!  It's the best time of year to do these sorts of things, especially the kitchen.  Grilling is so much more fun to do in the nice weather!  We've planned to add a new bathroom, remove an existing one and then redo the kitchen -- utilizing the space freed up by the existing bathroom.  I'll send updates along the way and here's a photo of the kitchen now!

From 2010.07.21 Kitchen

My Milwaukee Sawzall will definitely be getting a workout with this renovation!(image)

Hanging a television on the wall


Flat panel televisions have been a top seller in electronics, and it's no wonder -- they use a fraction of the space of traditional tvs and offer higher quality too. A very common installation is hanging the tv on the wall. It's easy to do as long as you do some prep work. Let's dive into what you need to organize and think about before you kick back in the couch and watch your football game in HD.First, you need to decide where you want to place the television in your room. Since it takes up less space, you don't necessarily need to put it where the old tv used to be. A couple things to consider -- is there accessible power or is the cable or antenna connection nearby? If not plan to run the electric and other wires to your new location. If you want a home theater setup, you'll want to make sure you have adequate speaker placement with the location of the tv as well.Once you determine where you want to place the tv, you'll want to purchase the tv wall mount. Typically you'll get either a fixed wall mount or an articulating wall mount. If your viewing angle is generally straight in front of the television then a flat mount will work. Otherwise, you'll want to pick up an articulating one so that you can swivel the tv from side to side to get the best viewing angle. Make sure you get one that properly sized for your tv or, better yet, has a compatibility chart that shows it works with your LCD television. This is easier done at home on the Internet than at your electronics store.Once you have the mount in hand, take a look at it and see how it will mount on the wall. If you want to run electric and other cabling in the walls, you'll want to figure out where the boxes should be installed so that they don't interfere with the mount. Also make sure you know where on the tv that the power and other cables plug in so that the electric and cable boxes don't interfere with that too. Ideally, you'll want to have some separation of the power and other cabling so that the audio and video signal doesn't get affected by the noise generated by the electric wire -- the further apart you can place it, the better off you'll be.If you're installing boxes to hide the cabling, do it now. Make sure they are placed so that you'll still be able to screw the wall mount into the studs. The televisions are thinner than the old CRTs, but they are still heavy and definitely need to be installed carefully!Now, dry fit the mount and align it on the wall, using your level to make sure it's even. Take a pencil and make the marks on the wall where you'll put in the screws. Now you can concentrate on just putting in the screws where you made you marks and leave the level on the ground -- nothings more annoying and frustrating than trying to handle too many tools at once! Then fasten the other mount part to the back of the tv.You're almost done! For this part, grab a friend and have them help lift the tv and align the rear mount to the fixed wall mount. Even if you can lift the tv by yourself, it's definitely worth having another set of hands for this part. It's hard to see where things are if you're busy holding the tv. Once you've go the mount connected, you'll need to tighten the connector bolts that ensures that someone can't accidentally bump the tv and knock the whole thing off the wall mount and onto the floor.Now just plug it in, and run any home theater cabling you'll want and you're set for some excellent HD viewing pleasure. Just don't forget the popcorn.[...]

Renting tools for home improvement projects


We all wish our workshop had one of every tool imaginable.  Or maybe that's just me?  The reality is that few of us have the budget to purchase such an armada of tools, and quite frankly, it would be silly to do so.  For the average DIYer, there's some tools you may only use once a year or once in a lifetime.  Rent these following tools and use the money you saved to buy those everyday tools.All these tools you should be able to rent at your local hardware store or your nearby national home store.  I've given some estimates for their rental cost but these vary depending on your location and availability.  When renting the tools, here's a few things you should do:Ask them what safety equipment you should have to operate itAny special power needs to run the tool -- some might need a 220v outletHave them plug it in and verify it's operating properly before you bring it homeMost importantly, ask them how how to operate the tool if you have any questions -- they'll be happy to show you and glad you askedFloor stapler and compressorPhoto by a440If you get the floor nailer then you'll definitely need to get one of these.  And if you already have hardwood floors but they're looking a little worn, then this is your ticket.  One doesn't need to refinish hardwood floors that often so this is definitely not a tool you'll be using regularly.  Let's be honest, how often do you want to remove all your things from a room to do projects like this?  When you rent it, make sure you get an orbital floor sander.  These are newer than the traditional drum floor sanders and have the benefit of being more forgiving.  A drum sander can easily make deep grooves in your hardwood floors if you're not careful and leave it in one spot too long. Floor sanderPhoto by davidmouldIf you get the floor nailer then you'll definitely need to get one of these. And if you already have hardwood floors but they're looking a little worn, then this is your ticket. One doesn't need to refinish hardwood floors that often so this is definitely not a tool you'll be using regularly. Let's be honest, how often do you want to remove all your things from a room to do projects like this? When you rent it, make sure you get an orbital floor sander. These are newer than the traditional drum floor sanders and have the benefit of being more forgiving. A drum sander can easily make deep grooves in your hardwood floors if you're not careful and leave it in one spot too long.Tile sawPhoto by daviddmuirUnless you plan on multiple large tiling jobs, renting a tile saw is the way to go.  Smaller and cheaper saws have a tendency to spray you with water so you're soaked by the time you're done making all your cuts.  The more expensive models, one one's you'd rent, can keep you dry and focused on your cuts and your tiling job -- not your favorite tee shirt getting ruined.Carpet cleaner vacuumPhoto by imeldaAh, the joys of spring cleaning.  Isn't it nice it only comes once a year?  There's no better way to get those carpets nice and clean by getting them cleaned.  Save a few bucks and rent the cleaner yourself -- it's easy to do and you can clean to your heart's content or run out of rugs.  It's not something you want to do often (your rugs won't like it) so renting is the obvious choice.Cement mixerPhoto by matt-heikkilaWhen you have a "small" project that needs some cement, you'd be surprised how many bags you might have to mix.  And if you've mixed cement by hand before you know it doesn't take many bags before it becomes a laborious, annoying task.  If you're building or buying a pre-made shed, the cement pad will use a lot of ceme[...]

Buying a used table saw


A staple in any woodworker or carpenter's shop is the table saw. It's typically one of the top five recommended tools one should have in their workshop. It's easy to see why -- they are versatile tools and can rip or cut boards of any length and dimension. Some tools, like a compound miter saw excel at what they do, but are limited in the scope of what they can accomplish. The table saw is capable of cutting a sheet of plywood as readily as making dados, tenons or box joints. Photo by  Chris CampbellBefore buying a table saw you need to decide what type you need. Table saws are generally classified into three types: benchtop; portable (or contractor); and stationary. The benchtop saw is aptly named because its a small saw that can sit on your workbench and have a ten inch blade. They are okay for small projects but are limited in what they can accomplish because of their smaller tabletop, lack of horsepower for cutting larger pieces of wood, and less accurate fences. The portable or contractor table saw is mid sized and a compromise between the larger stationary saws and the benchtop ones. The portable saw category is currently the most popular segment and manufacturers have targeted this space with many different products. These saws will have the horsepower to cut thicker hardwoods and have improved fences and slightly larger tabletops. To make them portable, they often make parts out of plastic or other lightweight material. The improved quality and features from the benchtop models, without sacrificing the necessary space of a stationary saw, are a prime examples why portable saws are so popular. The stationary saw is understandably the largest of the saws and is the Cadillac of table saws. They have the power, tabletop size and accuracy that can't be beat. Their larger size and weight helps produce less vibration making cuts more accurate as well. All this comes at a price though. For a stationary saw you typically will need to have plenty of room, the structural support in the floor (they can run 500lbs or more), and electrical capacity (often have 220V, single phase requirements). You'll also need to make sure you can get the saw in through any doors! These requirements often rule out the stationary, or cabinet saws, for many even when that's what they'd really like. If you don't have a dedicated workshop or are squeezing your shop in your garage where you need to move your tools around then I'd recommend a portable or contractor table saw. These saws offer enough features and provide enough accuracy that you won't be cursing the tool or constantly longing for a larger saw.By now you've hopefully figured out what type of saw you want. So where should you get one? Many people opt to buy new table saws, but if you are willing to make an effort, one can find a great deal buying a used table saw. There's just a few things you need to do to make sure you get a decent one. Why buy a used table saw? You can get a saw at a fraction of the retail price of a new one and take advantage of another woodworker's upgrade to a new saw, an estate sale or whatever reason they're parting with it. Unless someone is really hard on their tools, it's generally tough to ruin a table saw so that it's no longer usable. There are a few parts you can replace to make the saw run as smoothly as a new one. Think of the benefit of rescuing the saw from the landfill too!First, you can replace the blade with a new narrow kerf blade (like the Forrest Woodworker II) or perhaps it just needs a cleaning (try laundry detergent or oven cleaner). I wouldn't recommend sharpening the blade unless you know what you are doing. They last thing[...]

Workbench, interrupted


It was bound to happen. I was making decent progress on my Roubo workbench, so I knew something was going to break the streak. And it did happen, and it happened hard. It wasn't just a little interruption, but a full-scale break. And what is this interruption? It's a full bathroom remodel.

I've been through this before so it's nothing new. Perhaps that's the worst part, I'm fully cognizant of the mess I'm getting myself into. I was having flashbacks, to February of 2002, as I was ripping down walls in my 1890's Victorian to a similar project in my earlier home, a 1865's worker's cottage. As you can see from the photo, I had ripped down walls and removed all the fixtures. I didn't stop there though, as I needed to shore up the floor and level it. So I removed the floor and subfloor and laid down new floor joists and proceeded to rebuild a new floor. As you can see from the second photo, it was a huge mess for a while! Note that the second photo is showing the same area as the first, it was only taken about 4 feet to the right of the first.  One cool find during the demolition was a bunch of old coins -- the oldest from 1801.

My current bathroom remodel will encompass a lot of similar tasks. However, the floor is in decent shape so I only need to rip out some of the old oak flooring and bring it down to the subfloor so I can lay down some tile. I think the worst part will be putting in the new window. If the cold snap doesn't break soon, it'll be a chilly job installing it in the freezing cold.

So, I'll be busy with my new project for a little bit -- the bench will have to wait. I'm sure I'm not the only woodworker who has to don another hat - that of a general contractor -- from time to time. There's definitely a good side to all of this -- I was able to rip apart my old makeshift bench and throw it into the dumpster I got for this project so when I'm done with my new bench there will be plenty of space for it!(image)

Tail vise screws


Hooray! The tail vise screws arrived in the mail today! I had ordered them through Lee Valley when they were having their annual "no shipping cost" sale. That made them a good deal since they're heavy too. I decided to get the long screws because who likes a short screw? Ok, ok, bad pun but the truth is that the larger one offers more strength and extension.

So now that I've got the screws in hand, you'll be seeing some updates shortly -- and some pictures too. Last time I was finishing the tenons on the base I didn't bring the camera to document the work.

One of the tenons I didn't cut as good as I hoped. It's tight on the outside edge, but it widens to about a sixteenth of an inch by the tenon shoulder. I'm trying to decide if I try to fix it, or leave it as is since it doesn't affect the functionality and is more cosmetic. I can see it now -- I attempt to clean it up a little and next thing I know, I have to replace the whole stretcher or leg in my attempts to "fix" it. I think I'm trying to talk myself into being lazy and leave it as it is.

We'll see how I feel about it after a night's sleep.(image)

Washington Post's "Best of 2009"


I'm not very good at promoting myself or tooting my own horn. If I was, I would have posted a note on December 4th when the Washington Post's Express newspaper had their annual gift guide. In there, my work was carefully chosen among many, many different products in the audio "Sound Investments" section. The item was a Versatile iPod Speaker from Maple and Mahogany. This passive speaker pairs well with your iPod or iPhone -- and does it more style than some plastic speakers. Check out the picture of it below!


Roubo Workbench Part II


I'm still working on the base frame of the Roubo workbench. I wish I had more time to devote to it, but the truth is that I've got 1001 things going on so I squeeze in a moment here and a moment there to get some progress made!

(image) (image)
From 2009.10.24 Roubo WorkbenchFrom 2009.10.24 Roubo Workbench

I've got a side of tenons all made and dry-fitted the pieces together. Everything is falling into place according to my plans! (Insert evil crackle here.) Not many surprises yet, except for the number of times I've smashed my hand and had to get a bandaid to prevent bleeding on my work. I should be more careful -- take, for instance, the time when I was trimming down the tenon on the leg stretcher. My Stanley 93 Rabbet Plane was working fine, the only problem was that I wasn't accustomed to such a large tenon and needed to be careful as my knuckles we positioned perfectly for grazing the top edge of the wood and skimming off my skin like the blade was doing with the wood lower on the wood.

From 2009.10.24 Roubo Workbench

For the leg vise, I was happy to run the end of the leg through my bandsaw (I got the riser kit which has been handy) and then just use my chisel to knock out the half inch by four inch piece of waste wood. It was enjoyable to quickly work through the wood and clean up a nice little spacer for the spacer board for the leg vise to slide through.

Now if I could only find my 1 1/8" drill bit to make room for the leg vice screw! I thought I had put it in this drawer, no wait, the one over here...(image)

Roubo Workbench Part I


After thinking about it and thinking about it and thinking about it, I finally decided that I better stop thinking and start doing. This past weekend, I begin my new workbench project. I decided to follow Chris Schwartz's lead and make a Roubo workbench like he had done (check out his blog). I happen to also have his Workbenches book too.The Workbenches book was fun to read, but after completing it, I didn't rush out and start making my new workbench. Perhaps I'm the type that like to think about things and decide if a certain plan would fully satisfy my needs. For whatever reason, I contemplated building a workbench for over a year. While my existing workbench was passable, it certainly wasn't nice enough or functional enough to call it a 'final' workbench.So after picking up some wood -- southern yellow pine for the base -- I got started. While I'm not completely copying the plans, I'm using a very close approximation to the Roubo workbench. I used my bandsaw to cut those massive tenons and then I flattened things out with my reconditioned Stanley No.4. I made sure I started off with a sharp blade.In a short time I managed to produce quite a pile of shavings. This pictures above certainly illustrate that point very well. That was after a couple of the legs. While if produced a lot of shavings, it was fun work since I made sure there was a sharp blade on it.From 2009.10.24 Roubo WorkbenchI took down all the measurements for my first mortise and got to work. I set up a handy side stand to help keep things aligned properly and easy to adjust when running the drill press with the forstner bit. I also made sure I reduced the speed of the drill press to 1100 rpm to help keep the bit sharp.Once the drill press cleared out a bulk of the mortise I got my chisels out for the cleanup. I knew this part would take a while, but it was quite fun so it didn't bother me. The chisel was quiet and I played some nice tunes on of my radio.More to come![...]

Woodworking books


There seems to be a resurgence of interest in woodworking so it goes to follow that the number of woodworking books increase as well. Is the renewed interest derived from the various characters on the scene that influence others? There's people like Norm Abram, Roy Underhill (aka St. Roy), David Marks, Chris Schwartz and more that have inspired, intrigued and enlightened us (myself included) while being entertaining as well. It's nothing but business and seriousness when the tools, power or otherwise, are in motion and the wood in play. Getting a laugh in-between all that seriousness is most welcome!

A recent favorite woodworking author of mine is Chris Schwartz from Lost Art Press. He's written popular books on workbenches, hand planes and more. While being an editor of Popular Woodworking and Woodworking Magazine, he managed to pull off writing another new book, "The Joiner and Cabinet Maker" along with some material written by Joel Moskowitz from Tools for Working Wood. I just preordered it, and now for the annoying part. Waiting.(image)

Walnut iPod Nano Case


I really enjoyed working with the walnut wood for this project. It smells really nice as you work it with the chisels!

This case will protect your iPod against life's bumps and bruises. Let's face it, you like to throw your iPod Nano (4th generation) into your purse, bookbag, briefcase or whatever. Why not protect it in style? And unlike those other cases, your iPod is the same small size when you want to use it -- not wrapped in an inch of plastic.


This case will superbly pamper your iPod Nano. The depth and captivating warmness will entice people to reach out and feel it. The rounded edges will provide comfort as it easily fits in your grasp.

This iPod Nano case made from a single piece of walnut salvaged from the green mountains of Vermont. It features a maple sliding dovetail cover made for the mahogany lid. The lid is hand-worked with chisels for the best fit. The contrasting woods provide balance and harmony. Why not have a unique conversation piece for your iPod that is also extremely practical, durable, and beautiful?


Go green by buying brown -- brown wood versus wrapping your iPod in harsh plastic. It has two coats of danish oil and one coat of hand rubbed Carnauba wax for the finish. The grain on this case is spectacular!(image)

Versatile iPod Speaker from Mahogany and Maple


This is a unique design for your mobile iPod needs. It is a pair of passive speakers enclosed in a high range mahogany and maple enclosure.


Acoustically sealed, this speaker provides ample listening possibilities without needing to bring extra batteries or worrying about finding a plug to put it in. All you need i your charged iPod, iPhone, Walkman or even a Zune! It uses a standard headphone jack for input.

Want to listen to Rachmaninoff while sipping your morning cafe au lait in your Pied-à-terre? This speaker can handle that.

Want to relax to some Joni Mitchell while painting or sewing? This speaker can handle that.

Want to blast some tunes from Metallica, Black Sabbath or Iron Maiden? This speak can't handle that. Since it's not a powered speaker it's limited in what it can handle. It's never going to get too loud or fill more than a small or medium size room with music. I find that you need to have the volume at a minimum of halfway.


Try setting your iPod or iPhone's equalizer to 'Small Speakers' and it works wonderfully. Some may anthropomorphise this speaker and think it's staring at you. Maybe it is.(image)

Website review: WoodTreks


If you're interested in seeing some inspirational, how-to, or just plain informative videos about woodworking, then I strongly suggest you go to The site describes itself as:
“Woodtreks” are video journeys for woodworkers, wood artists, and collectors of fine wood crafts, art, and furniture. Be inspired, learn how-to, and discover master artisans & their work.

The first thing you'll, notice in the site is the professional-grade production quality videos that Keith Cruickshank has put together. Luckily, it's not just the filming quality though that'll draw you in. The content of the pieces are top-notch. He interviews fascinating people like furniture maker Craig Vandall Stevens and many more.

In fact, I would go on a limb to say that that there nothing close on television or cable that provides such a deep and rich experience for today's woodworker. Please let me know if you think otherwise, I'd love to see what else comes close. Don't get me wrong, there's plenty of great video blogs out there too -- but I haven't seen one that has the breadth with various artisans and craftsmen profiled.

The site went live in June 2008 and has posted many videos shortly thereafter. It's currently on a small break as Keith relocates his shop. Let him know how much you like his work -- it'll help ensure we all get more great videos to watch in the future!

So what are you waiting for? Why not take a quick peek and start by watching
How to Hand Cut Precision Dovetails

Children's Water Table


I finally got around to finish making a water table for my daughters Kate and Rebecca. I had started it, and had the top made this winter, but I never quite got around to making the base of the table. I had started with a preliminary sketch of the table to use as a guide.

Google's free software Sketchup works perfectly for this sort of thing. Its a 3D design and drawing tool -- almost like a lightweight CAD program. Luckily, if you're making a very complex object you don't need to model the whole thing, but can download components here and here (to name a few). A great feature it has is that it can generate a parts list for you! That makes a handy tool to use for your woodworking projects.

So spending a little time putting some scrap pieces of lumber together, I was able to make a decent table with two routed holes in the top which washbasins can drop in. I painted the base a bright red and put a few coats of polyurethane the top. All-in-all it wasn't too much work and it just used scrap lumber. Sarah had purchased a couple plastic basins to drop in that were very inexpensive. Not bad, when you compare it to some commercial products. Sarah got the idea from a Montessori child's catalog we got in the mail. When you compare the $10 that was spent on this versus the $350 you could spend elsewhere, for example, the finished product looks even a little nicer!