Sunday, July 17, 2016

I was on the CNC with Dave Show!

Thanks to Dave Gatton for inviting me to be the guest on his "CNC with Dave Show" on Saturday, July 16th.  If you are interested in CNC machines, then you might want to tune into this show every Saturday night at 9pm on YouTube.  I talked about the Electric Guitar that I made with the Inventables X-Carve and you can watch the playback below.  Thanks to all who watched, joined us in the chat room, and asked questions.  I had a great time!


Saturday, July 16, 2016

Make Some Easy Wall Shelves!

My daughter asked me to help her make some shelves for her room.  Watch us have some fun in the shop while making these Easy Wall Shelves that anyone can make.


This is a great project for getting kids involved in woodworking.  Going to the home center and picking out the wood is just as fun as making the project.  Be sure to involve the kids in this initial step as well.  Teach them look for defects and how to sight down a board to see if it is warped or twisted.  It's easy to find examples of warped and twisted wood at the home center.  Make sure you pick out good boards to avoid frustration during assembly.

Let Kids Select Wood for Projects

You can easily make these shelves while teaching a kid how to use a hand saw or jigsaw.  Or, you can do like I did and cut all of the pieces for them, then let them glue them together and paint them.  Each child is different, so use common sense and good judgement to determine when they are ready to use dangerous tools.  There are many other ways for kids to help in the shop.

Cutting Wood With Miter Saw

I encourage you to involve kids in the design process as well, but if you would like to use our design, click here to download the free plan.  We were able to make four shelves using one 1x10 and two 1x3's.  Make sure you attach them securely to the wall by screwing into studs or wall anchors.

Easy Wall Shelves Woodworking Project

When working with kids in the shop, the most important thing is to have fun.  You want them to have a good time.  Tell jokes, talk about family history, talk about the future, listen to them, and laugh a lot.  I know you will end up with a lot more than just a cool project out of the experience!

Having Fun Woodworking

Monday, July 11, 2016

How to Make and Install Sliding Barn Doors

My neighbor asked me to build a pair of Sliding Barn Doors for his living room/office doorway.  Check out my video below to see how I made them.


Supply List

These are the supplies I used to build and install the barn doors.  The key to building these doors is lots of planning and measuring.  You may need different supplies depending on the size and of your doors and how they will be installed, so adjust this list to fit your needs.

  • 8-foot 2x6 boards (3 per door)
  • 8-foot tongue and groove planks (6 per door)
  • 8-foot 1x4 board (cut into 4 diagonal pieces, 2 per door)
  • 8-foot 2x4 for mounting the track
  • Wood glue
  • 1 gallon of paint and paint brush
  • 4 door handles
  • 14-feet of steel flat bar, 3/16" thick and 2" wide
  • 4 garage door pulleys with 3" diameter
  • 8 bolts and 8 nylock nuts (for door hardware)
  • 4 bolts, 8 washers, and 4 nylock nuts (for wheels)
  • 8 lag screws 4" long
  • 3 screws 1" long (for mounting track to 2x4)
  • 2 felt pads to protect baseboards
Sliding Barn Door Hardware


Instructions

Here are some basic instructions for building and installing one barn door.  Remember to make adjustments for your particular situation.
  1. Cut the 2x6 boards to length for the rails and stiles.  Use a 3/4" dado set to cut 1" deep grooves into one side of all 2x6 pieces.  The middle rail will need a groove on both sides.
  2. Cut tenons on both ends of the rails.  Do a dry assembly of the door frame to measure for the panels.
  3. Cut the tongue and groove planks for the panels.  To center the groove lines in the panel opening, you can rip the sides off one plank and use those pieces to start and end the pattern.
  4. Glue the three rails into one stile and let it dry.
  5. Slide the tongue and groove planks into place.  The planks I used are plain one side and have a center bead on the other side, so make sure the boards are flipped the right way.  Start and end with the thin spacer boards so the grooves are centered.  I did not use glue between the planks.
  6. Glue the remaining stile to the other side of the rails.
  7. Once the glue is dry, sand and paint or stain the doors as desired.
  8. Cut four 15" pieces of flat bar.  Drill a hole at one end for the wheel.  Drill two holes at the other end for mounting to door.  Sand any rough edges.
  9. Cut a piece of flat bar for the track.  In my case, the wall space limited the track to 107" long.  In general, the track will usually need to be about twice the width of the door(s).
  10. Paint the steel flat bar pieces and mounting hardware flat black.
  11. Mount the wheels to the top of the door using the 15" flat bar pieces.  Make sure there is enough space between the top of the door and the bottom of the wheel to fit it onto the track.
  12. Cut the 2x4 board to the same length as the track.  Mount the track to the 2x4 board using three screws, so that it overlaps the edge about 3/8" to allow clearance for the wheels to sit on the rail.
  13. Check above the door opening for a solid header or stud locations.  Drill mounting holes through the track and 2x4 for the lag screws.  Screw the track into place.  Make sure it is sturdy because these doors are heavy.
  14. Hang the doors onto the rail.  Make sure they clear door trim and baseboards and hang straight and square.  You can make minor adjustments to crooked doors by slightly enlarging the wheel mounting holes and mounting the wheels a little higher or lower.
  15. Too keep a door from rolling off the end of the track, add an L bracket or strategically placed screw as a stop.
  16. If you do not want the doors to be able to swing out from the bottom, you can buy or make a bracket that will allow the doors to slide, but prevent them from swinging out.
  17. Attach the handles.
  18. Enjoy your new barn doors!

Sliding Barn Doors

The supplies for this project cost about $200.  If you purchased similar barn doors and hardware from a store and paid for the installation, you could expect to spend about $1,500 or more, so you can save a lot of money by making and installing them yourself.  It took me about 25 hours of work over the course of 1 week to complete this project.  

Sliding Barn Doors

I am really pleased with out these barn doors turned out.  It was a challenging project to build such large doors in my small shop, but they were a lot of fun to make.  My wife has already requested that I make some for our home, so that means I get some more shop time!  Yes!

Workshop with Sliding Barn Doors

April Wilkerson of WilkerDos.com made some barn doors from plywood siding.  This is a great alternative to rail and stile construction.  I liked the way she used regular materials for the mounting hardware.  Check out her video below and subscribe to her channel if you haven't yet.  Thanks April!


Aaron at MrFixItDIY.com inspired me to use the rail and stile method to build these barn doors.  Check out his video below and subscribe to his channel if you haven't yet.  Thanks Aaron!


Wednesday, June 22, 2016

Harbor Freight Foot Switch Review

I recently bought a foot switch from Harbor Freight for my scroll saw.  I thought it would be fun to try it out on other tools too.  Check out my video then read more about my thoughts below.


Harbor Freight sells two types of foot switches.  The Momentary Foot Switch (Item 96619) works like a sewing machine pedal - press it to make the machine run and release it to stop.  The Power Maintained Foot Switch (Item 96618) works like a regular switch - step on it to turn on and step on it again to turn off.

I purchased the Momentary Foot Switch for my scroll saw, because it seems very similar to the use of a sewing machine.  The switch works great for this purpose and I highly recommend it.  I also recommend this switch for a drill press, sander, and even a router table where the router switch may be difficult to access.  My only complaint is that it's made of plastic.


I don't see myself using a Momentary Foot Switch for larger tools, like the table saw, band saw, or lathe.  I move around and change my stance a lot when using these tools, so keeping my foot on the pedal would be cumbersome.  Also, the thought of accidentally shutting off power to a tool in mid-cut is kind of scary.  The Power Maintained Foot Switch may be a better option for these larger tools.  It could be useful as a secondary stop switch or for hands-free operation when handling large sheets of plywood, but I think the switch itself and the power cables could be a trip hazard.


There are some safety considerations when using foot switches, so make sure you follow the safety guidelines that come with the switch.  If you have kids, pets, or frequent visitors in your shop, it's a good idea to turn off the tool's main switch when it's not in use and not rely solely on the foot switch.  If you blow a fuse or trip a breaker, turn off the tool's main switch before resetting the breaker.  Use common sense.


I can see where foot switches could make a production environment more efficient for repetitive tasks.  For most of us in a home woodworking shop, speed isn't much of an issue, but there are still some good uses for them.  Pick one up for about $13.99 (even less with a 20% off coupon) and try it out on a few tools to see what feels comfortable to you.  Just make sure you buy the right type for your purpose.