Monday, April 28, 2014

Summers Woodworking 2x4 Contest Coming Up in May!

Get your thinking caps on and start brainstorming ideas for the 2014 Summers Woodworking 2x4 Creative 2x4 Competition!  This is your chance to be creative and make something no one has ever seen before...out of a regular 2x4!  I believe this is the most fun you can have for $3.00.

Thanks to Summers Woodworking for hosting this contest and working with the contest sponsors below to set up an awesome set of prizes.  This is a great opportunity to win something new for your workshop, so go for it!  Make people say "I can't believe that was a 2x4!"

Here are some of my previous 2x4 contest projects to get your wheels turning.  Click here for more information about the contest on the Summers Woodworking website.

Wednesday, April 23, 2014

Featured Project: Book Reader's Thumb Page Holder Assistant Thingy

During my nightly YouTube woodworking video viewing session on Monday night, I watched Robert Blanford, aka RJBWoodTurner, make some of these Reading Assistant thingies.  I've seen these before, but never really was inspired to make them until after watching Bob's video.  So I headed out to the shop and made five of these things for my family of readers in about 20 minutes.  I used my drill press and bandsaw.

In Bob's video, he mentioned that he didn't have templates, so I took the liberty of creating some to share with everyone.  Bob used a 7/8" hole for the kids and said a larger hole may be needed for adults, so I created both 7/8" and 1" templates.  Click here to download the free PDF templates.

If you know any avid book readers, make them some of these Book Reader's Thumb Page Holder Assistant Thingies.  (There's just not a good name that describes what these things are.  LOL)  Oh, and the best part is no one knows what these things are until you show them, so we can all thank Bob for making us look clever!

Visit Bob's RJBWoodTurner YouTube Channel and subscribe!  Thanks Bob!

Steve's Mahogany Reading Assistants

Sunday, April 20, 2014

Easter Egg

This week I was trying to come up with an Easter project and I thought that turning an egg on the lathe would be a great skill-building opportunity.  I brought out my basket of red cedar log slices and selected the perfect piece.

It took me about an hour to turn the egg and finish it with Hut Crystal Coat.  This is one of the reasons I love using the lathe, you can start and finish a project in hardly no time.  The egg turned out great and my wife loved it, so now she wants some more!  Sounds like I will be getting lots more practice on the lathe and that's alright with me!  Happy Easter!

Tuesday, April 15, 2014

Woodworking Tools...Oh boy are there a lot of them!

Featured article by Adam Roman, NY Woodworker.

Woodworking Tools...Oh boy are there a lot of them!  In my opinion there is a good, bad and ugly side to woodworking tools. 

The good side of tools is that there is generally a specific tool that can help you easily and accurately complete a woodworking task.  For example, if you are building a drawer and want to join the front to the sides, you can get a dovetail saw to cut a dovetail joint or you can use a self centering dowel jig to help you properly place dowels for joints.

But having so many tool options for individual tasks is what leads to the bad side of tools, with all these tools it is very easy to run up your expenses.  Do you really need a dovetail saw?  Recently, John Heisz from showed us we could cut a perfect dovetail with a hacksaw.  Now there is nothing wrong with having a dovetail saw; it's just as a newbie woodworker figuring out 'what to have' versus a real 'need to have' can be a challenge.  

Lastly is the ugly side of much should I spend on tools?  New versus used?  Cheap versus expensive and everything in between?  On one side you have woodworkers who love Harbor Freight or finding good deals on Craigslist for used tools.  These are individuals who can get tools for a fraction of the cost and don't mind dealing with a potential lack in quality or short life span of a tool.  On the other side are the Festool and SawStop owners who only buy the most expense of everything, and then there are the rest of us who are just trying to do the best we can with the budget we got at Sears, Home Depot and Lowe's. 

So when starting out, how do you deal with the good, bad and ugly?  The best advice I can give is to simply buy the best tool you can afford for the current project.  It is very easy to go crazy getting different tools.  So when starting out, think about the types of projects you want to do.  A lot of tools are very versatile, like a router for example.  Besides being able to create different types of profile edges, it also can cut dados; or when combined with a router table, it can do double duty as a jointer.  The key is research, research and more research.  There are great online woodworking forums like and where you can get a lot of good advice from experienced woodworkers. 

You also really need to cater to your personality.  Some people have the "I love finding a good deal" or "I can fix it up" mentality that is great for used tools.  Others prefer to spend the extra money on newer, higher quality tools so they don't have to worry as much about them.  David Picciuto from said this:  "I like having nice tools.  This is my hobby.  I want to enjoy it as much as I can and sometimes that means having a nice, well crafted tool."  To be honest, I have learned the hard way that I am of that same mentality.  

I have a new router, router table, sliding miter saw and scroll saw.  I did a ton of research and they are not high-end tools, but they all worked great right out the box and I love working with them.  On the flipside, I also bought a used 1970's belt driven, contractor's table saw.  I only paid $125 and it came with a Vega fence system and rebuilt motor, but the wire for the outlet needed replacing and the blade guard assembly was missing.  The first time I ran it, the pulley attached to the arbor was worn away and flew off inside the saw!  Let me tell you I easily lost a year off the end of my life when that thing flew off and started banging around.  So I found the blade guard and pulley on eBay for around $70 in total.  It's working well now but I put a lot of work into it and will probably upgrade to something new at some point.  

I also bought a used 14 inch band saw for $100, but I had to replace the cool blocks (not a big deal) and what I thought was simple rust on the table is not rust.  I honestly don't know what it is, but it's not coming out no matter what I use and the black is rubbing off on my wood.   So I initially started looking for a replacement table and the prices were around $50...ugh.  Then I found this great idea from American Woodworker.

So here you can see my bandsaw table with the mystery black spots.

So I took a piece from scrap 1/2 inch plywood and cut through the middle of it until it reached a spot on the table I was comfortable with.

Then I marked off underneath the plywood table where I could secure it to the original table. 

Using a piece of scrap plywood, I lined up the location to the wood table and secured the scrap with glue and screws.  To make sure I didn't drill through the top of the table I used a piece of scrap and a spacer.  It worked perfectly!

Finally, I notched out a small wedge so it would be easy to slide in, and BAM...New table costing me nothing more than some screws and scrap wood.

It honestly came out much better than I had expected.  So good in fact I plan to upgrade it to a piece of 3/4 inch melamine and add a fence for resawing.

Ultimately, tools are as much a part of woodworking as the wood.  No single approach to them is right or wrong.  New, used, expensive, cheap or a combination doesn't matter as long as you are enjoying and completing your projects to your satisfaction.  If using a tool is becoming a drag then maybe it's time for an upgrade.  Good luck, be safe and I am going to start saving up for that SawStop contractor saw. :-)   

Adam Roman
NY Woodworker

Friday, April 11, 2014

Workshop Bookends - Easy Woodworking Project

I made this set of Workshop Bookends from scrap 3/4" plywood and an old dull saw blade.  This is a very easy project because all of the boards are the same size, 6" x 7.25".  I rounded off two corners of each board on the bandsaw and cut a groove into two of the boards to receive the saw blades.

Cutting the saw blade in half is the most challenging part of this project, but it can be done safely with a hacksaw or an angle grinder.  Make sure you wear your safety gear and clamp the blade tightly while cutting!  I painted the surfaces of the boards gloss black and left the plywood edges exposed with a few coats of spray lacquer.

I attached non-skid shelf liner to the bottom using spray adhesive to keep the bookends from sliding.  Since I only have two books, my favorite feature of these bookends is the built-in dividers that can be used to organize magazines and tool instruction manuals.

Everyone could use a set of workshop sawblade bookends, so be creative and make a set!  They look SHARP!

Click below to watch more bookend videos from other woodworkers:

Tuesday, April 8, 2014

Make a Screen Door - A Kreg Jig Home Improvement Project

Springtime ushers in new growth of grass, flowers, trees...and my Honey-Do List!  This week I was able to cross off my first item, a Screen Door!

Our back patio door is actually one side of a bay window, so it's an odd size and the standard 30" or 36" screen doors available at the home center are too big.  Rather than order an expensive custom screen door, I decided to make one myself.

  • Southern Yellow Pine 1" x 3.5" x 9' (3 @ $9 each) - Select straight dry boards.
  • Window Screen ($5 per roll)
  • Vinyl Screen Spline ($3 for a 25' roll)
  • 1.5" Kreg screws
  • Exterior Paint
  • Hinges
  • Door handle/latch
  • Door closer or spring
  • Spline roller tool

Watch my video for details on how I built the screen door.  Below are some additional notes about the process, including one thing I may do differently next time.
  • I did not plug the pocket holes, in case I need to tighten up the screws after it weathers a while.
  • The screen frames covered the pocket holes around the door openings.  The pocket holes at the very top and bottom are not that noticeable since I painted inside them.
  • The screen doors at Lowe's have the spline grooves cut into the door frame itself.  This allows the screen to be attached directly to the door, eliminating the need for screen frames.  This is one thing I will do differently next time.
  • The screen frame miter joints were not that strong, but I only needed them to stay together long enough to get the frames screwed onto the door.
  • The door fit perfectly into the opening, but I did have to chisel out mortises for the hinges to allow the door to open and close a little easier.

This was an easy project that I was able to complete in one weekend.  The total cost was about $35 since I already had most of the materials.

Consider this Honey-Do List item CLOSED!

Update:  Here is another great method for making a screen door from Tommy at the Shavingwood Workshop.  I think I will try Tommy's way of attaching the screen next time.

Tuesday, April 1, 2014

Faux Side Table

I can't believe it's April 1st already!  It's a beautiful day here in Georgia and I'd be a fool not to open up the garage door and start a new project.

A Faux Side Table has been on my To Do list for a long time.  This one has a 14" round table top, a turned support column, and three pretty legs.  It was sanded with 220 grits and assembled with just glue and a few brad nails.  I finished it with 37 coats of spray lacquer, resulting in the clearest finish I've ever seen.

If you would like to make one of these yourself, I strongly encourage you to download my free Faux Side Table Plans!  Even if you don't build one, make sure you read the first page of the plans!