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Matt's Basement Workshop
Coming up in the next episode I’m returning to the lathe to knock out a couple of projects to wrap up the whole Movember theme I started with the beard comb. I know you probably already have an idea of what the project will be, but just in case you don’t, I’m not ruining the surprise.
In the meantime, to help hold you over until I get it posted on Monday (that way you have something to watch if you’re traveling for Thanksgiving…because I’m a giver like that) I thought I’d share this turning video someone sent me a while ago.
The article is from a post on mental_floss:
“Kokeshi dolls are handmade wooden dolls that originated in Northern Japan. Originally created for tourists visiting the hot springs, they are made up of a body, head, and thin lines of paint, usually in red and black. The dolls are beautifully simple, featuring no limbs or unusual colors. Although there are many different types of these toys, the most dominant is the Naruko style, seen in the video above.
This tetotetote-produced video features Yasuo Okazaki, an artist whose craft has been passed down from his father. The artist carves the doll from spinning blocks of wood in a process not unlike pottery. There’s something extremely relaxing and satisfying about watching the doll being formed right in front of your eyes.”
After watching it I have to keep reminding myself it’s all about practice, practice, practice. I doubt I’ll be able to replicate one any time soon, but it’s a lot of fun to watch this craftsman make them.
Regardless of where your workshop is located, one of the key tools in there is most likely your workbench. Have you ever really given much thought to where it’s positioned in the floor plan? I know I haven’t, until recently.
Not so long ago it became very obvious to me that workbench placement can be a huge advantage in a project. For example, normally my bench is simply pushed against a wall.
This works for me, most of the time, but once in a great while I have a project where I need a full 360º access to it. Usually it’s during the assembly process when I need access to both sides for clamping and adjusting.
But in my small shop that means I need to give up valuable floor space, something I’ll do very begrudgingly, and only when I’m in a real pinch. So if that’s how I feel about it, then why am I even bringing up the subject? I’m glad you asked!
Well, I’m thinking about changing my mind and giving up a little bit more floor space to take advantage of the convenience of having the 360º access all the time.
The real question is whether or not I move it out into the middle of the shop floor, or maybe just perpendicular to the wall, or maybe just slightly askew from the wall?
All along, the reason the workbench has been such a wall flower is because my current version isn’t very heavy. Usually I need the wall to keep it from moving all around the shop floor when I’m doing any kind of hand planing.
Of course the obvious solution is to make a heavier workbench. Which, if you’ve been with me for a while now, know is on the to-do list and the tall stack of 6/4-8/4 maple in the back of the shop is for that purpose.
But in the meantime I have a hunch turning the workbench so it sticks out into the middle of the shop floor is my best option to get that increased access to my projects.
So where’s your bench usually placed? Is it a permanent fixture in one location or do you move it around as needed? Leave a comment and share with us your workbench situation.
At the end of October I had the opportunity to sit down and record a great conversation with Don Williams and Narayan Nayar all about the H.O. Studley tool chest.
Don and Narayan are hard at work documenting and photographing the tool chest for an upcoming exhibit happening in May 2015, along with writing a book scheduled to be released a couple of months earlier in March.
What does this have to do with H.O. Studley needing you? Well it turns out, according to a recent post at the Lost Art Press Blog there’s a small snippet of the tool chest’s history missing. In the grand scheme of things, it’s a minor one, but the guys are looking for a little assistance from the woodworking community to help fill in the gap.
Without going into great detail, if you happen to have attended an exhibit of tool chests on display at the Smithsonian Museum titled “Engines of Change: The American Industrial Revolution 1790-1860,” and you took a few pictures, you might have one that will fill in this missing snap shot of the tool chest’s history for the upcoming book.
For more details on what the guys are looking for, or if you already happen to know you have a picture from this exhibit, visit the Lost Art Press blog post titled “How to Become Immortal (and Help the H.O. Studley Book).”
When I posted the beard comb video earlier this month I mentioned I’d be happy to post some pictures of the ones all of you made, if you were to make one.
A little while later Brian Timmons of Big T Woodworks contacted me to show off his version…or should I say “versions?”
Brian blew me away with his collection of wood beard combs that are as beautiful to look at as they are beautifully constructed.
You don’t have to have a lush full beard to appreciate these beauties, they look as if they belong in the bathroom of any well groomed gentleman!
If you want to be inspired by beautiful woods, or you just want to purchase one so you don’t have to make your own, visit Brian and his amazing wife Rachel at his store’s website (which has a blog too if you want to keep up-to-date with what Brian is up to.)
Visit Big T Woodworks by clicking here! Tell them Matt sent you!
As I’m posting this we’re heading into the weekend, and considering so many of us are also starting all those holiday gifts and will be in the shop every waking moment between now, and possibly the night before Christmas (or whatever you celebrate.) It only makes sense that this is the perfect time to remind you to work safely.
And to help remind you of safety, this is the perfect time to say WELCOME to our newest sponsor at Matt’s Basement Workshop…MICROJIG!
That’s right, the makers of the amazing 3-D pushblock system known as the GRR-Ripper are now sponsoring the show. And while Microjig is all about safety, they’re also big into making sure woodworkers work just as smart as they do safe.
With the introduction of innovative tools such as the Microdial taper jig and Zeroplay Guide Bars, Microjig helps to ensure woodworkers not only work wood safely but better and more efficiently by making tools that just work amazing.
Right now, not only do I want to tell everyone that Microjig is sponsoring the show, but also to mention they’re having a great giveaway happening on their Facebook page to celebrate their availability now at select Lowe’s Home Improvement Stores:
Win a $500 Lowe’s Home Improvement Gift Card – Step 1, post a picture of you and your GRR-RIPPER to the Micro Jig Facebook Like Page. Step 2, #worksafer and tag three friends who’s fingers you want to save. Deadline: 11pmEST 11/29/2014.
To get your entry in for a chance to win, click on this link to visit the MicroJig Facebook Page before the deadline.
Thanks again to Microjig for their support and I hope all of you are the winner!
Who couldn’t use a little help with creating better furniture designs? I know I struggle with it all the time, which probably explains why all of my pieces look like someone else’s!
For the month of November the folks over at Shop Woodworking have compiled a resource rich bundle full of great articles in the form of digital downloads, and DVDs that will help you to improve your design process. According to the description:
To build better furniture, you first need to understand the basics of drafting and design. We’ve compiled 9 incredible drafting and design resources to help you become the best furniture designer. Once you’ve mastered the programs and techniques that help you create great furniture designs, you’ll discover projects, patterns, and advice from some of the country’s most respected furniture designers and builders.
“Drafting & Design for Woodworkers,” “60 Minutes to Better furniture Design with Frank Strazza,” “Hand Drafting Skill-builder with Bill Rainford,” “Unknown Arts and Crafts Design Sources with Michael Crow,” “Basic SketchUp 2014 for Woodworkers with Joe Zeh,” “Intermediate SketchUp 2014 for Woodworkers with Joe Zeh,” “Furniture Design: From Process to Problem-Solving,” “Composing with Wood Grain,” & “Popular Woodworking April 2010″
Nine total items that will become your turn-to resources for creating your next project and everyone after that. Plus if you purchase the bundle, you’re actually saving 50% off the list price of all the items if they were sold separately. Don’t miss out!
Last week my Wood Talk co-host, and good friend, Shannon Rogers posted on Facebook that he was seeking a little help from the masses to compile information on visiting lumberyards.
In a nutshell he’s looking for tales of the good, the bad, and the WTF?!
Shannon’s Facebook request:
“Need some lumber stories. Bare your shame, voice your anger, and share your triumphs. I’m trying to assemble a baseline of common confusions, misunderstandings, frustrations, etc centered around a trip to the lumber yard or buying lumber in general.
You can expect a thorough video series that will hopefully address them all. I’m still not sure whether The Renaissance Woodworker will host it or J. Gibson McIlvain Company but it will be comprehensive and ideally eliminate some of the fear and frustration that comes with buying wood.
I’ll even throw in some plywood stuff. Ready? Go!”
We all have them, and I know to some degree or another we’ve already shared them with each other, but that’s no excuse not to dust them off and share again.
My own personal struggles have always centered around misunderstandings about the grading system, and determining boardfeet in material thicker than 4/4 (something I still wrestle with from time-to-time…but then I just ask Shannon, and when he stops laughing he explains it to me.)
So please take a moment to send your story to Shannon either by clicking on this link to send him an email, or head over to his Facebook page and leave a comment there.
Happy Veterans Day to all of our military friends and family,thank you for your service!
Your sacrifice and patriotism is greatly appreciated by myself and so many others who enjoy our freedoms everyday!
On today’s Veterans Day please take a moment to thank our military men and women for all they do, all they’ve done and all they will do. Thank you again for your service!
In honor of the “Movember” (or if you prefer “No shave November”) festivities I thought I’d do my part to help out such a great cause by challenging all of you to a little fundraiser!
Starting today and running through November 23, I’ll donate 100% of my earnings on any purchases made through my affiliate links with Amazon.com, Shop Woodworking, or via a direct donation to my PayPal account.
And since I released the beard comb video last Friday, I’ll include any earnings starting from November 7 until now in the amount also.
Here’s a few links to help get you started:
Plus on top of it, if you purchase a “Your Brain on Matt’s Basement Workshop” t-shirt, all proceeds (minus $5.00USD for postage and handling, sizes and stock are limited but we still have 2XL and a couple 3XL left) will also be donated to the cause.
“Your Brain on MBW”
|“Your Brain on MBW”|
|Small $9.00 USDMedium $9.00 USDLarge $9.00 USDX-Large $9.00 USD2X-Large $11.00 USD3X-Large $13.00 USD|
To keep all of you up-to-date on the amount I’ll be donating, I will include frequent updates on the MBW Facebook page, along with this post also.
For the sake of total transparency, the money donated is being given to help sponsor my dear friend Terry who has participated in, and has put on Movember parties for several years now.
He has a challenge going on with many others and I’ll be supporting his team with these donations that are 100% handed over to the Movember Charity at this link.
In today’s episode we’re making a fun little project from more scrap wood lying around my shop, specifically we’re building a beard comb. Why a beard comb?
Given it’s the beginning of November, that means it’s also the beginning of “Movember.” So I thought it would be a fun little project for some of my full-bearded woodworking friends, and an unique way to draw attention to the Movember cause.
The comb is very easy to make, only requiring a simple bridle joint and a little time shaping the handle to your hand. It’s a fun experiment in becoming more acquainted with hand tools such as spokeshaves and rasps and can even be made entirely with hand tools by cutting the curves with a coping or fret saw.
But for mine, I’ll use a combination of power and hand tools to get it built. Is it cheating? I don’t think so, it’s just a lot of fun.
So what exactly is Movember? It’s a yearly event to raise awareness about men’s health issues, specifically Prostate & Testicular cancers and mental health. According to the website www.movember.com “The Movember Foundation is the leading global organization committed to changing the face of men’s health.
The Movember community has raised $559 million to date and funded over 800 programs in 21 countries. This work is saving and improving the lives of men affected by prostate cancer, testicular cancer and mental health problems.
The Movember Foundation challenges men to grow moustaches during Movember (formerly known as November), to spark conversation and raise vital funds for its men’s health programs. To date, 4 million moustaches have been grown worldwide, but we won’t stop growing as long as serious men’s health issues exist.”
I don’t know about you, but that sounds like a good cause to me! So have some fun with the project and consider giving to raise awareness to these important health issues.
It’s that time of year when woodworkers start dreaming of what they’ll find under the Christmas Tree. Dreams of blades & bits, and finishing kits are filling our minds as I write this (don’t deny it…you know I’m right!)
Last year we released a wildly popular downloadable “Gift Guide” filled with suggestions and links to help loved ones and friends find just the right gift for their favorite woodworker. And this year I’m planning on releasing another one at the end of November.
But I could use a little help with some gift ideas. Obviously there are some big items we’d all like to see waiting for us when we get up to make coffee on the big day, but what about the smaller ones?
I’m looking for suggestions on books, DVDs, downloadable plans and services, hand tools, power tools and maybe even accessories or finishing kits.
Please feel free to share your suggestions of items you’ve purchased and recommend. Either leave a comment here on the website, or email me directly by clicking here.
Your help is greatly appreciated…by all of us!
Over the years I’ve had my fair share of miscuts, frequently they’ve been off by just a hair, but it’s not unusual to have had a few that made me want to throw the board across the room and flip the saw in some sort of Hulk-like rage.
Inevitably the mistake was a result of my own inattentiveness, either I was rushing through my prep work or I completely ignored my own markings. Either way the result was the same, more work to make up for the mistake.
At the end of September M&M Tool Parts posted an article by Mallory Kramer titled “Three Easy Ways to Achieve More Accurate Cuts.”
It’s a short and sweet post pointing out some pretty obvious steps to achieve better cuts. Tips that seem like a no-brainer, until you realize you probably haven’t been doing them. But once you try them, you’ll probably never stop. Huge thanks to Mallory and M&M Tool Parts for sharing!
Over the years a common question I get is in regards to shop location, specifically, garage versus basement. I know a lot of you have some very strong opinions on why you can’t or won’t have a shop in the basement. All of which are valid as far as I’m concerned.
Probably the number one reason I hear is dust, quickly followed by noise, and then there’s the concerns about moving materials/tools down the stairs and into the shop. Then on the flipside, there’s the issue of moving large projects back out.
I can say without a doubt, I’ve struggled with each and every one of these concerns, so I’m not just brushing them off and suggesting they’re not that big of a problem. Because they can be! For most of these there’s ways around them, they’re not always easy, but there’s ways to handle them.
But perhaps the number one reason for me to find ways to make a basement workshop work is that I can woodwork year round! It’s warm in the winter and cool in the summer. I can more easily control the humidity in the basement than I can in a garage, which means my tools are a little less prone to rust issues and my lumber is more stable (not that I’m worried about wild fluctuations anyways.)
Perhaps another reason I like having a basement workshop is that my wife and I are a little crazy in liking the idea of having our cars safely tucked in the garage. Sure a limb can break off and spear a hole in the garage roof, almost taking out the driver’s side of the car (real story from a couple of years ago.)
But if you lived in a neighborhood filled with tall oak trees, one on either side of our driveway, you would be familiar with the sound of falling acorns like rain on the roof. Or the constant oak sap that covers your windshield, so much in just a few hours that you have to scrap it off in order to drive. To avoid dealing with these issues, I’ll gladly take the inconveniences of a set of stairs versus having to rearrange the garage floor to accommodate one or both vehicles.
At the heart of it, there is no right or wrong answer to Garage versus Basement for a workshop location. They both have their pros and cons and all that matters at the end of the day is that you’re in them enjoying this shared passion we have for woodworking.
Perhaps the happy medium in this debate is a detached shop? I know I’d love one, how about you?
Where is your shop? If you had to list the top reason why you chose it (other than because it was the only thing available) why did you? And what is the biggest complaint you have about it (other than wishing you had a larger version LOL?)
Leave your comments below, and in two weeks we’ll randomly select one to win a “Your Brain on Matt’s Basement Workshop” t-shirt.
It’s no coincidence I’m posting this just before Halloween, Cancer is a monster and a horrifying disease. Thankfully there are some amazing strides being made every year in the battle against it. But it takes money to do the research, and that’s where we can all help out.
Thanks to some vary generous donations from the folks at Powermatic and our good friend Marc Spagnuolo “The Wood Whisperer” you have an opportunity to bid on either a Powermatic PM2800B Drill Press and a Phone Consultation with Marc
Sure all three of these auctions mean the winners will be paying a much higher price for items they could ordinarily get elsewhere. But then we wouldn’t be able to say we were doing as much as we could to help find a cure for a disease that will most likely touch us or a loved one in some way during our lifetime.
To participate in the auctions or just to see the level of generosity of the bidders, visit the links above. Hurry, these end soon!
I was just talking about how amazing all of you are with someone they other day and I suddenly realized I haven’t done an audience survey in easily two or three years. That really worried me!
As close as I consider all of us to be, I feel horrible that I don’t know some of the most basic answers about most of you. If anything, that just shows I’ve been neglecting my duties as a good host.
So to remedy the situation I’m asking if you could take a few minutes and answer some questions for me so I can get a picture of the average Matt’s Basement Workshop audience member.
I mean, it’s obvious to me that you’re all devastatingly handsome men or absolutely beautiful women, and I imagine you’re all independently wealthy, and educated from only the finest of schools.
But just in case I’m a little off, I’d like to get a more refined picture of who I’m talking with everytime I post an article or video. It’s only fair really. You know a lot about me, so how about you?
To take the survey to help me understand who you, the average (or not so average) audience member of Matt’s Basement Workshop are, click on this link to the MBW Audience Member Survey. You’re participation is very much appreciated!
As my way of saying “Thank you!” After you’ve completed the survey come back to this page, click on this link to send me an email with the subject line “2014 Survey Completed.”
When I receive your email I’ll enter your name in a drawing to win a “Your Brain on Matt’s Basement Workshop T-shirt.”
The winner will be announced on November 30, 2014. Entries are open to international audience members also…because WHY NOT?Just for transparency…this survey is primarily for demographics information for potential sponsors, but I DO want to know you too…
The folks at CU Woodshop Supply are holding their 5th Annual Fall Woodworking Festival this week, Thur. Oct. 30th-Sat. Nov. 1st 9 am – 6 pm at the CU Woodshop & School of Woodworking.
If you’re anywhere near the Champaign, Il area and haven’t visited them yet this is a great opportunity to stop by and check them out.
The event is open to everyone and this year will be featuring two masters of woodworking, Jeff Miller & George Vondriska, on-site to share their woodworking knowledge and answer your questions. At the same time the CU Woodshop is also hosting a Lie-Nielsen tool event.
So if you haven’t been tempted enough, this is an amazing opportunity to stop in and try out some of the premier hand tools available on the market and get expert guidance in choosing and using the right one for you by their knowledgeable staff that will be on hand to answer all of your questions.
And if that wasn’t enough to grab your attention and bring you in there’s also the following:
If you make it, tell the staff “Matt said HI!” They’ll probably give you a blank stare, but that’s okay, it’s better than being escorted off the premises. For sure tell Jeff I said “Hello”, but more important have a great time and share your pictures (if you choose to take any) online. I’d love to see how it went.
The H.O. Studley Tool Chest is considered by many to be THE “Iconic Tool Chest,” the very tool chest that all others are compared to, and the envy of every woodworker who set their eyes upon it.
On the outside it’s constructed of a gorgeous Cuban Mahogany, but it’s the meticulousness of the organization on the inside that sets it apart from everything.
When opened, it reveals the breathtaking layout and arrangement of the 240+ tools contained within. All of which add to the beauty and awe-inspiring effect the tool chest has on those who’ve seen it. But who was H.O. Studley?
Truthfully, we know more about the chest than the man who built it. And what about the lesser known Studley workbench? Have you ever seen it up close or even knew it existed (“Chortle”-level Patrons of Matt’s Basement Workshop will get a look at it in the bonus footage accompanying this video, join today by clicking here?) Those, and many more questions were what Don Williams set out to answer in his upcoming book about H.O. Studley and his tool chest, due out in early 2015.
Don, along with photographer Narayan Nayar, and Christopher Schwarz of Lost Art Press are painstakingly documenting the man, his tools, and of course his tool chest, so the rest of us can understand who he was and what’s so amazing about this iconic piece of woodworking history.
Along the journey to write the book and document the tool chest, Don made arrangements with the current owner to set up an exhibit for the general public to come in and see it up close.
The H.O. Studley Tool Chest and Workbench Exhibit is happening May 15-17, 2015 in Cedar Rapids, Iowa. It’s occurring the same weekend as Handworks in nearby Amana, Iowa and will be offering visitors a full 360º view of the tool chest and workbench.
Tickets are currently on sale, but there is a limited number available. So don’t miss out on the opportunity to see the Studley Tool Chest in person. For more information visit www.studleytoolchest.com.
I can’t help it, I love options! I keep saying it over and over, and amazingly they keep coming along.
Once again the folks at Shop Woodworking haven’t let me down. It’s not just one, not two, but a handful of woodworking value packs available right now.
Bargain packages filled with woodworking information on joinery, projects, techniques and more, combining books, CDs, DVD and magazine downloads. Chances are, whatever you’re looking for, it’s probably on sale!
Head over to Shop Woodworking and checkout what’s available and save big money before they’re gone. Plus, save 25% off with Offer Code Mattsbasement25 (expires 12/31/2014.)
In the past few years we’ve had some great new content hitting the airwaves, both online and via traditional broadcast television. Some might even refer to it as a glut of information in this age of YouTube and Podcasts, but I say it’s exactly what we’ve been needing for a long time.
There are so many stories to be told, so much inspiration to be discovered, and so many ideas to be shared that the hardest part of getting it in front of an audience is finding the right person to tell the story.
One of the new shows I’ve had my eye on currently is “A Craftsman’s Legacy” with host Eric Gorges.
It’s currently available on PBS, but like many shows that are broadcast through Public Television it may not show up in your market right away. Thankfully at the show’s website they have a search you can do to see when and where it’s on.
Much of the reason I have an interest in A Craftsman’s Legacy is that the host, Eric Gorges, is from the Motor City. While people who never grew up in and around Detroit only have an image of a corrupt, broken down, dangerous inner city, I know personally it’s much more than that.
I grew up in the Northern suburbs, Ferndale and the Troy/Royal Oak area, and Detroit was always the heart of education, museums, nightlife and so much more. It’s where you went to see and be a part of culture. It’s where you went for amazing food and to see inspiring ideas.
But it wasn’t until my last few years in college that I lived downtown and had a chance to see and experience both its gritty side and its beauty. Both of which inspired me in so many different ways.
So in a way I can relate to Eric, and understand what inspires him and why he’s sharing the artists and craftspeople he visits with in each episode.
A Craftsman’s Legacy isn’t a show just about woodworking, and it’s not a how-to show, instead it’s an journey to meet inspiring people who just might inspire you.
For more information about Eric, the show, and to see clips of the various craftspeople and artists he’s visiting, head over to the show’s website at www.craftsmanslegacy.com.
Inspiration comes to us from places we never expect. It comes to us from ideas, people and conversations that often have nothing to do with our existing passions. So sit back and enjoy the journey with Eric.
Because having options on any project (especially one designed as a build-along for charity) is a good thing, I wanted to share with you another very similar version of the toy box being built for the Woodworker’s Fighting Cancer campaign going on right now.
Steve Ramsey of Woodworking for Mere Mortals has a version he posted the other day on his YouTube channel. It’s very similar, but as always, Steve puts his own twist on it and presents it as an alternative version to build.
According to Steve “it’s simple: all you need to do is make a toy box. It would make a great holiday gift, or you might consider building one and donating it to a local school or organization. Marc and I are each donating $5 for every box viewers make before November 30th.”
“The only thing we ask is that you make either my box, or use Marc’s design. They each have unique features. Take a picture and submit it to the Woodworker’s Fighting Cancer page.”
In addition, if you really want the actual chest you see Steve building, you can get in on the auction to purchase it. More details about that by visiting his webpage for the toy chest by clicking here.
Regardless of which version you choose to build, the only important thing is that you get involved in one way or another. This year’s goal is to raise $15,000. I have all the confidence in the world that will happen and then some.