Online plans can be easy, helpful, and can save you time and money if you put in the effort to usethem. But if you buy plans one by one, you might speed a lot of time organizing and searching for things to build as well as having to decipher different plan formats. You might learn a technique or two or improve your skills slightly, but you’ll forget everything by the time you go to find another plan. With organized lessons, however, you can always find the plans or instructions again easily, and come up with even more ideas of projects to build. Downloadable woodworking courses can save you money as well.
If you’re like me, every time you wander through a big-box furniture store, you feel a little insulted. Here you are, a man, staring at relatively simple furniture, being asked to lay down large sums of money for a bookshelf, dining set, or desk. And if you know enough about wood to spot laminate and fiberboard, you’ll quickly see these expensive pieces of furniture have a shelf life (no pun intended) of about two years.
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To save money, we keep the temp in our shop down low when we’re not in it and crank up the heat when we return. But even when the air temperature hits 70 degrees F, the concrete floor is still Minnesota-cold. We tried a space heater under the bench, but it broiled the shins and still left us with cold feet. So we recently bought a foot-warming mat, and now our feet stay toasty warm. Plus, it uses a fraction of the electricity and is a lot safer than a space heater. The mat is produced by Cozy Products. The good folks over at Cozy suggest putting a chunk of cardboard underneath it if you use it on flooring that could fade from the heat, like carpet or wood.
Taking cabinet building to the next level I wanted to take another step in my building and see if I could build a cabinet without the use of screws. My wife found the plans in an old Woodsmith Magazine and asked me to build the largest bookcase of the set. My plan was to build the entire cabinet using dowels instead of screws, dado slots instead of pocket hole joinery and biscuit joints. Using rough oak purchased from a local lumber mill, I milled and sized the lumber to the specifications to create this book cabinet with 5 shelves. It was time to replace a number of older pine book cases in the house. Instead of using the traditional pocket hole joinery, the sides, shelves, doors and face frame were all joined using 3/8” dowels,biscuit joints, dados and glue. I used tempered glass for the doors for safety which I was able to purchase locally. The glass vendor recommended using silicone caulk to secure each pane before applying a few small mirror catches on all the sides. The doors were each hung with 3 Ball-Tip Full Back-to-Back Wrap-Around Inset Hinges. Finished with Minwax English Chestnut and homemade wiping polyurethane, this cabinet will stand the test of time and hopefully become a keepsake that is passed down through generations. *DISCLOSURE: Some of the links in this post are affiliate links. If you chose to click through and make a purchase I will earn a commission but there is no additional cost to you. It helps compensates the business for the time spent creating these posts. THANK YOU!
Open rafters and trusses are an endless source of falling dust. So if you’re working under an open ceiling, hang plastic sheeting above. Keep the plastic at least 12 in. from light fixtures or remove the bulbs. Sometimes, adding plastic ‘walls’ is a lot easier than cleaning up the entire area. If you’re using oil-based finishes, hang the sheets about a foot from the floor to allow for ventilation.
When you buy the wood, look for pieces that aren’t warped, excessively longer or shorter than the others, and, if you can get lucky, don’t carry the telltale “new wood” planer marks. We purchased the most inexpensive wood that we could find. You’ll likely find them in 2- and 4-ft pieces. If you have a saw at home, you might consider getting the 4 ft pieces to decrease the cost of your project a bit.
Your monster of a table is going to be HEAVY, so I strongly recommend moving it to its final destination in two pieces–lay a blanket down in your dining room, put the top on it upside down, then the frame upside down on top of that. Attach a couple 2×4 supports across the frame for good measure, then begin the frustrating process of centering the frame on the top. Once you have the top centered, attach your brackets–I did two on each end and three on each side.
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The space behind a door is a storage spot that’s often overlooked. Build a set of shallow shelves and mount it to the wall behind your laundry room door. The materials are inexpensive. Measure the distance between the door hinge and the wall and subtract an inch. This is the maximum depth of the shelves. We used 1x4s for the sides, top and shelves. Screw the sides to the top. Then screw three 1×2 hanging strips to the sides: one top and bottom and one centered. Nail metal shelf standards to the sides. Complete the shelves by nailing a 1×2 trim piece to the sides and top. The 1×2 dresses up the shelf unit and keeps the shelves from falling off the shelf clips.