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    Handmade Olive Wood Necklace for Valentines

    Fellas, it's that time of year! Skip the single-origin chocolate bars and organically sourced roses and get your hands to work on this elegant, modern necklace that is sure to stun your special someone.    

    What you'll need

    • A small piece of exotic hardwood
    • Saw: bandsaw or coping saw
    • Wipe-on poly finish
    • "Antique brass" necklace chain cut to 21" in length
    • 2 jewelry jump rings
    • Brass jewelry clasp
    • 1/16th drill bit
    • Sandpaper Sheets ranging from 80-1600 grit
    • Needle nose pliers


    created at: 02/08/2015

    I picked up a packet of pen blanks from a wood crafting store. This is some super cool Bethlehem olive wood. I love the color and contrast it has. It reminded me of a blonde tortoise shell. When looking for a piece, you'll want something that has some closely packed swirls and colors since you'll be cutting out a small piece for the jewelry.


    Handmade Olive Wood Necklace for Valentines

     I started by milling a 1/8" thick piece from the blank. To make sure that I got the perfect piece, I milled the entire piece into several strips. I have a bandsaw, but you could easily use a coping saw for this. 

    Handmade Olive Wood Necklace for Valentines

    After looking at all my cuts, I think I'll go with the second one from the left. Look at all that swirling! 


    Handmade Olive Wood Necklace for Valentines

    I have a sanding station with an 80 grit paper. This thing can really tear out some wood. So, I'm going to use it to sand my chosen piece down from 1" to 1/4". I went with the sander because my bandsaw has a mind of its own and this sander can allow me to sand down to the perfect size and shape.

    A piece of sandpaper attached to a flat piece of glass or plexi with spray adhesive would work well here.


    Handmade Olive Wood Necklace for Valentines

    Once it's been sanded to the right width, I used a small pull saw to cut it to length. 


    Handmade Olive Wood Necklace for Valentines

    Minimize drill tear-out by attaching a piece of tape to the back of your jewelry and set it on a block of waste wood to stabilize your piece.


    Handmade Olive Wood Necklace for Valentines

    Now for some meticulous sanding! Start with 80 grit and work your way up to 1600. I taped each piece of sand paper to the table to make it easier to sand.

    Handmade Olive Wood Necklace for Valentines

    When the wood is super smooth it's time to coat it with poly. I recommend at least 2 coats. Sand with 1600 grit in between each application.

    If you prefer a mirror finish, you can use automotive polishing compound to buff out a really nice shine.

    Handmade Olive Wood Necklace for Valentines

    Gather all the jewelry making supplies you have laying around. Or, if you're like me, you have to go out and buy everything because you've never made jewelry. Assemble everything like you'd imagine. Attach the link rings to the holes on the wood piece. Then, attach the chain to the links. At the halfway mark, cut the chain and attach the clasps.

    Finally, give your piece a final polish and put it in a jewelry box and you'll be ready to amaze!

    Handmade Olive Wood Necklace for Valentines

    Note: You'll notice a difference in the cover image piece and the final piece. After my wife tried it on she said it was a little too thick. So I sanded it down from 1/2" to 1/4". 


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    The Garwood Angeleno

    When I think of watches I think of crystal faces, stainless steel, and maybe just a bit of rugged rubber. But when it's time to relax a bit, why not strap on something a bit more organic, like a wooden watch.   Here are a few exceptional watches that digress fully from the traditional metal construction and embrace a material every maker loves - wood.

    Wooden Watch1. Angeleno by the Garwood - This open faced watch is simple in design, with a classic square face and linked band. Small details like the etched arrow add the custom touch that make it stand out yet blend right in.

    kAPPA Nut Watch2. The Kappa Nut from WeWood - This watch also features a linked band, but has a multi-function movement for the date, and other features. Made from walnut, it will not only stand up to abuse, but smooth and soften with age.

    Fossil Stella Burlwood

    3. Stella Burlwood by Fossil - While this watch is not completely wood, the seamless integration of burlwood and copper make this one classy timepiece. It would be hard not to find excuses to check the time every few minutes, just for another glance at this beauty.

    So the next time you are in the mood for a new watch, venture a bit from the traditional materials and pick a wooden piece and you're just about guaranteed to leave an impression.

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    created at: 02/10/2015

    This year, the cartographic department at National Geographic celebrates its 100th anniversary. And this write-up by Cathy Newman, and its choice image selections, is one of the more fascinating things you'll read this week. Especially for lovers of graphics and all things travel. 

    The piece details the shift from analog to satellite to digital technology, the ever-fickleness of boundaries, and the invention of the National Geographic's custom type facesand serves as a great reminder of how totally cool paper maps are. 

    100 Years of National Geographic Maps: The Art and Science of Where[]

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  • 02/10/15--13:00: How to: Bind Your Own Book
  • Perhaps you want to make your sweetheart a little something special. Perhaps you've got an idea that you want to share with the world in paper form. Perhaps you simply haven't found the right notebook size and style. 

    Then you, my friend, should learn how to bind your own book!   Leon and Megan from Detroit letterpress studio Salt & Cedar walk you through a simple folded design, which uses nothing more than some paper, a needle and thread, an awl, and some regular office supplies like scissors and a ruler. 

    created at: 02/10/2015

    Then what?

    "A few ideas from Megan as to what to do with your finished pamphlet: 'Present it to your partner or your friend as a gift, use it as a guest book in your home, or tuck it in your suitcase to use as a journal for your next trip.' In a time when the screen often substitutes for the page, a book is a chance to connect physically with a story as a kind of treasured object – especially when it’s one of your own making. "

    Make books, people. Make books. 

    Bind Your Own Book [Kaufmann Mercantile Field Notes]


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    God Made A FarmerFor many design-oriented men, the best part of the Super Bowl is the commercials themselves. So I figured it was about time to highlight what is perhaps the "manliest" ad I've ever seen. Rugged and heartfelt, it'll make you itch to build things with your hands.   

    All of the photos are by famed photographer Paul Mobley, and you can check out more of his rural portraits here.


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    Busted Up Pallet One of the great things about living in Northern California is the wide open spaces. There are so many great places to hike, climb, swim, and just enjoy in the expansive outdoors up here. Only a true Northern California resident can really understand how frustrating it is when people tell me how Northern California is San Francisco and then right above that is Oregon. Nope, there are hundreds of miles between SF and the border, and that expanse is my home.

    California Rustic Sign

    I've been wanting to construct a large state map for my wall for a while, and I just happened to have a busted up pallet that needed to go. Here are the steps I took to make it happen:

    Wood from Pallet

    1. Disassemble the pallet - busting up a pallet is no small undertaking. They are made from durable nails, and are built strong enough to take a beating. Take your time and wear some good gloves to avoid getting spiked. To maximize the useable wood, go slow when pulling out the nails and avoid the urge to throw some muscle into it. A great tool to use is a flat bar which is nice to slip into the joints for some leverage. Take out the nails, and use a wire brush to get dirt and grime off the pieces. Rough Pieces

    2. Find and print a suitable picture -  this applies to any pattern, find the rough picture and use a program like, Sketch-up, or similar to size properly for the final dimensions. My pattern was 48" tall by about 30" wide. This prints out on multiple pages that have to be taped together to make the full size pattern (don't worry about getting too perfect, it's just a guide pattern and you will have the opportunity to fine tune it after cutting out). Layout on Pattern

    3. Lay out and cut backing board - The best way to get a clean pattern is to use a backing board, like 1/4" plywood (also known as doorskin). Lay out the pattern on the plywood and staple/glue/tape it down. You may want to go thicker on the plywood if making a very large piece to make sure it's stiff enough to stay together. The best way is to use spray-on adhesive which keeps the pattern in place while cutting, but staples or tape can work as well. Cut the board with a jigsaw and file down any rough areas until the pattern is perfect. (*Note - in the pictures I laid out the boards on top of the pattern to cut to rough dimensions first) Gluing on the Backing Board

    4. Lay out pieces to rough design - Lay out the pieces of wood on top of the backing board in a rough pattern, and move around until it looks good and fully covers the board. Then, flip over the entire pattern so that the backing board is on top. Make any final adjustments then spread a nice layer of glue on the boards and the backing board. Use pin nails or staples to help hold it all together. Pinning on Backing Board

    5. Cut out the final design - Once the glue is dry and the pattern is solid, it's time to cut the pieces. Set up the design face down on two sawhorses with a few support boards and carefully start cutting out the design to match the backing board. After cutting, use sandpaper to smooth out the edges and sand the surfaces to the desired finish. I kept mine pretty rough to preserve the rustic look. (*Note - in the pictures I used a few pieces of backing board stitched together. Don't do this, it was a pain and didn't work very well.) Cutting Out California

    6. Finish and seal - I put a coat of polyeurethane with a slight red tint on and let it dry before a final sanding with 220 grit to smooth out and give a matte finish. Adding a few picture hangers was all it took to call it done. Finished Rustic California Sign

    Here are a few things I actually did wrong while making this piece, hopefully you can learn from my mistakes!

    1. Use a single piece of backing board. I used three smaller pieces because it was what I had in the shop, this resulted in a pretty flimsy piece that had to be over-stapled to hold together at all. It was also very difficult to cut out the final pieces because the jigsaw kept vibrating the entire board during any tight cuts.

    2. Use plenty of tape to hold the pattern together. I used masking tape sparingly to hold the pattern together, and that made it difficult to keep all 25 pages together for the entire project. I ended up splitting the pattern into three pieces to make them more manageable.

    3. Go big, but plan for your space! Making large pieces is fun, and they are great to anchor big spaces. But be sure to measure first so you don't end up with a piece too big for the space. I went to hang up the map, and it was way too big for the wall, so I'm still trying come up with an alternative spot. 


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    created at: 02/12/2015
    Last month we posted about the fascinating story of the invention of the AeroPress, a $25 plastic device that makes the best single cup of home-brewed coffee we've ever tasted. Well, you guys seemed to like that post so much, we reached out to Aerobie (makers of the AeroPress, and, yes, the amazing flying disc) and asked if they'd let us give away a few ... and guess what? They said "coffee". Ok, no they said "yes", but I presume they're pretty caffeinated over there most of the time.

    Can't wait to see if you win the giveaway? Or just want to read all the reviews? Click here for the full product listing at Amazon. It has a 4.6/5-star rating with 3,500 reviews!

    Anyway, this isn't a sponsored post, and we're not getting paid to endorse this product (we just seriously, truly love it and wake up in the middle of the night thinking about delicious coffee). We like an opportunity to give our devoted readers free stuff! Here's what you have to do to enter to win of of the three AeroPresses we have to give away:

    Good luck!

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    CoolboxIn addition to offering your standard toolbox storage features, the Coolbox features an internal battery to charge or run small power tools, a 12ft extension cord with 3-way splitter, bluetooth speakers, a double-sided and removable whiteboard, a tablet stand, two USB charging ports, and a built-in clock. The Coolbox frame itself features handles on both sides as well as wheels to easily maneuver it on the go.   

    Brought to you buy the guys who attempted to perfect the hippest cooler around, the (incredibly bearded) team now utilizes their construction and mechanical background to design the ultimate toolbox for any project. The team is currently crowd-funding the Coolbox's manufacturing and they've already raised 314% of their goal since the site went live on January 26th. 

    Learn more about the Coolbox.

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    created at: 02/12/2015

    I have an Uncle John, and I imagine (statistically) most of you do as well. My Uncle John was a fantastic uncle to me growing up (and still is), but in particular, I remember him showing up on random occasions in my childhood with strong opinions and obscure stories that I took as the golden truth for much of my young life. As I got older, I was shocked to discover: 

    They were actually true. Well, more or less...

    Perolus Jack

    The Tale of Pelorus Jack 

    This first story that I'd often recalled was the fantastical tale of a sea captain who found himself in a perilous situation: trying to navigate through a treacherous pass between two islands without the help of the naval charts he had lost. Luckily for him, a friendly dolphin swam up beside the ship which seemed to beckon to him and faithfully guided his ship safely to the other side. It sounds mythical enough to not merit too much investigation, but after a bit of research I was shocked to learn the true story of Pelorus Jack

    Pelorus Jack (pictured above) was the name of a single dolphin that did in fact appear to guide ships through the dangerous stretch of water in Cook Strait, New Zealand in the years between 1888 and 1912. Pelorus Jack was identified from photographs as a 13ft Risso's dolphin (of which only 12 have been reported in New Zealand waters), whose sex was never identified. 

    The official story (according to Wikipedia) is that Pelorus Jack was discovered by the schooner Brindle whose sailors first saw the dolphin bobbing in front of the ship and were persuaded not to kill it by the captain's wife. Instead, they decided to follow the dolphin who proceeded to guide them through the channel. Other captains soon heard about Perolus Jack and how there were no shipwrecks when he was around, and ships would even wait to enter the channel until he showed up for them to follow. In 1904 someone aboard the SS Penguin (pictured below) tried unsuccessfully to shoot at Pelorus Jack with a rifle, which led to legal protection for the dolphin under the Sea Fisheries Act on September 26th, 1904 (the SS Penguin later shipwrecked in the straight in 1909, many believe as a result of a curse for shooting at Pelorus Jack).SS Penguin

    This is believed to be the first law protecting an individual sea creature, and it remained in effect until his disappearance in 1912. Perolus Jack was believed to be an older dolphin according to his coloring, and thus is presumed to have died of natural causes. This story to me encapsulates something about the need for wonder in life, and what one does with seemingly mythical information.


    Türkmenbaşy – Namer of Things

    Next up, I remember my uncle telling me when I was slightly older what seemed like a farcical tale about (what I remembered to be) a modern day foreign king who decided to renamed the months and days of the week. As it turns out, a basic google search reveals this to be the true story of Saparmurat Atayevich Niyazov, the infamously repressive dictator of Turkmenistan from 1990-2006, who gave himself the title of Türkmenbaşy, meaning "Leader of Turkmen."

    Türkmenbaşy was famous for his oddities, in particular for officially renaming the months and days of the week after members of his family, and requiring their adoption. This happened in 2002, which I found incredibly entertaining as a twelve-year-old. To begin, Türkmenbaşy simply renamed January, "Türkmenbaşy," after himself. April was renamed, "Gurbansoltan" after his mother, Gurbansoltan Eje. May was renamed Magtymguly after his favorite poet Magtymguly Pyragy. And June was renamed "Oguz" after the supposed founder of the Turkmen nation according to Türkmenbaşy's own autobiography and revisionist history of Turkmenistan (titled, "Ruhnama," which was also what he renamed the month of September). Türkmenbaşy also officially mandated that citizens use the following new titles for days of the week (Monday-Sunday): First Day, Young Day, Favorable Day, Justice Day, Mother Day, Spirit Day, and Rest Day. After the mandate was passed, all state owned media was forced to comply and numerous non-Turkmen publications targeted at Turkmen expats began using the terms as well. Türkmenbaşy died in 2006 and the cabinet of ministers of Turkmenistan officially restored the original names of the week in July of 2008. This story really just serves as a personal reminder that history is a great and bizarre and always worth investigating. 


    "All You Got"

    Perhaps my favorite tale I've always remembered was a short snippet from a story George Foreman has told regarding his legendary fight with Muhammed Ali. 

    It was during the historic Rumble in the Jungle– "arguably the greatest sporting event in the 20th century." George Foreman was the younger, heavier, harder-hitting and undefeated world champion, and Ali was working his way back to the top after being stripped of his title and suspended from boxing for 3 1/2 years for refusing to comply with the draft. It was 1974 and Foreman has described himself as overly confident and cocky going in. He had recently beaten contenders like Kenny Norton and Joe Frazier who had bested Ali in ring not too long prior. Foreman's only thought beforehand was whether he should be merciful on Ali or not. Yet as the fight continued each round Ali started running his mouth (as he was wont to do), taunting Foreman by asking him if that was all he had. Each round, Ali threw his "Is that all you got?!" at Foreman along with "They told me you could punch, George!"  as Foreman laid into Ali landing hundreds of punches.

    Unlike the victorious-looking photo above, Ali kept yelling these phrases primarily as he was on the receiving end of these punishing blows. With each refrain, Foreman started to wear down and began questioning if he really had it in him. It finally dawned on him in the seventh round when, after taking a hard right to the jaw, Ali pulled the heavyweight champion of the world into a bear hug and whispered, "That all you got, George?" and George had to think honestly to himself and realize, "Yeah… that's about all I got." Foreman was knocked out in the next round, and Ali was back to being the greatest. 

    I'm not really sure what the take-away of that story is or why its stuck with me. I think it has something to do with the respect for greatness. Knowing as a man that you've trained and given something everything you've got, and sometimes that just isn't enough and that's ok. Maybe something about knowing when you're beat and how to recognize it. At the same time, it also says something about Ali's bravado of thinking in his mind that he trained harder and was better fighter and how that he exuded that enthusiasm from every pore of being so that even if he didn't believe it, George Foreman certainly had to. I recently came across an excerpt by George Foreman that briefly describes the incident in this tribute he wrote for Ali's 70th birthday

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    created at: 02/12/2015

    To be honest, we're firmly in the "don't make dinner reservations for Valentine's Day" camp. Especially on a year like this, when the date falls on a Saturday. Save the special evenings for anniversaries, celebrations of achievements or special events, or heck, any random Friday night. Those are guaranteed to be more "romantic," memorable, and special.  

    So, if you wanna do something fun on the 14th, spend the day outside - go for a snow hike, a bike ride, or visit a museum. Then, come 5:00pm, head home and either cook together, or snag some takeout and allow the time to make the day special, not the prix fixe menu. 

    Oh, and since you're home and not driving, you've totally gotta make this cocktail.    

    created at: 02/12/2015

    It's called a French 75, and here's why it's the ultimate Valentine's Day cocktail: 

    • It involves champagne, but isn't just, you know, a glass of champagne. The cocktail relies on sparkling wine's effervescence and flavor, but is fortified with other ingredients, saving money and stretching the bottle. 
    • It's fresh and easy to drink, so if your sweetheart isn't super into spirit-forward cocktails, this is one that most anyone can get into.
    • Since its citrus season, lemons are at their peak right now, turning a cold, dark February night into something bright and playful. 
    • It's a basic recipe that doesn't require any exotic liquors, or spirits you won't use again. But, if you're into it, you can easily fancy it up to include your sweetheart's favorite flavors.
    • The drink is named for a potent piece of French field artillery from World War I, the 75-millimeter M1897, a small canon known for its rapid and efficient firing capabilities. So it's got a built-in little anecdote that you use to entertain your date while you whip these up. Also, insert jokes about small canons and rapid firing... 

    The French 75

    • 2 oz. London Dry Gin
    • 1/2 oz. 1:1 simple syrup (dissolve sugar in an equal part boiling water)
    • 3/4 oz. fresh lemon juice
    • 4-5 oz. Brut champagne 
    • Garnish: lemon twist

    Directions: Make the simple syrup ahead of time and allow to cool. Zest the lemon with a peeler or paring knife, then juice. Combine the gin, lemon juice, and syrup in a cocktail shaker (or Mason jar) and shake with ice. Strain into a tall glass filled with cracked ice and add champagne. Finish by twisting the lemon peel over the drink and adding to the glass. 

    created at: 02/12/2015

    Some additional notes and thoughts: 

    • There's a reason this thing is named after a canon. It's strong. With two ounces of gin and the champagne, it's basically a double. Not that that's a problem, but just be aware.
    • You might note that this isn't served in a champagne flute. That's because: champagne flutes are dumb. Don't own a set of glasses you can only use for one drink. Champagne tastes better out of a wine glass anyway. If you have some coupe or larger martini glasses, those are cool: just omit the extra ice. But I think the iced tall glass works best here. 
    • The basic recipe is classic, and more than 75 years old (probably). But you can spice this one up if you'd like: add some fresh herbs to the syrup. Use meyer lemon juice. Add a drop or two of bitters. Try other winter citrus. Just remember the ratio, and you'll come up with something drinkable.

    Cheers. Happy Valentine's Day. 



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    Here's an interesting take on a makeover project. Ben took his Hario gooseneck kettle, noted its striking shape, and decided the black plastic handles would like quite a bit better in a bold solid walnut.

    And? He was totally right.   

    Even if you're not interested in recreating walnut handles for a kettle you probably don't own, this project is interesting for two reasons: It shows there can be seriously interesting transformations by adding little handmade or textural touches. And Ben's technique for shaping the parts is really interesting; rather than cutting the shapes out with a band or jig saw, Ben used a series of sanding drums and carving burrs in his drill to create the rounded shapes. Which, of course, demonstrates you can cut non-square small parts without having to invest in something like a bandsaw. Don't know how long it took him, but its a neat technique. 

    See the full project at Homemade Modern: Coffee Pot Upgrade

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    Each week in 2015, ManMade is sharing our picks for the essential tools we think every creative guy and DIYer needs. We've selected useful, long-lasting tools to help you accomplish a variety of projects, solve problems, and live a hands on lifestyle that allows you to interact with and make the things you use every day. 

    created at: 02/13/2015

    It's always a big step when you move from the manual version of a technique to the powered option. The miter box becomes a compound miter saw, you reach for a pneumatic finish nailer instead of a hammer, the #2 Phillips screwdriver a Li-Ion impact driver. 

    And while there's still a great deal of pleasure from using hand tools, certain hand saws, bench planes, and hand drills, sanding by hand doesn't even come close. It's monotonous, tedious, and time consuming. It's the least creative aspect of any project or repair ... the "paperwork" of DIYing.   Thus, the powered sander. There are lots of options: belt sander, oscillating spindle sanders, sanding drums, detail sanders, and the like. But if you're looking to snag your first powered sanding machine, you want a random orbit sander.

    created at: 02/13/2015

    Like the best tools, it does exactly what it says it does: it spins sanding discs, attached with a hook-and-loop fastener, in a random orbit pattern. That is, in an intentionally wobbly and inconsistent circular pattern designed to not leave repeated marks in the grain of the wood.

    And? They work! They work great ... for a particular kind of tasks. Namely, smoothing or removing an existing finish wide flat surfaces that are bigger than the sanding pad: box sides, cases, long planks, tabletops, cutting boards, etc. What shouldn't they be used for? Sanding thin edges that can be rounded over, removal of material on inconsistent joint lines (you'll create a divot), or shaping wood or curves (the pad will compress, creating facets.)

    But, that one thing they do so well accomplishes a good 75-80% of smoothing or abrasive tasks, making for an incredibly versatile tool that touches nearly every project that comes out of my shop. 

    created at: 02/13/2015

    The sanding disks themselves have small holes that align with holes in the base, allowing the sawdust to be removed from the surface. These things aren't inexpensive, but they're certainly not pricey either. The trick here is: buy in bulk. This is true for all sandpaper, but especially true for these guys. Don't go get a pack of 5, or a multi-grit combo pack of 3-4 in each grit.  Get the 100 packs, every time. They're a bit more expensive at the outset, but you'll save money at the per-disk cost by a lot. If you don't need 100 at a time, perhaps you could split a bulk pack with a friend. At that quantity, you're looking at about 30 -60¢ per disk, rather than $.75-1.00. 

    For grits, an 80 - 120 - 80 - 220 set is nice, and will accomplish all but the most aggressive of removal tasks (you'll look for 40-60 grit then). 

    created at: 02/13/2015

    When purchasing, look for a sturdy 5" model that fits well in your hand, and is comfortable for your hand size and shape. Plug it in, and see if you can feel any noticeable vibration on the handle. If so, skip it; it'll make you go numb after a few minutes of sanding. Multiple speeds are nice and recommended, but not essential. But a quality dust port is a must; attaching a vacuum allows for faster work and wood removal, as well as a serious decrease in airborne dust, which is good for your lungs. So, for both health and efficiency: quality, effective dust port. 


    created at: 02/13/2015

    If you're buying a new one, we check out one of the following options, all in the 5" size, and 3 amp power range. You should expect to spend around $50 - $80 for this tool, with the variable-speeds coming in at the higher end of the range. Avoid anything under $40; at this point, tools in that range just aren't built for real work. 

    ManMade recommended: 


    And for sandpaper, these are the ones I prefer. I don't know if they're the absolute best, but they sure work great for me, and cost about 40¢ a piece.





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    FluidStance If, like me, you spent a fair amount of your junior high years in detention for constantly leaning back in your chair, then creating something like the FluidStance might be just what you need.   

    FluidStance I've never been too good at staying stationary. After I graduated college I went on a 3 month rafting trip where I was moving everyday at my own pace, before suddenly finding myself in a 50+ hour a week corporate job in a windowless cubicle. I don't know how many of you are still in that position (I ditched out pretty quickly) but I know having something like the FluidStance would've greatly helped me survive the days. 

    The snowboard-esque contraption allows you to playfully move throughout your day and keep your mind and body in check. Especially for those of you with standing desks, creating a stand like this with a bowed bottom will keep you from locking your knees or getting sore ankles/hips. 

    You can check out more about the FluidStance here, and I'd love to see if any of you guys have similar contraptions of your own or how you deal with the constraints of a stationary desk. 

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    Burned Wood TableOne of the most dramatic finishing effects is burning wood to bring out the grain. Here's a quick and fast project that highlights this distinctive technique.   I've tried at least a dozen different wipe-on finishes while making furniture, wall decorations, and even counter tops through the years. Some are designed to blend, some to contrast, and others are great for bringing out the natural character of the wood. But sometimes, a wipe-on layer can't really flesh out the layered textures as well as something a bit more drastic.  Burning Wood Grain

    Jessica does a great job walking through the steps of adding a bit of pop to a table project by burning a cheap piece of wood just enough to make the grains really stand out. Take a look at her article and then tuck that new found skill into your mental toolkit for the next project on the list.

    Finished Table

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    10 man-made snow day projects

    This week they're predicting record-breaking winter storms in my area which means, aside from braving my drive to and from work, I'll be stuck inside. So, instead of heading to the grocery store for bread and milk I'm headed to the hardware store to get some supplies to keep myself busy under the snowpack.

    Here's a list of 10 projects you could do in a day or two. Some take care and attention to detail and others will prove beneficial during these cold months. Either way, you'll definitely keep yourself busy!

    Tartine Bread Recipe

    1. Make bread

    This time-consuming recipe is certain to keep you warm. Especially when you have to cook it at a ripping 500 degrees! I recommend Tartine's Country Bread recipe. It's has such a great flavor and the method of making the bread is methodical and calming.

    carve your own spoon

    2. Try your hand a spoon carving

    I started spoon carving during the winter of 2014. I bought a hook knife and a small axe and went to work on a few nice pieces of firewood. It's a great indoor hobby. I'd recommend a vacuum too, it does make quite a mess! Check out this video tutorial on basic spoon carving to get you started.

    3. Print your Instagram Pictures

    Take this opportunity to get your favorite pictures off your phone and onto paper. Check out websites and apps like or Snapfish that will allow you to print straight from your phone.

    4. Binge-watch Brooklyn Nine-Nine

    That show is hilarious. I recently watched both seasons on a mixture of Netflix and Hulu. If you are lamenting the ending of Parks and Rec, consider Brooklyn Nine-Nine as your new best friend.

    5. Make Your Own Emergency Snow Prep Kit

    If the snow is piling up there's a chance the power might go out. Get ahead of the game and make your own emergency candles. You can also assemble one to keep in your car so you're prepared for getting stranded. Here' s a great kit list from Ready Wisconsin. I bet they know how to handle the snow! 

    7 winter movies

    6. Watch Some Winter Themed Movies

    Embrace the cold and bundle up with these 7 movies based on your favorite time of year. "Your" is subjective, of course.

    7. Knit your own Hat

    Pick up one of those knitting looms and make your own hat! Here's a quick and easy wiki on the process.

    8. Make Some Pantry Essentials

    Start a batch of vanilla extract or turn some wine into vinegar while you're stuck at home.

    9.  Waterproof a Jacket Before You Head Into the Snow

    Check out this tutorial on applying wax to a canvas coat.

    10. Make Your Own Soap

    Using a Crock Pot you can make your own soap in a shorter time than traditional soap making. Order the supplies ahead of time and have them ready for the next snowstorm! Here's a recipe from DIY Natural.

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    Raised Panel Doors Part 3This is the final part of our 3 part series on making raised panel doors. We’ve looked at my $400 raised panel set-up and the anatomy of a raised panel door, so with those in mind we’ll run though the steps and highlight a few items that will result is exceptional doors.   Here are 4 important steps to remember when building the doors:Quality Wood

    1. Use Good Wood- This rule applies to any project, but really makes a difference when accuracy counts. Cheap woods like pine and cedar are great to work with but splinter, warp and dent too easily to rely on for durability. Oak is a rock solid wood that is a bit hard to work with, but cuts well and is stable enough to resist warping. The problem is that it can be expensive, and the distinctive grain pattern doesn’t paint well. Poplar is another popular wood that is a bit easier to work than oak, but still resists splintering. The grain pattern can be a bit splotchy if staining, but it sands well for a nice painted finish. Overall, I recommend talking to a local hardwood dealer if you want a stained finish on your doors, and opting for Poplar if painting is the end goal. (Note: in some of these pictures, you'll see some pine I used for a simple shop cabinet). Set-Up Blocks
    2. Use Set-Up Blocks – Set-up blocks are a bit hard to get squared away at the start of a project. They can be made from scraps (use a hard wood or phenolic (plastic)), or bought commercially at the same source where you buy the bits. The ability to produce predictable cuts with faster set-up times pays for itself quickly during long projects with difficult tool changes. I use set-up blocks from MLCS which came with my bits.Router Table
    3. Make Stable Workspaces – Pushing large pieces of wood through a machine takes some pressure, and a shaky stand is going to vibrate all around during cuts which is dangerous and usually ends up with poor quality results. Make sure that every tool is fully secured to an anchoring surface that can stay put. If that just can’t happen (portable tools and a small shop, I get it!) make multiple smaller passes on cuts to lighten up the pressure on the tools. This means more tool adjustments and passes, but it works.Squared Up
    4. Square It Up – Square, straight, stable and sharp. Those are the rules of the shop for every single tool. Although the methods may be different, all tools have a way to true-up the cutting edges to the guides (fences, tables, mounts, etc.). Take the time to square up and tighten down your tools on a regular basis to make sure every cut comes out at the right angle and produces faces that can be matched up tightly. Table and miter saws are generally the most used tools in a shop and deserve some special attention to make sure cuts come out clean. Keeping blades sharp reduce the need to “push” instead of “feed” a piece of wood though the saw. While you’re at it, make sure to use the proper blade (they come in ranges from 30-120 teeth per inch (tpi) for different uses, use a higher tpi blade for smoother cuts at lower feed rates).

    With those 4 points in mind, here’s a quick walkthrough on constructing a raised panel cabinet door:


    1. Router – Large multi-speed router with ½” collet.
    2. Raised Panel Bits – Set of at least a matched rail and stile, and a center panel bit. Other useful bits include a panel bit, drawer lock bit, and door handle bit.
    3. Table Saw (for ripping stock to width)
    4. Miter Saw (for cutting stock to length)
    5. Planer (optional for dimensioning)
    6. Glue, palm sander, sanding blocks, finish
    7. Set-up blocks, tape measure, ruler

    Step 1: Gather all the tools and materials needed for the doors. For each door, there should be 2 rails, 2 stiles, and a center panel. If making the center panel out of smaller parts, be sure to have them squared and dimensioned the same thickness. All pieces of the door should be the same thickness, typically ½” or ¾” materials (unless your panel cutting bit doesn’t have a back cutter, see step 4). Double check all set-up blocks to be sure they are the right ones for the project.

    Step 2: Dimension all materials for final thickness, length, and width. First, run all wood through a planer to get a consistent thickness. This step is great if you have access to a planer as it will make the final doors much more consistent. If not, cut all wood to length. The stiles should be the final anticipated height of the doors (be sure to account for overhang), the rails should be final width of the door, minus the width of each stile and the width of the overlap of the locking joints. The center panel will be the same width as the rails minus 1/8” to account for wood movement. The center panel should have 1/8” -1/16” gap around the panel for movement.Cutting

    Step 3: Router work - Cut the endgrain of the rails first. To account for any chipping of material, cut the endgrain of the rails and use a backing board for full support. Next, switch bits and cut the rail and stile along the grain. Be sure to cut the rails so that the endgrain cuts are on the right side, it’s easy to switch those faces. This should result in a nice tight fitting frame with a channel for the center panel.

    Step 4: Center Panel – This is a large bit with a substantial amount of cutting face. It’s best to take this cut in multiple smaller passes. Also, be sure to adjust the speed of the router to match the bit, take a look at part 1 for more on that. The center panel cutter I used had a back cutting blade as well, this results in a flush back panel. If you don’t have a panel with a back cutter, the center stock will not be as thick as the rails and stiles to account for this, generally without the back cutter, the center panel is ¼” less thick than the rest of the door.Gluing up a panel

    Step 5: Final Assembly and Glue-Up – for this step, be sure to dry-fit all pieces of the door to make sure it all matches up. It’s fun to get all the pieces together and see a door appear. Check for square, level joints and final dimensions. If everything looks good, go ahead and glue up the doors. This is an important note: don’t glue up the panel, it’s designed to “float” in the door to account for seasonal wood movement. When clamping the joints, don’t use excessive pressure or the doors may buckle so check for flat and level after cinching them down. Be sure to wipe down any glue squeeze-out with a damp rag.

    Step 5: Finish it up – After the doors are glued up take a look at all joints and sand them up as needed with a sanding sponge and finish sander to get smooth. Run the doors through the router for any side finishing. Measure and drill for the hinges, and test fit then remove and set aside. Finish as you wish and you’re done, Cheers ~DRaised Panel Doors With Hinges

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    Pallet Wine RackIt's after Valentine's Day and you remember how nice it is to have nice wine on hand, now all you need is a good place to store it. 

    Pallet Wine RackSure it's hip these days to make just about anything out of wood pallets, but that's because they cheap (often free) and can easily add a nice touch of manly decor to any household. If you haven't experimented with wallet-furniture before, this would be an easy place to start. The simple design even features a slot to hold wine glasses underneath. Stylish and practical. 

    Pallet Wine Rack

    View the incredibly detailed instructions at


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    Snow Typography

    Check out this amazing, temporary artwork from Behance user Faust New York. This elegant typography is drawn into snow, mostly on automobiles, that leave a temporary impression of beauty in a chilly urban landscape.

    See the rest of this amazing work, and other pieces from Faust over on Behance.


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    Axe TableAxes may belong in the woodshed, but this exceptional piece of furniture brings them into the dining room for a classy man's touch.   I've always enjoyed good design, and most of the time simple is best. So when I saw this table highlighted on a site, it fully got my attention. This Oak and Walnut table is supported by 4 polished axes with hickory handles, and while I don't see it gracing my house anytime in the near future, there's something to be said about using common items in an uncommon way to create something amazing.

    Axe Table

    What items have you seen lately that deserve a second look?

    Table Detail

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    Water RocketSome of you have kids and some of you still act like kids, so here are some fantastic and fun DIY projects to do with children of all ages.    Onager CatapultFeaturing ideas like an Onager Catapult...

    Periscopeand a simple periscope (which I remember making as a kid and feeling like an accomplished explorer/scientist)...

    Knock Hockey Tableto a more complex knock hockey tablethis article from Popular Mechanics has some great ideas for the child within us all.

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