Wednesday, October 31, 2018

Engraved Buck 110 Pocket Knife with Handle Inlay - $350 SOLD!

For those of you that watched the video, you already have the full picture. This knife was hammer and chisel engraved by hand with a design of oak leaves and acorns. I also cut out a matching brass medallion which is set into the handle. All the engraving is infilled with black enamel to contrast the polished brass.

Full Video Demonstration

I learned hammer and chisel engraving from my father who has been at the craft since before I was born. Seeing this from a young age I was naturally interested in learning it myself. Most of my engraving has been practice and production engraving. This is my first start to finish project where I chose the piece, designed and engraved the bolsters. I also chose to cut out and engrave a medallion and inlay it into the handle.

I have this knife's "Buy Now" button set to a quantity of one. Once it is sold the button will no longer function. Shipping is included with the purchase for U.S. addresses only. If you are an international buyer, actual shipping will be charged. Again, U.S. shipping is free.

Price- $350 (SOLD) 
Includes padded zipper case and Buck Sheath

Thursday, February 15, 2018

Making a Living My Way - Reclaimed Wood Furniture

Making furniture is how I make a living. It has afforded me the freedom to live how I see fit, including spending time with family and friends. Selling furniture pays all my day to day costs but has also helped launch other endeavors as well. I have been able to purchase several houses, one being my personal home and the others as rental property. My Youtube channel was also launched with a goal of sharing my experience of making and selling furniture. This kitchen island was made from lumber salvaged from my personal home throughout its renovation. The sale earned me enough money to pay for the entire drywall job in the house. I truly enjoy the connected nature of my various business ventures. One of my greatest joys of it all is bringing these videos to you. They are both enjoyable for me to make and share but create more income opportunities as well. With this video, I am offering a set of woodworking plans. The plans consist of pen and ink drawings, text and dimensions that are necessary to build this island. The plans are 15 pages, not including the cover. This marks the 4th set of plans available on the website. Other plans include a farm table, farmhouse bench, and a trestle table. You can see all of the available plans here- If you would like a little help getting a furniture business started, I have written an ebook on the topic and working on more now. Check out what is available here-

If you would like to see some of the houses that I work on and salvage lumber from, check out my other channel "Homemade Home".

Saturday, October 7, 2017

$12,000 House - Full Renovation - Plumbing Waste Lines

Has this house been more work than I originally intended? Absolutely! Am I glad I purchased it? Absolutely! While it has been a good deal of work, it has been rewarding in a number of ways and it's not even pulling in rent yet.

I decided to use this house as an experiment of sorts. First off, I'm documenting the entire process on one of my Youtube Channels, Homemade Home. This allows others to see the process in detail, including seeing the fact that plans, ideas, and expectations change throughout the project. Some have said I talk too much, and that is probably true but these videos are meant for people who want to hear the behind the scenes stuff that goes into it all. If you want to see a house get gutted and renovated in less than 30 minutes, watch HGTV. Another aspect of the "experiment" is hiring people to help me as well as hiring tradesman to do certain portions of the labor, drywall for example. The house is small and the bills are in keeping with its size, so I am able to use this house to develop a template for future renovations. In the past I have simply done things as cheaply as possible, that can be slow and pull me from my day job, making and selling furniture amongst other things.

Featured Video

I focus on plumbing in the waste lines. This is the system of pipes in your walls, under your floor that direct the wastewater from your drains to the sewer or septic tank. These lines also include venting which allows air to move through the plumbing. This does two things, it keeps the water from being sucked out of plumbing traps as well as vents sewer gases out of your roof, instead of into your house. Most of my plumbing is in the bathroom wall with the remaining lines under the house where they all join together on their way to the sewer.

Click video to play!

What's Next?

Next up will be running all the water lines that will carry clean water to your sinks and other fixtures (toilet, washing machine, etc.). I use PEX which in my opinion is a superior option compared to using CPVC, copper and other traditional pipes. It is great for renovations, where you need to snake it through walls, around corners and work in areas you can't glue or solder. You can also run long runs without any joints due to its flexibility and the fact that it can be purchased in large rolls hundreds of feet long. Unless I am repairing existing pipes that are otherwise in good shape, I exclusively use PEX, it's fast and almost foolproof.

If you are new to my videos, here's a playlist so you can watch them all.

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Thursday, September 28, 2017

First Subscriber Submitted Article!

Find a Mentor!
By John McMenamin

The goal of any do-it-yourselfer, maker, homesteader, or artist is achieving independence or self-sufficiency through the skills we possess. Do-it-yourselfers gain skills so they can fix things without calling and paying for a professional. Homesteaders learn how to grow food and generate power so they can be off-grid and independent from big agriculture. Artists develop material and technical know-how so they can uniquely express their aesthetic vision. In all these examples it is the acquisition of skills that enable us to develop personal, creative, or financial independence and freedom. But what is the best way to gain these skills?
Welding a sculpture.
Learning new skills and acquiring information has been made significantly easier with the internet. However, as makers, the best way to acquire new skills is still through trial and error with hands-on practice. You’ve got to get your hands dirty and get in the shop! And who better to guide you through those trials and errors than a trusted mentor? By aligning yourself with a mentor, you avail yourself to a fountain of information. A good mentor will help you learn your craft more deliberately by steering you clear of pitfalls and giving you access to their network. Finding a trusted advisor is not always easy, but these ideas may help.

To acquire new skills we have to surround ourselves with people who will teach us and put ourselves in situations where we are bound to grow. The first step towards doing this is asking for help! Figure out who the experts are in your field of interest and reach out. Set up a meeting with them, shoot them an email, or see if they are presenting in your area. It is amazing how generous people are with their time when you reach out in a courteous, concise manner. Another way to find mentors is to search out places where experienced teachers might congregate. Visit your local makerspace, technical college, or hardware store. Insert yourself into communities where you are likely to find mentors. Be sure to talk to people and keep your eyes and ears peeled for opportunities. Remember, mentors can be any age!
Mentor Paul at work.
One of my most influential mentors is named Paul, and he is only four years my senior. He taught me how to use an Oxy-propane torch and how to weld, run small equipment, and rig heavy objects. He also reinforced less tangible skills, like the importance of anticipating the needs of a crewmember on the job site. He’d say, “always pass a brush,” meaning, never just stand around on the job, always find a way to help out, even if it just means passing a tool or sweeping the job site. Sustaining a productive relationship with your mentor is crucial to your success as a student.
The mentor-mentee relationship can be a rewarding experience built on the joy of sharing knowledge and learning together. Build this relationship on a solid foundation! Here are five tips for sustaining a good working relationship with your mentor.

5 tips for a successful mentorship!

  1. Close your mouth and open your ears! Careful and patient listening skills are vital to being a good mentee. You’ll probably get to hear some cool stories too!
  2. Be humble. Remember, hubris always leads to embarrassment.
  3. Be respectful of the teacher’s experience and knowledge - regardless of their age.
  4. Be open to learning lessons that aren’t directly related to the skill you are pursuing. A thoughtful and observant mentee will build his character and work ethic based on the example of the teacher.
  5. Pay it forward! Be sure to use your skills and become a mentor to someone else.

A large sculpture by artist and mentor Jim that I helped build.

Mentor Timeline

Thus far I’ve urged readers to find a mentor, offered tips for finding one, and given advice for sustaining a strong relationship. Below I’d like to offer my own story as an example of how I found mentors, learned desired skills, and discuss some of the lessons I learned. Think of this as my “mentor timeline.”

Age: 26
Education: Bachelor of Arts: Painting and Drawing
Goal: Learn hands-on skills so I can earn money and be self-sufficient as a car-owner, future home-owner, and human.
Fall 2014 - Spring 2015
Valvoline Instant Oil Change

I wanted to learn more about cars and how to change oil, so I got a job at Valvoline with zero experience. As a national company, Valvoline had the resources and training system to teach me basic car maintenance. Through their online training course, I learned about different parts of the car and what they do. I also learned a lot from the guys in the shop. They taught me how to work efficiently and how to perform various auto maintenance services. In five months I serviced around 930 vehicles. It was a grueling, fast-paced job with a steep learning curve, but I learned my way around a car and gained a massive amount of respect for anyone who works in the service or retail industry.
Spring 2015 - Spring 2016
Franconia Sculpture Park

Through a series of serendipitous circumstances, I was invited to be an artist-in-residence at Franconia Sculpture Park outside of Minneapolis, MN. Over the course of a year, I lived at the Park for four months and built a 17’ steel sculpture. Mind you, I had never made a sculpture before and had never worked with metal. But the collaborative and creative community at the Sculpture Park nurtured me. I asked wood sculptors to take me into the woodshop and show me how to use the table saw. My friend Kelly gave me an hour-long demo on angle grinders, and in return, I taught a class on changing oil. This is also where I met my mentor Paul, who took me under his wing. When teaching me how to stick weld, he showed me the basics and then said, “get to practicing!” It was this combination of giving me initial guidance followed with a hands-off approach that gave me the confidence to experiment and learn on my own.
Summer 2015 - Fall 2016
Fine Art Preparator

Erecting mentor Jim's massive sculpture.
Through the network I built at Franconia, I became involved with the art community in Minneapolis and found work as a fine art preparator. As an independent contractor, I worked with many private clients, contractors, and museums. It was a great lesson in what it takes to work for yourself and manage everything from scheduling, billing, and taxes. During this time I found three mentors, James, Andrew, and Joel. James was a sculptor who taught me about different metal working tools and rigging. I also learned more about what it takes to make a living as a working artist. Next was Andrew, a master rigger, and art transporter. He taught me how to rig heavy objects and drive a forklift. Lastly, Joel was an art preparator and a carpenter. He showed me how to use a router and many other woodworking tools. Most importantly, he modeled professionalism on the jobsite and when interfacing with clients.
Fall 2016 - Current
Maintenance Man

Learning my way around a forklift.
After living in Minneapolis for two years, I was eager to get back to a Summer Camp in Wisconsin that I had gone to as a kid and worked at throughout college. I leveraged the skills I learned at Valvoline, the Sculpture Park, and as an art preparator to get a part-time job in the maintenance department. This camp is where I currently work and have learned so much from my co-workers. Most of all, I’ve learned the importance of patience in the mentor-mentee relationship. I am grateful for the patience they show me as I master new skills and I try to be patient with myself too.
2017 and Onward

I still have a lot I want to learn! Luckily I have built up a community of mentors who teach me things every day, and I always keep my ears open for new opportunities to learn.

Take Action

Our thirst for self-sufficiency drives us to seek out knowledge and gain new skills. How we do this is what makes our stories unique. While the path we take varies from one person to the next, what seems to be a similarity across the board is we need others to pour time and knowledge into us. This person is who you are looking for, the mentor. I have been fortunate to have the opportunity of working with many influential mentors in my life; I can only hope that I too will have an equal impact on others, as a mentor, in the future. My suggestion is this, don’t waste time, find a mentor.

John McMenamin

September 28, 2017

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Related Links

John's website-
Franconia Sculpture Park-

My Personal & Affiliate Links

My Ebooks-
Woodworking Plans-
Free Audible Trial (free audio books)-
Good Mentor Book- Rich Dad Poor Dad by Robery Kiyosaki-
Homemade Home Youtube Channel-

Real Estate Investing Video Series-

Thursday, September 14, 2017

Debt Free Real Estate Investing - $12K House - DEMOLITION - Full Renovation

Working hard is hard work, whether you're mining coal, fishing for lobster, sit in a cubical all day, dig holes or renovate houses. I'm no stranger to working hard and it has earned me some great opportunities, but working hard alone is a fools game. You've got to add some "working smart" into the mix. Trading hours for dollars is a great way to get money, but don't just spend it on your bills and toys, invest as much as you can towards creating passive income. Real estate is a great vehicle for creating wealth. It offers so many options, selling and renting being the obvious choices. I'm currently buying inexpensive (dirt cheap) properties with a goal of building a rental portfolio that replaces the need for me to work daily to make an income. Once I have enough monthly cash flow, I plan on shifting my attention towards more expensive properties either commercial rental or flipping nice homes. For now, I'm building the foundation that all the rest will rely on. In this project, I purchased a cinder block house for $12,000. I'll put around $10k in the property and either rent or sell it once the renovation is complete. If I rent I could gross $6k - over $7k a year. If I sell I could profit around $20k, maybe more. The decisions are still in consideration. The video below shows the first major step of the renovation, gutting the house. The demolition took several days, this video shows it in only a few minutes. Enjoy.

Wait, don't go anywhere! If you enjoyed this video there's more. First, if you could share the link to this page or the video it's self I would be very grateful. I've also posted some links below that you would also enjoy. Thanks for stopping by.
Suggested Reading Mystery Link-

Tuesday, July 18, 2017

$12K Tiny Block House - Intro & Day ONE of work!

As many of you know, I buy houses. I am buying them to rent, sell and live in. Regardless of the specific reason, I'm doing it as an investment. I have bought a handful of houses with the average price around $11,000....including closing costs. I just picked up another house for right under $12,000 and will be renovating it into a rental property. I'll be posting videos to both of my YouTube channels, The Homestead Craftsman and Homemade Home. I'll post big landmark updates on The Homestead Craftsman and more detailed "follow along" style videos on Homemade Home. Here's the first look at the house.

Day one of work is daunting, you really feel the full weight of how much work there is to be done. On top of that, you keep finding more things to add to the list. The following video goes over my thoughts and tasks of that day.

I'm excited about this project, it is small, easy to work on and in a location that will make it an excellent rental. In only a few years, this house will have paid me more in rent than it cost me to purchase and do the renovation. Doing the renovation will buy me 10-15 years before anything major will have to be done to this house. While a house like this isn't a gold mine, it's an inexpensive way to build passive income. A small batch of houses like this with good tenants represents more monthly income than many people make at their full time jobs. If you are like me, you don't have a lot of money, so it can be slow to get started but with each success, the next house comes easier and the renovation isn't as much of a strain. I encourage you all that have the "want to" to look into investing in real estate more. I started out with no job, no house and no clue how to get started. Over a 5 year period I went from nothing to owning multiple rental properties and my own home. My wife and I are completely debt free, including NO MORTGAGE on our personal home since it was purchased with cash and renovated as I could afford it. While 5 years may seem like an eternity to some, consider paying a mortgage for 30 years and how obstructive it would be to forward movement in the area of real estate investing. The average mortgage is around $1,000 a month. Not having to pay this and redirecting those funds toward buying an income generating asset like rental property is a no brainier....if you are willing to do what it takes. I find the key is to not let your standards and expectations get out of hand. Don't worry about what others are doing, consider what you need and want. Getting caught up in thinking you "NEED" everything everyone else has just lines the pockets of businesses that are doing what they should be doing, selling their products. Instead, focus on what your future could be if you managed your standards and expectations. Focus on what your life could be if you were debt free and didn't have monthly bills for things you don't need baring down on you at all times. Imagine the comfort of knowing that your home is yours. Manage your standards and expectations! You'll find that life is still very many cases, more enjoyable.

Thank you all for having a look at the post. In order to get this all done, I can't film the videos like I'm in Hollywood or write this text like an award winning author. These posts will have to be a little raw, but what they will be is truthful and representative of the process that I'm going through and the mindset to see them through.


Thursday, February 23, 2017

My Biggest Custom Order Yet - White Oak Trestle Table

This is without a doubt my most involved woodworking project yet. While I have built more complex pieces of furniture, this table required a lot of resources to be called on. It started as a request from a good customer, inquiring about having a table built. It's purpose was to be a feature piece in a cabin that they where restoring. Along with this trestle table, I also crafted a 8 foot farm table and benches as part of the same order. While I had about 4 months to complete the order, I literally sprayed the lacquer finish on the base about an hour before delivery. 

This table is made from white oak, sourced from a local tree service. The tree yielded 3 nice logs. Lumber was milled from the logs using a band saw mill, with the majority being quarter-sawn. This is a very labor intensive process, even with a fully hydraulic mill. First the log is sliced length wise into four even pieces, like a pie. Then boards are taken off each face of these quarters alternating between faces. This yields some of the most beautiful and stable lumber available with growth rings running straight down the board. It is stable in that it expands and contracts across it's thickness, not it's width which reduces cupping and warping. 

The lumber for the table top was dried in an electric kiln for about 2 months. While the larger dimension lumber for the base continued to dry, I got started with the table top. I planed the heavy boards with the help of the sawyer and my father in a helical head planer to about 2 inches. The top is so large and heavy that I could not make it in my small basement shop. I ended up renting out space in a warehouse for one week, and boy was it a good idea. For jointing the boards in preparation for gluing them into a 12 by 4 foot slab, I “jointed” their edges with my Festool track saw. To get a perfect cut, I used a brand new blade and it did indeed come out perfect. The table top was first glued up into two halves, then joined into the final slab. For aligning the boards and two halves I used 8mm domino tenons, cutting the mortises with my Festool XL 700 which was specifically purchased for this project. Luckily it has made things much easier and faster in the shop since on a variety of projects. After picking up the lumber for the base, I jointed and planed the lumber with a jointer and planer in the rented space but built the structure in my own shop. I built up the center post of the trestle out of two pieces, this was done to make sure the lumber used would dry faster with less chance of splitting. All the joinery in this piece was fairly simple thanks to my domino joiner. The balance of the joints were traditional mortise and tenons, a saddle joint of sorts and large screws. While simple using the domino joiner, the joinery for this project would have been massively time consuming and complicated if it would have been done totally traditional, I can't say enough about how great an asset XL-700 is in my shop. With all the pieces and parts of the base fabricated, I glued them together using Tightbond 3 wood glue. I used a variety of clamps throughout this project, from quick grips, pipe and band clamps. Thankfully the glue up went smooth. I stained the table using Minwax Jacobean. After staining the base I added bracing to the trestles, this was more decorative than structural, even though it does add a large amount of strength. These pieces where added after staining for ease of assembly and staining. I used large counter sunk wood screws, lubricating the treads with Vaseline. This keeps the screw moving and avoids snapping off the head. Both the base and the table top where finished with M.L. Cambell Pre-Catalyzed Lacquer which dries almost immediately. I sprayed on 3ish coats sanding in between with 220 grit paper. Once fully dry I rubbed out the finish to an even satin sheet with 3M finishing pads.
This was quite the project and one that I would question doing again. With that said, it was a great experience and I happy I built the table. The customer was very happy with the table and the fact that they got it in time for the cabins debut.

Here's The Full Video!

I'll also be producing a series of videos about this project, where I go over in more detail certain aspects of the build. This will be done over several videos posted over the next few weeks. If you have any questions in the meantime, let me know. Thank you all for you time and support. If you have any friends or family you can share the video with, I would greatly appreciate it.

Amazon Affiliate Links for Tools and Products used in this video, click for prices and details.

Festool XL 700-
Festool Tracksaw-
Knockoff Festool Blade-  (36 tooth)