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.

Facebook and Instagram links in tabs above!

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

Subscribe for more- CLICK HERE!

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)

Thursday, February 2, 2017

Hammer and Chisel Engraving - A Traditional Craft

Engraving is the cutting of various lines into metal that form decorative patterns. “Hammer and Chisel” is the traditional form of metal engraving done with a small chasing hammer and chisels of various forms. For my personal engraving hammer and chisel handles, I chose to make them myself on a metal lathe. The chisel that goes into the handle is ground by hand from a 1/8 micro grain carbide blank to various shapes depending on the desired cut. In the first video on this post, I do a basic demonstration without explanation just to show the process. I take a “pull” from an engraved firearm by putting black chalk in the cut lines. I then transfer this design with tape to a pull plate that has been waxed so that the chalk adheres. Once the image is in place, I select a tool and begin cutting the main lines, followed up with single point shading and a punched background. Again, this is a simple demonstration and I am by no means an expert. I am still learning the craft of engraving from a seasoned engraver with the goal of doing it both for personal projects and professionally for an additional source of income. In the future I would like to engrave the knives that I am making for a fully executed project as well as engraving jewelry and inlays in wood. Professionally I would engrave firearms for the most part which offers many challenges such as various metal types and uneven surfaces.

A selection of hand engraving tools.

Hammer and Chisel Hand Engraving is fairly simple as far as equipment goes, you need a hammer, chisels and a way to hold your work piece. My vice is a traditional engravers block, which is a ball shaped vice that you can position freely to make your cuts. There are of course many other accessories that you can gain from such as dividers, sharpening stones, optics and more. The more modern form of engraving uses pneumatic hand pieces and powerful magnification. It is a faster and easier method to learn and quite popular. While both forms of engraving can create beautiful works of art, hammer and chisel is still prized as the traditional form.

Featured Video

Hand engraved rifle.

Thank you for taking the time to view my video and read this short piece. Below are several other videos I have posted on the topic with more to come in the future.

Here's some links for engraving tools on Amazon, Associate links help support the channel and website.

Headband Maginifer-
My Engraving Vice-
Engraving Hammer-
Swing Arm Engraving Lamp-
Pneumatic Engraving-
Assortment of Gravers-

The Art of Engraving-
Engraving on Precious Metals-
The Jewelry Engravers Manuel-
Fantastic Ornament-
Steel Canvas: The Art of American Arms-

Making Engraving Chisel Handles

Engraving Tools and Work Space

Getting Started - What to Cut First

Tuesday, January 31, 2017

2016 Nutcracker Making - The Blacksmith

As you all know, life is busy. In the pursuit of greener grass people run themselves ragged, basically eating and sleeping in between working. One way to combat that is to have no excuses time set aside to do things together. One of these times that my wife and I have established is making our annual nutcracker. While a project like this can be kind of daunting during my most busy time of the year, we have done so for the past 6 years! Our first nutcracker, Mr. Nutty, was inspired by my wife's love for the Nutcracker play. I surprised her on one of her visits 4 years before we got married with a clean workshop and a huge pile of split oak for the wood stove. She lit up when I told her what we where going to do.

The first step was heading out into the woods to find a good tree to work with, we found a standing dead tree about 4 inches round for a good 12 feet. We cut it down and drug it back to the shop and got started cutting it into nutcracker sized pieces. We have continued to use this same tree for each nutcracker and have one more nutcracker's worth! We also use other pieces of wood for smaller pieces and parts. The use of metal, leather, fabric, clay and other materials also makes the list. Each nutcracker has been turned on my old lathe by both my wife and I. Before turning we first decide the theme of the project and then without looking at the other, each draw our idea. Afterwards we look at out drawings and decide the best features and combine them into one magnificent nutcracker. The majority of the nutcracker is turned on the lathe with the balance of the parts made on other tools in the shop. Once parts start getting finished up, my wife starts painting on the cloths and other decorative elements. Assembly consists of drilling holes, using nails, epoxy and what ever else we need. First we assemble the nutcrackers chomper, arms and legs. Next comes gluing it into the base, attaching his shoes and doing some finishing work including gluing on his hair and making what ever clothing he may be wearing. In the end we have an incredible amount of time tied up in something you can buy for less than $10.......but saving money........or time, clearly isn't the idea.

Around Thanksgiving each year, we realize it's about that time again and start thinking of ideas. After Thanksgiving we get a tree and start brainstorming on paper and get started. They take about a week to make from the time the first piece of wood is turned. Thank you for taking the time to read these words and watch the video. I hope it sparks an idea in you as well to make your own nutcracker or other fun project with your family.

Here's our other nutcrackers in the order we made them, Enjoy!

Tuesday, January 17, 2017

Farmhouse Bench Video and Plans

This bench is the same design I sell along with my farm tables. For those of you that are new to my website and YouTube channel, I am a furniture maker. I have a small basement workshop where I build many different projects. For income, I make and sell farm tables and other pieces of furniture. My best seller is a traditional farmhouse table with turned legs, reclaimed wood top and a distressed painted finish. It has been a great seller and created many opportunities for me in the form of content for my channel, a set of plans and income from sales. My tables where a hit from the start and shortly after getting started customers started requesting a bench in a similar style. This is the very design that I sell to my customers. It is simple, quick to make and built from common materials. It's a great add on item to an order that adds only a small amount of addition work to an order for it's return. Whether you are looking for a simple bench for your home, as a gift or as a source for additional income, this bench is a great way to go. My customers use them with farm tables, by their front door, as coffee tables, on porches and just about everywhere else you can imagine.

As a woodworking project, I would call this a beginner project for the handy person. There's multiple ways to go about building the bench, but you could get by with a jigsaw and drill. The best simple set of tools that would be good to have would be a miter saw, drill, jig saw and a table saw. If you don't have a table saw, you could alter the plan and buy a ready piece of lumber to substitute for the bench rails. Regardless of your method, you'll come out with a piece of furniture that you are proud of. While a set of plans will be used, each person's bench will come out unique in the fact that different wood is used, different colors, sizes and not to mention alterations to the design. I look forward to seeing what you come up with, good luck. Here's the video! 

Here's some more videos you may enjoy!

Farm Table Build-
Another Bench-
And another Bench-
Distessed Painted Furniture-

Interested in building both a table and bench, here's a link to both.