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- https://youtu.be/FrK9ValzlE8
Another Bench- https://youtu.be/f7WtgP9Heho
And another Bench- https://youtu.be/nnzdtIAwdJY
Distessed Painted Furniture- https://youtu.be/o9SMorrVk5E

Interested in building both a table and bench, here's a link to both. http://www.thehomesteadcraftsman.com/p/plans.html