Archive for the Woodworking Category

Why I write Make Stuff With Your Hands

Posted in Blathering, Forging, knifemaking, metalwork, Tool Making, Woodworking on May 6, 2010 by Jim

An ulterior motive!

Could it be that I have a sneaky ulterior motive? Well of course. Sort of. Except, it is not sneaky, nor ulterior.

I love to teach, I really do. I want to teach classes on how to build things. I want to write books that help people learn how to build things. So many of the techniques that I use, I learned in books and I want to write one of those great books. I want to write something as amazing as The Fine Art of Cabinetmaking by James Krenov. I want to write something as useful as Tage Frid Teaches Woodworking. I want to write something as beautiful and inspiring as Sam Maloof, Woodworker. This is why I am here. I practice my writing so I can put my thoughts in words and pictures for you – even as I practice my craft. This blog will help me write a book that will be easy to learn from and full of amazing projects that you will want to build!

Amazing Teachers

I surely did not figure all this out just with books. My dad is a maker and put tools in my hands straight away. I also had an amazing apprenticeship with a master carpenter. Besides being a carpenter, he had an art degree, and was a musician. He stood next to me every day for years and he taught me how to make things. When I asked him if I could be his apprentice, he told me that I could if I promised to pass it along. Passing along making is why I write Make Stuff With Your Kid. I apprenticed under a master furniture maker for a year and he and I inspired each other – then we made a ton of wooden hand planes and patted ourselves on the back a little too much. (but anyway…)

My Future

I am going to keep writing for you. I will share my projects, and if you ask, I will help you with yours. I am making teaching and craft a part of every day of my life. It brings me great joy and I and hope that I can help you like others helped me. (John, you said I had to promise, and here I am!)

Alright, enough jawing already and on to the Craft…

I promised you some draw-knives and here are some draw-knives:

Hand made draw knife

My dad made these little beauties out of an old hand saw blade. I hope to turn some handles for them this weekend. I could not wait for handles, so since I took this picture, I sharpened them and tried them out. The are as sweet as they look. I took a few pulls at a duck decoy I have in the works and they are lovely. I can already tell that these will be my go-to tools for roughing out a new carving.

Thanks for coming by,


A Murder of Crows

Posted in Carving, decoys, Woodworking on May 4, 2010 by Jim

I am really pleased with this new crow. I am getting quite a set of watch crows around the house. Somehow, they are comforting if you put them at the top of a bookcase where they can see the whole room.

I find this cedar surprisingly hard to carve.  I have to keep my knives very sharp but the incense of the cedar shavings filling the room makes it worth the extra effort.


New Crow Decoy Pattern

Posted in Carving, decoys, Woodworking with tags , , on May 2, 2010 by Jim

I have been working on a new fuller bodied crow decoy pattern. Here is a the first rough carving using it.

Do you have any old wooden crow decoys or carved wooden crows?

If you do, I would love to hear about them.


Flattie Crow Decoy

Posted in Carving, decoys, Woodworking with tags on April 26, 2010 by Jim

All you need is cedar and a knife…

I have been too busy to get any extended time in the shop this last week. When I get even a few minutes free though,  I seem unable to stop carving  wooden crow decoys. The family Corvidae has my attention.

This is not a full bodied crow but in the ‘flattie’ style. It is also for sale on my Etsy shop.

I had a hard time getting together a pattern for my crows. Does anyone else have trouble finding good bird patterns? Please let me know if you have found some that you are really satisfied with. I have been photographing birds and making my own.

More cool tools are coming.

My father does a lot of metal work and a couple weeks ago I had asked him to make me some straight bladed draw knives. I got them and they turned out great. You will be jealous, I promise. I will post pics of them soon.


Praying Machine flies!

Posted in Automata, Carving, Gear Making, metalwork, Toy Making, Woodworking with tags on April 13, 2010 by Jim

The wings flap…

Our prayers are going to Heaven! I have not had a lot of time the last few weeks to work on the Praying machine but I did sneak in a few hours this weekend.


I got the bit of the mechanism complete that raises and lowers the wings. Next will the be the gearing that spins the prayer box itself.

Wooden crow decoy or magic talisman?

Posted in Carving, Woodworking with tags , , on April 11, 2010 by Jim

Last winter, I got really interested in hand carved wooden duck decoys. I started looking around for books and began carving my first duck. As I was reading about various types of decoys, I read about ‘confidence’ decoys. Confidence decoys are used near a set of duck decoys and are thought to trick flying ducks into landing. Supposedly, the ducks think it must be safe if one of these other birds is sitting around too. Shorebirds are often used in this fashion and I have a few of those in process. The ones that  fascinate me most though are the wooden crow decoys. (The half carved duck is still sitting on a shelf in the shop…)

It seems that every culture gives some great significance to crows or ravens.

The Norse god Odin had two ravens that flew around the world all day and returned at night to tell him all they overheard. Natives of the Pacific Northwest believed that Raven created the land, the animals, and man. Many cultures count the number of crows that cross their path to determine if it is good or bad luck.

All this makes crows seem so powerful and fascinating and maybe that is why many decoy carvers slipped a crow in here or there.

Wooden folk art crow decoy

This crow that I carved from a block of cedar is for sale on my Etsy shop.

If you are interested, let me know and I can post a pattern of this on my shop for a few dollars along with some carving instructions.

Do you have any crow or shorebird decoys – maybe carved by a grandfather or uncle? I would love to see a picture if you do.


Vintage style wooden fishing lures that really catch fish!

Posted in Carving, Fishing Lures, Woodworking on April 9, 2010 by Jim

I wanted some vintage fishing lures. I found an old Heddon catalog at my local library book sale and remembered lures my Uncle Doug had in his tackle box and I wanted some bad…

I love digging through peoples tackle boxes.

I have always had that kind of curiosity. It is like digging around in your grandma’s attic. Everything you find is fascinating. Anyway, I found this old Heddon catalog and decide to buy some of those lures. I headed over to EBay and found out right quick that I don’t have the budget you need for those lures. Even if I had the budget, there is NO WAY you would throw one of those lures in a lake and let some mean old fish chew on it.

Old lures are works of art!

Old lures are beautiful. I wanted some lures that were cool as the ones I remembered but that I could lose in a tree without crying.

Here is what I came up with:


These two were inspired by an amazing lure maker I found on the web Old Oregon Lures – unfortunately, the Old Oregon website appears to be gone now – those were some amazing lures.


I made some folk art style lures:

Handmade wooden hornet fishing lure

Lastly, I tried my hand at making some semi-realistic lures:


This bluegill is weighed so that it floats upright correctly and suspends about 4 inches below the surface.

You can make your own wooden lures.

I have a post here on Make Stuff With Your Kid that shows you how to make two really great looking lures that catch fish. You don’t need a bunch of tools and you don’t need to be an experienced woodworker.

All these lures have caught fish. I was surprised how well the bluegill works. In the spring, when the bass are on their beds, they hate this little bluegill and try to eat it up!

Do you have any old lures you love or you are making any lures?  I would love to hear about it.


Go Kart or Summer Sled

Posted in Toy Making, Woodworking on March 20, 2010 by Jim

Wooden Go Kart Summer Sled

Go Kart, Summer Sled, or ‘big wooden thing that is more fun than you can shake a stick at’…

Holy cheese Batman, this thing is waaaaaaaaaaaaaayyy more fun than I expected. We will not have to wait for snow to go sledding anymore.

The idea came from ‘The Dangerous Book for Boys‘ which I cannot recommend enough.