| I like snow as much as the next dog, but it might be time to start thinking about all those Spring and Summer projects you need figure out how to get done. Planter boxes need mending or building, the garage could use some custom storage, and there are more than a few yard projects you know you want to get done. There are also lots of fun outdoor games you could make for your family, like giant Jenga, yard Yahtzee, or my personal favorite, Cornhole Boards! My hoomans say that I add a level of difficulty because I like to snag the flying bean-bags out of the air before anyone can score any points! It won’t be long until there is green grass and warm days so start planning now. MO2H is a great place to get all your projects done. No set up and very little to clean up. Just come in and maximize your time by spending it just on the project instead of all the other stuff.|
The Best Way to Appreciate Why Furniture Costs a Lot – Make it Yourself
|I used to have the assumption that there were two options for furniture – either it was absurdly out of reach (i.e. Crate & Barrel) or that you made do with thrift store pieces until you could save up for the nice stuff. There wasn’t much in between, especially if you didn’t have much in the way of hand crafted skills.|
| When I got into woodworking and realized that there was so much you could do yourself it opened up so many possibilities for me. I started making furniture for myself like a table and shelves. I could make them look as nice as what was in those expensive high end home stores!|
While DIY can certainly be a way to save a lot of money compared to buying from a store, it wasn’t always dirt cheap either. The cost of wood, finishes, and hardware is always something you have to account for when making it yourself. Having made my own projects, I have come to appreciate even more why furniture costs a lot, especially custom made work. The amount of time and effort that can go into it should not be under estimated! To me though, you can’t go wrong learning a new skill and making it yourself.
Have you ever seen something in a store or online and thought, “How clever! That would be perfect for my home.” And then you looked at the price. Yikes! Or went ahead and splurged only to discover that your unique item looks suspiciously like your neighbor’s. For many, the idea of “buying” has become far less appealing and the idea of Do It Yourself (DIY) is gaining popularity.
Consider the explosion of online sites like Pinterest, Hometalk, and Etsy. These sites present options with everything for people to “hack” their lives with DIY home projects, to paying someone else to create a one-of-a-kind item for them. There is broad appeal across age groups, income, and skill levels.
Equally prevalent? All those memes and DIY Fails on social media. Admit it. You’ve probably laughed until you cried at some poor soul’s attempt to replicate the trendy project they found online (the demonic bunnies below make me crack up every time!).
Photo credits: Good Housekeeping, July 27, 2015
Have you thought of tackling a DIY project but immediately dismissed the idea? There are typically three reasons why people never fully consider starting a DIY project: lack of space, lack of tools, lack of know-how.
And this is where a Makerspace can help! The right makerspace, like My Own 2 Hands, can remove those barriers.
With 6,000 square feet, lots of natural light, and plenty of workbenches, there is space for you to tackle any DIY project. No more squeezing your project onto a corner of the kitchen table or losing the ability to park your car in the garage. Our makerspace is welcoming, bright, and not at all like high-school woodshop!
The analogy I always think of is my spice rack at home. Of course there are the spices I use on a frequent basis. But the back of the rack is jammed with spice jars and tins that have been used only once for some ambitious recipe I wanted to try. Tools, the right tools, can make all the difference in how much easier a project can be. But tools can be expensive. No reason to buy a tool you may only use once and then have to figure out where to store it. We have just about any tool you would need for your projects.
Yes, space and tools are important. But the greatest value a makerspace like My Own 2 Hands can provide is expert support. Onsite mentors are always available to help as much or as little as you need. If you know what you’re doing, mentors can just be an extra set of hands if you need. But if the only thing you know is what you want your project to look like, our mentors will help every step of the way. So set aside those fears of being the latest example of a DIY Fail!
Makerspaces Are Perfect For . . .
Apartment Renters. At two totally different stages of life, Millennials and Downsizers have something in common. They both opt to live in high-density residential communities (as do a multitude of other age groups and income levels). What they gain in location and convenience, they sacrifice in space. Apartment complexes prohibit their residents from using their patios or garages for DIY projects. Who better to take advantage of a makerspace than apartment residents!
Home Owners. You’re probably thinking these are the last people who would need a makerspace. Real stories from real customers. Yes, they have space in a garage or basement. The drawbacks? They have to move all the cars out of the garage and then get the tools pulled out and set-up. Then when they are finished working on their project, they have to clean everything up, stow away all of the tools, and then move the cars back into the garage. The amount of time spent before and after often rivals the amount of time they actually get to spend working on their project. And what if they live in a really hot or really cold climate? And what about dust collection? And what about maintaining all the tools? That’s right, a makerspace is perfect for home owners!
Augmenters. These are the lucky few who have a dedicated space for their workshop. It may be well-lit, have climate control, and be outfitted with a dust collection system. Surely these people don’t need a makerspace? That may be true the majority of the time. But where a makerspace can really help is the ability to augment what these enthusiasts already have. A good makerspace, like My Own 2 Hands, will likely have well-maintained, industrial size tools that most home workshops cannot afford or do not have room for.
Social Butterflies. The pursuit of a hobby can be a solitary or lonely endeavor. Not so with a makerspace. Makerspaces create communities of like-minded people. There are always people to bounce ideas off of, someone else from whom to get inspiration, or just someone to have a cup of coffee with while waiting on part of your project to dry. Some makerspaces, like My Own 2 Hands, also offer classes. These are often highly social and fun experiences to try your hand at a new project or learn a new skill. There is no reason to toil in solitude. Makerspaces are the hotbed of mutual admiration societies!
Are there other individuals or groups of people who would enjoy and get value from a makerspace? Of course. What about you? Do you want the ability to customize projects to your space and style? Do you want to be savvy and save money? Do you want to feel empowered? A makerspace is for you!
A journey to define and create the ultimate workshop.
Over the first few months we have been open, several folks have asked questions around how or why we laid out the shop the way we did. My response takes more time typically than most have for a “simple” question. I thought I would share my answers here in order to capture some of the major considerations and choices that were in play. I brainstormed some basic tips that I think apply to nearly all wood workshops (at least the ones that serve multiple users). Of course, some considerations for our shop were due to the fact that it would be used as a coworking space and not as an individual workshop. Also, workshop layout is something that evolves over time and perhaps gets reimagined as use cases and work flows change. But here are some simple rules of thumb that came to mind; some more obvious than others.
1. Workflow – The path a piece of wood takes from the moment it enters the shop.
Although the operations necessary for a given project vary and every space is different, the starting point is how/where material enters the space and what is a typical starting scenario for most projects.
2. Grouping tools – Keep it together
Tools that perform similar functions or are typically used in succession should be located near one another. One of the most obvious groupings is the jointer/planer/table saw triad. During the milling process, these three tools will be used repeatedly so it’s a good idea to limit the distance between them. Another example might be keeping the grinder near the lathe. If you are turning projects, then keeping the tools sharp is an ongoing concern.
3. Organization – Storage and proximity
In a shared workshop environment, it is important to balance accessibility to tools with the need to monitor and maintain them. Storing some things at the benches or machines makes sense if there is not a need to constantly monitor the condition. Some of our sleds, jigs, or chuck keys are examples of what we keep on the floor at the tools or benches. However, for many items it may be necessary to collect and centrally store in order to ensure proper working condition for the next person. No matter what, it is a good idea to stay organized if only to eliminate the frustration of not being able to find the item you need now.
4. Where is the light? – Sunshine is king!
Natural light not only makes it easy to see what you’re working on, it makes for a more pleasant working environment. When choosing a location for our business this was a big consideration. Additionally, we put the workbenches in a place that takes advantage of all the natural light our space offers. When mother nature is not providing the light, it is very important to plan your lighting with the idea that you do not want shadows on work products. General lighting (preferably with LED fixtures) can take care of most of the need, but there will likely always be a need for specific task lighting as well.
5. Bench Tools – Accessibility and needs
A good friend of mine once told me, “tools like to be on islands.” This allows the greatest flexibility and accessibility to the tool for the operation you are trying to accomplish. While the island concept is great it is very challenging to realize given the other requirements tools have (power, dust collection, stability). Our compromise was to put them on peninsulas allowing 270 degrees of access and keeping the supporting mechanical stuff out of the way.
6. Miter Saw
This is a frequently used tool, but it does not need to be out in the middle of everything. It should be accessible for rough cutting lumber to more manageable sizes, and for finish cutting milled product. To me, creating the right space to the sides is key so that you can work with longer items, but dust collection is a must. This machine will really make a mess if you let it.
7. Open spaces – Room to move!
We had to put a great deal of thought into how material would move around the shop. With potentially multiple projects in the same general space we had to allow space so that everyone had the room they needed, and no one was crowding safe areas around the floor machines. We added carts to facilitate movement into and out of the milling areas so that staging and assembly/finishing could be separated. We even added casters that lock into place to all of our workbenches to provide even greater flexibility.
8. Clamp mobility – Clamps need to be where they need to be…
Gluing, assembly, setting stops, hold downs, or as an extra hand – there is no end to the uses for clamps. The key is that they just need to be where you need them when you need them. To that end we have chosen to keep them mobile. Clamp carts allow an assortment of clamp options to be conveniently moved around to where the work is happening.
9. Environment – Clean air – ahhh
Proper dust collection is critical to making sure your workshop environment is healthy and comfortable even when multiple projects are in process. Additionally, keeping sanding operations out of the mainstream areas will help immensely. We were careful to set aside space for sanding operations to localize the impact and allow for easier clean up.
10. Finishes – Booths are great and inexpensive
If you have a dedicated spot for preparing, mixing, and applying finishes, make sure there is good ventilation. Try to locate it away from other things. Spray on finishes can be particularly impacting to air quality. Isolating the operation and providing containment will help offset the impacts you can feel. A simple tent/booth will help keep the fumes contained and protect your project at the same time.
12. Evolve – Change is inevitable
No matter how much you plan ahead for your workshop, it’s almost inevitable that you’ll need to move your tools around, even if only temporarily for a particular operation. Of course moving the tool is only one piece of the equation. You will need to consider power, dust collection, and other support components. Mobile bases can make moving the tool straightforward. But, thinking ahead and locating the trunk lines for dust collection so that you can simply tee into it in the new location or using flex tubing could save a lot versus adding a whole new line. Power could also be a problem unless you consider future needs in distribution as well.
In all, a lot of thought went into selecting our space and setting up our workshop layout. We know it will evolve over time and are excited about what the future holds!
5 Steps for Planning Your Woodworking Project
Before diving into your project, it is important to visualize each step to of your woodworking project to ensure you achieve your desired result. Planners like the one below can be a simple way to start to bring the elements of your woodworking project to light.
CAD programs can be very useful design tools, but unless you already know them, you will spend a lot of time learning the software before you can even begin your design. Sketchup is a simple drafting program that can help firm up the design. Of course, pencil and graph paper are my go-to design tools.
Here are 5 steps to help you design your woodworking project from tools to finish.
Step 1: Always start with function
What is the function of your piece? How will it be used? For instance, if the woodworking project is a cabinet, what will the cabinet be storing and what visual effect do you want it to have?
If it is a table, how many people do you need to seat and what type of visual effect do you want it to have in its setting?
It seems simple; however, if you don’t pay attention to this stage of the process, ultimately the end product will only become more diluted and less defined as you progress.
Now you have an idea of the general direction you want to move in based on sketches, of course, using our handy worksheet above.
Step 2: What type of materials will you need?
Of course, material selection varies depending on the project, but function will dictate some of your choices. You would not choose a softer wood for a table top unless you were okay with the inevitable dings in the surface you will accumulate over time.
Additionally, the look you are trying to achieve will drive you further toward some materials vs. others. Would you choose pine if you wanted a darker, richer look when finished? – Probably not.
And, finally your budget will have some input into your choices. At the end of the day get some advice if you are relatively new to woodworking. Our team is very adept at guiding not only selection, but also where you can source your selected material.
Now, you have defined the general nature of your project.
Step 3: Plan the tools
This will take some thought, as well as quite a few thumbnail drawings or sketches, to determine what type of machine tools, jigs, and other hand tooling might be necessary to complete your project according to your design.
For instance, draw out how a table leg will intersect with the table rail. Visualize how you will make the cuts that you need with the tools available. Again, we can assist with an array of tools options most DIYers do not have at their fingertips
At this stage, you can still change your design if a specific tool is not available.
Finding the specific tools that you need can take a long time and cost a great deal of money. Fortunately, we have taken most of this on for you, and have a fully equipped shop for you to use.
Step 4: Develop and evolve your plans
As you progress on your project, it is inevitable that you will come across things that your original plans did not foresee.
When this happens, you don’t have to start over, but you will need to modify your drawings/plans somewhat to further clarify in your mind the affected part of the project and any impacts downstream.
These adjustments to your planning shouldn’t require new tooling, but most likely just different depths of cut or slightly changed parameters having to do with fine tuning a fit between one project piece and another.
Step 5: Establish the glues, and the 3Fs (fillers, finishes, fasteners) needed
This step does not need to be drawn out like the others, however, they do need to be researched thoroughly to ensure that what you have is suitable for your material and for your piece.
Finishes can be anything from hand applied oil, brush applied varnishes, or spayed on lacquer and each has its own specific properties for application ease and durability in varying conditions.
Coloration can also be applied using dyes and stains and these variants also have their own properties for durability.
One last thing…
I know we have already covered 5 steps, but there is one more thing to consider. Actually, it is more of a “post-step.”
When a project is completed, always note the difficulties in the process for the next time. Keep a notebook with your thumbnails and notes.
This way, when you begin your next design, all of your prior knowledge will be available to you at the flip of a page. If you are a member of My Own 2 Hands you also benefit in advance from the experience of our Mentors.
After all, each project that you create is a different set of design functions and visual effects, so each project will have its own unique areas to learn from, as well as areas that overlap on other projects, The more projects you create, the broader your knowledge base will become.
Above all, have fun with your projects and the process. Learning from your mistakes and implementing new found knowledge into the next project is what growing as a woodworker is all about!
I have noticed that many of you like to come to classes here as a social thing. Trust me when I say, as a pack animal myself, I totally understand. In fact, the only thing that makes me happier than seeing people working on things together is when they decide they want to turn their attention to me and play – the more the merrier.
Many of our DIY classes are ideal for two or more. We can also support custom programs and events for larger groups (aka packs). Be the alpha in your pack and get everyone together to come and make something great. If you do not see a choice you like give us a bark (call) and we will work with you to put together the program you are looking fur’.
C’mon hoomans! Come see what you can make with your own two hands. It has to be better than trying to make things with your own 4 paws.–
Popsicle Sticks and Toothpicks
The “serious” fine-woodworker often has a huge array of high-end tools and other expensive toys to get the job done. And while these things are wonderful to have, it’s often the simplest of tools that get the job done best.
Enter the humble Popsicle stick (or “craft stick”). Prior to my career in woodworking, I bought a box of craft sticks at a second-hand store on a whim. Since I’ve been woodworking, I’ve found many uses for them as tools.
- Stickers, which are basically spacers used between stacks of wood as it waits to be used. Stickers allow air to flow around all the surfaces of the lumber so that it dries evenly.
- Sanding sticks. A little spray adhesive and a piece of sandpaper cut to the width of your craft stick and you have a custom sanding stick to get in to those tight spaces.
- Glue spreaders. Easy to use to get glue where you need it. Square off the end with a chisel to get a skinny flat surface for spreading.
- Glue scrapers. Put an angle on the end of the stick with a chisel to make a point which is great for scraping off glue squeeze-out.
- Stirrers. Good for mixing small quantities of finish, epoxy, etc.
- Shims. In addition to craft sticks, consider paper, business cards, gift cards, etc. when looking for shims of a specific thickness. Mix and match!
I’m sure there are uses I’ve forgotten to mention and many more that I haven’t thought of yet. Now think of what you could do with the lowly toothpick!
| What a great start to the new year! As I see it many more humans are coming into My Own 2 Hands. I would like to greet them all personally, but my Mom says I am a bit of a bull in a china shop sometimes. I can’t help but wonder what amazing things they want to make on their own, or are they here for a fun class to be guided through something. Either way I love to check out all the comings and goings.
This perspective is still kind of new for me since we have only been open for a little under 2 years – Oh wait! That is 3 months in human time. Still, one of our biggest challenges is making sure everyone is aware of our business and the possibilities it brings. I would love to run through all the neighborhoods passing out information. Harrumph – they won’t let me.
Perhaps you could do it for us? Following us in social mania – Oh wait! Media, I mean social media – is a great way to help spread the word. Also, don’t forget how great it is when you just talk to someone about us, whether it’s at the dog park or somewhere else. Either way your support is grrrrreatly appreciated and I look forward to seeing who is coming in as I see it.
It is a cold morning in the shop, around 30 degrees. My coffee waits on the workbench as I look through my box of scrap wood for nothing in particular. I often rummage through the box to see if any of these remnants of past projects can spark a creative ember and create inspiration for woodworking. Inside are the lopped off ends of milled and rough cherry, maple, walnut, oak, and many more. Making something out of the contents of my scrap box is one of my favorite things to do. No planning, no strict concept. I’ll use it all if I’ve got to, but ultimately, it’ll turn out to be something pretty simple.
Woodworking can seem like an intimidating craft, but in truth it isn’t all that hard. In fact, it’s one of the oldest crafts. It’s so easy a caveman (or cave woman) could do it! All you need is a your imagination, the right tools, and some basic and easy-to-learn know-how. Inspiration for woodworking will come easy once those things are in place. If you have a project you want to complete, whether it’s building something new or fixing something old, I guarantee you, you can do it. Check back in as the Mentors from MO2H share our thoughts and tips on woodworking, or any kind of project.
My Own 2 Hands is proud to be partnered with Purpose and Pine!
Purpose and Pine will stock inventory of reclaimed and salvaged lumber, pre-fabricated steel from recycled and scrap material, as well as beetle-kill pine. Because all of their lumber is locally and sustainably sourced, each item is a part of Colorado history. Our customers get to continue the story.
My Own 2 Hands and Purpose and Pine have a similar passion for sustainability, helping people achieve
their DIY goals, and creating beauty. We look forward to a partnership that serves our customers for
years to come.