A Rusty Flea Market Jack Plane

photo of a Stanley No. 5 Jack Plane

I enjoy flea markets, and there’s a great one near Fredrickburg, Texas — about an hour from our Hill Country home. We go almost every month. Last October we came home with vintage cast iron pots and skillets, a UT Longhorn-branded Crockpot and — best of all — an old Stanley No. 5 jack plane for just $8!

An Axe to Grind

photo of Camper's Axe with Rawhide Cover

With the new handle installed, it was time to sharpen. The steel was pitted from its time in the woods, but had plenty of metal and potential. With my new-found interest in woodworking, I’ve been working on my sharpening skills. I’ve tried several systems from wet/dry sandpaper on a glass plate to carborundum, whetstones and diamond plates.

DIY LED Lighting for Photography

Photo of LED photography light

I learned how to light for television about 40 years ago while working in the broadcast industry. It was an expensive and difficult affair, but the basics of lighting haven’t changed — the tools have just gotten better and cheaper. Lots of folks photos and video every day, but the addition of just a little lighting can make the difference between “snapshots” and professional-looking quality. I hear protests regarding the cost of buying lights, not to mention carrying a pile of gear around. But what if you could build small, dimmable, custom lighting to suit your individual needs for about $50?

From Logs to Lumber

several planed wood slabs

We live on a wooded acreage here at Roy Creek Ranch, and I’ve always imagined using some of that wood to produce furniture. Consisting mainly of Texas Live Oak and Ashe Juniper (“cedar”), some of the trees are substantial, and might produce some usable lumber. I prune the Live Oaks regularly, and have worn out several chain saws trimming back the “cedar”, so a ready stock of wood is always available.

The Stanley Smoothing Plane

Stanley Smoothing Plane

At least a dozen years ago, I helped my Dad and his wife clear out their home in Colorado in preparation for a move to a smaller home in Southern California. They had been there about 10 years, and had a lifetime of accumulation that included some things from my Dad’s childhood home in Fontenelle, Nebraska. There were tools I remembered from visiting the family farm that had belonged to Gramps, and others my Dad had collected over the years, I was very pleased when I learned that many of them would be going home with me.

Woodworking – a Start

Tall and Assembly Benches

In the course of working on some friends’ Tiny House, we learned that the non-standard nature of it had a big effect on cost. For instance, the Tiny House required a front door that measured 78 inches by 27 inches — very non-standard. We could find one manufacturer that would supply a door that size, only it cost $1400. Not very practical. So, we decided to design and build our own door.