Monthly Archives

April 2019

Create A Queen-Sized Bed With Woodworking Bed Plans

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There are certain pieces of furniture in a house that are essential and one of these is a bed. It does not matter what kind of bed, be it single, double, Queen or even King-sized, but the fact of the matter is, everyone sleeps on a bed of some type for usually for a good 6-8 hours every day . With a piece of furniture so essential to everyday living, would not it be great if you could save the high cost of buying this bed by learning how to make one for yourself using woodworking bed plans.

Well there's no reason why you can not do this nowdays as there are a multitude of woodworking plans on the market allowing you to create any way of bespoke furniture items for your house.

In this article we'll quickly run through the process for creating a bed from scratch using woodwork plans, so that you too can make a saving on a bed of your design.

Now obviously this quick run through is designed to explain the straightforward nature of building a bed from simple materials, but as you progress in confidence you'll be able to change elements in any set of plans and create a unique piece of furniture.

If we start by taking a look at the wood, we would advise using MDF (medium density fibreboard) for the bed as this will give it an overall strength. For your army of tools you'll require saws, sanding machines or paper and ideally a jigsaw plus nail gun, although obviously you can start with the more manual tools like a simple hammer, but you will find a small investment in tools will make all of your woodwork projects much easier time and effort wise.

Do not forget other sundries including nails, screws, adhesives, filler and spackle to cover over thin cracks in the wood joints.

If we take a Queen-sized bed as standard, the dimensions measure eight by four feet. Take a piece of MDF and build the headboard first, this should measure four feet in width to match the bed frame, but the height is up to you, although we would suggest two to three feet in height.

After you have your headboard it is time to build the sides and footboard, also by using MDF. Depending on the look of your bed, you could design the footboard along similar lines to the headboard dimension wise, as long as it also measures four feet in width. The sideboards should obviously be eight feet in length.

By utilizing a powered jigsaw, the above steps should be quick and painless and if you're feeling fancy you can even cut the top and tail boards to include curved edges. Use your sand / emery paper or sanding machine to smooth out any rough edges.

Attach the sideboards to the headboard and footboard using small screws and some wood adhesive, being careful not to crack the wood by using screws which are too big. Next we do the outer trims, which should again be cut using the same dimensions as the bed. Attach these to the bed frame.

Now we move on to the slats which add stability to the bed. Cut a dozen of these pieces and attach them between the sideboards at regular even intervals. These can be screwed to the bed frame using small screws. If you have small joint cracks you can apply some of the filler / adhesive / spackle you bought to fill these in.

Always perform a strength check at this point as any inherent weaknesses will be amplified at the finished stage by loose joints or cracked wood during the building process. The slats and connected bed frame should be able to take your full adult weight spread evenly over the entire bed. Although people often stand on beds, this is only on top of the mattress which even distributes the weight across all of the slats.

If you find any weaknesses or cracked wooden beams, remove and replace these parts and ensure all connections and joints are tight.

Your bed frame should now be complete, all you need to do is drop on the mattress and duvet and fix those hospital corners and the bed is ready for some serious sleeping.

Creating a simple bed is really that simple, although obviously any woodworking bed plans you use or purchase will go into much greater detail, but hopefully this article has allayed any fears about the possibility of building your own bed from scratch.


Source by Ted Roger

Make Your Own Table With Easy Woodworking Table Plans

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Making your own table is not as difficult as it may first seem, but this is definitely one project that requires care and planning and a good set of woodworking table plans. Tables of all sizes are nice but the same amount of planning should go into a small end table as a larger one for the dining room. The basic table is made with a top and legs to support it, there can be a large single leg with supports at the bottom or there can be four legs, one at each corner. If the table is larger, additional supports are added in between the ends of the table.

A good project for woodworking is to build yourself a place to do your woodworking. Many woodworking table plans are available to use and some craftsmen create their own, designed to specifically accommodate the type of woodworking projects that they are planning on creating. Tables created for woodworking need to be practical and at an easy height for the work being done. A nice touch is to include a yardstick or an old tape measure at the edge and along one side that will help in quickly measuring whichever wood stock you have to work with as you are working.

Using woodworking table plans allow you to plan for the materials and then obtain just the right amount, especially if you are using more expensive wood to make the table. Some wood is significantly higher in price than others are and if you are using the more expensive wood you want to be sure not to make a mistake and have to buy more wood if you are unable to use a piece because of an error in cutting.

In addition to having the woodworking table plans, it is a great idea to make sure to have all the items you need to create the table. The best plans list all of the supplies, with correct measurements and suggestions if you decide to change the dimensions of the table you are crafting. It is always a good idea to think about other aspects of the table, such as where it will be used and what it will be used for. These factors will help define the materials used and how the table is put together.

If you are making a kitchen table, make sure it is easy to move and clean around, yet sturdy enough to hold a person standing on it. Kitchen tables especially are used for many different things ranging from a family dinner to the best spot to make a volcano for the science fair. Decide how many people will be around around it and if a leaf is needed when guests come for dinner. It is a good idea for a kitchen or dining room table to have a leaf without the table is already larger than normal size.

Study the tables you see every day, make a note of what you like or dislike about them. This could give you ideas about what kind of table to make and more importantly what kind to stay away from making. Get additional input from your spouse, it will help a great deal and often give you a different idea as to the type of woodworking table plans to search for and use in crafting your new table.


Source by Michael Andrew Williams

Wood Turning Ideas

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Wood turning has taken on as part of the woodworking craze in most of the world. At one time wood turning was understood to be one of the necessities of life in the community. Most towns of reasonable size would have a turner just as they would have a black smith. As a result, in some phone books today one may find as many Turners as there are Smiths.

Mass production along with cheap bowls and cups of materials such as plastic and metal spelled an end to the need for the craft of wood turning although the beauty of wood and the compelling need to create both art and craft has kept the skills of wood turning from disappearing altogether. In fact today there appears to be a renaissance in and of the wood turning world. However, there is now the question for many turners of where to get wood turning ideas.

The easiest place to start for wood turning ideas is to walk through the house and say "what could I make?" or perhaps "what would I have made three hundred years ago?" Obviously we would not be turning pots for the stove out of wood, but what about food preparation?

In the old days every kitchen had a large wooden bowl, the bread bowl for mixing bread dough. These days we are more likely to see it as a salad bowl. Of course that leads to all sorts of serving bowls, each distinct in grain and color. For a very decorative touch, wooden trenchers can be made and used. In medieval times slabs of bread were used as plates and the food served on them. Later the bread, which absorbed the sauce or gravy, would be ateen. Wealthier people had the bread served on a slab of wood, often turned and decorated, and the food placed on the bread in turn. The gravy soaked bread was sometimes given to the poor as alms. Today a trencher could have turned either square or round with a wide border to display the grain and an inset center to hold a plate.

Cups are of course a variation on a bowl. Tight grained woods such as maple or cherry will hold liquid very well. Proper finishing with fine, wet sanding will keep the grain from raising and no other interior finish is really needed, nor was it used in medieval times when many of the poor carried their own wooden mug with them.

Spatulas, spurtles and spoons for serving and stirring are often found in the kitchens. With the ready use of teflon coated cookware today, wooden mixing utensils and potato mashers are made to order.

Candlesticks are an obvious standby for the wood turner, but so are table lamps both plain and fancy. Nowadays the wood turning suppliers make all kinds of kits with lamp parts available at very nominal cost.

Speaking of kits, it is easy for the turner to find parts for pens, pencils, letter openings, pill boxes and a myriad assortment of other small items requiring more parts than a piece of wood.

Basically, if it is round or could be round it can be make on the lathe. Ideas surround us if we only take time to look. Beside which, there is the double bonus given. Not only does there exist the pleasure of the anticipation of turning, there is also the enjoyment of delighting in all that surrounds us. Useful, or just decorative, making it out of wood makes it more special, at least for some of us.


Source by Darrell Feltmate

Woodworking Bed Plans – Why Do I Need Them

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If you are thinking of trying your hand at building your own bed the first thing to do is find an accurate set of woodworking bed plans. Not even an experienced woodworking pro would think of beginning any project without some good woodworking plans. An old pro would either use the same plans they used before or if a different design had occurred to them that they wanted to try they would start that project by drawing another set of plans.

There are many great reasons that woodworking projects always begin with a set of plans and if you are new to this craft that is the best reason of all. You see, a great set of woodworking bed plans would not only give you a guide with step by step instructions on how to successfully navigate your way through creating a sturdy and safe bed with your own hands it would also give you a list of the materials you will need so you can gather all that stuff before you start and it would tell you which tools will be needed to complete the project.

Believe it or not, coming up with a design idea, sketching it out, and then creating a full set of plans is probably the hardest part of every woodworking project. It's pretty easy to cut boards to specific dimensions and attach them together in a specific manner and then paint or stain any type of wooden furniture. But a lot of the real work goes into the actual design of something like a bed.

How the bed looks is pretty important but you also have to consider many of the practical aspects. You have to work out how high the mattress will be above the floor, how tall the headboard and footboard will be, the correct dimensions of the mattress and box springs for the correct fit, and even more critical, the sturdiness of the construction.

How high your bed is off the floor is more important than you may think. Your bed should be the perfect height for how tall you are. That will make it easier for you to get in and out of bed. It should also be the correct fit for whatever size mattress you will use. Get the bed frame too small and the mattress will not even go on it and get it too big and there will be some hard surfaces for you to get across when you are getting into and out of bed.

The sturdiness of the construction will determine not only if the bed holds you up when you are sleeping on it but also if it will hold up over time. Almost everyone changes position in their sleep and your bed will have to withstand that without flexing and moving or it could have fallen over time. It would be pretty bad if you roled over or changed positions while you were asleep and your bed buried in. Someone could get hurt pretty bad!

One thing a lot of professionals understand about woodworking that a novice would not know is the principle of stack framing. This principle is all about stacking wood up in a manner that the wood itself is holding the major of the weight instead of how the wood is attached.

When you build a house you start with a foundation and girders. You put the floor joists on top of that, then lay the plywood floor and then stand the walls on top of the floor and so on. This way the nails are not the primary thing that holds everything up.

The basic design of a bed makes it seem like a pretty simple project but the only way a novice woodworker can successfully build a strong, safe, and beautiful bed is to start with a great set of woodworking bed plans that have been drawn by a professional . In fact, unless you have some experience with woodworking it may be a smarter move to begin your woodworking craft with something a bit easier and less critical to your safety than a bed.

If you were to begin with something simple like a bench or a table you would learn a few of the basics of woodworking. Each successful project you finished would probably teach you a different way to attach two pieces of wood together and you could quickly work your way up to the knowledge it would take to create a beautiful bed. Of course, if you wanted to skip that and go straight to building a bed you should start with a fairly simple one and the very first step is to find an accurate and well diagrammed set of woodworking bed plans.


Source by Daniel Lambeth

Summer Maintenance Checklist

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Home maintenance is a year-round job that extends to all outdoor living spaces and property. Decks, porches, patios, terraces and yards deserve the same care and attention that indoor living spaces require. Warm months are the perfect time for outdoor tasks that preserve the value of a home, prevent costly repairs, and create a pleasant environment for summer fun, dining and relaxation.

INDOOR MAINTENANCE

AC Window Units

Take out of storage and place in window, or remove protective winter cover; caulk or install weather stripping where needed; install new filter

Clothes Dryer

Vacuum vent and hose to remove compacted lint.

Furnace

Replace filter.

Safety

Test carbon monoxide and smoke detectors; change batteries.

OUTDOOR MAINTENANCE

AC Compressor

Clean debris and hose down; call serviceman to check coolant level, fan and motor, lubricate if needed.

Awnings

Spray with hose, clean with mild soap.

Crawl Spaces

Check with flashlight for moisture and termites.

Driveway / Walks

Check for damage and repair cracks or loose bricks.

Deck

Remove debris between boards, scrub with soap and water; scrub mildew and fungus with bleach; check for any exposed wood surfaces, which should be re-stained or painted; use deck brightener (oxalic acid) to lighten dingy, gray wood; check for wobbly nails and replace with galvanized screws; replace splintered or warped boards; if water no longer beads on surface, waterproof using sealer with UV protector.

Furniture

Take out of storage or remove weatherproof tarps; scrub with mild soap and water; inspect for mildew and treat with oxygenated bleach.

Garage Door

Test and lubricate hinges, rollers and track.

Gutters

Inspect after April Showers for sagging and loose downspout connections and make necessary repairs; remove any spring seedlings or debris.

Patio / Porch

Check for cracks and loose bricks, repair; sweep cobwebs and debris from walls and ceilings and wash with soap and water; refresh wooden floors and steps with specially formulated paint.

Railings

Check screws, remove rust and paint where needed.

Screens / Storms

Remove storm windows and store; check screens for holes, repair where needed; scrub both mesh and frame with soap and water, and install.

Siding / Trim

Clean with hose, scrub any mildew or grime with oxygen bleach; check for peeling paint and repair.

Swimming Pool

Tighten diving board and slide bolts, secure bases to concrete; tighten all screws on grates, drains and handrails; check for sharp edges; repair holes in fencing, lubricate locks; check pool cover for damage, properly anchor, remove standing water regularly; keep rescue equipment near pool, repaint depth markings if needed.

Windows & Doors

Inspect weather-stripping; replace if needed to reduce AC costs; wash windows; spray silicone on patio door tracks and window sashes.

GARDEN MAINTENANCE

Bird Feeders / Bath

Keep filled and maintained, clean periodically to remove stale water, seed husks.

Flowers / Lawn

Weed, deadhead, and water regularly; apply summer fertilizer and bug control.

Trees / Shrubs

Trim broken branches, cut back from house to reduce damage from wind and summer storms.

Vines

Remove any growing on the house, siding, brick or mortar.


Source by Jessi Moyle

Porch Swing Plans

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Professionally produced porch swing plans are at your fingertips. Several sites exist are offering just that and every conceivable type of garden furniture and outdoor buildings imaginable. They include free and complete woodworking courses too. There is nothing more conducive to relaxation than gliding back and forth in a cooling breeze.

Interestingly, it Marco Polo who fist mentioned porch swings during his various and diverse peregrinations across the globe. He was fascinated by the concept and the luxuriant feel of seeming weightlessness. Samuel Pepys also annotated the soporific and calming effects of verandah swings in his diaries. Anyways, enough of history; let's get up to the date of the present day.

You will have your own reasons for wanting to find out how to make a porch swing that looks good and stands the test of time, wear and tare. They may be that you want a present for your wife or kids or just to create a better ambient feel on your porch. The ineluctable fact is that most of us need a well formulated blueprint for the success of our creation.

Professional instructions will include precise specifications and detailed materials lists along with technical know-how and the porch swing plans themselves. There is very little point in wasting time on sketchily concocted free plans which offer more than they deliver. That is the opinion of a building contractor with more than 40 years of experience in the garden landscaping industry.

As an amateur before entering landscape design and woodwork furniture companies as a qualified expert, I thought it could all be done on the cheap and off the top of my head. I was wrong.


Source by Tony Payn

11 Simple Steps to Recover Dining Room Chairs

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As an upholsterer for over 40 years I have often been asked by people how they can upholster their own dining room chairs. I tell them it is not really that difficult to do once they know the upholstery process of doing things.

I will now go through the process so you can follow the methods most upholsterers use.

Now there are many different kinds of dining room chairs on the market, but the techniques for recovering them follows the same stages.

First thing to do is decide what kind of material you want to use, there are plenty of shops around selling off cuts and end of rolls. This is a good place to start if you want to cut down on costs.

But a warning: make sure the fabric is upholstery material or you are just doing a lot of work for nothing. Using the wrong kind of fabric will mean you will be doing it all again in a year or so. Upholstery fabric has a stronger weave than what is call soft furnishing fabric which is only good for light usage not for putting on chairs.

If you are unsure you can always go to a local upholsterer and see what they have, you may pay a few dollars more but at least it will be proper upholstery fabric.

Secondly how much fabric do you need? This depends on how many chairs you have and how big they are. But a basic rule is you need about 3 meters- 3.5 yards of normal (plain) 54inch- 140cm wide fabric to do 4 dining chairs, seats and backs. If it is high back chairs you can add a couple more metres just to be on the safe side.

For this article I will assume your chairs are the standard kind with the screw off envelope backs and bordered seats. If not the methods explained here will still work but you will have to improve a bit.

1. First thing to do is turn the chair upside down and unscrew the seats from the frame, now unscrew the back as well. The seats will be easy to unscrew but the back screws maybe hidden under a plug that has to be removed first.

2. Once you have them unscrewed start to take the old covers off, you can use a flat screw driver to remove the staples if you do not have proper staple removal tools.

3. Now that you have the old cover off you can use them to make templates with. When using old covers as templates make sure you mark them where they sew together, a stroke with a pen on the top and the boarder around the seat will do as a mark. Mark at least three times front sides and back if you like. Do the same for the backs.

4. Now you can unpick the old stitching and separate the fabric. Once you unpick a seat or a back make sure you keep them together so you do not lose any parts, roll them up together is the best way.

5. Once this is done you can roll-out your fabric on a table or even a hard floor. Place the old covers on the fabric and mark around them with some chalk, normal blackboard chalk will do. Just make sure the covers are nice and flat and do not move when you mark around them.

6. Once you have them marked out cut around the chalk mark, stay to the outside of the chalk line when cutting. You can just cut one to try if you are unsure. Also do not forget to mark the new covers so you know where your sewing marks are.

7. Now you can sew the new covers together just line up the sewing marks you put on earlier and sew around the fabric. Do just one first to see how they fit.

8. Once this is all done it is time to put them back on the frames. As most dining chairs have square seats or at least square front corners start by putting the cover on the corners. Once you have the cover on just make sure the corners are nice and square before stapling.

9. Now start by putting in a temporary staple in the corners trying to keep the border at the same height. Once this is done put a staple in the middle of the front back and sides, so you should have the four corners and the four sides with a staple in them. Now staple the sides, making sure you keep the cover even, then the back and then the front: leave the corners to last. Once you have secured the sides finish off the corners doing the front ones first. You should now have the seat all stapled back together; you can now put a bottom calico on if you like.

10. You then do the backs. Most backs are envelope backs so you only have a row of staples along the bottom of the back. Start by training the sides first and stapling them. Then do the middle of the outside back and finishing one side then the other. Cut off any excess fabric, and then do the front of the back, do it the same way as the outside back. If you are in doubt just look how the original was done and follow it.

11. Now you are ready to screw them together and you now have some brand new covers on your chairs.

Just remember practice makes perfect, if you are still unsure there are some videos available online where you can see the whole procedure, this makes it much easier to learn how to upholster your own chairs.


Source by William Macdonald

Craftsmanship: the Meaning of Life

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"Manage more, supervise less."
– Bryce's Law

When I got into the work force back in the mid-1970's it seemed
everyone dressed in a suit and tie, drank black coffee, smoked
their brains out, and worked their butts off. Today, golf shirts
have replaced suits, herbal tea and bottled water have replaced
coffee, nobody is allowed to smoke, and rarely does anyone work
beyond 5:00 pm. More importantly, we used to care about the work we
produced; there was a sense of craftsmanship, regardless of the job.

My Brother-in-law in Cincinnati conducts me on a tour of his company's
machine-tool shop years ago and showed me how he could take a block of
aluminum and convert it into a high-precision machine tool. It was a
pleasure to watch him work, as it is to watch anyone who knows
what they are doing, be it a waitress, a programmer, a laborer or
a clerk.

Quality and service used to be considered paramount in this
country. If it was not just right, you were expected to do it over
again until you got it right. We cared about what we produced
because it was a reflection of our personal character and
integrity. But somewhere along the line we lost our way and
craftsmanship has fallen by the wayside. Why? Probably because
we no longer care.

In today's litigious society, employees are acutely aware that it is
difficult to be fired due to poor performance. They know they will
still get paid and receive benefits, regardless of the amount of effort
they put forth. Consequently, there is little to encourage people
to perform better. Money is not a motivating factor anymore. People
now expect bonuses, rises and other perks to be paid out regardless
of how well they perform during the year.

We've also become a nation content with doing small things. America
used to be known as a powerhouse that could tackle large projects,
such as building skyscrapers, designing innovative bridges and tunnels
spaning substantive bodies of water, engineering transcontinental
rockets and highway systems, conquering air and space travel, and
defending freedom not just once but in two world wars. If you really
wanted something done, you talked to the Americans and no one else. Now
we get excited over iPods, cell phones, and other electronic trinkets.

Many believe Craftsmanship is in decline due to the general apathy found
in today's society. Maybe. I tend to believe it is due to an erosion
of our moral values. Let me give you an example. Having a child in college,
my interest was piqued recently by an article describing the pervasiveness of
cheating and plagiarism in our schools. It is not my intention to make a
political statement here but many of the students mentioned in the article
rationalized their cheating on the fact that one of our past Presidents
cheated and lied under oath, and got away with it. They figure if it is
okay for the Commander-in-Chief to act this way, it was an acceptable form
of behavior.

Arnold Toynbee, the accused English historian, observed, "Civilizations
die from suicide, not by murder. " If the moral fabric of our society
dies, our story is told as evidenced by other great civilizations that
long preceded us. Our perspective needs to be realigned: Our personal
and professional lives must be viewed as one. As Toynbee remarked,
"The supreme accomplishment is to blur the line between work and play." By
doing so, we identify more closely with our work and assume a greater
pride in workmanship. We do not need to hear this from our boss, but
rather from within. As strange as it may sound, I see Craftsmanship as
being patriotic in nature; doing a good quality job is part of leading
a good and honorable life and builds on the individual's esteem, the
company he works for, and the country he lives in.

The biggest problem though is that we have forgotten how to manage
people. The manager's primary goal is to create the proper work
environment for employees to produce the desired work products. This
is different than a supervision capacity that leads how each person
Performs the various tasks of a job. In fact, I encourage managers to
manage more and supervise less. I cringe when I see a manager try to
"micromanage" either a Fortune 500 company or a non-profit organization.

Yes, people need to be trained in order to properly
perform their work but following this, employees should be mature
enough to supervise themselves. In the old days, management stressed
discipline, accountability, and structure; three ugly words in today's
workplace.

Understanding Craftsmanship

Some might say craftsmanship is a simple concept that we should
intuitively know. Not true; most people today have no comprehension as
to what makes up a good craftsman; they have either forgotten or it has
simply passed them by. Craftsmanship can be found in any field of appeavor
imaginable, be it in the product sector or service industry. Craftsmanship,
therefore, is universally applicable to any line of work.

Craftsmanship is not "workmanship", nor is it synonymous with quality,
although the three concepts are closely related. Let's begin by
giving "Craftsmanship" a definition: "The production and delivery
of quality goods or services from highly skilled workers. "

Quality relates to the absence of errors or flaws in the finished
product or service. In other words, finished goods operate
according to their specifications (customers get precisely what
they ordered). Such products are normally durable and require minimal
maintenance. Craftsmanship produces quality products. In the absence
of craftsmen, a rigorous methodology or assembly line process is
required to produce quality goods using workers without the expertise
of craftsmen. Such processes detail "Who" is to perform "What" work,
"When", "Where", "Why" and "How" (5W + H), thereby assuring a quality
product or service is produced. Such is the underlying ratione of
the ISO 9000 certification as used by many companies today. The point
is, quality is not the exclusive domain of the craftsman.

Craftsmanship is also a human trait. Some might argue a computer or
industrial robot can produce quality products and are, therefore,
craftsmen. However, we must remember these devices are programmed by
human beings in accordance with the rules of the craftsman. As such,
they are an extension or tool of the craftsman.

Craftsmanship can be found in either the overall work process or
a section of it. For example, there are craftsmen who are intimate
with all facets of building furniture, such as a table, a chair or
desk, and can implement the product from start to finish. However,
as products grow in complexity, it becomes difficult to find people
suitably qualified to build them from the womb to the tomb. Consider
military weapons alone, such as the complicated ships, tanks, and
airplanes we now use, with thousands or millions of parts to
assemble. Such complexity makes it impossible for a single person
to have the expertise to build the whole product. The same is true
in the service sector where different types of expertise and
capabilities may be required. In other words, craftsmen have a
specific scope of work. The scope of work may relate to other
types of craftsmen through a chain of work dependencies, eg,
Craftsmen A, B and C concentrate on separate sub-assemblies which
are ever joined into a single product.

Attributes

So, what are the attributes of a craftsman? What makes a craftsman a
craftsman? There are three basic attributes described herein:

1. Possesses the necessary knowledge and skills to perform the work.

The craftsman is an expert in his field of endeavor; so much so that
he could easily serve as an instructor in the subject matter. But the
craftsman is also smart enough to know that education is not a one
time thing, that his world and field evolve as new tools and techniques
are introduced. As such, the craftsman is a student of his profession
and is constantly looking to improve himself. This is exercised through
such things as continued education, routine certification, studying books
and trade publications, and industrial groups. The craftsman willingly
participates in trade groups, often at his own expense, in order to network
with his peers.

It is Important to note that the craftsman does not need to be told
he needs periodic training to sharpen his skills. Instead, he takes the
personal initiative to stay on top of his game. Further, the craftsman
has no problem with a periodic job review; in fact, he welcomes it for
it may bring out a weakness in a skill he needs to sharpen.

2. Attention to detail.

The craftsman understands and respects the process of building / delivering
a product or service and is acutely aware of the penalies for cutting
corners. Earlier we discussed the need for a methodology that specifies
5W + H. The craftsman is intimate with all details of his scope of work,
so much so, he could probably write the methodology himself. Further,
His intimacy of the work process means he can produce a reliable estimate
of time and costs to perform the work.

Although many of the craftsman's tasks may be repetitive, it does not
meaning he easily falls into a rut. Instead, he is constantly looking
for new tools and techniques to improve the work process. As such,
he plays the role of Industrial Engineer who is normally charged
with such a task.

The craftsman's attention to detail also means that he demonstrates
patience in his work effort. Again, wary of cutting corners, the
craftsman must possess such patience in order to produce the product
the right way.

3. Views professional life as an extension of his personal life.

The craftsman identifies with the end product which is where
pride in workmanship comes from. In his mind, the craftsman has
has charged with the responsibility of producing something, and
wishing to satisfy the customer, puts forth his best effort to
produce it. In other words, craftsmen take their work
personally. This is a difficult trait to teach particularly in
today's society where the focus is more on financial compensation
than on the work product itself. It may sound naive, but the
craftsman believes he will be suitably compensated for
producing superior results.

Years ago, Dick Butkus of the Chicago Bears (NFL) confounded sports
writers who could never understand why Butkus played as hard as he
did year after year for a losing football team. True, Dick loved the
game, but beyond that, the sports writers did not understand one thing
about the seven time All-Pro linebacker: Butkus took his job
personally. It was important to him that his opponents know that
they had been tackled by the best player; as he said, "When they
get up from the ground I want them to say 'it must have been Butkus
that got me '. " Dick Butkus was a craftsman.

The craftsman has a burning desire to produce a superior product / service
because he sees it as a reflection of himself. As such, the lines delineating
their personal life and professional life are blurred. This is a significant
characteristic that clearly separates a craftsman from the average worker. The
craftsman's work is his life. He does not shirk responsibility, but rather
embraces it with confidence and embosses his name on the finished product.
Conversely, making a work related mistake of any kind pains a true craftsman.

Job titles are normally inconsequential to the craftsman who is more
interested in delivering a quality product / service enjoyed by the
customer. Instead, the craftsman takes pleasure in being touted as
the best in his craft. He appreciates recognition; when someone
makes a compliment about a product, the craftsman views it as a
personal compliment. This too runs contrary to today's corporate
world where people desireately seek recognition through simple
job titles. Want someone with an inflated ego? Give them a title.
Want something done right? Call a craftsman.

Productivity

"Dependable", "professional", and "resourceful" are adjectives that
aptly describe the craftsman. He is not one who fabricates excuses but,
rather, always finds a way to get the job done. The craftsman is typically
your most productive employee. He is mindful of the concept of productivity
that we have touted for years:

Productivity = Effectiveness X Efficiency

Most people fallaciously equate productivity with efficiency, which simply
gauges how fast we can perform a given task. Effectiveness, on the other hand,
validates the necessity of the task itself. There is nothing more unproductive
than to do something efficiently that should not have been done at all. An
industrial robot, for example, can efficiently perform such tasks as welding. But
if you are welding the wrong thing, then it is counterproductive. Going back to
our description of a methodology, effectiveness defines "Who / What / Where / Where / Why",
efficiency defines "How." The craftsman is well aware of the difference
between the two and knows how to apply both. As such, the craftsman is in tune
with his work environment and corporate culture.

So how do we make craftsmen?

Not easily. Because of the human dynamics involved with the craftsman,
you will need to be a pretty intuitive manager or industrial
psychologist to make it happen. Selecting suitable candidates is the
logical first step. Devise an aptitude test to determine the candidate's
suitability to become a craftsman. After all, "you can not make a silk
purse from a sow's ear. "Aside from specific knowledge and experience
in a given field (eg, programming, woodworking, construction, accounting,
etc.), here are some other important traits to look for:

  • Fertility of mind – judge its ability to learn, to adapt to changing conditions, and to look beyond its scope of work. Evaluate his professional curiosity.
  • Confidence – judge how well the candidate knows himself, particularly how well he knows his own limitations. He should admit his shortcomings and not fabricate excuses.
  • Dedication – judge his loyalty and determination to accomplish something. What is his attendance record? What outside clubs and organizations does he belong to and how active is he in them?
  • Entrepreneurial spirit – judge his personal initiative. Is he driven to succeed (but not to the point of reckless abandon)? Does he have a problem with accountability? This says a lot about assuming responsibility.
  • Attention to detail – judge its ability to focus on a subject. Does he have a problem with discipline or organization? A person's dress, mannerisms, and speech says a lot about a person.
  • Reliability – judge his ability to assume responsibility and carry a task through to completion.
  • Resourcefulness – judge its ability to adapt to changing conditions and persevere to see a task through to completion. The candidate can not be inflexible; he must be able to find solutions to solve problems.
  • Socialization skills – does he work better alone or as a team player? His position may depend on his answer.

When you have selected qualified candidates, here are three areas to
concentrate on:

  1. Develop their skills and knowledge by allowing such things as: participation in trade groups, outside certification and on-going training, subscriptions to trade journals, continued education, etc. Some companies even go as far as to develop an in-house school to teach the company's way of doing things. If the in-house school is good, it will promote confidence through consistency. Even if people leave the company, they will recommend your company because they know the quality of the work produced. Supporting the education needs of our workers is not only smart, it is good business.
  2. Teach them the need for producing quality work; they should become intimate with all aspects of their work process (5W + H). Further, instill discipline and patience in their work effort.
  3. Change their attitude towards development so they become more focused on delivering a quality end-product. This is perhaps the most difficult element to teach. However, it can be realized by having them become intimate with the needs of the customer (have them visit or work with a customer for awhile – "let them walk in the customer's shoes"). It may also be necessary to change their form of remuneration by going to a reward system for work produced (as opposed to guaranteed income regardless of what is produced). Changing the mode of financial compensation is highly controversial in today's business world. But, as an example, you can imagine the change of attitude of today's professional athletes if they were paid based on their accomplishments (eg, runs or points scored, hits, rebounds, etc.) rather than having a guaranteed income? Their motivation and attitude towards their profession and team would change radically. Candidates must learn to respect their institution, the process by which they work, fellow human beings, and themselves. They must also learn not to be afraid to TRY; that they must put their best foot forward, win or lose. Bottom-line: they must learn that their work has meaning and worth. If they do not enjoy their work, they should not be doing it.

"There are two things that I want you to make up your minds to: first,
that you are going to have a good time as long as you live – I have no
use for the sour-faced man – and next, that you are going to do
something worthy, that you are going to work hard and do the
things you set out to do. "
– President Theodore Roosevelt
Talk to schools in Oyster Bay, Christmas-time 1898

Certification

Teaching the elements listed above probably can not be done in one
fell swoop. Further, companies simply do not have the time or money to
wait for the craftsman to be produced. Instead, they must understand
the human spirit needs to be cultured and be allowed to grow over
time. Because of this, it is strongly recommended that an in-house
certification program be mandated specifying what the candidate should
know and what skills and talents he should demonstrate. This should be
divided into classes of progressive expertise; eg, apprentice, intermediary,
and craftsman. The ancient builders in Egypt, Rome, and Greece understood
this concept and devised such classes of workmen. Other disciplines and
schools follow similar tactics (the various degrees or belts in martial
arts for example). Each degree is based on specific prerequisites to
master before moving on to the next level.

An in-house certification program has the added nuance of making
people feel special which greatly enhances their self esteem. If
they are made to feel like a vital part of the company, regardless if
their work of a large magnitude or trivial, they will strive to do
what is best for the company overall, not just themselves. Consequently,
their work adds meaning to their life.

There is one pitfall to all of this; today's "go-go" management
style fails to see how craftsmanship adds value to the company. In
fact, there were companies back in the 1980's that shut down such
programs simply to reduce costs. As a result, quality suffered,
repeat business was lost, products were more in need of repair,
absenteeism on the job escalated, etc. Want value? How does
a loyal customer base who has confidence in your products or
services sound? And what effect would employee harmony have,
especially if they believed in the work they were producing? It
would be mind-boggling, all because we had faith in the human
spirit to produce superior results.

A final note: craftsmanship is not a one time thing. After it has
was instilled in people, it has to be cultured and perpetuated. If
a manager slips even for a moment, it will go right out the window and
it will take time to bring it back to life. As for me, I like to post
motivational reminders kind of like the one recently spotted in the
Hickey Freeman manufacturing facility in New York,
"Excellence is Tolerated."


Source by Tim Bryce

How to Build Your Own Cuckoo Clock

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Of all the various kits available from hobby stores and websites across the Internet, cuckoo clock kits are very rare indeed. Why is this? Two reasons: one is that as simple the cuckoo clock’s design may seem (after all, it was invented in 1730), it is actually very complicated and can only be replicated by masters. Minor defects in construction will render the movement meaningless with regard to telling accurate time. There is then the added difficulty of the simulated cuckoo sound.

As easy as it is to assemble finished parts at a company that has been doing it for a few hundred years, it’s very difficult for a beginner to achieve the same success – even when using the same parts. Also, since most of the artistry that draws people to appreciate the cuckoo clock is the look and sound of the finished product, there is no way to create a hand carved, artistic finished cuckoo clock and then disassemble it so somebody else could put it together. It simply cannot be done.

But rest your fears. For the ambitious cuckoo clock enthusiast there remains one way to create a totally unique cuckoo clock on your own. The company clockworks.com specializes in selling parts for all clocks, cuckoo clocks included, can sell you all of the individual parts you will need to create the inner workings of a basic cuckoo clock. You’ll pay quite a bit more then you would if you were simply to buy a finished cuckoo clock but that isn’t what you’re looking for, now is it?

You want to put it together yourself, and with the parts from clockworks.com you can do just that. The only problem is once you’ve got the inner workings you’ll actually have to do the artistic part yourself as well. You’ll have to sculpt a bird to emerge from the wooden doors and enough exterior decorations to satisfy yourself that you’ve done a Black Forest-worthy job. It can be done, but don’t expect a cuckoo clock in a box to come landing on your doorstep. You’ll have to become a master craftsman yourself.


Source by Kristy Annely

What Your Back Yard Shed Plans Must Have to Ensure a Successful Build

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When building a shed yourself, you need to find the most complete backyard shed plans package available to help take the guesswork out of the project. If you have a lot of woodworking experience, this may seem like overkill but these more complete plans can still save you time and money with the tips and tricks they offer.

Even though you can find less expensive blueprints available for a given shed, they may lack the important details you need to complete the project that will take you time and money to figure out on your own.

The simplest type of shed plans you can find are really nothing more than framing blueprints with some level of siding and assembly information. While these may be perfect for an experienced contractor, the average homeowner will need far greater detail about the shed than these simple plans provide. For them to complete this type of project, the more information included with the shed plans the better.

For people with a little more building experience, there are plans available for constructing a shed that include a materials list along with the blueprints. Some of these even provide rough construction details and are all a handyman needs to build their shed. These plans are more complete than the simplest sets, but are also less expensive than a full sheed plans package. These types of backyard shed plans are a good compromise for anyone that has done a bit of minor construction or woodworking and just needs the larger details provided for the project.

The most complete shed plans include everything discussed in the previous plans as well as a wide range of other helpful information. This complete shed plans package is intended for the average homeowner who may have never taken a project of this size on before and needs all the help they can get.

In addition to a complete set of blueprints for the shed you are about to build, a shed plans package will walk you through every step in the process of assembling the shed and provide helpful tips and tricks along the way that may never have occurred to you . Some of these are particular to the shed you are building and others may be general time-savers that are commonplace in construction.

You will also find that these more complete plans will have better details of the critical assembly sections of the project and may include drawings or pictures of these steps being completed. A picture is worth a thousand words and being able to see a critical step in the process can make all the difference to most people. It can also help you avoid the mistakes many people make when building a shed and eliminate any rework because of a missed step.

The plans might also provide a cutting and layout guide for your raw lumber. This can be essential in eliminating waste and knowing how to get the best yield out of your lumber. All of these extra details in these back yard shed plans will help you finish your project quicker and will result in a shed that you can be proud of.


Source by Brad Appleton

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