Be Inspired with Dominic

Find all the inspiring projects you are looking for here, as well as some of the more unexpected things I have made in my shop. And as always, remember to be Inspired!

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Shot Barrel – Barrel-Shaped Shadowbox

We have a collection of neat shot glasses, mostly from medieval fairs. I wanted to make a stylish home for them and decided that they would look best in a barrel – a Shot Barrel! And in order to save on space, it would have to be a thin slice, just deep enough for the shots. Enjoy, and please share if you found this interesting! And as always, remember to be Inspired!

Tool Basics – If I had the tools…

Welcome to Tool Basics, the series about what your tools can do – and what you can do with your tools. If you watch some of the more prominent makers doing their thing on YouTube (or elsewhere for that matter), you are bound to find comments along the lines of “I could do that if I had their fancy tools” or “I could do that if I had tools worth my weight in Atium” (which, if you are not familiar with the Mistborn novels, is a lot of money).

Of course, the usual and true answer to that question would be that it is not the tools that make them good but their skills, creativity, and ingenuity. If you cannot hit a nail if your life depended on it, a gold-plated hammer will not do you much good. Then again, a laser-guided CNC-hammer, on the other hand… But I digress.

Now the question is, could there be more to it? Could it be simple lack of experience that prompts such comments? Maybe people assume a “high horse” situation when they see things done with tools when they are not familiar with what these tools can actually accomplish in the hands of a skilled operator and thus think it is a matter of cost and quality.


Enter Tool Basics

Thus was born the idea for the Tool Basics guide (or series). While this article covers the very basics when it comes to how to think about tools and their price, the upcoming ones will show you in detail what the various tools are capable of – both out of the box and with homemade jigs and fixtures. Whenever possible, I will link to videos or articles that go into more detail or show you how to do something the right way.

A word of caution, though – take everything you find here with a grain of salt. You and what you feel comfortable with should always be the first line of defense against doing something stupid with any tool. And with tools that have sharp edges traveling at high speed, it is your responsibility to stay safe.



A Note on Tool Cost

Before we begin, let us acknowledge that quality does have a role to play here. There are cheap tools and expensive ones, and there are low-quality tools and those of superb craftsmanship. While the two often go hand in hand – cheap tool equals low quality – the following point cannot be stressed enough. A huge price tag does not make a good tool. While you generally get the quality you pay for, that does not mean that a cheap tool cannot do what you need it to do.

So Tool Basics starts with this. You get what you pay for, so pay only for what you need. How often you are going to need that tool heavily factors into it, as well as the budget you have to begin with. If you are making a living with these tools you will probably want better quality tools than the hobbyist looking to do small repairs around the house. Especially since tools geared towards professionals also tend to come with benefits that are not actually a physical part of the product, such as extended warranties and better customer support. For the sake of Tool Basics, we will leave these out entirely.

Look at it this way. If you need to drill one hole a week, buying a drill for a thousand bucks will come down to a per-hole cost of roughly 20 bucks after one year. Buy a cheap drill for 50 bucks, and after one year you will have paid 1 buck per hole. I know things tend to be more complicated, but this is a good way to start. Of course, the point could be made that a cheap tool will not last you as long. But if you could drill a hundred thousand holes with the expensive drill, and only a thousand with the cheap one, you would notice the difference after about 20 years in the given example.

Also, you can find expensive tools used in various places on the internet. If you can afford to wait, you will eventually find the bargain you were looking for. Old tools, too, can be a treat if they are still working or you can put them back into working condition. Because we all know they don’t make ’em like they used to.


A Note on Consumables/Blades

In most cases, tools are but one part of the equation. They use consumables in one form or another, and most of the time, their quality has more influence on the final result than the actual tool itself. We are talking about saw blades, drill bits, sandpaper or carbide inserts. These are the parts that actually do the work on the material.

As a rule of thumb, the consumables that come with a tool are of lower quality than the tool itself. So you can get a boost out of it by investing in something better. That being said, there are high-end consumables that cost more than low- to medium-range tools themselves.

So what is better, a low-prize saw with a high-quality blade or a high-quality saw with a low-quality blade? In this particular case, I would go for the better blade, mainly because that is what comes in contact with the wood and makes the cut.

But this comparison does not consider one thing – what you actually want to do with it. A great blade is wasted if you only cut a 2×4 every other month, while daily use would wear down a cheap blade in no time. In the end, you are paying for quality in consumables more than you are with the tool itself.

And another point to consider. Would you buy a high-end car and run it on the cheapest fuel? Or would you expect your hand-me-down junker to go that much faster if you feed the engine with that expensive premium stuff? The answer is probably no in both cases.


A Note on Tool Safety

Safety is important because we all want to keep doing what we are doing tomorrow and in a week, a month or a year. Nobody cares for losing a finger, taking a splinter in the eye, or breathing issues caused by fine dust. But we are responsible for our own safety. Hence, safety features or instructions will not be a part of Tool Basics. I will mention it if and when I deem it appropriate regarding the operation of a specific technique, but the rest is up to you!

Adhering to a manufacturer’s safety guidelines, and making sure that all the safety gear is in place and being used, is your responsibility. And if you think that one of the jigs I am showcasing is unsafe – do not use it. That you can do this awesome and dangerous thing on that tool does not mean that you should, and if you do, the consequences are yours to deal with.

And as an aside to this aside, consider that safety is in part a function of quality and the features a tool comes with. These features might not have a direct part in your productivity, but they are meant to keep you productive for a while longer.


Moving forward with Tool Basics

Thanks for checking out this first part of the Tool Basics series. In upcoming articles, I will look at specific tools and give you the most complete rundown of what they can do possible. That being said, I could use your help in making this guide even more comprehensive and helpful for everyone. If I missed anything regarding any of the tools I have already covered, please let me know. And if you come across something that is just plain awesome, I would love for you to share it with me as well.

So make sure to subscribe to my newsletter so you do not miss the next installment of Tool Basics! And remember to be Inspired!

Storage Boxes from Scrap – Quick & Dirty

Today I share with you a technique to make multi-compartment trays or even shadow boxes from scrap pieces. With a slight modification, you can also make single storage boxes in large numbers for all your shop organization needs. And if you go that extra mile, you can turn what starts out as a shop project into something beautiful, too!.

You can find more information on determining the sizes required below! If you found this video valuable please share it with as many people as you can find! Thanks for watching, and be Inspired!

How do dimension Storage Boxes

Two things determine the dimension of what storage boxes you can (and should) make. One is the size of your scrap pieces, the other is what you actually want to store in them.

There is no way to influence the size of your scrap pieces (or possibly new stock you might be willing to use). So let us look at how to get from the desired size of the compartment to the actual measurements of the pieces. I drew up this sketch. You need the three dimensions of the desired size (yellow) and the thickness of your stock.

Keep in mind that you can (and should) double and triple C as many times as your stock allows. Do not forget to add the kerf-width as well. You will need to true them up later anyway, so you might as well cut them up then.

dimensions for the storage boxes

How to easily get the measurements you need from the compartment size you want.

What are the limits?

The main limits to what you can make are your clamps and the size of stock you have on hand. The tray design should keep things stable enough for most purposes and sizes. If you want to go really big, I recommend using thicker stock than I did or glue the whole tray onto a board large enough.

If you use this technique to make your own storage boxes or trays, I would love if you took pictures and sent them to me. Thank you for stopping by! And as always, remember to be Inspired!

Be Inspired!

Welcome to Be Inspired with Dominic, a.k.a. Dominic’s Woodworks. This site is meant to inspire you to go out into your workshop, set up a shop or get some basic tools and work on your kitchen table (I know I have in the past).

Have a look around! Check out my Tea Light Holders and the Magic Wands, but also the Workshop Projects and the Weird Stuff. If there is anything you like, please let me know and subscribe to my newsletter on the right to stay up to date!

And as always, remember to be Inspired!

Animate inanimate Things – Cthulhu-Wand

I know it looks like I made another magic wand, but with good reason. I use it to showcase a very simple technique that you can use to animate things, i.e. make them move. And even better, you do not need microcontrollers, servos or electricity for it – springs and string are all that is required. You can combine that with more high-tech ideas, but it is a good starting point for Halloween costumes and decoration.

Sharing this video would mean the world to me, and I greatly appreciate you supporting me this way. If you are in Instructables, you can check out the ‘ible for this project there, and maybe find answers to questions you did not even have yet (I would appreciate you liking it and following me there, too!). Thanks for watching, and remember to be Inspired!

Tintin Rocket LED Lamp – Fly me to the Moon!

If you ever read the Tintin story “Destination Moon”, chances are that the iconic rocket design with its slender curves and the bright colors stuck in your mind just like it did for me. When it was time to make a LED-based project for a challenge (hosted by HolzwurmTom), I decided to pay homage to this design, the Tintin Rocket. Enjoy the video, read more about the project below, and remember to be Inspired!

Design lessons learned from the Tintin Rocket

The most important thing I learned after finishing this project is that is is not as well suited as a reading light as I had hoped. It now serves more of a mood light function, which is okay, too. But to be a proper reading lamp, the light would have to be either more focused somehow, or more widespread as to cover the whole book.

During the design phase, there actually were a few iterations that would have worked in that respect, although looking back now they would have required a different kind of light source – a small LED “bulb” rather than a strip. If you can manage to wrap it enough – more so than I did in the final project – it might be possibly to use a strip, too.

The idea was to have the tip of the tintin rocket separate from the main body – say, the top 4-5 rings. This part would also house the light, and still be connected to the main body with a cable. You would then be able to lift it up and put it in a position to direct the light somehow.

I think the most promising way to achieve that, and the one I almost chose for this, is to have a triangle of three long dowels extending downwards from the top and a hexagon of holes in the bottom, i.e. two matching, offset triangles. One set of holes would be deep enough to accommodate the whole dowels, while the other would be shallow. In one position the tip would sit flush on the bottom, while the shallow holes would elevate it to spread the light a lot better. If you add to that a way to bend the light to one side you would have a proper reading lamp.



More Things I learned from this Project

The main lesson here is that unless you have inhuman precision and patience, having to get a cove to match a round face should be avoided at all cost. It might work if you have a pipe that stays the same diameter all the way, and a sanding drum of the same diameter (which you could make yourself). On the Tintin Rocket on the other hand, the diameter changes all the time, and the legs need to attach at the right angle, too. Sanding flat faces in these spots is the much easier solution, especially since you can use some kind of jig to keep the faces roughly aligned – even if it is just a piece of tape on the workbench or on a fence.

Also, screws are not always the answer, especially in tight places like the inside of a tube. I might feel good for a second to be actually able to get it in there and tight, but that short moment of gratification is not worth it at all. Not to mention that it makes drilling the holes for the wires much harder.


Need more Inspiration?

Don’t forget to check out my other projects inspired by some kind of media. You can find many cool ideas there, and I am sure they will inspire you to make something of your own – and if you do please let me know!

Thanks for stopping by, and as always, remember to be Inspired!

Make Tealights with your own Vacuformed Mold!

You know that you can make your own tealight holders – all you need it the proper forstner bit. But this time we go a step further and actually make tealights! The technique I used to make the mold – vacuforming – can be used for many other shapes, too, and you can use it for much more than just candle making. Please share the joy of tealights, enjoy it for yourself, and remember to be Inspired!

Tanis Wheel of Fortune – a Sketch

Tanis is a podcast about a strange place and even stranger events, with mystery and Lovecraftian undertones. When I binged the first seasons in my shop, walking the short distance back to the house in the dark was an interesting experience. While I would recommend listening to Tanis if you are a fan of the genre, this is about an idea I had to put my own “spin” on one element of the show.

Tanis Wheel of Fortune

There are dangerous things.


Without giving too much away, here is what inspired me – one verse, basically.

“There are magical things.
There are wonderous things.
There are dangerous things.
We get what we deserve.”

Now, the idea was to work this sentence into a deco piece, and I wanted to make a mechanism that would return one of the three words from the first three sentences (magical, wondrous, dangerous) in combination with the static rest of the text. I started with the idea of a roller, then switched to a wheel-of-fortune-style thing. You can see some of my thoughts and process in the sketch.

The style for the whole thing was pretty set early on, going for an abandoned fairground vibe with distressed paint that would once have been bright and happy. To hide the mechanism somewhat – although the wheel would protrude on both ends – I considered doing a molded miter frame that would also add to the design.

This is an unusual sketch because for now, I have decided not to pursue this Tanis project further. This happens more than you might think – an idea that sprang from a game, a book or, as in this case, a podcast, can lose momentum quickly when I get “out of touch” with that medium. That does not mean that all is lost, but for the time being, I probably will not tackle this one. Then again, who knows? If I ever come back to it I already have something planned, and who knows, maybe it takes as little as writing about it to get me fired up again. Until that time I hope that this sketch inspired you!

Chess Pieces on the Spindle Sander

I have long since wanted to make chess pieces in one way or another. Then, when Meyer Maschinenhandel approached me and asked whether I had an idea to showcase one of their spindle sanders (the Record Power BBS2). I had just the right piece in mind – 32 pieces, to be exact. Using a square beam from the home center, all you need other than the spindle sander is a saw – anything that can cut wood to size. You can watch the video right now, or read on below for more information about the project. Enjoy, and be Inspired!


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