New tool: Morso F - Foot operated Guillotine Miter (mitre) Cutter/ chopper

Long name – simple function:   Perfect 45º miters every time. 

Some tools never die

I've been struggling to get my miter cuts perfect while making some picture frames. As you may already know, my workshop is small and powered only with solar electricity.  This leaves me without my large (power hungry) table saw and my trusted crosscut miter sled jig – so high volume consistency and accuracy is difficult with a regular "miter" saw alone.

A friend of mine bought one of these machines a few years ago and I've wanted one ever since. They're not easy to find but as luck would have it, I found one on Craigslist only 150 miles away in Poughkeepsie, NY. They're a small fortune brand new at around $2700 so I think I did alright at $300 after a bit of haggling (which i love to do).

These machines are simple, heavy-duty, dust free, and noiseless. With very little moving parts, they last forever. I'm guessing this one has been around since the 60's? I'll probably hang onto it for another 50 years or so.

Some tools never die

Some helpful links if you're interested:

Morso Homepage

Buyers Guide (very thorough)

Blade (knife) Sharpening in USA






Homemade Baby Sled

Lake George has spoiled again with miles upon miles of black ice and this time we're bringing the baby out!

My wife and I both move comfortably (at times comically) along on ice skates but not comfortable enough to carry our five month old baby daughter out onto the ice. Pulling her from behind on a sled made sense but she's still too young to support herself sitting up. 

I assumed a perfectly safe snow sled existed in a store nearby. I made a few phone calls and searched online and only found sleds for slightly older babies and a flimsy inflatable death-trap. One image I did see online was a homemade sled made from an old pair of downhill skis and a plastic wheelbarrow bucket. A-ha! With that one image alone I was off in the workshop making my own sled. But instead of the plastic wheelbarrow bucket, I decided to incorporate the safest carrier around - the car seat. 

All measurements are approximate. My main concern was the sled being too tippy - but at 24" wide and with such a low profile, this was not a problem. More important was pre-drilling of all holes and using the appropriate size screws and washers.

  • Old Skis (mine are 160cm)
  • (2) 2" x 4" x 37" pine runners  (I used true 2x4's I had laying around. Store bought ones at 3.5 x 1.5 would probably work fine)
  • (2) 3/4" x 6ish x 24" cross piece(s)
  • (1) 3/4" x 16" x 35" scrap veneer plywood deck (the big box stores sell 2' x 4' half sheets)
  • (1) 2" x 4" x 14'-15" block of pine (you shouldn't skimp on this piece - the car seat will anchor to this)
  • (2) 5" x 3" scrap pieces to keep car seat from sliding side to side
  • (2) 6" Timber Screws
  • (2) Small metal angle brackets
  • Assortment of decking screws and washers

The sled worked better than expected on the ice and in the snow. Little baby slept the entire time in the fresh cold air. One improvement might be the strap. On the ice it continually became caught under the skis as I made turns. Maybe a rigid pole attached to the deck? Overall, a very quick build and good times.

Next time out I think I'll attached an old crate to the back and store our hot chocolate and Baily's, diapers, and some snacks.




Woodworking Shop

Earlier this year I decided to turn my hand-built cabin into a woodworking shop. Before becoming a workshop this was our part-time home and our attempt at living off-grid.

For years I had my workshop in my parents basement and the time had come to move on.  The space had always been adequate, but the doorway and stairs getting in and out were always a challenge. Also, the desire to be above ground and working in natural light had reached an all-time high.

The idea of working out of the cabin was slow in coming.  My original plan was to build a new straw bale - timber frame workshop modeled after my house. But those plans took a back seat with the exciting news of a baby girl on the way. I thought about renting workspace in town or slapping together a temporary outbuilding. Nope. The cabin is only 20 feet away from our new house and there it sat quietly – our former little home, now turned neglected guest cottage, overrun with crap we didn't need, and all of it covered in mouse shit. At first consideration its 12 x 18 size seemed way too small for a functioning workshop capable of handling casework and the occasional piece of furniture. But the thought of working so close to home and above ground took over and I decided to down-size my work instead.

I managed to fit my workbench and most of my stationary tools inside with the exception being my cabinet saw.  I'm not fully convinced, but the 3 horsepower, 220 volt motor might be too much for the off-grid solar electricity that powers our entire world. For now I'm using a small, portable, job-site table saw that has seen better days – but it works.

Being off-grid has worked out so far. On days when the batteries are low and the sun isn't shining, I carve. When the sun is out, I make sawdust. The small size has kept my work in check. It's also made me reconsider the size of my future workshop which I still intend to build.


Someday I'll convert it back into a guest cottage. Maybe I'll finish the trim too.

A Baby

Eleanor Jane is 4 weeks old today and we are so grateful for all the family and friends who have helped us navigate our first month of parenthood.

Grateful for all the delicious food, the giant HOORAY! sign, the gifts, the flowers, the advice, the cards arriving daily, and to the many, many people who have wished us well from all over the world.

You are the reason we know little Eleanor will do just fine! - THANK YOU EVERYONE!

                                                                                                                                 much love -

Dave and Yules