Friday, 29 March 2013

Minky Monkey Moo meets Woodworking for Mere Mortals

'Friday's Features' has been created to cover articles, ideas, websites and interviews that compliment 'Monday's Makes'.

Our first interview is with Steve Ramsey of Coupled with his YouTube site:; a novice can create fabulous items for their home! Steve's love of wood and creating is evident and infectious and you will be hooked after one try! So, before you embark on your first easy to follow tutorial from Steve, ask yourself, 'can I fit a workshop in my garden shed?'

I have only posted 3 'Monday's Makes' to date and already Steve has featured in the very first one, with a beautiful Redwood Doormat!

MMM   So we know a little about the man behind the talent, what are your influences in life?
SteveTwo-reel comedies from the 1920s and 30s, Shakespeare and Monty Python. I guess, I'm influenced by entertainment.

MMMAre there any blogs that you follow?
SteveThere are a lot of great woodworking blogs. I have links to them on my site. The one blog I read every day though, has nothing to do with woodworking: Rex Parker, who blogs about the day's New York Times crossword puzzle.

MMMWhat made you start your blog and what were your initial ideas for the content?
SteveI began my blog after making videos for a while, as a way for me to provide more information about my woodworking projects. I have to cut a lot out of my videos to keep them short.

MMMI like the idea of posting your viewer's makes; is this one way in which your blog has evolved over the past 3 years?
SteveYes. There are woodworking blogs by authors with lots of great articles on the details of woodworking. I am neither an expert, nor a teacher, so I learn by looking at what other people have made and they give me great ideas for projects. Posting their projects on my web site is a great way to inspire other people to build something.

MMMFor us 'mere mortals', who have started following your blog, what basic tools do you  think we should kit ourselves out with?
SteveAnyone can do woodworking with a limited assortment of tools. If you have a limited space, a hand-held jigsaw is a great tool that will let you make just about anything. If you have some space and really want to dive into woodworking, a table saw is the most useful tool to own.

MMMYour features cover a wide range of topics, what inspires your creations?
SteveI often create something based on a need. We recently bought a new TV and need a stand for it, so I made one. Many of my ideas also come from viewers.

MMMDo you have a vision in mind or do your designs develop after you start?
SteveI usually have a picture in my mind of what I think something should look like when it's finished, but it is very common for that to evolve in the shop. I recently started designing projects in 'SketchUp', which has helped enormously to speed up my process, but it's always curious what can change when I'm actually building

MMMYou have included posts for woodworking with children, would this be an area that you would consider featuring more of?
SteveI think it's great to see kids woodworking. I try to showcase them whenever I can. Woodworking is not something that appeals to many kids and fewer and fewer kids are given the opportunity to try it. Shop classes are largely extinct, and many parents have no interest in woodworking themselves. I believe I am the last generation of guys whose fathers commonly had small workshops and regularly used tools to fix things and build things around the house.

MMMThere are lots of posts that I really like on your blog, including: the Redwood Doormat as featured in my first post, 'Beginning Woodworking Intarsia' (dated, 5 October 2012), 'Springtime Woodworking Projects' (3 April 2012), 'Advent Calendar & Other Gift Ideas' (12 November 2012) and many more; which posts have been your favourite to date?
SteveI am not sure. I rarely look back at any older blog posts. I like to think of a blog as a very immediate medium. Once a post drifts down into a second page, it's pretty much gone. Posts featuring my videos are an exception because I have a page listing them all. That's what visitors are looking for, and most new blog visitors go directly to the video tab on top.

MMMI have to ask a cheeky question! Having young children, your 'Race Car Toddler Bed' guest post (dated, 24 November 2010), was amazing. Any thoughts for an alternative for a girl?
SteveGet her interested in race cars. That was a viewer project sent to me by Laney Shaughnessy. It's one of those projects that is inspiring because when we see it we tend to imagine ways to adapt that spirit of design to our own needs. A cool toddler bed for a girl would be a princess castle. I can imagine an enclosed palace with lots of draping fabric and secret nooks for keeping treasures.

MMMIs there any other advice that you could offer to newbie bloggers, like myself?
SteveTry to post twice a week. If I look at a blog and see that the most recent entry is a few weeks old, I assume the blogger has lost interest. At first it can be discouraging because you wonder if anyone is reading it. Include a call-to-action to get people to comment, follow you on Facebook, or whatever.

MMMYou have been up-and-running for a while now, how have you managed to grow traffic to your site?
SteveMost of my blog traffic is due to the fact that I produce weekly videos. Many people find their way to my blog via YouTube.

MMMWhat are your visions for your blog's future?
SteveI'd like to create a better web site eventually and have the blog as one element of it. With over 200 videos, I'd like to organise them into categories, too.

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