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DETAIL YOUR DIGS with Men’s Health (& Spike)

Sandwiched between “Lust Lessons” by Augesten Burroughs and “Run your Best 5 K” in the April 2017 edition of Men’s Health, you’ll find the latest piece I wrote for them—”Detail Your Digs.” It’s more about house health than men’s health—but lots of great spring house prep information for everyone. Complete with fun illustration (like the shark in the pool and pizza on the roof.) And no, that’s not me on the cover. Check it out.COVERSPREADBY LINE


About 30 days ago I posted the first of, what was supposed to be, a series of gift projects great for holiday giving. The snag was, 25 days ago I busted my pelvis—sort of negating the “series of gift projects” idea. Some day soon I’ll cover the “How to screw together a busted hip” project (definitely NOT a DIY thing) but for now here’s another gift project.

0-tic-tac-toe-jpegIt all got me to thinking there are 3 WAYS TO GIVE GIFTS LIKE THIS: 1) You can build the actual project and give it, 2) You can give the gift of time by offering to build the project with a kid, grandkid, friend or spouse, 3) You can give the gift of know-how by wrapping up the book in which the project first ran. All ways are good ways. Today we look at a simple TIC TAC TOE shelf featured in “Ridiculously Simple Furniture Projects.” Stay tuned for more (unless I crack the other hip.)



A simple woodworking gift for holiday giving (#1)

Okay all ye DIYers, woodworkers, crafty people and gift makers, here is the first in a series of holiday gift project ideas for your perusal (and construction); from the pages of “Ridiculously SImple Furniture Projects.” It’s pretty straight forward—and as long as you’re gearing up to make one, you might want to think about making several. There are even printable plans at 

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HAPPY sawdusting! (And if you want a signed copy of any of my books for gift giving, just give a shout.)

BRICKMANIA!! (LEGO heaven)—& great fundraiser for EVOLVE Adoption a

I have the  honor of being involved in a unique upcoming fundraising event to help support EVOLVE Adoption & Family Services. I’ll be the MC for their BRICKMANIA event, Saturday, Oct. 15 from 5 to 8 p.m. You’ll find more information at Shot 2016-08-29 at 9.47.51 AM

The theme is “building families.” There will be craft beer-tasting, tacos from Chowgirls, silent auction, live auction, LEGO building competitions, raffles and a short, but sweet, program where (in 5 minutes or less) I’m going to build something that’s in tune with the “building families” theme. They’re still looking for sponsors and auction items, so contact them if you’re interested. Screen Shot 2016-08-29 at 9.48.15 AM

The venue is Brickmania Toyworks in NE Minneapolis. The place consists of 10,000 sq. ft. of outrageous, gargantuan, million-piece building, battleships and unusual objects. So come, laugh, drink, eat, build and GIVE!!

“Books, Banter & Little Bites” — July 30, Squash Blossom FarL

On July 30th (2016), I’ll be participating in a fun author event at Squash Blossom Farm. Lucie Amundsen (of “Locally Laid” eggs and same-name book fame) will be speaking about her memoir and business. I’ll build a Leopold Bench and talk about “The Backyard Homestead Book of Building Projects.” Teresa Marrone will be talking about her just-released book “Dishing Up Minnesota: 150 Recipes from the Land of 10,000 Lakes,” then leading a foraging hike through magical Squash Blossom Farm afterwards.

Lots more information at Facebook events page and the Squash Blossom Website click here

Teresa Marrone, author of "Dishing up Minnesota: 150 Recipes from the Land of 10,000 Lakes"

Teresa Marrone, author of “Dishing up Minnesota: 150 Recipes from the Land of 10,000 Lakes”

Lucie Amundsen of "Locally Laid" eggs and book fame.

Lucie Amundsen of “Locally Laid” eggs and book fame.

Spike Carlsen will build this Leopold Bench—then give it away to someone attending the event!!

Spike Carlsen will build this Leopold Bench—then give it away to someone attending the event!!


SAVE SOME DATES—Authors After Hours & Squash Blossom Farm

Here’s a quick “Save the Date” notice about a couple of unique events coming up. June 3rd, 6:45, at Valley Bookseller/ Daily Grind in Stillwater, Dale Mulfinger and I will be the featured in the “AUTHORS AFTER HOURS” program. We’ll be chatting about cabins, books, writing, and other magical things. Call Valley to reserve a spot (651-430-3385); attendance is limited to 20 people. More information at…/author…/E0-001-092328779-8. Then on the afternoon of July 30th, Lucie Amundsen (author of “Locally Laid”) and Teresa Marrone (author of LOTS of books, including the soon-to-be-released, mouth-watering “Dishing up Minnesota”) and I will be at Squash Blossoms Farm near Oronoco for an event which (at least for now) we’re calling “BOOKS, BANTER AND BLTs” We’ll be talking about (and doing) building, cooking, eggs, middle-farming, writing, homesteading and more. Lots of fun stuff planned. Roger and Suzanne have created a little slice of self-sufficient heaven at Squash Blossom—amazing place and people.…/…/… More information as it emerges—but, for now, SAVE THOSE DATES! Maybe even SPREAD THE WORD!


That’s Dale!



That’s Lucie!


That’s Teresa!


THE BIRTH OF A BOOKCASE (actually 4 of them)

I was asked to build a memorial bookcase for the Stillwater Library in memory of a long time library lover—Mabel Linquist. The mission was to design something to display new fiction books in the original rotunda area of the 1905 Carnegie Library. I began doodling—and my pencil kept drawing round things (hey, it’s a rotunda!) Another goal was to have the bookcase(s) flexible and movable. I began doodling with the idea of four “quarter slices” of a circle. As I circled in, I wound up with the preliminary design (below.)


4 bookcases

I ran the sketches by the folks at the library and all seemed to think it was worth pursuing. I built little foam core models to begin with, then went ahead with a full size mock up as shown below1) bookcase 3:4 viewIt seemed like a historical library needed bookcases with some history to them. So Librarian Carolyn Blocher and I rummaged through some old storage rooms and found two really cool possibilities: 1) Some shelves from the original 1895  library (Stillwater’s first) and 2) some cast iron brackets also from the original library. I goofed around with the shelves (turns out they were yellow poplar) and realized they might make the perfect raised panels for the sides. The brackets could become “back rests” for the books on top. It also seemed, since Stillwater was founded on white pine, that using that wood would be cool. I contacted Conrad at Forest Product Supply and discovered he had some slabs of white pine from a tree in Marine that had been downed in a storm. That’s be a good top, eh. So I went at itDSC_0891 I wound up bending wood every which way: Cutting curves, laminating thin pieces to make curves, and just outright bending stuff to make it curve. Twas a labor of love: Love of books, love of woodworking, love of the idea of a memorial bookcase.DSC_0882

A few weeks ago we installed them. And here’s how they look. The plaque below also gives a rundown of what the bookcases are made from.IMG_4310

The plaque:

1) Mabel plaque

Go check them out, while you’re visiting the library, checking out books. (One of the bookcases even has a magnetic panel with magnetized cars and animals that kids can play with while their folks are browsing the fiction area.


HARVEST TOTE holiday gift (think warmer weather)

Here’s a do-it-yourself Christmas gift you can make for the gardening (or foraging) lovers in your life—a harvest tote. Great for hauling stuff into and out of the garden (tho you’ll have to wait a few months if you’re a Minnesotan.) All you need are a few boards, a few fasteners, a few hours and maybe your belt. This and other projects both large and small featured in “The Backyard Homestead Book of Building Projects,” by Spike Carlsen (Storey Publishing.)

tote photo jpeg


tote 1 jpeg

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“Books Say Holidays Best”; a win-win-win thing

Happy cyber-book-Monday! Workman Publishing (in conjunction with my publisher) is running a WorkmanHoliday2015_1200x900_VF promotion. If you go to the link listed below and type HOLIDAY into the promo code box you’ll get 20% off. PLUS they donate a copy of their “Good & CHeap” cookbook to a person or family in need. Sort of a win-win-win thing. The link is

“A Splintered History of Wood” makes it into a medical journal

Every once in a while, something cool, unexpected and meaningful happens with something you’ve written. In this case it’s an article written by Dr. William Spinelli that ran in the Sept. issue of “Mayo Clinic Proceedings.” He pulls a quote from “A Splintered History of Wood” and uses the concept of heartwood as the starting point for a discussion on the role of “elder physicians.” A true honor to be included in this article; one with much broader application than the title suggests. Here it is.TurningPhysiciansintoHeartwood_final copy-1 (dragged) TurningPhysiciansintoHeartwood_final copy-2 (dragged) TurningPhysiciansintoHeartwood_final copy-3 (dragged) TurningPhysiciansintoHeartwood_final copy-4 (dragged)TurningPhysiciansintoHeartwood_final copy-2 (dragged)TurningPhysiciansintoHeartwood_final copy-3 (dragged)TurningPhysiciansintoHeartwood_final copy-4 (dragged)TurningPhysiciansintoHeartwood_final copy-1 (dragged)TurningPhysiciansintoHeartwood_final copy-2 (dragged)TurningPhysiciansintoHeartwood_final copy-3 (dragged)TurningPhysiciansintoHeartwood_final copy-4 (dragged)TurningPhysiciansintoHeartwood_final copy-1 (dragged)TurningPhysiciansintoHeartwood_final copy-1 (dragged)TurningPhysiciansintoHeartwood_final copy-2 (dragged)tu full filetu full filetu full filetu full filetu full file