Woodworking for Beginners

How to Prepare for Woodshop Projects

When undertaking woodshop projects, using a plan for each specific project can provide you with a number of benefits and allow you to create something from scratch. These plans can be for something as simple as a magazine rack or something as complex as a large piece of furniture. Woodshop projects allow you to experience a great deal of versatility.

Woodshop Projects: The Importance of Following a Plan

You can attempt to complete woodshop projects without plans, but there will be some difficulties you’re likely to encounter. The first issue that comes up is that woodshop projects might seem easy but they can turn out to be significantly more complex than you initially thought. Having a solid set of plans on hand will go a long way towards making even a complex project go smoothly. The plans should include all the steps you need in order to complete the project, in addition to a list for needed materials and tools.

Many people who undertake woodworking projects without plans might not have or realize that they need a particular piece of equipment in order to complete the project. This will definitely cause delays in the project and can end up being expensive. It’s also a good idea to have plans because it will provide you with a systematic guide to getting the job done.

Different projects will require different skill levels. Knowing your own skill level and the skill level of a project will be important. Using a set of plans can also go a long way in terms of ensuring that you’ll be able to plan out your project around your budget and that you can choose a project that you can afford.

Woodworking Problems you may run into during a Project

There are a number of woodworking issues you should keep in mind when working on a project. Some of these issues will vary based on your skill level or the type of wood you use, so it’s best that you have some knowledge regarding any type of potential issue that can come up during a project.

First off, we’ll discuss miter corners. Even the most well cut halves of a mitered corner will not always line up the way you planned. Because wood is a material that’s constantly adjusting to the fluctuations in the humidity in the air, or because of imperfections in the cut of the grain, mitered corners of your boards may not always align exactly.

A ruined stained finish from glue run out can happen. When you apply too much wood glue it can result in glue run out. This can be an issue for projects that require a stained finish because the pores of the exposed areas can become clogged with the glue and end up preventing the stain from seeping into the pores. The end result will be a piece of wood that has a splotchy and uneven look.

Be careful of saw blade burn outs. When you work with fine hard woods, your table saw blade can burn on the cut edge of wood and this can end up being a real problem. You’ll probably be tempted to sand or scrap off the burn marks, but it’s better that you try to prevent burns from the get go. By making a few adjustments to your saw you’ll be able to eliminate most burns so be sure to read the instruction manual for your saw, prior to starting your woodworking project.

No Brainer Safety Tips for Woodworking

  1. The most important rule when it comes to woodworking is to always wear your safety gear. Safety goggles will top this list; however, you may also need to wear protective gloves and ears plugs, depending on the project.
  2. Whenever you’re working in your wood shop, remember that you should avoid wearing loose fitting clothes. You should instead wear clothes that feel comfortable but that can also protect you from wayward wood chips that can result in cutting your skin. Also be sure to remove any type of jewelry.
  3. Drinking and woodworking can make a dangerous combination. While it may seem harmless to drink a few beers while working in your shop, try to avoid temptation until you’re finished.
  4. Whenever a blade change or bit change is needed, always disconnect the power tool from electricity before making the change.
  5. Another good safety tip is to always check the stock you are preparing to cut for metals before you begin a cut. Rapidly spinning blades and nails aren’t a good mix. Not only can it damage your machinery but the kick back can cause injury.
  6. Power tools for woodworking are designed so that the direction of the piece of wood moves through a tool
  7. When working with a saw, never put your hands near the blade, especially when you’re trying to remove cut off or waste. Instead, wait until the blade has stopped moving and use a push stick or piece of scrap wood to remove the waste.

Woodworking Supplies for Do it Yourself Home Projects

When it comes to the type of woodworking supplies you need, it will depend on your skill level and the type of projects you commonly work on. If you’re just starting out, you can begin purchasing a few hand tools, such as a hacksaw, chisels, a t-square, screwdrivers, nails and a hammer. You’ll also need a worktable and some clamps. The first power tools you purchase should probably be a jigsaw and a drill. Starting with the right woodworking tools is the way to go.

Woodworking Supplies: Where to Start

When it comes to woodworking supplies that you’ll use for most of your projects, your next purchase should be a circular saw. This saw can cut a lot faster than a jigsaw and it will be easier to make cleaner, straighter cuts with it. It’s also a useful tool to have for cutting large sheets of plywood, even if you have already purchased a table saw.

You should also consider buying a hand plane and possibly a workbench that has a vice. You can even decide to build your own workbench, in order to save some cash.

If you don’t like pocket holes joinery, you can invest in a pocket holes jig or a doweling jig instead. The pocket holes joinery is not very strong.

Another important power tool you should purchase is a random orbital sander. While a palm sander is less expensive and is able to use regular sandpaper, the random orbital sander uses fastened sanding disks, doesn’t sand in patterns and instead uses a random sanding motion. The motion serves to reduce the chances of sanding marks that can appear on the stock.

Major Purchases for Woodworking Tools

Your next major purchase should be a compound miter saw. The compound miter saw isn’t as expensive as a table saw and when it comes to cutting compound angles it’s invaluable. Once your develop the skill for making precise cuts with this saw, you’ll find yourself using your circular saw less and less.

The last tool that experts recommend for basic woodworking supplies is the router. There are a number of routers today that will offer a couple of different bases, but for a beginner a quality stationary base will be able to handle a number of jobs and it can be mounted in a router table, if you choose to buy one. Select a model of router that’s at least a 2hp and features variable speed controls, is easy to make bit changes and has a soft start mechanism. Also see our guide to router bits here.

Ideas for DIY Wood Projects

The art of woodworking can be very rewarding; however, in the beginning it’s going to require a large amount of both time and patience in order to master it. The best way you can learn this art is to start off by doing simple DIY wood projects that will require minimal skills and some basic woodworking hand tools such as layout squares, chisels, handsaws, nails, screwdrivers and hammers.

Guide to types of nails for Wood Working.

Guide to different types of hammers.

Easy DIY Wood Projects for the Beginner

Before you start, make sure that you have hand gloves, goggles and protective clothing.

Cutting Boxes

One of the best beginner DIY wood projects is building a cutting box. Building it will require no joinery skills, or a lot of costly tools, yet it can still work to test your woodworking skills. This type of project will allow you to sharpen your cutting and measuring skills, while also allowing you to refine your woodwork finishing touch techniques.

To do this type of project you’ll need to purchase

  • a measuring tape,
  • sandpaper,
  • chisels,
  • a handsaw
  • furniture varnish or paint

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Simple Wood Shelves

Building shelves is one of the most basic DIY woodworking projects.

To build shelves will only involve some slabs of timber that are tethered to your wall. This type of project isn’t hard for a beginner and all it will take is a little skill in polishing timber and some basic hand tools to accomplish this project.

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Jewelry Boxes

Jewelry boxes come in a variety of designs, but if you’re a beginner, you might want to start off using a simple design. It’s another one of those projects that doesn’t require a lot of skill or sophisticated tools. With a block of wood, pencil, vice, glue and chisel you can finish this type of project in just an hour.

The box will have two sides, a top and bottom and four walls. Cut the pieces of timber and thin them accordingly, attaching them to one another at a ninety degree angle. Hold the pieces together using a vice while they dry. Add some finishing touches and you’re finished. For a jewelry box that’s more professional looking you can add varnish after the box has been hand sanded.

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Window Boxes

For people living in the city, adding a window box can add a lot of curb appeal to your home. All you’ll need to create a window box is a screwdriver, nails, hammer, pencil, handsaw, a measuring tape and some skills in joinery.

The Most Popular Woodworking Project for Beginners

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Bird Houses

Building a bird house is considered one of the most challenging projects for beginners.

This project doesn’t require sophisticated skills or tools. You’ll need some joinery skills, a hand drill, screwdriver, handsaw, hammer, t-square and nails.

The only twist when it comes to building a birdhouse is that different types of bird species will require a specific style of housing, however, the fundamental skills that are required will remain the same.

Other simple DIY wood projects for beginners include building bird feeders, walking sticks, CD racks, picture frames and magazine racks.

Getting Started with Small Wood Projects

If you’re interested in woodworking for a new hobby or as a craft that can help you to make some extra cash, you can become an expert at it and enjoy yourself while doing it once you begin practicing on small wood projects that fit your skill level.

Tips for Small Wood Projects

You can always find tips and ideas for small wood projects online.

You can begin by subscribing to an online woodworking magazine and the DIY plans in these magazines are usually easy to follow and accurate.

Experts in this field will typically recommend that you start with small wood projects in the beginning. For example, you’ll want to use common woodworking hand tools on your first project and use the heavier tools as your skill level progresses and you become more accustomed to the work.

It’s also important that you find a set of plans that match with your skills. This allows you to start with something easy that you’ll be able to actually finish so you can improve with each project. It’s also important to mention that without solid easy to follow plans, you’ll be wasting your time and you may end up learning the wrong way.

Once you have more experience with small wood projects you’ll be able to create your own plans. Another tip for beginners: always wear safety goggles. Never attempt to do any type of woodworking job without wearing protective eyewear.

Buying Cheap Woodworking Tools

Regardless of your experience level, it’s a good idea to save money by purchasing used tools as opposed to spending a ton of money on new equipment.

At the same time it’s also important that you choose the right type of equipment for the job and look for quality woodworking tools.

You can find used tools usually at garage sales, thrift stores or online. Once you find tools you want to purchase ask if you can test them out. Be sure to look for obvious signs of damage and wear and make sure the tools feel good in your hands. Tools that are too heavy can affect your work and can also cause cramping or carpal tunnel issues.

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