Woodworking is just awesome.
Getting started may seem like a daunting task, but learning how to work with wood is not as challenging as you might think.
Anyone can do it.
Essentially, it’s “just” a matter of cutting, gluing, nailing, and screwing wood together; and topping it off with a finish.
Even an amateur woodworker is able to accomplish many practical things, such as building a simple bench or crafting a picture frame.
You don’t need all the fancy tools and expensive “toys”. You just need a willingness to learn and put it into practice. Like many others, woodworking is a craft of constant learning.
And where is the best place to start? From the beginning!
If you master the woodworking basics, the rest will fall into place as you go along.
Check out our following woodworking tips so you will be able to craft like as a professional, even as a newbie.
For the more experienced woodworkers, see this as a friendly reminder. Maybe going back to the basics can help you realize how much you’ve evolved.
Read on and became the 2.0 version of yourself.
Woodworking for Beginners
This comes even before Woodworking 101: you have to be protected. You only have one pair of eyes and one set of hands, so take good care of them.
Even if you’re only using hand tools, wood shavings and splinters can fly around and end up in your eye.
Safety Glasses can protect your eyes from flying debris, dirt, dust, chemical splashes, or spills. Choose one that also is fog and scratch resistant, so they can keep up with you for a long time.
Nearly every woodworking tool has the potential of harming your hands. You only have 10 fingers and they don’t grow back. So, protect them!
Look for cut resistant gloves that offer a good grip, high level of cut resistance and don’t compromise your dexterity.
NB: Do not use cut resistant gloves when operating power tools. If a moving part of a power tool touches the glove it can pull the gloved hand towards the machine.
If you are already a little bit more advanced and are working with power tools, don’t forget about your ears. Ear plugs are a solid investment, so you don’t have to spend anything on hearing aids later on.
Loud noises, such as the ones produced by power tools, have been proven to cause hearing loss.
There are several types of ear protection you can get. Some people prefer the earmuff style while others like earplugs. Either one will do – as long as you use them.
Finally, besides offering protection, a work apron is definitely a handy piece of equipment.
The best models protect you against spills and flying debris, while also allowing you to safely organize all your tools in its pockets.
Use just a few basic hand tools
Most woodworking jobs can be done with just a few hand tools.
Power tools are only a “recent” solution, being invented in 1895. But even before that, many houses, barns, and pieces of furniture were built and made by using just hand tools.
Of course, you don’t have to build an entire house using minimal equipment, but you can create many things with only the most basic apparatus.
Before you go shopping for tools, check what kind of projects you would like to start with and buy the tools that are going to help you perform the required tasks excellently and efficiently.
Even if you would only like to check if woodworking is for you, avoid buying cheap tools of low quality. They will compromise the whole experience of creating your piece and also affect the end result.
A general rule of thumb: Buy high-quality tools, even if that means having fewer tools. It is better to choose a top-quality, versatile tool than a highly specialized gadget.
Most beginner projects can be done with the most basic hand tools:
- Claw Hammer
While there are many types of hammers for all kinds of applications, the most versatile woodworking model is the claw hammer with a smooth, slightly rounded head.
- 6″ Layout Square
It’s probably the quickest and easiest tool for marking a square line for an end cut and it can be used to quickly mark any angle up to 45-degrees or measure up to six inches.
- 25′ Retractable Tape Measure
A quality tape measure should have both Standard and Metric markings, a locking mechanism and a hook on the end of the tape.
- Utility Knife
The best one has a locking mechanism that uses disposable razor blades. This versatile cutting device can be used for scribing a mark in a piece of stock, cleaning up a hinge mortise or any of a hundred other uses when a knife is needed.
A finely-sharpened chisel is perfect for cleaning out waste from joints and mortises. Having chisels of different sizes is going to help with a great diversity of projects.
As with the chisels, it’s good that you have some different sizes (#1, 2 and 3) and types (Phillips Flathead are the most used ones).
- Sliding Bevel
A sliding bevel is very similar to a square, except that it can be adjusted to any angle and locked in place using a locking mechanism. This is very handy when an angle needs to be duplicated.
- Nail Sets
A nail set looks somewhat like a small, round chisel, but is used to sink nail heads flush or just beneath the wood’s surface.
- Crosscut Hand Saw
This saw acts like a knife-edge that cleanly slices through the wood’s grain.
Before moving to the power tools, work on some basic projects using only the hand tools. Take your time to really get to know the wood.
Start with the right projects
If you are just starting out, or about to start, you probably are still in the honeymoon phase: everything is full of excitement and hope.
Keep the momentum going by choosing the right projects that have a good chance of success.
The last thing you want now is to feel overwhelmed and frustrated.
Start with simple projects. You are going to be able to move faster with these and in the end, however modest, you’ll have lasting pieces to show for your efforts.
Even with a more humble item, a project involves many stages: design, research, acquiring wood, configuring tools, joinery, surfacing, edge treatments, gluing up and finishing.
As with any learning experience, simple skills should be mastered before moving on to more complicated ones.
For some basic woodworking schematics and plans, you can start having a look at the following websites:
Choose the proper wood
Unlike metal, glass or clay, wood presents an extreme variety of choices. Each species, each tree, and each board are different.
For the first projects, you might decide to use inexpensive wood. However, as you move along and start to better understand the materials you work with, you are going to realize that fine wood gives a more professional look.
With the right projects, you are going to be able to test different kinds of wood and this experience is going to be very useful in your bigger projects as you move on.
You will see how different types of wood respond to saws, nails, screws, sanding, painting, and staining.
Woodworking is a huge world, so the bonus tip is this: have patience!
You’ll eventually learn the language. Your projects are going to become prettier. Your speed is going to increase. You’ll have your favorite tools and choosing wood will become second nature.
Don’t rush yourself and just enjoy the journey. Woodworking is a lifelong practice in which you’ll always feel like a beginner. 😉
And now, over to you.
Have you ever received some woodworking life-changing-advice? Do you have any tips for the beginner woodworker? Share them with us in the comments below.
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