While some people consider the circular saw to be more of a carpentry tool than a fine woodworking tool, but some would disagree. There may be no more versatile basic handheld power tool than a circular saw. When used with a clamp-on straight-edge, the circular saw can be just about as accurate as a table saw and handle quite a few of the tasks that one would attempt with a table saw, particularly cutting sheet goods such as plywood or medium-density fiberboard. When woodworking on a budget, a quality circular saw should be the first handheld power tool purchased, as it is the one that will likely be the most useful as you get started.
As projects increase in size and scale, there is usually a desire to get a larger table saw, a miter saw, add a small jointer, a router and maybe a belt sander. Eventually, things get out of hand and you are seen at every tool sale, and spend more time online looking at the few remaining tools for which you have not yet found a project that will justify their purchase.
Bruce Lamo has done woodworking pretty much all his life, although never exclusively to make a living. He prefers making furniture and working with solid wood, but often uses plywood when making cabinets. This article originated when a few friends were considering buying tools that based on his experience, he thought would not be a good investment.
I just moved overseas and had to give up all of my power tools due to space limitations and power incompatibility. Upon arrival the first power tool that I bought was a cordless drill/driver and the second was a circular saw. I then modified the saw to improve its performance for cabinet quality work by putting a zero clearance baseplate (just a piece of 1/4″ plywood screwed to the base) this allows the saw to cut plywood panels without tearing up the edges. I also bought a length of aluminum rectangle tube stock for a straight edge. Together the straight edge and the zero clearance baseplate makes the circular saw a fairly accurate tool for plywood construction projects. It’s not as easy to use as a Festool track saw but it cuts almost as clean and cost about 1/5th the price.
Stiles are 2-1/2″ x 72″, the top rail measures 1-1/2″ x 32-3/4″, and the bottom rail is 2-1/2″ x 32-3/4″”. My favorite way to assemble frames is with a pocket hole jig, but you can also choose to use biscuits, or simply use brads to nail individual face frame pieces into place. I sometimes use that approach for large built-ins, where it may be cumbersome to construct a face frame on-site during the installation process. The school that will receive these bookcases requested that the face frame go all the way to the floor to prevent pencils and other items from rolling underneath. I generally prefer to keep the face frame about 2″ from the floor to lighten the appearance, but this is a stylistic choice. On larger pieces, such as armoires, I like to keep them high enough to allow a vacuum cleaner to pass underneath.
The engineering involved in building this garden bench is pretty simple, and we have provided some links to get a full cut list and plans with photos to help you along the way. Additionally, to the stock lumber, you will need wood screws, barrel locks, and hinges to complete the table. A miter saw or hand saw is also extremely helpful for cutting down your stock to the correct angle and length.
This bookcase plan is designed to be large enough to handle all of the books belonging to the voracious reader in your family, virtually indestructible to withstand years of abuse, and easy on the pocket book using inexpensive materials from your local home center. For about $100 you can have a bookcase that would cost $600 – $800 at a retail furniture store.
I was self taught meaning I gleaned anything and everything I could from books,DVD’s,TV shows like Norm,Roy Underhill and any where else I could pick up information.Even though I had more than 20 years of woodworking I have in the last few years I’ve found a mentor in Charles Neil and now subscribe to his on line Mastering woodworking show. As to taking a class I’m a bit prejudice since I teach a community collage class on woodworking I highly recommend that you take any classes you can afford.
Hi Scott – Your nearest decent sized town should have a flea market or craft store. Rent the space, fill it up, and check back every couple of weeks to get your money and restock. I tried craft shows and they were a bust and too much work loading, unloading, setting up, reloading, taking down the set up, unloading what did not sell into your garage. As with lots of things, the craft show promoter makes most of the money.
The last tool I recommend for every beginning woodworker is a quality router. While many routers available today offer two different bases (a stationary base and a plunge router base), for most beginners, a quality stationary base model will take care of quite a number of tasks, and can also be mounted in a router table should you choose to invest in (or even build one) one down the line. Choose a router model that is at least 2-HP and has electronic variable speed controls (as larger cutting bits should use slower speeds), a soft start mechanism and is easy to make bit changes (preferably with the ability to use both 1/2-inch and 1/4-inch shank router bits).
There’s a lot of space above the shelf in most closets. Even though it’s a little hard to reach, it’s a great place to store seldom-used items. Make use of this wasted space by adding a second shelf above the existing one. Buy enough closet shelving material to match the length of the existing shelf plus enough for two end supports and middle supports over each bracket. Twelve-inch-wide shelving is available in various lengths and finishes at home centers and lumberyards.
Whatever your dream for a rustic look, you are sure to find something in this collection that will help you along. Many of these projects are so easy to do and you can complete them in less than a day. Some make wonderful gifts as well so if you know someone else who just loves the country, rustic look, make them something to brighten their own décor. The projects use all sorts of materials, many of which are really inexpensive or even cheap in some cases.
As projects increase in size and scale, there is usually a desire to get a larger table saw, a miter saw, add a small jointer, a router and maybe a belt sander. Eventually, things get out of hand and you are seen at every tool sale, and spend more time online looking at the few remaining tools for which you have not yet found a project that will justify their purchase.
Hi, Patrick. “When I get home, if I need to crosscut the 18×8 piece, is that possible on a cabinet saw with a crosscut sled or better with a track saw?” That is possible to do on either a cabinet saw or a track saw, and you can end up with the same result. If I were doing this in my shop I would do it on my table saw because I have one and it would be a quicker setup, but if I didn’t have a table saw I would use a track saw. I have a friend who builds beautiful furniture and cabinetry with a track saw, and he doesn’t feel that it limits what he can build.

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You can make your bookshelf any size you’d like, but a standard size with even proportions is about 12 inches deep, 30 inches wide and 48 inches tall. That's big enough to hold books and magazines, but not so big that it won't fit where you want it to. Note: If your shelves are any longer than 32 inches, you'll need thicker lumber or midspan supports so the shelves won't sag when they're filled with books.
If you would like to follow up on these things to learn how to work wood yourself, you could comb through a Google search for each of the topics listed but, to simplify your education, I recommend picking up a few helpful books to start. The first two are mostly about techniques, and the last one is about how to choose which hand tools to purchase.

Arguably the industrial arts class that is most missed is wood shop. Learning how to work with wood is not only handy, allowing you to make and fix things around the house, but allows you to satisfyingly connect with a long history of craftsmanship. Woodworking was one of the earliest skills mankind developed; the pre-industrial world was largely made of wood, and for thousands of years, all men had at least a rudimentary understanding of how to shape and manipulate it. Even up until the second half of the last century, tradesmen and professionals alike had the confidence to be able to build wooden shelves, cabinets, or even chairs for their family.


Handsaws (often called “panel saws”) are long, thin saws with a comfortable wooden handle. They are used for rough dimensioning of your lumber. Although a “panel saw” is technically a smaller handsaw that fits into the panel of a tool chest, I’ll hereafter refer to this type of saw as a “Panel Saw” to differentiate them from the broad category referred to as “hand saws”. Panel saws come in two tooth configurations: “Rip” (cuts along the grain…like a chisel) and “Cross Cut” (cuts across the grain…like a knife). You will need both. 

Some tools required to build a picture frame are a table saw, miter saw, measuring tape, wood glue etc. A table saw with a backing board and miter gauge can be used to get the right angle and lengths of picture frame every time. You can use builders square to arrange the final cut pieces before nailing, screwing or gluing. Check out the video tutorial below for more details.

Formally known as a “tilting arbor saw,” this tool is just an upside-down electric handsaw that’s been mounted to the underside of a steel table top, with the circular saw blade protruding through a slot. The “arbor” is the shaft on which the blade spins. It’s an axle that can be tilted with respect to the horizontal table top for cutting angles; it’s raised or lowered to adjust cutting depth. A miter gauge enables the sawyer to push stock at angles or perpendicular to the blade (“cross-cutting”). A fence can be fixed parallel to the blade for cutting along the length of a workpiece (“rip-sawing”).


Your moisture meter should have settings on it that will account for different species of wood. For instance, oak is a hardwood, but ebony is an even harder density wood. If you are planning an inlay job using both types of wood, you will need to know the moisture content levels of each of the two species so that your inlay glue joints will stay intact. These different wood species have different specific gravities, which must be used or programmed into the moisture meter. 

In this age of air-powered nailers, drills, sanders, impact wrenches, grinders, saws, spray guns, washers, and other pneumatic tools, the compressor has become a virtual necessity. The compressor consists of a motorized pump; a tank for storing the compressed air; an on/off control (governor) that tells the pump when to start and stop in order to keep the pressure within preset limits; and a regulator to control the pressure at which the air escapes the tank to suit the needs of the tools being used. There’s a metal frame on which all the parts are mounted, usually with a carrying handle and sometimes wheels.
As for schooling, many local school districts, community colleges and woodworking stores offer woodworking classes, but those are a mixed bag. A handful is really good and many are terrible. There’s also a big difference between woodworking for fun and doing it for a living, and most classes are geared towards hobbyists. Out of all the proper woodworking schools with good reputations, I’ve only had personal experience with Marc Adams School of Woodworking. That place I recommend 100%, as the instructors are generally active professionals in their specialized niches, so one can always pick their brains for extra information related to earning a living. The director of the school also does a good job of screening instructors to eliminate the ones that don’t interact well in a classroom setting.
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