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I learned the basics from J. Arthur Johnson when I was in 7th grade shop class . . . and I’ve been self-taught ever since. I do read Fine Woodworking (I have EVERY issue) and some books that my wife and friends have given me; and of COURSE Marc’s fine blog and a few other on-line sources but I don’t feel like I have really learned how to do anything until I’ve tried and failed and then re- and re-re-tried until I’ve made it work MY way.


The Japanese saw is a favorite. A much smarter, efficient and exact cut can be made using this saw as opposed to a European saw. The difference between the two is simple: tooth direction. European saws cut when pushing the saw as opposed to Japanese saws which cut on the pull. One uses much less energy when pulling - perhaps that is why the horse was put in front of the cart. A Japanese saw is a must have in any shop.


You could also go old school and use a combination of hand planes. Hand planes of course are much less expensive than a big power tool like a planer, but their drawback is they require a lot of skill, practice, and patience to achieve good results. If you’ve got the time, there’s absolutely no substitute for learning how to hand plane, and you’ll quickly earn the respect of your fellow woodworkers.

Let’s start with perhaps the most basic tool in every household – the claw hammer. The claw on one side of the head should be well counterbalanced by the finished head, which should be somewhat rounded. The other kind of head is the waffle-head. Most commonly used in construction, it leaves a distinctive waffle mark on the wood when you drive the nail. This, of course, is not the proper nail for woodworking.


You really don’t have to do anything to get a great set of coffee tables. Well, you do have to gather a few tree trunks or stumps. Just sand them down a bit, and cut them off to make them flat. You can have a collection of different sizes sitting around the room and in different shapes. Stain them if you want but you can leave them natural for a really rustic look.
We will suggest you select the simple Birdhouse if you are new at woodworking but be sure to select its design with respect to the place where you are going to hang/place it. One of our simple Birdhouse tutorials will help you building one. We have managed to include a source tutorial below that will help you to understand illustrates and the instruction to building a simple Birdhouse.
My $0.02 worth. I agree with the thickness planer [mine is 10″] but anything over a 6″ jointer is expensive and space-consuming, so use hand planes as in your later blog. I inherited an 8″ table saw that my dad and I used to build a 12′ outboard boat back in 1955. I’ve used it for ripping, but I’m having second thoughts because of safety issues. Some have suggested a band saw for ripping, which is quieter and safer to use. I gave my router away [and hope to get rid of my Freud biscuit joiner and 6″ jointer]. A quality eggbeater drill works every bit [pun not intended] as well as a power drill, and they cost less. A coping saw and a jewelers saw negate the need for a jigsaw unless you are into making puzzles. Chris Schwarz has a video short on one of the Highland Woodworker series showing how to joint the edge of a board with a plane and a simple jig on the workbench surface. Another reason to bypass the jointer.
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Measure back opening (the plywood sits between the protruding outside edges of the sides that were formed from the rabbets that were previously milled, and fully overlaps the backs of the carcass top and bottom panels). Cut 1/4″ plywood to fit snugly. Even though I have a large cabinet saw equipped with ample outfeed support, I like to make the cross-cut first using a circular saw for a safer, more controlled operation, and then rip to width on a table saw. Be careful when cutting 1/4″ plywood on a table saw, as it can flex, allowing the material to rise above the blade which can cause a dangerous kickback. Use a slow feed rate, apply steady downward pressure when needed, and be sure to use your blade guard for this operation.
Plywood shelves are simple to cut, but look a little thin and can sag over time under the weight of books and other payload. I like to apply a solid hardwood strip of at least 1″ thick to strengthen the shelf and give it a more robust appearance. Cut four strips to 3/4″ x 1″ x 36-1/4″ (slightly longer than the shelf itself, allowing you to trim flush later). I attach this strip by simply gluing and carefully clamping for good alignment, gluing the 1″ thickness to the plywood. In the past I have also used biscuits or brads for attaching the strips, but I have found it to be unnecessary, and the method I currently use delivers great results every time. Use a lot of clamps to ensure a good bond between the plywood and edge strip. Carefully force each surface flush as you move from clamp to clamp. If you are careful here, you can save yourself a lot of sanding effort later.
Drill four 5/8-in.-dia. 1/2-in.-deep holes on the large disc?inside the traced circle?then use 5/8-in. dowel centers to transfer the hole locations to the underside of the small disc. Drill four 1/2-in.-deep holes on the underside of the small disc and a 1/2-in.-deep hole in the center of the top for the dowel handle. Glue in the dowels to join the discs, and glue in the handle. We drilled a wood ball for a handle knob, but a screw-on ceramic knob also provides a comfortable, attractive grip.

To start off you only need either a 1/4″ or 3/8″ mortise chisel (or some size close to those). You don’t need a whole set of mortise chisels. Mortise chisels (also spelled “mortice”) are used for chopping mortises (rectangular holes) into the side of your board for insertion of a tenon. “Mortise and Tenon” is a very common and very strong joint that most people have heard of.


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Measure back opening (the plywood sits between the protruding outside edges of the sides that were formed from the rabbets that were previously milled, and fully overlaps the backs of the carcass top and bottom panels). Cut 1/4″ plywood to fit snugly. Even though I have a large cabinet saw equipped with ample outfeed support, I like to make the cross-cut first using a circular saw for a safer, more controlled operation, and then rip to width on a table saw. Be careful when cutting 1/4″ plywood on a table saw, as it can flex, allowing the material to rise above the blade which can cause a dangerous kickback. Use a slow feed rate, apply steady downward pressure when needed, and be sure to use your blade guard for this operation.
I know this is an old forum topic, but I felt the need to chime in. I was in Jr. High back in the late 70s and my school had a wood shop and I still have a cutting board and a three leg single post foyer table made from those shops and very proud of them. It is sad seeing the lack of “hands on” classes these days in schools because of liability issues. Just recently got back into woodworking last year and honestly Marc has much to do with that and his YouTube videos, that and a date night where my wife and I went to a Woodcraft class for making pens. I plan on joining the guild at some point but wanted to get enough tools and skills together to make the guild worth it for me and I am almost there. I am currently working on the 2015 Kids Table from Woodworkers Fighting Cancer and will donate to them as well when I finish even though it is way past due it is the perfect project for my daughter. Since I started I have made pens, cutting boards, a toy airplane and now working on this table and love it. Thank you Marc for being such an influence on this community!!
I use chisels perhaps more than any other tool in my workshop, so it’s a good idea to not cheap out here. A high quality set of bevel edge bench chisels (new or vintage) will last you many years (likely  your entire life) and will be used on nearly every project. I’ve used some descent affordable plastic handle bench chisels, but highly prefer lighter wooden handle chisels with excellent steel.

Picture frames is a very versatile woodworking project. You can make it as simple as you like. A little bit of ingenuity allows you to create several original designs. This is one woodworking project that can never go stale, because you will never run out of ideas to make new designs and also because it is an evergreen item that will always be in demand.

Let’s start with perhaps the most basic tool in every household – the claw hammer. The claw on one side of the head should be well counterbalanced by the finished head, which should be somewhat rounded. The other kind of head is the waffle-head. Most commonly used in construction, it leaves a distinctive waffle mark on the wood when you drive the nail. This, of course, is not the proper nail for woodworking.


Using these bookcase plans, I built three of these for my children’s school about five years ago (five years in an elementary school is equivalent to a hundred years in a typical home). They have seen tons of abuse, and have held up beautifully. The school can’t wait to get their hands on more of them to replace the “bargain” bookcases they got from a furniture chain which have needed extensive repairs over the same five year period.
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.
Kids love to watch grown-ups use woodworking tools, but what they love even more is making the sawdust fly themselves. With minimal equipment and adult help, your child will soon be turning out a wonderful variety of toys, games, gifts, household objects, and holiday decorations. These 50 easy and inexpensive projects are arranged by age and skill level.
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Begin by cutting off a 10-in. length of the board and setting it aside. Rip the remaining 38-in. board to 6 in. wide and cut five evenly spaced saw kerfs 5/8 in. deep along one face. Crosscut the slotted board into four 9-in. pieces and glue them into a block, being careful not to slop glue into the saw kerfs (you can clean them out with a knife before the glue dries). Saw a 15-degree angle on one end and screw the plywood piece under the angled end of the block.


When many people hear the word woodworker, the image of someone leaning over a workbench sanding a long piece of wood with his or her hands. However, modern woodworking requires training on highly technical machinery, such as CNC (computerized numerical control) machines.  Even woodworkers caught somewhere between modern equipment and a hand planer typically use CNC machines to fabricate large or intricate products.  If working for a large company, a lot of the work will be done on an assembly line or in various areas on the floor designated to complete a particular part of a project.   The tasks will be handled by different workers with very specialized training on each machine. For example, one machine might cut a large piece of wood into three sections, whereas another machine might take one of the sections and round each edge.

Some tools that are required for this project are Miter saw, drilling machine, pencil, tape measure, screws, etc. Those, who prefer a video tutorial instead, can visit the below link to a YouTube video tutorial that illustrates the process of creating a DIY Beer Bottle Crate. The video tutorial explains every step properly so that anyone can make a Beer bottle crate easily.


Multiples of these bookcases can be connected to form a single, larger unit, generally for a built-in application. To do so, simply build them without a face frame, and finish boards that can be used to construct the face frame separately. Then, nail the face frame in place using brads after the cases are installed. To improve the appearance of the face frame joints using this approach, mill the rails (horizontal pieces) so that they are 1/8-in thinner than the stiles (vertical pieces). This creates a nice shadow line and conceals any unevenness at the joint. Also build a single long top to tie all the pieces together. I use plywood with biscuits to span beyond 8″, edge banded with hardwood strips as you have done for your shelves.
As someone who is just progressing past being a “beginner” (just getting into building furniture) in the woodworking community, I would say there are a number of changes I would make to your list. First, I would say that a power jointer/thicknesser does not belong on the list by any means. They are way too large of an investment and take up a lot of space (not to mention you can buy your stock at the desired dimensions). I also strongly disagree with the concept of joinery devices. As someone new to the trade, I feel this is a very important skill that must be developed, not skipped over by buying devices power devices that achieve a single goal. I think the jigsaw should be replaced by a good bandsaw. I just purchased my first major power tool and it was a 14″ bandsaw and not a tablesaw for space reasons as well as versatility. The bandsaw allows me to resaw, cut curves, (now that it is adjusted for drift) rip pieces of stock accurately that are thicker than a table saw could handle, etc. Once the cut is complete, a handplane can remove any saw marks and square/flatten a surface. It is also really useful for cutting tenons and dovetails. Handsaws can be used for crosscutting and anything else the bandsaw cannot handle. As for a bench, if you are getting into woodworking, this should be your first real project (and it is not expensive to make). You are also missing a good vise to be attached to the bench.
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This plan is probably the easiest plan ever added in the list. The one who is working on this project, don’t need any professional skills but just knowing some basics of woodworking will be enough for this DIY. You will get step by step detailed process of this tutorial in the source linked tutorial. This tutorial will surely help you to build this plan quickly.

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Then, beginning several decades ago, shop classes began to be removed from secondary curriculums. With the decrease in educational funding, and increasing emphasis on standardized testing, schools began to cull electives, institute stricter graduation requirements, and focus more on college prep academics and the subjects necessary for passing state exams. There wasn’t money or time to maintain tools and sawdust-filled workshops, and one by one school districts dropped their shop classes, figuring that students who wished to pursue trade skills could do so later at a vocational college.
This is the most fundamental joint in all wood construction. Whenever we have to join a horizontal member (like a chair rail) to a vertical member (like a leg), we need to interlock these pieces at a right angle. By fitting a tenon into a corresponding mortise (hole), we can create a solid 90° joint. Although it may look intuitive to make, achieving a nice, tight fit requires careful technique and practice. There are many ways to make a mortise, but I use a stout chisel designed for that task and simply determine the width of the tenon based on that chisel’s dimension. Cutting the tenon is usually a matter of four straight saw cuts. When you do learn how to lay this joint out properly and cut it to a snug fit, the world of woodworking opens up to you. At that point, you know all the joinery required to build most tables and chairs.
Tools are purchased to expand our capabilities and this will vary by the needs and goals of the individual. Bigger, or more expensive machines are often better as the machine goes, but before we make these purchases, we should consider what is really needed for that next project. Is it a machine, or is it skill? If the machine is in lieu of learning a skill, is it really worth it?
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.

Hardwood boards and softwoods may look similar in shape and dimension, but they are sold using completely different measuring systems. Softwoods are typically sold in standard lumber dimensions (such as a 2x4), whereas hardwoods are most often sold by the board foot. Calculating board feet helps you guarantee that you're getting your money's worth on every piece of hardwood you purchase.
Many shop projects can be built with just a major workshop saw, a drill press, and a good router with accessories, along with an assortment of hand tools. Priority hand tools for woodworking include a good set of chisels and a good plane. Consider the workshop tools listed below as investments. Evaluate your goals, and choose the workshop tools that best suits your needs. There is no need to buy them all at once, but as your skills improve and your projects grow more complex add the tools that will give you the right results: straight cuts, square corners, and strong joints.

Looking for easy bookshelf plans? Well, worry no more. You are come to the right place. Any book or website maybe tell you that finding innovative ways to display and store books can be just as charming of the arts. And although you are the person who love for reading a lot of books and need to high budget to buy a bookshelf for storing and displaying the books. Designing and building your own bookcase is an easy project and you can easily build it to store your book, this way will save your a lot budget.
A Jack Handplane is a middle size “bench plane” (i.e. planes that are used so often that they are usually on your workbench). If you’re on a budget a jack plane can temporarily be used in place of other planes that perform specialized functions: (1) rough stock removal (if you buy a second iron/blade and shape it with a curved “camber”), (2) jointing board edges (as long as they aren’t too long), and (3) smoothing the boards.

The most commonly purchased claw hammer is the 20 oz. size. It’s heavy enough to easily drive nails but easily manipulated when pulling nails. While wooden handles are picturesque, they may not stand up to the strain if you have to pull a lot of nails. Hammers with a steel handle, or even fiberglass, will be stronger. However, these won’t absorb the vibrations from driving nails the way a hickory handle will. You’ll also need to make sure the fiberglass and metal handles have a rubberized grip for control and comfort. If you’re going to be driving a lot of nails, the wooden handled hammer will be better for reducing stress on your hand, and wrist, too.
We recruited Justin and his son to help us with this story. Justin is a full-time firefighter and a woodworker on his off days. His 11-year-old son Jackson, an up-and-coming woodworker, had fun with his dad and learned a few power tool techniques in the process. We provided the plans and gave a few pointers along the way, and Justin and Jackson took it from there.
Though I’d not planned to strike out on my own, in 2012, it occurred to me I had gained the experience and skills needed to do so and financially, it appeared to be a good time to make it happen. Since I had experience in the field, I chose to remain in the church furniture market but focus more on traditional styles. I’d always admired the old, high altars in European churches and hoped to build some myself. Large scale work does require more than one person, and fortunately, I was able to recruit Austin Glidewell to help establish Altare Design, LLC. By this time I’d mastered conventional woodworking techniques and possessed a working knowledge of marketing, website-building, photography, 3D modeling and business tax laws.
Thank you for that info. Is there any recommended size for crosscutting? Lets say I purchase a 4×8 sheet of plywood or MDF at my local home center. I have them cut it down to strips of 18×8 (for example). 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? Reason I ask, that will most likely be my scenario when I purchase lumber. I would rarely bring home a full 4×8 sheet from the store because it’s easier to transport it in smaller widths. I’m at the point to make some tool purchases, and seeing if I should go solely with a track saw for my scenario or get both? I do have a 12 inch compound miter saw but cutting to size on that with 18 inch depth panels is hard in one pass.
You can do this with a dado blade, or alternatively, you can simply make two passes with a standard kerf table saw blade. I often do the “two pass method” for 1/4″ dado and rabbet cuts simply to save time, avoiding setting up a dado blade. Set up a sacrificial fence on your table saw because you will be spinning the blade right next to the fence. Set your blade height to 3/8″, and remove a width of 1/4″.
A quality wood moisture meter is vital to the long-term success of any woodworking project you put together. Lumber mills try to dry their batches of lumber according to the intended end product destination. That is, if the wood is harvested in the wet Northeast, but is going to be shipped to the arid Southwest, it will be dried more than wood kept in the Northeast for use by woodworkers. The success of your woodworking project, from wood flooring to kitchen cabinets to fine furniture, depends on the correct moisture content levels of the woods you use for your area of the country.
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