Biscuits (not the kind you eat). When you get into the details of how to build a bookcase, you’ll discover dozens of joinery options. Our editors simplify those options by focusing on biscuit joinery – a fast and easy way to line up all the boards in your project and get on with the gluing and screwing. You’ll also learn a little about pocket screw joinery in our free bookcase plans.
Mallet. A mallet is a wooden hammer. If you're going to use a chisel you have to use it with a mallet. Using a regular hammer is a big no. Wooden projects such as furniture almost always require tapping to put things in place or to make them stronger. Using a regular hammer will most likely cause damage. Mallets are your only option. Get them is a few different sizes so they suit all your projects big and small.
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Learning how to use tools to create what you envision in your mind is one of the most rewarding activities a man can involve himself in. Even though many of us today missed out on this first-hand training in high school shop class, there are a lot of folks that are buying books and reading blogs all about it. By learning how to tune up their grandfather’s hand plane they are seeking to once again tap into that deep-rooted desire to create and build with the knowledge of their mind and the skill of their hands.
Maybe you have a tablesaw and a 13” thickness planer already, but most of us don’t. Be careful not to fall into the trap of feeling like you have to buy expensive machines to build things. When I work with wood, I use only hand tools and love every minute of it. If you learn how artisans worked their lumber before machines dominated the furniture industry, you will find woodworking by hand to be efficient and viable. There are many tried-and-true techniques to expedite the process that free us from feeling like we have to do machine-perfect work by hand. The real key is to use the right tool for the job: coarse tools for coarse work and fine tools for fine work. Still not convinced? Check out my good friend Jim’s story. I hope it inspires you.
Since money and space are usually in high demand, you want your purchases to make sense and work for you as far into the future as possible. To do this, the focus should be how to expand your capabilities rather than getting one project done quickly. With this in mind, and based on what I've learned over the past three decades, here's how I would proceed if I were starting over now.
Today, in our age of plastic and factories, woodworking has transformed from a common necessary skill into something almost mysterious or awe-inspiring. Because most 21st-century consumers are used to driving to big box stores to pick up another mass-produced replacement when their desk falls apart or their chair breaks, any man today that can walk up to a lumber pile with saw and plane to shape a beautiful and enduring replacement is revered as a “true craftsman.”
In the sixty years of woodworking I have found two tools of increasing necessity. One is a band saw. I can do most of my work with a band saw and hand plane. The second tool is a bow saw, or actually several bow saws. They will replace the band saw if required, though they are slow. One I made about twenty years ago has a one and a half inch wide rip blade and is about thirty inches long. I think the blade is from an old industrial band saw blade I picked up and sharpened into a rip saw blade. It works very well on ripping lumber, logs, etc. Though it tires me out to much to use it now.

I agree with your list. My table (cabinet) saw has a router mount built into the table to the right of the blade and it works great. The table is flat cast iron and I can use the table saw fence. I’ve also built an auxiliary fence with dust collection and more features. The only downside is I can’t use a router lift and have to make depth adjustments under the table. To avoid frequent band saw blade changes, I have two: a big one (17″, 2HP, 12″ thick capacity) for typical work and a 9″ bench-top unit that I keep a narrow blade in. I also build radio control airplanes and the small one works great on small stock.

With a pencil and a protractor, divide the larger disc into 30-degree wedges to create 12 center lines for the bottle indents. Center and trace the smaller disc on top of the larger disc. Next, with a drill press, drill 3/8-in.-deep holes on the 12 center lines with the 1-7/8-in. Forstner bit, spacing them between the disc’s outer edge and the traced circle. Next, divide the smaller disc into 60-degree wedges and drill six more 3/8-in.-deep holes with the Forstner bit.

Once you’ve mastered the basics, then check out magazines like Fine Woodworking, Woodcraft, etc. Visit your local woodworking store (like Woodcraft or Rockler) and browse the book / plans section. What I like is these stores normally have people with woodworking expertise and can answer most of your questions whether they be basic or advanced. They also offer monthly workshops at an affordable price.
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.
A jointer makes the dges of your material smooth, straight, and square. This creates what’s commonly called a reference edge that you need for additional steps like ripping or crosscutting. In addition to perfecting the edges of your stock you can also straighten faces, called face jointing. Like edges, you’ll end up with faces that are nice and smooth, and dead flat; a precursor to other machining steps.
Jim, I belong to Charles Neil’s website and get his DVDs and watch his videos. He’s a great teacher. However, if I had to travel all the way up to Virginia I’d be out of luck. The Internet is a great asset for woodworkers. BTW, I wish the college you teach in was right here in my town. If it were I’d enroll because I know that you are a fine woodworker. Traveling somewhere to a class is an expense that I couldn’t afford in money and time.

We cut the supports 16 in. long, but you can place the second shelf at whatever height you like. Screw the end supports to the walls at each end. Use drywall anchors if you can’t hit a stud. Then mark the position of the middle supports onto the top and bottom shelves with a square and drill 5/32-in. clearance holes through the shelves. Drive 1-5/8-in. screws through the shelf into the supports. You can apply this same concept to garage storage. See how to build double-decker garage storage shelves here.


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There are several ways to complete this task, including pocket screws, brads or biscuits. I have used all of these methods, but my preference is biscuits, as they provide adequate strength, excellent alignment, and ease. I generally just place one biscuit in the center of each rail and stile, which provides alignment assistance while not being overly constraining when manual adjustments need to be made to achieve desired placement. After applying glue and biscuits, use lots of clamps to create a gap-free bond between the face frame and carcass.
Lots of ways. Woodworking really reinforces my independent nature. Blogs are good. Norm Abrams videos. I have a library of magazines and books with really neat projects which I love to read over and over to get a sense of how other woodworkers think through their creative projects. I have a painter friend with whom I endlessly brainstorm how to finish the final wood project. But really, the wood itself teaches me the most. Each species has different needs. The projects also teach me. Each project is unique in approach, design, and method. I’ve learned to listen and make myself a servant of these things. I come to the shop ready to learn.

I am finally getting to practice my woodworking more after years of collecting tools. By using tool reviews and thinking of the kind of work I would like to do, I have accumulated a nice set of tools without purchasing many mistakes. I decided to use Paul Sellers book and videos and start learning from the beginning. He starts with projects that begin with a small set of tools. One of those tools is a spokeshave. Even though I know much of what is in the first lessons, I have picked up a few new tricks, and am learning to use my tools more efficiently. My most important tools are my workbench and vise. The workbench was tough to build as I was on the floor using hand planes; not a good way to work. I have no jointer; did get a small planer and made a sled for it so I can flatten a board. My tools are in my house, so there is no room for a big table saw or bandsaw. I have a chopsaw and a piece of an old Craftsman tablesaw I got for free. It has to be moved outside to use. A circular saw with a guide is handy. My guide has a plate on which the saw is mounted. The plate slides on aluminum angle (with help of rollers) which is screwed to plywood. Once the initial cut is made in the plywood, the plywood is simply lined up with your cut marks and clamped down.
A tri-sectional bookshelf, with sufficient space to house books or can be used for storage too. Its low level design can be dually used as a bookcase as well as a bench. So, one doesn’t need to walk to a bookshelf situated in some area of the house, to grab a book, but can sit on this bench and pull one out from the lower section. How convenient is that!
Some might expect to see a cordless drill on this list, but when we're talking about basic power woodworking tools, a corded drill is more versatile and powerful. Sure, the cordless is, well, cordless, which makes it more portable, but corded drills are less expensive and can do more than a cordless drill. There are some options to consider when choosing a corded power drill, such as whether you want a 3/8-inch or 1/2-inch chuck, keyed or keyless chuck, straight drill or hammer drill, and so on. Learn all about these options (along with some suggestions on what to look for when shopping) in this article on corded power drills.
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