Hey there! My name is Emma Clark, a part-time interior designer and full-time mom of one pretty little lady. This blog is the fruit of my extensive experiences as an interior designer and home improvement enthusiast. More so, I'm here to share with you a lot of great ideas on what YOU can do to make your home into a masterpiece: all cost-effective and amazingly creative.
Screwdrivers are another must-have in the woodworker’s set of hand tools. Not only will you need Phillips and slot, or flathead screwdrivers, you’ll need star drivers and Torx drivers, too. A quality construction is vital to a good set of screwdrivers. So many of them are made out of soft metal, and the first time you put any “oomph” behind them, they strip out, becoming absolutely useless.
After investing a number of weekends building a nice table or chest, how are you going to finish it? Finishes beautify and protect the piece you’ve worked so hard to build so don’t cop out and do the “rub it with oil” thing. There are so many beautiful finishes that become second nature to work with. I use shellac 99% of the time. Once you get the feel down, it’s really quick to apply, very forgiving, easily repairable, and you never have to clean a brush (because it re-softens in alcohol)! There are other varnishes that provide good protection for outdoor use as well. I recommend picking up a good starter book, like Jeff Jewitt’s Hand Applied Finishes. It is simple and straightforward, without getting too far into minutiae.

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.
Nightstands are just not big enough for everything: lamp, alarm clock, phone, photos of your kids … so books, magazines, your tablet or your cup of tea ends up on the floor. This shelf unit gives you about 10 times more space for decorative and essential stuff. And its dazzling design will transform your room. Best of all, it’s easy to build with basic tools.
Having swing in your own home, yard or garden can be so de-stressing and be relaxing a thing to enjoy, that doesn’t matter you have a big yard or patio, or vacant porch. Kids will surely fall in love with this swing porch and love playing on a breezy day. Even, adults also do relax and enjoy a quite morning coffee, or just being embraced by the sun in the swing.
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″.

I built my first bookcase in middle school. A multitiered assemblage of wooden planks laid across stacks of bricks, it was reminiscent of pieces from the early Flintstone Period--and I was proud to have made it myself. Since that masterpiece, I've built 50 or 60 more, most while working as a cabinetmaker for an interior design firm, where I learned the carpentry skills, design guidelines and construction techniques used in the bookcase shown here. Basically consisting of three plywood boxes fitted with a hardwood face frame, this piece looks built-in because it spans from wall to wall, and is trimmed with molding at the ceiling and floor. I used 3/4-in. birch plywood for the cases, 4/4 sustainably harvested African mahogany for the face frames and 3/4-in. mahogany plywood for the sides surrounding the doorway. With moderate skills and some patience, it wouldn't be hard to make this project fit any space.

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.
I also had the brainstorm to use two nail-in furniture "feet" on the bottom of each 2x4 on the front side so as to compensate for the carpet tack strip on the back edge and to make the shelves lean ever so slightly into the wall. I thought we might have to anchor the top of it to the wall, but with the feet, it stands very firm with absolutely no signs of wanting to tip forward! I felt great satisfaction when the almost 150 square inches of friction applied allowed for NO racking -- I could practically climb the end without anything budging!
Don’t follow the temptation to cheap out and buy a cheap combination square. Because, like me, you will eventually have to replace it because of its inaccuracy. If you want your joinery to fit perfectly, then you need to scribe it accurately with precise marking tools. Unfortunately there is really only one company (that I know of) that makes a super accurate combination square. But fortunately it is amazing, and I use it daily. I’ll talk about it in-depth in the Layout & Measuring Tool Buying Guide.
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.
The fourth most important basic handheld power tool every beginner should buy is a random orbital sander. While palm sanders are less expensive and can use plain sandpaper (cut into one-fourth sections), the random orbital version uses hook-and-loop fastened sanding disks, and doesn't sand in patterns, using instead a random sanding motion. This will motion will serve to reduce the chance that any sanding marks may appear on the stock due to the sanding. Of course, be certain that your local woodworking supplier has sanding disks readily available in a number of grits to fit the model that you choose, as the key to proper sanding is to use progressively finer grits as you sand to reduce or remove any marks that are left behind from the previous sanding.
WoodAndShop.com recommends products, with links to online stores, some of which are part of affiliate programs. If users make purchases in those stores (e.g. ebay.com and Amazon.com) those affiliate links lead to referral compensation to us. These payments are very helpful to us, and add no additional fees to our users, so we are grateful for anyone who uses the affiliate links. We run our website based on principles of integrity, and don’t recommend any product that we wouldn’t use ourselves. Any product claim about a service or product should be verified with the manufacturer.

Capitalize on low hanging fruit to identify a ballpark value added activity to beta test. Override the digital divide with additional clickthroughs from DevOps. Nanotechnology immersion along the information highway will close the loop on focusing solely on the bottom line.Podcasting operational change management inside of workflows to establish a framework. Taking seamless key performance indicators offline to maximise the long tail. Keeping your eye on the ball while performing a deep dive on the start-up mentality to derive convergence on cross-platform integration.


You can create a beautiful coffee table by simple stacking logs together. Line the logs end up and create a circle whatever size you need. Then just tie them all together with rope or twine to keep your coffee table secure. You do need to make sure that the logs are the same height and you may want to sand the tops down just a bit to make them smooth.
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.
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.

I studied forestry at Penn State University and then spent ten years working in the utility line clearance industry with the Asplundh Tree Expert Co. While building my house, I began to get into carpentry and woodworking, and later went to work as a finish carpenter. Eventually, I started taking on some minor woodworking jobs. I realized I needed some real shop experience, so I took a job in a stair shop building custom staircases for about five years. While there, I began to set up a shop of my own with the intention of going into business for myself, which I did in 1998. I’ve been on my own since.My typical day is usually pretty simple. I’ll spend an hour in the morning on the computer promoting my shop and looking for leads. Around 8:00 A.M. I open up the shop and work on whatever I’m doing until 4:00 or 5:00 P.M.

9.  Hand tools and machines: In our furniture plans, you will find only dimensions of the furniture and directions for their construction; we do not suggest manufacture techniques. We recommend that you decide for yourself how you will make particular parts of the furniture – based on your experience, skills in specific techniques and operations and depending on the machines and tools that you got.
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.

Furnishing and decorating your patio is not an easy task – but then again, it has to be done! Your patio is obviously one of the most important rooms in your home, as you can easily turn it into your little piece of Heaven, your “safe spot” in your home where you can retreat whenever you want to ignore the world and just spend some time alone all by yourself.


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.
If a woodworker wishes to advance in the field or to demonstrate competence in the industry, they may also choose to become licensed. The Woodwork Career Alliance of North America offers a national certificate program. The AWI, or Architectural Woodwork Institute sets standards for the industry and offers training programs for management and mid-management positions.
A mechanical reasoning or aptitude is also essential, mainly because woodworkers work with such a variety of machines and tools.  A tool in the hands of an untrained or inexperienced woodworker is a recipe for disaster. Woodworkers should understand and be able to apply mechanical principles to solve any problems they may encounter. Critical thinking skills are important too as woodworkers may face unexpected problems that need to be handled quickly. In this way, woodworkers can use reasoning and logic to foresee any potential problems, and develop solutions before mishaps happen.

Power Tools — A good table saw is usually the most used machine in the shop. New saws have vastly improved fences and better safety features. A good contractor saw has adequate power and can come with up to 49" of ripping capacity to handle sheet goods. This would be my first big purchase. A router is often a highly coveted machine. There are almost endless cutters available now and it is hard to argue with their versatility. I recommend looking at the combo packages that include a plunge base. It is a good way to get two machines for the price of one. In my opinion, an elaborate router table is not necessary for most applications, nor are the expensive and bulky jigs and templates for making joints. What tends to happen is the tools start to drive what is made. Drawers start to fit the machine or template instead of the piece of furniture. Sufficient joints can be made with the table saw, by hand, or you can make your own templates to fit your project.

The next important hand tool for the woodworker is an accurate tape measure. Get a retractable one that is at least 25 feet long. Any longer than that, and you start having problems getting it to roll back up. Since measurements on large scale projects can be very susceptible to even the most minute measurement variations, you’ll want to make sure the “hook” or tab at the end of the is firmly attached, with no give. When they get loose, you’ll have as much as 1/8” variation in your measurements. This can add up to some severe accuracy problems in the long run.
This demise of shop classes is quite unfortunate, as they were never solely about preparing students for trade employment. Rather, they taught all men manual skills that they could use and enjoy throughout their lives, whether they became a carpenter or a doctor. They were considered part of becoming a well-rounded man – one able to use both his hands and his mind.

Working on one side at a time, glue and nail the side to the back. Apply glue and drive three 1-5/8-in. nails into each shelf, attach the other side and nail those shelves into place to secure them. Clamps are helpful to hold the unit together while you’re driving nails. Center the top piece, leaving a 2-in. overhang on both sides, and glue and nail it into place. Paint or stain the unit and then drill pilot holes into the top face of each side of the unit and screw in the hooks to hold your ironing board. Mount the shelf on drywall using screw-in wall anchors.


Building a wine rack is usually a very common beginner's woodworking plan. Creating a wine rack is an easy plan that can most of the time be completed in a day or half, depending on how large and detailed you would like it to be. And the better news is that this free wine rack plan will let you build you a great looking wine rack for much less than it would cost.

A wall-bed combination or drop-down bed helps save a lot of room in a tight basement, so consider installing this Murphy bed and bookcase. It’s one of many great basement bedroom ideas. Further, a Murphy bed can be super simple: Some are just an upright box that contains a folddown bed. But this is a deluxe version because it includes ample storage.
I really like building difficult cabinets, laying them out, and assembling them. It really gives me a challenge to build something better each time, but the sanding and clean up are not my favorite aspects of this work; you better get used to it. And I wish I would have taken some business classes because the part of running a business is another element added to cabinet making.
At the same time, in order to improve your skills, you have to first use those skills and will make mistakes as a novice. How quickly those are overcome and improved on varies from person to person. Some craftsmen grasp a skill quickly and progress to higher levels, others, for several reasons, take more time. Those that do this quickly thrive as self-taught artisans.

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.
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. 
×