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.
Historically, woodworkers relied upon the woods native to their region, until transportation and trade innovations made more exotic woods available to the craftsman. Woods are typically sorted into three basic types: hardwoods typified by tight grain and derived from broadleaf trees, softwoods from coniferous trees, and man-made materials such as plywood and MDF.Typically furniture such as tables and chairs is made using solid stock, and cabinet/fixture makers employ the use of plywood and other man made panel products.

Disclaimer: I've definitely taken a route that favors hand tools. More so than say, the 'modern' approach -- and it's mostly because, having used both awesome power tools, and awesome hand tools, I find that I enjoy the process of the work more with hand tools (I can actually chat with someone while I'm using hand tools -- not so much when I'm running a circular saw, router, sander, band saw, table saw, etc.)   So, my take is going to be biased towards a more 'traditional' approach -- but the resources and people listed below are no strangers to modern tools either, and definitely make use of them when they choose.
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.
To minimize potential cupping, we decided to make the top by gluing two pieces of 1×6 together rather than using a solid board. Choose a straight piece of 1×6 with a sharp, clean edge. Cut the pieces long and trim the top to length after you glue the two parts together. For pro tips on gluing boards edge-to-edge, see “Edge Gluing Boards” . Justin and Jackson cut biscuit slots in the sides of the two 1x6s to help hold them in alignment while installing the clamps. Glue and clamp the two 1x6s. Then let the glue set up about 30 minutes before routing the edge (Photo 10).
Start by arranging all the parts on your work surface. Justin used a flux brush to spread the glue in the slots, and onto the biscuits after they were installed. Any small brush will work, though. When you have everything assembled, install clamps to hold the sides tight to the shelves while the glue dries. Check by using a framing square or by measuring diagonally from opposite corners to make sure the bookcase is square. Adjust it if needed. Then tighten the clamps. This is a good time to take a break while you let the glue dry for about an hour.
With sharp hand tools and unforgiving power tools, woodworking can be a dangerous activity. By following some basic safety rules, though, you can considerably reduce the risk of injury. In order to be effective, safety rules must be implemented every time—no exceptions. Committing to making safety a habit increases your enjoyment and lowers the chance of injury (or worse) while woodworking.

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.

Description: In this session, I will be demonstrating over 20 ways to mount wood on the lathe for turning. Starting with different methods between centers, I will demonstrate single axis, as well as multi-axis turning. Discussion will then move to various ways to use faceplates, to safely hold your wood blank on the lathe. We will then progress to scroll chucks and screw center usage. Next, will be conversation on the use of homemade chucks, jam chucks, collets and mandrels. I will then demonstrate the use of vacuum chucks, jumbo jaws, doughnut chucks, and Longworth style chucks, and finish up with the use of various types of steady rests, including ring-style, bowl steadies, and spindle supports. This class is geared toward the turner who is interested in learning many different ways to mount pieces of wood in the lathe, and what the advantages or disadvantages might be of different techniques. The student will be expected to watch and learn, but also get involved in the discussion regarding chucking methods, and share some of their experiences as well. This class is designed for all turners, wanting to learn. Please bring eye protection to class.


10.  While manufacturing the furniture, another important thing besides the precise parts manufacture is the assemblage. The pieces, when fitted, should come together easily, and not require to be twisted, sprung or bent in order to put the piece article together. It is the practice with skilled cabinet maker to put a piece of furniture completely together once (without glue, screws or nails)to see that everything fits right, before putting together permanently. After fitting the parts of a piece of furniture and before gluing, smooth such parts as cannot readily be smoothed after putting together permanently.
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.
Although this universal admiration of hand skill is appreciated, the truth is, woodworking is no mystery. And fortunately, even if you missed out on taking a thorough shop class in high school and feel ill-equipped to tackle a simple woodworking project, it’s definitely not too late to learn. Here’s a list of some basic skills you would do well to develop. None of these skills require expensive, dangerous machinery or exotic tools. They are the foundational skills every woodworker should know.
Real quick story: Recently, I had to help my brother with some furniture and cabinet issues, but there were a few problems. First he lived 3 hours by car and my wife needed our only car. I’ve had a scooter for a few years, but have only used it for local trips with small needs. Since weather was changing and I needed a break away from my other half, I decided to make the trip. I installed my motorcycle saddlebags to the scooter and loaded the necessary tools for the trip. Where’s the motorcycle? That’s another story. Of course the saddlebags are small and the scooter only had a massive 50cc engine; vrmm, vrmm. Although I have a shop full of electric and traditional hand tools, only the smaller hand tools would make the list for this trip. So, here is the list from that trip: (A few may be missing)
Last but not least, every shop needs safety measures. Reading all safely requirements for tools is important, but there are also other issues one needs to deal with. First, it is important to use proper eye protection. Accidents do happen, blades crack and wood does go air born. Therefore, if you value your eye sight it is important to wear safely glasses. Second, you also need ear protection. Since many power tools give off a high decibel noise, the ears become damaged over time, which can cause tinnitus. There are many different ear protections on the market so choose the one that works best for you. The final safety measure is dust collection. Dust collection is often overlooked because it tends to be invisible, but it can enter the lungs and, over time, inhibit the air capacity of your lungs.
But until then, I’ve been thinking of other ways to use my hands and create things.  (Even though many of our saws and tools have been stolen.) But I’m feeling a little antsy to make some quick projects, because creating makes me extremely happy…..so we’re calling this surge in me to create something simple, THERAPY.  In fact, I need to call up a few friends and have them make some with me because friends and creating is a favorite combo of mine!  (Any out of town-ers want to fly in?! ;) )
As your experience grows, it is typical to look for the next upgrade, which is often a bigger tablesaw, a miter saw, a small jointer, or a small planer. As I see it, if you own a decent contractor saw, a bigger, heavier cabinet saw won't give you much more than what you already have. The quality of cut will only be marginally better. I would look to spend my money elsewhere.

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.
here's my 6x6 version build with #2 pine. shelves are 1x10 and threaded rod upsized to 5/16" to allow for extra width. center upright spaced at 1/3 side to side. this is very complex structurally - all the commenters who don't believe it should build it to really feel how it works. it is basically like a post-tensioned high rise. i think i'd like to paint the uprights and stain the shelves.
I have yet to attempt much of this -- but still an option. This can be both costly, and time consuming, but *very* satisfying! You can make your own saw handles, your own wood planes, your own workbench, vice, toolchest. etc.   There are multiple resources when it comes to making your own planes-- like David Finck, and Caleb James -- even some of the others I've already mentioned have some tutorials for that.  Youtube is rife with people making their own tools out of wood, metal, plastic, etc.

This site uses affiliate links. Given this, please assume that any links leading you to products or services are affiliate links that we will receive compensation from. However, there are millions of products and services on the web, and I only promote those products or services that I would use personally. The Wood Whisperer abides by word of mouth marketing standards and holds integrity in the highest regard. Should I ever be compensated to write, I will make full disclosure. I always give honest opinions, findings, and experiences on products. The views and opinions expressed on this blog are purely our own. Any product claim, statistic, quote or other representation about a product or service should be verified with the manufacturer, provider or party in question. All content on The Wood Whisperer is copyrighted, and may not be reprinted in full form without my written consent.


The Lead Instructor for the course is Aled Lewis. You can see Fine Woodworking's video about Aled here. For each project, Aled is joined by a co-teacher who specializes in the relevant skills. The following list is subject to change. Most of the instructors have websites which you can visit for more extensive views of their work. See the list of instructors here.
The third tool for the beginner is the Jigsaw. A jigsaw allows the user to cut curved and circular patterns in stock. Sure, a band saw will likely be more accurate and can cut thicker stock, but for the beginner, the jigsaw (sometimes also referred to as a Sabre Saw) can be perfectly effective. For versatility, choose an orbital-action, corded jigsaw that feels good in your hand and has an easy blade changing system.
There is a seemingly endless selection of power tools. Variations of tools that were only seen in large cabinet shops and furniture factories can now be found at the local big box hardware stores. Prices are lower today than they have ever been in terms of real dollars. Quality can vary and old brand names don't always mean what they used to. So where do you start?
×