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.

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.
So what is the definition of a traditional woodworker? Is it someone who builds furniture only by candle light and scoffs at the use of modern power woodworking tools? To me, traditional woodworking is about using traditional joinery, finishes, and methods  to create beautiful and quality furniture that will last many lifetimes. Yes, here at Wood And Shop we focus mostly on using woodworking hand tools, but in my opinion, quality traditional style furniture can also be built using woodworking power tools. I personally love using woodworking hand tools, but I incorporate a mixture of  woodworking hand tools and woodworking power tools to balance personal enjoyment with productivity. But whichever balance you decide to strike between power tools and hand tools, I strongly encourage you to learn the fundamentals of hand tool woodworking so that you can better understand traditional furniture making. And you’ll also discover that some woodworking tasks are actually faster with woodworking hand tools!
Someone interested in woodworking now needs to get computer training to be able to lay out jobs on a CAD program. CNC machines are also used in shops where they lay out the cabinetry for you and cut the parts. Working with these machines takes skill in knowing how to build the cabinet and knowing how to use the computer programs. Also, math is used all day, every day in woodworking, and the better you are at math the better you can build things.
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.
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.
This might be where the fist-to-cuffs start. Why a router table as my second choice? It’s so versatile. With the right fence set up, I can edge joint boards, like I could on a jointer. (No, you can’t face joint, but I’ll live with that for now.) I can make any number of joints, create doors, and profile edges. I can remove the router and use it hand-held for work at my bench. A good router table simply provides lots of bang for the buck.
More than a decade ago I spent 2 weeks in Maine aspiring to learn furniture making. On my return home I started enthusiastically planning to turn my basement into a proper shop – with all the “essential” tools I had learned to use. My list reflected my engineer’s preference for buying quality and quickly exceeded $25k in power tools alone (table saw, band saw, joiner, thickness planer, drill press…) even before solving the power, lighting and dust challenges.

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.
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.
Bibliophilia – love of books! OK, that’s a big word. But that’s what it all comes down to, right? Once you’re done building a bookcase, you can fill it with all the colorful, entertaining books that have been sitting on your floor. Megan Fitzpatrick, our content director, is a major bibliophile. She wrote one of the bookcase plans in this combo pack, and it’s a beauty!
Woodworking knowledge is something we are all constantly in pursuit of. Thankfully, there are a LOT of options available to us. We no longer have to rely on taking expensive classes when so much information can be found online and in books. And as many Guild members know, even online classes can be quite effective thanks to the additional interactivity. In my situation, most of my learning is through podcasts, books, and blogs. I punctuate my learning each year by taking a class or two. And whenever possible, I do try to learn directly from other woodworkers in person. So if you’re like me, you probably want to select more than one thing in this list. Let’s just say you should pick the one that you get the MOST information from. And if you are thinking about podcasts, just select the Woodworking Blogs option, since most podcasts are presented on blogs. 

The worst part of the job for me is dealing with legal matters and paperwork. There may not be a lot, and hiring an accountant and lawyer removes much of the burden, but it still seems like I’m filling out a form or making a phone call at least once a week to deal with red-tape. Even something as simple as setting up to buy from a new supplier can require filling out and submitting a tax document. We did have to spend a half hour unloading a wood delivery in freezing rain once, which was a terrible experience, but still not as bad as the constant need to fill IRS forms.


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.
This might be where the fist-to-cuffs start. Why a router table as my second choice? It’s so versatile. With the right fence set up, I can edge joint boards, like I could on a jointer. (No, you can’t face joint, but I’ll live with that for now.) I can make any number of joints, create doors, and profile edges. I can remove the router and use it hand-held for work at my bench. A good router table simply provides lots of bang for the buck.
 Break down plywood Following the cutting diagram, crosscut plywood along the line marked “first cut”. Take the smaller of the two rip 3/4″ plywood according to diagram and cut list. For safety and easier handling, use a circular saw with a good quality blade (following a straight edge guide for a straight cut) for first cross-cut on plywood. If you are not confident in your circular saw’s ability to cut straight lines with no tear out, leave yourself 1/4″ of extra material (there is enough extra material in a 4′ x 8′ sheet of plywood to do this) and make your final cuts on the table saw. 
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