All things considered, the easiest and most practical way to plane a piece of unmilled wood is to use a router. You can pick up a halfway decent router fairly inexpensively, and the good thing about investing in one is that there’s truly no limit to what you can do with it - planing a piece of wood is just one of a million different things a router can be used for.


The space behind a door is a storage spot that’s often overlooked. Build a set of shallow shelves and mount it to the wall behind your laundry room door. The materials are inexpensive. Measure the distance between the door hinge and the wall and subtract an inch. This is the maximum depth of the shelves. We used 1x4s for the sides, top and shelves. Screw the sides to the top. Then screw three 1×2 hanging strips to the sides: one top and bottom and one centered. Nail metal shelf standards to the sides. Complete the shelves by nailing a 1×2 trim piece to the sides and top. The 1×2 dresses up the shelf unit and keeps the shelves from falling off the shelf clips.
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.
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.
Table saws, band saws, and radial-arm saws are examples of woodworking machines that are most often used exclusively in a wood shop because they are far too large and cumbersome to be portable. Even though they're confined to the shop, these workhorses are so useful that it makes sense to complete a woodworking project in the shop and carry the finished piece to the location or job site where it will be used or installed.
If you are wanting to build great looking chairs for your patio you've come to the right place. I bought a home late last year and didn't have any patio furniture whatsoever. My dad had built a beautiful piece for their home and so I credit him with design help and the inspiration to build my own. This setup is perfect for enjoying a relaxing evening out on the deck with friends or family. I built my chairs out of cedar because cedar does not rot and stands up against the outdoor elements quite well. You can use pine as long as it is painted or coated with a thick finish of poly.
Bruce Lamo has done woodworking pretty much all his life, although never exclusively to make a living. He prefers making furniture and working with solid wood, but often uses plywood when making cabinets. This article originated when a few friends were considering buying tools that based on his experience, he thought would not be a good investment.
Offerman notes that there’s something elemental and healthy about using both your brain and hands to solve a problem or build something, and woodworking fits the bill perfectly. Building things is a hobby anyone can enjoy and learn from, no matter what you do for a living. If you’re brave enough to pick up some tools and give it a shot, bully for you.
The shelves fit into dado joints routed into the case sides. Since the shelves were going to be glued and screwed into the dadoes, they couldn't be adjusted later. So I measured my books before I decided how tall the shelves should be. As a rule, a bookcase with shelves between 7 in. and 14 in. apart accommodates most everything. While books generally fit on 8- to 9-in.-deep shelves, I prefer deeper bookcases, so I ripped the plywood to a width of 11 7/8 in.
Any serious woodworker knows that square and flat Any serious woodworker knows that square and flat stock is the key to producing fine work so it’s time to skip the hand tools and graduate to the JJ-6HHDX 6 in. long bed jointer. This beast boasts a helical insert cutter head with staggered carbide inserts yet runs quietly and ...  More + Product Details Close

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.
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.

I suggest that the aspiring woodworker learn all the skills he or she can acquire, from traditional skills such as carving, wood turning, and traditional joinery, to modern skills such as CAD and CNC. The more versatile you are, the more valuable you can be to more people. Never stop trying to learn new things, and always keep your eyes and ears open and your mouth closed. Never oversell your skills to a prospective employer. If you don’t know how to do something, admit it, and get to work learning how to do it. Don’t be afraid to take on something you’ve never done. A skilled custom woodworker draws on experience and skill to accomplish things he’s never done before. Custom work often requires you to reinvent the wheel on a daily basis. Always remember that no matter how much experience you have, you never know everything, and there’s always something else to learn. Along with the actual skills involved with the trade, you also need to educate yourself about wood. You need to be able to recognize a myriad of wood species and be familiar with their individual characteristics and uses.

1: Table saw in place of a jointer. Any number of tips in previous issues address straightening edges of boards without a jointer. A jointer serves one purpose, but a tablesaw can serve many (just watch your local Craigslist for a decent one to come up.) The thickness planer is unavoidable, but until you can afford one, buy stock in the thickness you need.
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.
As part of the job, woodworkers prepare and operate saws, drill presses, routers, sanders, lathes, shapers, milling machines, and planers.  Often using a template, woodworkers measure and verify dimensions, cut, and shape wooden parts. Woodworkers stain or coat the wood products with sealers and topcoats, such as varnish and lacquer. But, they also often install hardware, fit electrical components and specialty products, such as metal trims and glass.
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.

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.
In recent years, this versatile and accurate tool has become a fixture in the work shop and at the work site. Also called a “chop box,” the miter saw consists of a powerful circular saw mounted on an arm that hinges at the rear of the tool. When the blade is lowered in a chopping motion, it cuts through the workpiece, passing through a slot in the base. The motor and blade can be pivoted with respect to the base for miter cuts. Another adjustment makes it possible to tilt the blade, too, allowing for compound miter cuts, handy for jobs like cutting crown moldings, which are set at a pitched angle and that must also turn around corners. The diameter of the blade determines the maximum cut width, with standard sizes ranging from 8-inch blades up to 15 inches. A 10- or 12-inch saw is sufficient for most jobs.

Yes Seriously! You can build an easy bed frame yourself without any other’s help. As everyone knows the starting point of any bedroom is a gorgeous bed. However, you also need something that lets you enjoy peaceful slumber in comfort and warmth, but since the bed took as the focal point of the room, you may need something that looks really good too.

Having very sharp tools is one of the most important aspects of proper traditional woodworking. Many beginners think that they stink at woodworking, but usually they are just using dull (or improperly sharpened) hand tools. To start off with I recommend buying sharpening supplies for sharpening & honing your chisels, hand plane irons, and handsaws.
I know I’ve been a little MIA but we’ve had a big project in the backyard, an overwhelming workload (which we planned on being MUCH less), and then decided to hire out for some help to haul away a huge amount of dirt.  Unfortunately, that ended up with the guy we hired stealing from us…..uggggh.  When will we ever learn to not be so trusting?!  Steve and I both have a problem with that……but when did being “too trusting” become such an extreme character flaw?!!  Sad.  Anyway, the whole situation is under investigation and there are some definite twists to the story that the crime-show-watcher in me would love to share with any other crime-show-watching enthusiasts out there. ;) Hopefully soon.
Your first backsaws should be (1) a dovetail saw, with fine rip teeth, used for cutting joinery along the grain (like dovetails), (2) a “carcass saw” used for cutting across the grain (fine cross cut teeth), and (3) a larger tenon saw used for cutting deeper cuts, like tenon cheeks, along the grain (rip teeth). All three saws are used very, very often in my workshop. You could certainly get by with just a larger dovetail saw and a carcass saw at first, if you don’t plan on immediately cutting large tenons. Buying backsaws can be very confusing because there is no standardized naming system, and a dovetail saw can be turned into a carcass saw (and vice-a-versa) by sharpening it differently. And practically everybody that’s selling antique saws mixes the names up. My buyer’s guide really clears this confusion up and will help you know what to look for.
This bookcase plan is designed to be large enough to handle all of the books belonging to the voracious reader in your family, virtually indestructible to withstand years of abuse, and easy on the pocket book using inexpensive materials from your local home center. For about $100 you can have a bookcase that would cost $600 – $800 at a retail furniture store.
Dan, I’m worried about you. The stress must be getting to you. Somehow you’ve lost your ability to count. By my estimation, your list has at least 29 items, some of which are actually “sets” of items, like chisels or crayons, which I only counted as one item. Perhaps you need a break from all that blogging, and time to get back to basics, like counting. I can help. Come over to my shop and we can count things like parts, items on the honey-do list, and for extra credit, screw holes. Don’t worry about making mistakes, I’ll guide you through it, and we can round up if necessary. Ha!

If you would like to follow up on these things to learn how to work wood yourself, you could comb through a Google search for each of the topics listed but, to simplify your education, I recommend picking up a few helpful books to start. The first two are mostly about techniques, and the last one is about how to choose which hand tools to purchase.


I consider this my “basic” tool list. Although I do not have a dedicated box for these tools, I assure you that they have a great home in cabinets, on shelves, and laying around on benches. When I do need to take my hand tools somewhere, the larger tools end up in a simple tongue and grooved latch box my grandfather owned. The smaller tools are always in my overall pockets. Overalls work great. They have multiple pockets, they’re comfortable, and they protect your upper body and legs. You only have to deal with small chunks of wood getting into the pockets, which can be dealt with if you or your other half are crafty enough to sew some flaps. It doesn’t bother me though. Thanks for your time.

DIY-minded folks, take note. The following websites are chock full of free plans to build tables, storage, beds — you name it. They'll give you the precise information and guidance you need to create furniture that's exactly what you want, for a lot less than what you'll find in stores. Bookmark these and return to them again and again as resources.
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Woodworker’s work environments vary depending on job duties.  If a woodworker is employed to handle and cut large heavy materials, he or she may work in a factory setting. Cabinet and countertop woodworkers typically work in large or small manufacturing plants. Some woodworkers work in sawmills, while other’s work out of home shops.  In 2014, there were just over 237,000 jobs for all woodworkers, with other wood product manufacturing employing 23 percent; wood kitchen cabinets and countertop manufacturing employing 21 percent.  Most woodworkers work a regular, full-time workweek.
I’ve got a three other bits of advice: First of all, get really, really good at woodworking. There are lots of people who enjoy it as a hobby. To sell your services, you’ve got to be able to do far superior work or do it much faster than everyone else (preferably both). Failure to do so means competing against hundreds of amateurs who make things for the pleasure of it, then sell their work at cost to fund the hobby. Second, develop great people skills. Most professionals do custom work and few focus on selling a product. Most of them sell a service, and a big part of that is getting customers to enjoy the experience of collaborating with a woodworker to create their dream products. If your customers don’t like you, they can usually save time and money by getting something from an online catalog. People who buy handcrafted items from woodworkers are often attracted to the idea of supporting artisans. The face behind the work is important to them. Last, develop an iron-clad work ethic. In this field you’re directly trading time for money, and that time is very limited. It’s important to be productive, so try to get 40 hours of actual productivity (as in making things) every week. Accounting, phone conversations and social media marketing may be important, but none of them provide an actual paycheck, so they don’t count as productive work.
We now have over 58 linear feet of shelving (with space under for shoes) for that wall that barely protrudes 12.25" into the room for a total cost of about $125! We plan to make at least two more units to accommodate the more than 15,000 books we own that are currently on store bought or cobbled shelving and in boxes plus have display space for our many collections Our only problem...we didn't take into account the depth of the shelf itself -- if you've got 10" between holes, you actually only get 9 1/8" of useable height on the shelf (most hardback books are 9.5" tall) = major bummer! We measured (from bottom) 12", 12", 10", 10", 9", 9", 10", 10" with top shelf at 13" from the ceiling.
I generally use biscuits for this (three per joint), and I have never had a joint fail (and a bookcase spending five years in an elementary school is a pretty fair test), but dadoes work great here as well. To assist with accuracy and consistency when using biscuits, mark your biscuit locations on a piece of scrap, and then use the scrap as a guide as you mill biscuit slots in each carcass member. The carcass top is attached so that it is flush with the top of the carcass sides. The carcass bottom is attached so that the top of the panel is 2-1/2″ above the floor (or the bottom of the side panel).
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.
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.
Wondering if you are still hanging in there Scott? One thing I notice woodworkers often do when getting started (including myself) is they sell their hand made items way too cheap, it doesn’t help anyone except the customer. You say yourself that they sell as fast as you can make them. Put your prices up! Double or even triple, the amount of orders may slow down but you will be doing yourself a favour. Don’t bother with Etsy or Craigslist or local markets in my opinion. Build it up for yourself to make money not making the giants even richer from all your hard work. I’ve been selling my woodwork online since 2004, before all these giants came along. I feel I have the experience to offer advice if anyone is interested. Trust no one! The internet has become a place for giants to make money off you (Facebook, Etsy, GoogleAds, Amazon…… the list goes on.) Don’t let them take your money, learn how to use them to your advantage instead of being a sucker and paying them money to grow even bigger while you stay the same size. They don’t care about you, they only care about their own business models. Grow your own business brand and ignore anyone who appears to want to help you, especially if their main business is making money online. That’s all they care about! Not you. Invest your time and money in yourself, your own website – not others and you will succeed, providing you are doing what you love and are passionate about.
An assortment of chisels should be part of every workbench. Chisels are not just for wood carvers. Any woodworker will need chisels to clean out joints and saw cuts. Look for chisels made of high-alloy carbon steel or chromium-vanadium alloyed steel. Hardwood grips are best, especially if they have metal caps on them. This will keep the end of the handle from becoming malformed when you hammer on it.
An assortment of chisels should be part of every workbench. Chisels are not just for wood carvers. Any woodworker will need chisels to clean out joints and saw cuts. Look for chisels made of high-alloy carbon steel or chromium-vanadium alloyed steel. Hardwood grips are best, especially if they have metal caps on them. This will keep the end of the handle from becoming malformed when you hammer on it.
Do you often get intimidated by woodworking? With all the tools available, the problem here is that many don’t know what wood power tools to use. Woodworking has a variety of specialized tools for different tasks. Knowing which ones to pick is important to make woodworking easy and enjoyable. If you have no idea about power tools, this will definitely help you out.
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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