Woodturning is the craft of using the wood lathe with hand-held tools to cut a shape that is symmetrical around the axis of rotation. Like the potter's wheel, the wood lathe is a simple mechanism which can generate a variety of forms. The operator is known as a turner, and the skills needed to use the tools were traditionally known as turnery. In pre-industrial England, these skills were sufficiently difficult to be known as 'the misterie' of the turners guild. The skills to use the tools by hand, without a fixed point of contact with the wood, distinguish woodturning and the wood lathe from the machinists lathe, or metal-working lathe.
Formally known as a “tilting arbor saw,” this tool is just an upside-down electric handsaw that’s been mounted to the underside of a steel table top, with the circular saw blade protruding through a slot. The “arbor” is the shaft on which the blade spins. It’s an axle that can be tilted with respect to the horizontal table top for cutting angles; it’s raised or lowered to adjust cutting depth. A miter gauge enables the sawyer to push stock at angles or perpendicular to the blade (“cross-cutting”). A fence can be fixed parallel to the blade for cutting along the length of a workpiece (“rip-sawing”).
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.
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.
The wood to be turned is fixed between the “headstock” and “tailstock” of the lathe. The headstock houses the motor that spins the workpiece; the tailstock is adjustable, moving along the length of the bed to fit workpieces of various lengths. Once the piece is locked in place, the tool rest is positioned about an eighth of an inch away from the piece, just below its center line. The spinning workpiece is then shaped using a chisel or gouge held fast to the tool rest. Face-plate turning, in which the workpiece is fastened with screws to the face plate of the drive spindle, enables the woodworker to produce bowls and other hollow goods.
Upon graduating from high school, I wasn’t sure exactly what career to pursue, but I knew it had to be something that involved creating things with my hands. I’d always had natural talent working with tools, and despite having been an A-average student, I was never fond of conventional academics. Not having better plans at the time, I took one calculus course, got an “A”, then promptly decided two things: I didn’t enjoy college and taking on any debt would force me into a dull, conventional 9-5 job until the debt could be paid off. I didn’t know this back then, but I was pretty much a textbook case of the restless student with the entrepreneurial spirit. Just a few months later, I got the opportunity to accept an apprenticeship at Remmert Studios which was an incredible break. It was a result of reading a local newspaper article about the business, then going to meet the owner. Not many are able to break into woodworking that easily, especially in the high-end market. That company did a lot of contemporary furniture for churches, and being short-staffed, it wasn’t long before I was given a full-time position.While working that job, I was also taking week-long classes at Marc Adams School of Woodworking as time and money permitted. The combination of hands-on work and classroom study allowed me to acquire new skills very quickly. Being at the school also netted an internship opportunity with one of North America’s most prestigious furniture-makers, Michael Fortune.
Many beginners trying to get started in woodworking take one look at their budget and worry how they can afford to buy a whole shop full of power tools to get started. Fortunately, one doesn't have to spend a fortune to get started. There are really only seven woodworking tools that I would recommend any beginning woodworker have on hand from the start, and most are relatively inexpensive. However, with these seven tools, a beginner can tackle quite a number of projects.
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.
If you enjoy these free bookcase plans be sure to check out these other free woodworking plans for shelves, coffee tables, entertainment centers, desks, Little Free Library, wine racks, jewelry boxes, home bars, kitchen islands, bathroom vanities, playhouses, picnic tables, dog houses, decks, workbenches, tree houses, pergolas, sheds, Adirondack chairs, bunk beds, and even chicken coops.
I decided to start my own vintage rental company, with farm tables being the main rental item. There was just one problem, I couldn’t afford to buy twenty farm tables… Which led me to my only option, I’d have to build them, except that again I didn’t know a thing about building or power tools nor did I know anyone that I felt comfortable asking to teach me. But, I figured if I could pass the CPA exam, I could figure out how to build a table on my own and learn how to use power tools.
Using these bookcase plans, I built three of these for my children’s school about five years ago (five years in an elementary school is equivalent to a hundred years in a typical home). They have seen tons of abuse, and have held up beautifully. The school can’t wait to get their hands on more of them to replace the “bargain” bookcases they got from a furniture chain which have needed extensive repairs over the same five year period.
Hand Tools — Three to four hand planes. A low angle block plane, smoothing plane, jack plane and a jointer plane are the most used sizes. With these in hand and some practice, you can go a long time without a planer, jointer, belt sander, and a few other machines. The market now has a few brands that are close to, if not ready, to use off the shelf. I also think the purchase of at least one good hand saw, a few good chisels, some clamps and a card cabinet scraper are necessary for most projects.
Tightening the nuts clamps the uprights against the shelves, holding them in place and providing shear strength (through friction) for the whole assembly. I know of an 8' tall, 12' long version of these shelves that has survived a few minor earthquakes while fully loaded with hundreds of books. Once the nuts are tightened on my smaller versions, I (all 240lbs of me) have a very hard time "racking" the shelves by pushing on one end of them in an attempt to get them to collapse: I can't.