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.
A layout square, or combination square, comes in 6” and 12” sizes. Most woodworkers use the 6” model, simply because it’s easiest to carry around. Also, most of the stock you’ll use will be no bigger than 6” wide, so 12” is overkill. The layout square is a triangle that you can use to mark square cuts on stock. Once you measure the length of the cut, you line up the layout square with the edge of the board. The short side will give you a straight, square cut across the end grain. You can also measure off angles with the layout square. This helps when you’re trying to measure for a bevel on a table saw, or marking a cut for a miter saw. You can even use your layout square to determine an existing angle. Just be sure to buy one made of metal. The plastic ones are not only fragile, but they also can warp, making them pretty useless.
Can a Makita or Festool Track Saw be a good substitute for a table saw? I’m new to woodworking and have a small shop space in the basement of my home. Doing some reading on several forums, many seem to prefer the track saw over a table saw. Will I be able to do cabinetry such as closets, bathroom vanities, etc with a track saw and track saw table setup?
Without Norm, I probably wouldn’t have developed such an interest in working with wood, so he’s my #1. Norm built my foundation, and books gave me a glimpse of the incredible variety of techniques and an appreciation of the design process. Marc, the contributors to this site, and other web-based sources provide ongoing inspiration that keeps me eager to get back into the shop.
We’ve already done rope, and now we’re on to another rustic material we love: wood! It’s as basic of a material as clay and is constantly reinvented by DIYers, crafters, artists, hackers, and carpenters. To get inspired to create our own batch of cool wooden objects, we turned to our favorite fellow makers to see what projects they’ve come up with. Scroll down for our top DIY wood project picks.
Make It: Let your child choose a few bright colors to paint his dragonfly. Paint a wood clothespin to be the body and paint two mini craft sticks to be wings. Once dry, cross the craft sticks on top of the clothespin and glue in place. Add googly eyes to the front and glue a strong magnet to the bottom of the clip. Display it on the fridge and your little one will feel very proud.

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.
Do try a couple of things before you start to think that they are difficult or won’t work. It may take some time finding a local place to sell your crafts to. But then that relationship could be worth a long term source of extra income, so why not.. As for selling online, if you are making small crafts, selling is easier than ever before. You can read about selling on Etsy here.

If you have an old cabinet or dresser that you can redo, consider taking out the drawers and just adding rustic wooden planks. This gives the entire cabinet a great rustic look and it is really easy to do. This is a great project for those old dressers that have broken or missing drawers. You can attach the wood pieces together and fix them so that they pull out for easy access to the dresser contents.
I’d like to add some type of sharpening system to your list. A simple sandpaper and slab system, stones, or the more expensive slow grinder system. Although listed, files should be in this sharpening/maintenance category as well. You’ll need these as soon as you purchase a majority of hand tools. They’ll be needed throughout each day of using the tools. Initial setup and routine maintenance will give better results with less fighting the grain and tool. Whether your a beginner or a master, the tools must be sharp and maintained.
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.
Can a Makita or Festool Track Saw be a good substitute for a table saw? I’m new to woodworking and have a small shop space in the basement of my home. Doing some reading on several forums, many seem to prefer the track saw over a table saw. Will I be able to do cabinetry such as closets, bathroom vanities, etc with a track saw and track saw table setup?
At some point dust collection needs to be considered. For safety reasons all power tools should run in conjunction with a good dust collection system. However the reality is that many woodworkers will put up with the dust for a while, if not forever. There are machines that really can't be run without dust collection such as a large planer or a bandsaw. The chips and sawdust must be extracted or else the buildup will damage the machine. A large shop vac may be sufficient for smaller machines, and portable dust collectors are available that can be moved from one machine to another. Dust collection is a reasonable investment that should actually be made early on. Your health is well worth the cost.
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.

In my opinion, there are two kinds of woodworking. One is fine woodworking which is well worth learning and mastering. It just takes more time, skills and know-how. Second, there is basic or “maker” woodworking which is probably where you want to start. Find something that will help you jump in and gain some confidence with some basic tools and projects. Then, if you want, graduate to fine woodworking.
Small planers on the other hand can do a lot for you. Here it is hard to argue with their capabilities. A large industrial-weight planer is a machine few small shops can justify, but there are numerous portable planers available for a few hundred dollars that can deliver a reasonable cut. They allow you to quickly clean up glue joints or prepare rough lumber.
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.
Lots of good comments! I do think it is a bit of stretch to include a jointer and surface planner on the ‘basics’ list – we’ve got a slippery slope here! And a lot of different approaches – money, space, time, resources, etc. But lets plunge ahead. If you buy your wood already (or mostly) prep’ed, then the jointer & surface planner can be postponed. You definitely need a way to accurately measure linear distances (e.g. length, width) so a good ruler and tape measure. You need to be able to measure squareness – so you need a good combination square. You need to be able to mark the wood – so a good marking knife, an awl, some chalk, a fine pencil, etc. You should have some decent chisels (and good ones don’t need to cost a lot!). You will need to sharpen them (again not expensive – piece of plate glass and some sandpaper). You need a way to accurately cut your wood – a couple of good handsaws and a file or two for sharpening. You really should have a decent work surface/work bench/etc – a good first project by the way. Last of the basics – a good drill (3/8″ vs battery type). Lastly (I could go on but room is lacking), take a look at Paul Seller’s video’s for simple but highly competent work.
Looks very opulent especially in a living area where the family likes to unwind with each other. These book-cases have ample storage space for books, housing shelves at multiple levels for decor items too. The middle portion of the bookcase if left blank can be used as a space for the television unit, serving as a complete entertainment area in the house.
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.
Build this handy stool in one hour and park it in your closet. You can also use it as a step to reach the high shelf. All you need is a 4 x 4-ft. sheet of 3/4-in. plywood, wood glue and a handful of 8d finish nails. Cut the plywood pieces according to the illustration. Spread wood glue on the joints, then nail them together with 8d finish nails. First nail through the sides into the back. Then nail through the top into the sides and back. Finally, mark the location of the two shelves and nail through the sides into the shelves. Don’t have floor space to spare? Build these super simple wall-mounted shoe organizers instead!
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?
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.
Any bookcase you build should be anchored to the wall so it can’t tip over and injure someone. Simply screwing it to wall studs is one good solution. If you choose that method, load up the bookcase with books so it fully compresses the carpet before you drive the screws. If you want to be able to move the bookcase without removing screws, pick up a couple of chain latches. Fasten the chains to studs with 2-1/2-in. coarse-thread screws. Position the tracks so there will be just enough slack in the chains for you to detach them.
This was not actually a tutorial post to the woodworking plan ideas but the aim of the post was to give some easy and free woodworking ideas to the readers. If you have some time to entertain yourself and also willing to add some new stuff to your furniture you can take any idea from the list and start working on it. Be sure to see both post tutorial and video tutorials of the plan you have selected, it will make you understand everything nicely.
The last tool I recommend for every beginning woodworker is a quality router. While many routers available today offer two different bases (a stationary base and a plunge router base), for most beginners, a quality stationary base model will take care of quite a number of tasks, and can also be mounted in a router table should you choose to invest in (or even build one) one down the line. Choose a router model that is at least 2-HP and has electronic variable speed controls (as larger cutting bits should use slower speeds), a soft start mechanism and is easy to make bit changes (preferably with the ability to use both 1/2-inch and 1/4-inch shank router bits).
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