In being self-employed, one day will greatly vary from the next, but generally, I start in the morning by dealing with in-town errands or head right to the shop if there are none. Once at the shop, there’s an e-mail check, then a brief glance at various websites to look for new developments related to our market and clientele. Then the real workday starts. I’ve got a bunch of notes regarding current projects taped next to my computer and will make a list for the day’s tasks by picking the highest priority items from the notes. The goal is to get that stuff accomplished by the end of the day. There are two of us in the shop, but we usually work on separate projects, so that’s why I have my own to-do list. Some days are spent on the computer designing or creating programs for the laser or CNC. Other times we’re doing runs of sunglasses or guitar parts which we sell wholesale to other businesses. In which case, I may be operating the laser or CNC. Despite the high-tech tooling, there’s still a lot of bench work to do, and that can involve cutting and fitting joints with chisels and hand planes. Besides that, there’s always plenty of rough lumber to mill since no project can begin until boards are flattened, surfaced and cut to dimension.
Every woodworker needs a couple of levels. You probably won’t need one of the 6-foot levels used in construction, but 48” is a good length for many of the woodworking projects you’ll do. Usually, you’ll also need an 8” level too, usually known as a torpedo level. You’ll check the level and plum of your construction. Level means horizontal, and plumb is vertical.
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.
Even if you don’t live in a rustic log cabin, you can give your home a great cabin look by simply planking one or more walls. This is a relatively easy project that will add beauty and value to any home. Just choose the wall that you want to change, and add wooden planks which you can pick up at most home improvement stores for very little. Then stain if you want and you have a lovely cabin type wall

Block planes have become one of the most oft-used tools in a woodworker’s workshop. Some traditional woodworkers even keep them in their aprons! These little planes can be used to trim your joints, put chamfers on board edges, trim end grain, etc. I would recommend finding a low angle block plane, because the low angle lets you cut difficult grain more easily.

We recruited Justin and his son to help us with this story. Justin is a full-time firefighter and a woodworker on his off days. His 11-year-old son Jackson, an up-and-coming woodworker, had fun with his dad and learned a few power tool techniques in the process. We provided the plans and gave a few pointers along the way, and Justin and Jackson took it from there.


But what if you want to make a box? The revered (and overly-mystified) dovetail joint is a very strong way to join corners of boards. Of all features that non-woodworkers admire today, the dovetail joint is the one that creates the most awe. It is composed of one side cut into wedge-shaped “tails” that mate into corresponding “pins.” When fitted together, the wedge shape prevents the boards from sliding apart in one direction. This joint has been very standard construction since the 1700s. Never meant to impress, it was usually intentionally hidden behind veneer, molding, or paint so that no one would have to look at that “ugly” joinery. It wasn’t until the arts and crafts movement that visible joinery was considered an aesthetic asset. Today, making dovetail joints has become a litmus test for serious woodworkers, but don’t let this scare you away from trying it. Check out a few of the four million “How to Cut Dovetails” videos online and then get into the shop. It’s much more straightforward than people think: Cut tails. Trace the tails on the other board. Then cut out the waste you traced. That’s pretty much it. All the fine tuning is just practice. 

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.
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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.
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.
Welcome to my beginner’s guide for getting started in traditional woodworking! Traditional woodworking with hand tools is my great passion and the passion of millions of people around the world. However, it can be very confusing trying to learn traditional woodworking if you don’t have the right resources. So I’ve worked hard to create the most simple and understandable resource on traditional woodworking to help people just like you.

Learning how to use tools to create what you envision in your mind is one of the most rewarding activities a man can involve himself in. Even though many of us today missed out on this first-hand training in high school shop class, there are a lot of folks that are buying books and reading blogs all about it. By learning how to tune up their grandfather’s hand plane they are seeking to once again tap into that deep-rooted desire to create and build with the knowledge of their mind and the skill of their hands.
Mike Siemsen literally takes you step by step (in "The Naked Woodworker"), going from "I've got nothing" to a full set of inexpensive used tools, and bringing them back into usable condition, then building your own bench and saw-benches.  All for about $700.  That will set you up with just about everything you'll need to make most furniture  (moulding planes, plough planes, combination planes are ... extra-curricular).    $700 spent on new power tools... doesn't get you nearly as far. 
Just a little nitpick on the tape measure blurb. The hook should not be completely tight. It should move in and out about a 1/16th or the thickness of the hook. This way you get an accurate measurement whether you hook a part to measure or bump up to it. If you want more accurate measurements with a tape measure, “burn” an inch instead of hooking or bumping the part. Just line up what you want to measure with the 1″ mark and subtract that inch from the final measurement.
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?! ;) )
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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.
Choose a suitable area to do your woodwork crafting in. You'll need sufficient area to move about in, which includes considering the lengths of wood you'll be working with and the types of tools and even machinery you need to set up. As well as space for you to work within, there will also need to be sufficient space to store the wood, the tools and other related items so that they are easy to find and are kept inside, away from the elements.
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.
It's a little strange but you can charge premium prices for birdhouses and people are ready to pay for it. People who want to enjoy birds coming to the garden, attach a high value to a functional and nice looking bird-house. And who doesn't really want pretty birds coming and chirping in their gardens. Therefore, birdhouse is one of the top-selling woodworking projects.
An old piece of wood and a few hooks will help you to create a beautiful hanger for your favorite coffee cups. Just add the hangers, stain the wood and then hang it on the wall. This is a project that takes little time and will cost very little if you already have the wood on hand. You just have to purchase the hangers which are relatively inexpensive.

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.
Once you have the four aforementioned handheld power tools in your arsenal and you've had time to get comfortable with using them, its time to make your first (and likely most important) major tool purchase. The table saw is the heart and soul of every woodworking shop, the centerpiece around which all of the other tools are used and organized, so you'll want to buy the best table saw that your budget can comfortably afford. Take the time to learn which features you really want and the table saw that best fits your budget and your needs. This article will show you the most common features, and how to determine what features you need and how to know if those features are really well built, or simply added on to the saw because they are selling features.
There may or may not be an easy answer to this. If you already have a woodworking craft you are passionate about, then that's great. All you need to do is a little market research to figure out whether others love it as much as you do. You do not have to go very far and wide to do some primary market research. Start with your family and friends who will give you a fair and honest opinion.
In this age of air-powered nailers, drills, sanders, impact wrenches, grinders, saws, spray guns, washers, and other pneumatic tools, the compressor has become a virtual necessity. The compressor consists of a motorized pump; a tank for storing the compressed air; an on/off control (governor) that tells the pump when to start and stop in order to keep the pressure within preset limits; and a regulator to control the pressure at which the air escapes the tank to suit the needs of the tools being used. There’s a metal frame on which all the parts are mounted, usually with a carrying handle and sometimes wheels.
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!
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. 

As Chief Creative Officer and Founding Partner at Brit + Co, Anjelika Temple brings her voracious consumption of all things creative and colorful to DIY projects, geeky gadgetry finds and more. When she's not DIY-ing her heart out, you'll find her throwing dinner parties with friends or adventuring with her husband David, their daughter Anokhi, and their silly dog Turkey.

With a pencil and a protractor, divide the larger disc into 30-degree wedges to create 12 center lines for the bottle indents. Center and trace the smaller disc on top of the larger disc. Next, with a drill press, drill 3/8-in.-deep holes on the 12 center lines with the 1-7/8-in. Forstner bit, spacing them between the disc’s outer edge and the traced circle. Next, divide the smaller disc into 60-degree wedges and drill six more 3/8-in.-deep holes with the Forstner bit.
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).
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Building a bookcase or bookshelf is a fairly simple woodworking plan that you can get done in just a day or two. This is also a low-cost project as well and since the project idea is free, you don't have to worry about busting through your budget. Just follow the simple steps in the tutorial and enjoy your own company building a simple bookcase on this weekend.


I’m not sold on the need for a power jointer for flattening a surface. That said, I do have a Shopsmith 4″ jointer.. It’s great for jointing edges, and perhaps flattening the occasional rails and stiles, but it of course is inadequate for surfacing wide boards. Would a six inch jointer be better…..not by much. So what do we do? Go to an eight inch, or better yet a ten inch jointer? Now we’re getting into really big, heavy, and electrically hungry machines that are not really suitable for the small shop that is likely to be in a small shed or garage.
In this age of air-powered nailers, drills, sanders, impact wrenches, grinders, saws, spray guns, washers, and other pneumatic tools, the compressor has become a virtual necessity. The compressor consists of a motorized pump; a tank for storing the compressed air; an on/off control (governor) that tells the pump when to start and stop in order to keep the pressure within preset limits; and a regulator to control the pressure at which the air escapes the tank to suit the needs of the tools being used. There’s a metal frame on which all the parts are mounted, usually with a carrying handle and sometimes wheels.
Learning how to use tools to create what you envision in your mind is one of the most rewarding activities a man can involve himself in. Even though many of us today missed out on this first-hand training in high school shop class, there are a lot of folks that are buying books and reading blogs all about it. By learning how to tune up their grandfather’s hand plane they are seeking to once again tap into that deep-rooted desire to create and build with the knowledge of their mind and the skill of their hands.
In a full-time program, the instructor can start at the beginning with design instruction and the classic project to flatten and dimension a board four-square using only hand tools. In a part-time program, where you only have students for a few hours at a time and their interest and passion for woodworking ranges widely, you need to get them working on something tangible as soon as possible. Many of these students are here just to try something new or as a way to get out of the house. They have no intention of doing woodworking as a career. In fact, they have perfectly good careers as doctors, lawyers or CEOs of major companies. They did not just pay $400 to "flatten a board." Most of them would look at the board and say it was just fine the way it was or maybe they would wonder why you didn't just buy it that way?
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.
The next hand tool every woodworker should have is a nail set. In fact, you should have several sizes. They look like awls, and you use them to drive nail heads into the wood so they are flush or right below the surface. This allows you to fill the holes and prepare for staining or painting. The nail setter will usually have either a convex or concave surface to grip the nail better and keep it from sliding off and marring the wood.

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.
In being self-employed, one day will greatly vary from the next, but generally, I start in the morning by dealing with in-town errands or head right to the shop if there are none. Once at the shop, there’s an e-mail check, then a brief glance at various websites to look for new developments related to our market and clientele. Then the real workday starts. I’ve got a bunch of notes regarding current projects taped next to my computer and will make a list for the day’s tasks by picking the highest priority items from the notes. The goal is to get that stuff accomplished by the end of the day. There are two of us in the shop, but we usually work on separate projects, so that’s why I have my own to-do list. Some days are spent on the computer designing or creating programs for the laser or CNC. Other times we’re doing runs of sunglasses or guitar parts which we sell wholesale to other businesses. In which case, I may be operating the laser or CNC. Despite the high-tech tooling, there’s still a lot of bench work to do, and that can involve cutting and fitting joints with chisels and hand planes. Besides that, there’s always plenty of rough lumber to mill since no project can begin until boards are flattened, surfaced and cut to dimension.
No need to mark the location of biscuits on the shelves and sides. Instead make marks on the scrap of wood used as a fence. Draw marks to indicate the outside edges of the 1×8 shelves and sides, and mark 1-3/4 in. in from each edge to indicate the center of the biscuits. To use the fence, line up the outside marks with the edges of the part you’re cutting slots in. And then line up the center mark on the biscuit-joining tool with the marks for the center of the biscuits (Photos 3 and 4).
As for schooling, many local school districts, community colleges and woodworking stores offer woodworking classes, but those are a mixed bag. A handful is really good and many are terrible. There’s also a big difference between woodworking for fun and doing it for a living, and most classes are geared towards hobbyists. Out of all the proper woodworking schools with good reputations, I’ve only had personal experience with Marc Adams School of Woodworking. That place I recommend 100%, as the instructors are generally active professionals in their specialized niches, so one can always pick their brains for extra information related to earning a living. The director of the school also does a good job of screening instructors to eliminate the ones that don’t interact well in a classroom setting.
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