I have used a Workmate successfully for years and I am in the process of building an upgraded replacement for the work surfaces. My replacement bench top will be a little longer, much thicker and it will have and extended apron between the two halves to greatly improve holding wood vertically for dovetailing. With this simple upgrade it turns the little Workmate into a very capable portable woodworking bench.
Plywood is an essential material for bookcases. It’s strong, affordable and good looking. There’s just one problem: those ugly edges. You can hide edges behind solid wood or moldings, but the quickest, easiest edge solution is a thin strip of wood veneer called “edge banding” ($6 for 25 ft. at home centers). The process couldn’t be simpler: You just iron on the adhesive-backed veneer and trim off the excess.
However, I would recommend that you either build a wooden workbench, or purchase one if you feel a workbench build is too advanced for you right now. However, I created the DVD “Building the Portable Moravian Workbench with Will Myers” so that even beginners can build a solid, portable, and very affordable workbench that will fit almost anywhere, using mostly or only hand tools. You can buy it in my store here. You can find Will’s free workbench plans for the Moravian Workbench here. Whichever path you choose, make sure you choose to either build or buy a heavy & sturdy wooden workbench, with at least a 3″ solid top, strong supportive base legs, and two strong vises.
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.
The Japanese saw is a favorite. A much smarter, efficient and exact cut can be made using this saw as opposed to a European saw. The difference between the two is simple: tooth direction. European saws cut when pushing the saw as opposed to Japanese saws which cut on the pull. One uses much less energy when pulling - perhaps that is why the horse was put in front of the cart. A Japanese saw is a must have in any shop.
There’s a lot of space above the shelf in most closets. Even though it’s a little hard to reach, it’s a great place to store seldom-used items. Make use of this wasted space by adding a second shelf above the existing one. Buy enough closet shelving material to match the length of the existing shelf plus enough for two end supports and middle supports over each bracket. Twelve-inch-wide shelving is available in various lengths and finishes at home centers and lumberyards.
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.
Some tools required to build a picture frame are a table saw, miter saw, measuring tape, wood glue etc. A table saw with a backing board and miter gauge can be used to get the right angle and lengths of picture frame every time. You can use builders square to arrange the final cut pieces before nailing, screwing or gluing. Check out the video tutorial below for more details.
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.
Too many people have perpetuated the myth that working wood by hand is really hard work, simply because they were using a dull tool. It is an axiom among woodworkers that in order for things to go smoothly, you have to “let the tool do the work.” If your saw requires a good amount of push to cut or if you find you need a running start to make shavings with your hand plane, you aren’t doing yourself any favors. Sharpening your tools is a basic and foundational skill because it is something that needs to happen regularly. Not only is it inefficient to work with dull tools, it’s dangerous. If you feel like you need to push your chisel with body weight to complete the cut, when it does pop free, you will lose control and your tool will stab into whatever is in its path. Learn how to sharpen your tools and you will find woodworking to be enjoyable, safe, and efficient.
We'd been meaning to build these for over a year to replace a bulky entertainment center plus some cobbled together shelving for our TV wall. With a new 32" panel TV that only needed an 8" front-to-back shelf, this looked like a good choice! Since we live in rented housing, we couldn't attach anything to the walls but wanted something large enough to cover an exactly 8' x 8' wall without protruding the 27" into the narrow living room that the old furniture had while being "knock down-able" for future moves. Main problem = no real workspace for 8' uprights.
Don’t follow the temptation to cheap out and buy a cheap combination square. Because, like me, you will eventually have to replace it because of its inaccuracy. If you want your joinery to fit perfectly, then you need to scribe it accurately with precise marking tools. Unfortunately there is really only one company (that I know of) that makes a super accurate combination square. But fortunately it is amazing, and I use it daily. I’ll talk about it in-depth in the Layout & Measuring Tool Buying Guide.
Work bench. You might get by by using a saw horse as your work bench for a while but believe us when we tell you that you need a dedicated sturdy work bench for doing your woodwork. You can buy one, or like many woodworker, make one yourself. You can make your own workbench for under $200. There are plenty of free videos and guides online that will show you how. Just type your search in a search engine.
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?
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Glue up a panel using the same material as your face frame. I generally size the top so that it overhangs by about 1″ on all sides, which means a 38-1/2″ x 13-1/4″ panel. Trim to size using a panel cutting jig. An alternative approach to building the top is to use a piece of 3/4″ plywood (same material you used for the sides and shelves), with wood strips applied to each edge as edge banding to mask the laminations, using the same approach as you used to edge band the shelves.
The most common bench tools in the woodshop are routers and sanders. We have already talked about routers to some extent. Orbital sanders have come a long way from the jitterbug style of old. New sanders leave a better finish, are quieter and last longer. At some point, probably right away, you will want a sander . No one likes to sand. It is tempting to buy multiple sanders to address an unpleasant task. Here again, I point to the hand tools. Learning to use a smoothing plane and a cabinet scraper will reduce your sanding to little or nothing and cut down your overall time to finish a project.
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.
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.
So what is it about starting a woodworking school? It seems that every time I open a woodworking magazine, there is yet another ad for a new woodworking school - usually run by a furniture maker. They're probably thinking, "It can't be that hard, right? I know how to make furniture, I have some tools and I can keep doing my own furniture. But I can attract students and teach them anything they want to know at the same time?"
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: Paint nine craft sticks red, six craft sticks white, and four mini craft sticks white. Let them dry. On a rectangle piece of cardstock, have your child create a blue sky and green grass with colored paper or markers. Then help her create the bottom of the barn by gluing on a row of 11 craft sticks vertically in the following pattern: two red, one white, five red, one white, two red. Glue white sticks horizontally along the top and bottom and cross two in the middle as shown. Glue the mini craft sticks to red cardstock to form the barn roof. Adhere the barn roof to the background above the barn. Cut out a rectangle from black paper and adhere it to the barn. Cut strips from a paper bag and crumple for the look of hay; adhere to black rectangle.
At the same time, in order to improve your skills, you have to first use those skills and will make mistakes as a novice. How quickly those are overcome and improved on varies from person to person. Some craftsmen grasp a skill quickly and progress to higher levels, others, for several reasons, take more time. Those that do this quickly thrive as self-taught artisans.
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You can find a project for just about every room in your home. Table scape trays make perfect platforms for dining room decoration. Wooden plaques offer a blank slate for any saying or picture you want. If you want a unique table, we’ve got a few options to consider. Headboards and benches can give your bedroom a real transformation. You can find anything you want among these DIY wood craft projects.
Marc, it’s very difficult to answer this question. Many years ago i started out with a book, and then i got another but i just wasn’t getting it. Then I started watching your video’s and everything came to life. I know there are many options that you would fall under but in my personal opinion there needs to be a Woodwhisperer choice or at least a Pod casting choice =)
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.
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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.