A jointer makes the dges of your material smooth, straight, and square. This creates what’s commonly called a reference edge that you need for additional steps like ripping or crosscutting. In addition to perfecting the edges of your stock you can also straighten faces, called face jointing. Like edges, you’ll end up with faces that are nice and smooth, and dead flat; a precursor to other machining steps.
I was self taught meaning I gleaned anything and everything I could from books,DVD’s,TV shows like Norm,Roy Underhill and any where else I could pick up information.Even though I had more than 20 years of woodworking I have in the last few years I’ve found a mentor in Charles Neil and now subscribe to his on line Mastering woodworking show. As to taking a class I’m a bit prejudice since I teach a community collage class on woodworking I highly recommend that you take any classes you can afford.

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Thank you for that info. Is there any recommended size for crosscutting? Lets say I purchase a 4×8 sheet of plywood or MDF at my local home center. I have them cut it down to strips of 18×8 (for example). When I get home, if I need to crosscut the 18×8 piece, is that possible on a cabinet saw with a crosscut sled or better with a track saw? Reason I ask, that will most likely be my scenario when I purchase lumber. I would rarely bring home a full 4×8 sheet from the store because it’s easier to transport it in smaller widths. I’m at the point to make some tool purchases, and seeing if I should go solely with a track saw for my scenario or get both? I do have a 12 inch compound miter saw but cutting to size on that with 18 inch depth panels is hard in one pass.
The best advice I could give you is to learn WordPress or find a friend who can help you figure it out. Once the light bulb goes off there will be no stopping you, you will have the power in your own hands to provide what your end user needs and to educate them about the benefits and your products value – in a selfish, wasteful, throw-away society who expect everything delivered yesterday and expect to pay dirt cheap prices for your skills and repetitive hard work. End of rant….Sorry but I just had to comment. I know what it’s like, don’t lose hope!

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Hi Eva – Lots of folks rent space in upscale flea markets/craft stores to sell their projects. I have not had to do that yet since I have had good luck selling on Craigslist. BUT< BEWARE that scam artists work Craigslist. When they email you and ask about the "ITEM" rather than the project by name, that's a scam artist, delete them. Do not open them. I have a full time business and my shop time for projects is limited so I don't make a bunch of things. One more tip, lumber is much cheaper at a local saw mill, rather than lumber yards. Check them out in your area.

Plywood shelves are simple to cut, but look a little thin and can sag over time under the weight of books and other payload. I like to apply a solid hardwood strip of at least 1″ thick to strengthen the shelf and give it a more robust appearance. Cut four strips to 3/4″ x 1″ x 36-1/4″ (slightly longer than the shelf itself, allowing you to trim flush later). I attach this strip by simply gluing and carefully clamping for good alignment, gluing the 1″ thickness to the plywood. In the past I have also used biscuits or brads for attaching the strips, but I have found it to be unnecessary, and the method I currently use delivers great results every time. Use a lot of clamps to ensure a good bond between the plywood and edge strip. Carefully force each surface flush as you move from clamp to clamp. If you are careful here, you can save yourself a lot of sanding effort later.

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.
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.
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.
A very very interesting woodworking project you can undertake is to make spoons and ladles of all sizes out of wood. These items are really coming back in a big way. I sincerely feel you can attract a lot of attention and sell these items very well. People are beginning to use more wholesome utensils in the kitchens. Wooden spoons and ladles are going to be raging popular products. Getting a lathe will go a long way in making any kind of wood bowls, spoons and ladles. 

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.
So my partners and I opened a Woodcraft store that had an established school as a main part of its business plan. What could be better? Come for a class and buy some tools. But when I first presented the idea of a full-fledged school to the corporate people and told them the dollar amount that I planned to do in school tuition sales, they basically laughed at me. A year after we were opened, they finally started to take notice of this whole "education thing" because I had not only met my projections, I doubled them.
I use chisels perhaps more than any other tool in my workshop, so it’s a good idea to not cheap out here. A high quality set of bevel edge bench chisels (new or vintage) will last you many years (likely  your entire life) and will be used on nearly every project. I’ve used some descent affordable plastic handle bench chisels, but highly prefer lighter wooden handle chisels with excellent steel.
Although this universal admiration of hand skill is appreciated, the truth is, woodworking is no mystery. And fortunately, even if you missed out on taking a thorough shop class in high school and feel ill-equipped to tackle a simple woodworking project, it’s definitely not too late to learn. Here’s a list of some basic skills you would do well to develop. None of these skills require expensive, dangerous machinery or exotic tools. They are the foundational skills every woodworker should know.

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.


I prefer the large size because it will cut the most sizes. Years ago I purchased a medium shoulder plane, but it didn’t cut the larger sized joints, so I sold it and purchased a large shoulder plane so I could cut and trim most sized joints. Most of your traditional woodworking hand tools can be vintage/used, but used shoulder planes can be very hard to rehab and get “square”, so I recommend spending the extra money on a new shoulder plane. See my recommendations in my hand plane buying guide.
Offer good for one item at regular price only. Limit one coupon per customer per day. Must present coupon at time of purchase. Offer is not valid with any other coupon, discount or previous purchase. One cut or one bolt of fabric or trim "by the yard" equals one item. Online fabric & trim discount is limited to 10 yards, single cut. Excludes CRICUT® products, candy & snack products, gum & mints, gift cards, custom orders, labor, rentals, class fees or items labeled "Your Price". Exclusions subject to change. Cash Value 1/10¢.
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.
Hi, Patrick. “When I get home, if I need to crosscut the 18×8 piece, is that possible on a cabinet saw with a crosscut sled or better with a track saw?” That is possible to do on either a cabinet saw or a track saw, and you can end up with the same result. If I were doing this in my shop I would do it on my table saw because I have one and it would be a quicker setup, but if I didn’t have a table saw I would use a track saw. I have a friend who builds beautiful furniture and cabinetry with a track saw, and he doesn’t feel that it limits what he can build.
Plunge router. I believe that a router is one of the most versatile tools you can have in a wood shop. Just buy a regular one that is powerful enough and you will be amazed at the number of things you can do with it from cutting to making joints. There are dozens of different types of router bits that do different things. Get a set and your router will be one of the tools you use most frequently for your projects. Buy the best router that you can afford at this point. It should be of good quality and powerful.
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.
Whether you really need your privacy or you just want to add a bit of rustic charm to your home, this tree branch privacy screen is a great DIY project. It sort of looks like a bamboo shade and is really easy to make. You just need a few strips of thin wood and as many sticks or branches as you want to add. Hang it wherever you feel you need a bit of extra privacy.
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.

If you have wood pallets just lying around the yard, put them to use by turning them into a great mud room bench. This bench would look fabulous on the deck or just inside the door, wherever you want to put it. When you finish putting it all together, just sand and stain it whatever color you want and you have a beautiful bench that cost you very little to create.
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?
Before you put any tool to your lumber, you will need to understand its proper orientation and what direction to plane the board. As trees grow, growth ring layers continue to build on one another and this produces beautiful grain that shows in our boards. This grain can make planing it trickier if we ignore the ideal direction to work. Working wood grain is kind of like petting a cat — if you go from tail to head, you will find the hair standing straight up and might get a hissing disapproval, but if you pet “with the grain” from head to tail, you’ll find the hairs lay down nice and smooth and purring will ensue.
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.

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.


On both the belt and disk sanders, the workpiece is presented to the tool (the opposite is true of portable belt and hand-held disk sanders which are presented to the work; as a result, they are particularly useful in sanding oversized workpieces). On stationary sanders, an adjustable worktable or fence can be fixed in front of the sander to position the workpiece during sanding. Belt sizes vary greatly, with four-inch wide, two- or three-foot-long belts being usual, as are four- to eight-inch diameter disks.

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?


We cut the supports 16 in. long, but you can place the second shelf at whatever height you like. Screw the end supports to the walls at each end. Use drywall anchors if you can’t hit a stud. Then mark the position of the middle supports onto the top and bottom shelves with a square and drill 5/32-in. clearance holes through the shelves. Drive 1-5/8-in. screws through the shelf into the supports. You can apply this same concept to garage storage. See how to build double-decker garage storage shelves here.
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