The key to making furniture is having a plan. (Or is that the key to life? I always forget.) The good news for beginning woodworkers is that you don’t need to develop the plan; you need only to follow it. Project plans are abundant and easily found (check out Chapter 21 for some project-plan resources). After you get familiar with the way plans are written, you can build just about anything (depending on your skills, of course).


For very many years (since the early 70’s) I built furniture, that I still have and use, with a Stanley No4 as my one and only plane – and only one blade for it. I still have, and use, that same plane. I now have other planes, but the first one is still my ‘go to’ plane. I have just given away my set of chisels, to my son, as I have collected a few old wooden handled ones which I now prefer, but those old blue plastic Marples set did me well for about 25 years.
Begin by cutting off a 10-in. length of the board and setting it aside. Rip the remaining 38-in. board to 6 in. wide and cut five evenly spaced saw kerfs 5/8 in. deep along one face. Crosscut the slotted board into four 9-in. pieces and glue them into a block, being careful not to slop glue into the saw kerfs (you can clean them out with a knife before the glue dries). Saw a 15-degree angle on one end and screw the plywood piece under the angled end of the block.

Gord, 1/2/2013 Nice inexpensive starter set I purchased for my Little Brother. The planes were easy to disassemble for sharpening and the blades sharpened easily. The blades were ground a bit low in the center but was easily corrected with a course stone. There was a problem with the wooden box and after a few iffy phone calls a replacement box was received well before Christmas.
It’s okay to buy wood with knots, splits, cracks, and checks. These defects affect only a small area of the board (if they exist over the majority of the board, don’t buy it), so you can plan your cuts around them. Avoid boards with warps, twists, or bows. It takes a lot of time to flatten a board that has one of these defects. To test for these defects, place one end of the board on the floor and hold the other end to your eye. The board should be straight and true. If not, leave it there.
The final step in any woodworking project is protecting the wood from moisture and damage. Chapter 18 includes lots of information about the most common types of topcoats. Because not all of them provide the same degree of beauty and protection, you get a chance to compare the pros and cons of each topcoat so that you can choose the best option for you and your project.
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.
Having very sharp tools is one of the most important aspects of proper traditional woodworking. Many beginners think that they stink at woodworking, but usually they are just using dull (or improperly sharpened) hand tools. To start off with I recommend buying sharpening supplies for sharpening & honing your chisels, hand plane irons, and handsaws.
As far as I’m concerned, you can never have too many project plans to choose from. For example, I may like a Craftsman-style table, but you may think that the style is too clunky looking and prefer the elegant lines of a Shaker design. With this in mind, I provide three chapters of project plans, each with several variations on basic projects that not only give you some great furniture but also help you progressively build your woodworking skills.

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?! ;) )
Oakman, 1/12/2015 If you are planning on remaining a beginner then these are fine but..... The soles of the planes are not flat. Planes will only flatten a surface as flat as their soles and the ones I received are not flat and the work I would need to do in order to flatten the is excessive. The sides of both planes I received are not square. I sharpened the blades after cleaning the shipping oil from them. (they did arrive clean). I did get them adjusted to shave a nice thin strip off the piece I was working on but it was not flat due to the sole issues stated above. Had I performed these tests promptly upon receipt of the planes, I would have returned them. They will serve a purpose but they are not what I expected.

Dividers (or compass) are used for taking and repeating a measurement over and over again on a work piece. Traditional woodworkers rarely take measurements with a tape measure when doing fine joinery work, but rather take a measurement with dividers then transfer that arbitrary (yet accurate) measurement to another work piece. This removes a degree of inaccuracy.

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Working on one side at a time, glue and nail the side to the back. Apply glue and drive three 1-5/8-in. nails into each shelf, attach the other side and nail those shelves into place to secure them. Clamps are helpful to hold the unit together while you’re driving nails. Center the top piece, leaving a 2-in. overhang on both sides, and glue and nail it into place. Paint or stain the unit and then drill pilot holes into the top face of each side of the unit and screw in the hooks to hold your ironing board. Mount the shelf on drywall using screw-in wall anchors.
The key to making furniture is having a plan. (Or is that the key to life? I always forget.) The good news for beginning woodworkers is that you don’t need to develop the plan; you need only to follow it. Project plans are abundant and easily found (check out Chapter 21 for some project-plan resources). After you get familiar with the way plans are written, you can build just about anything (depending on your skills, of course).
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