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A staple of every For Dummies book, Part IV presents the Part of Tens. Chapter 19 includes ten good habits to get into to make your woodworking experience safer. Chapter 20 offers ten woodworking pitfalls that almost everyone encounters at one time or another. (Oh, and ways to avoid or fix them, too.) Chapter 21 gives you some woodworking resources so that you can keep expanding your woodworking knowledge.
I just moved overseas and had to give up all of my power tools due to space limitations and power incompatibility. Upon arrival the first power tool that I bought was a cordless drill/driver and the second was a circular saw. I then modified the saw to improve its performance for cabinet quality work by putting a zero clearance baseplate (just a piece of 1/4″ plywood screwed to the base) this allows the saw to cut plywood panels without tearing up the edges. I also bought a length of aluminum rectangle tube stock for a straight edge. Together the straight edge and the zero clearance baseplate makes the circular saw a fairly accurate tool for plywood construction projects. It’s not as easy to use as a Festool track saw but it cuts almost as clean and cost about 1/5th the price.
I quickly found that power equipment was not broadening my capabilities as much as it was like an anchor tethering me to a limited band of work and taking up valuable shop space. I also didn’t like wearing the requisite dust mask, hearing protection and safety glasses all the time – it was like a mini sensory deprivation chamber. When I asked master cabinetmaker Dan Faia what he does for dust protection in his own shop, his succinct reply was “I never coughed up a curl.” That pithy remark reflected the very different view traditional woodworkers have – without all the big machines, the dust and noise, you can focus on the work, invest in a smaller set of high quality tools that should last a lifetime and enjoy the process as much as the result.
As much as I’d like to provide a book with everything you’ll ever need to know about woodworking (as if I even know all that!), it’s just not possible. Chapter 21 is my way of helping you to keep exploring this immense craft by providing you with a bunch of resources. This chapter contains contact info for woodworking magazines, addresses for helpful Web sites, and ideas to help you keep expanding your knowledge and skills.
Resist the temptation to buy common grades of wood for furniture even when the price seems great. Cutting all the defects out takes a ton of time. Besides, by the time you make the lesser quality wood usable, you don’t have much wood left over. When you buy a cheap board and cut it up to find usable parts, you spend more money than it costs you to buy the better quality stuff to begin with.
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Handsaws (often called “panel saws”) are long, thin saws with a comfortable wooden handle. They are used for rough dimensioning of your lumber. Although a “panel saw” is technically a smaller handsaw that fits into the panel of a tool chest, I’ll hereafter refer to this type of saw as a “Panel Saw” to differentiate them from the broad category referred to as “hand saws”. Panel saws come in two tooth configurations: “Rip” (cuts along the grain…like a chisel) and “Cross Cut” (cuts across the grain…like a knife). You will need both.
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.
The very affordable coping saw (often around $20) is regularly used for rough cutting shapes in the board, but especially for removing waste from dovetail joints (one of the most common wood joints). An affordable coping saw will work just fine as long as you have plenty of replacement blades on hand (also very affordable). Read my hand saw buying guide for more detail on brands & features to look for when purchasing a coping saw.