This book is organized modularly, which means that you can read it from cover to cover and progressively build your woodworking knowledge. Or you can skip around and choose a subject that interests you from the table of contents or index, and start reading it immediately without feeling lost. Throughout the book I also include cross-references to where you can find more information about a subject.
Home Recording For Dummies. Jeff began creating sawdust at a very early age while assisting his father, a master craftsman, build fine furniture. He has designed and build countless pieces of furniture and has recently completed the designs for a commercial line of furniture blending Arts and Crafts and Asian infuences which has already secured representation with a gallery in Santa Fe, New Mexico.
Speaking of safety, woodworking is one of the most dangerous hobbies that you can get into. Wood is harder than skin and bone, and the tools that you use to cut and shape wood can do real damage real fast if you happen to slip or make a mistake. Not to worry, though. Chapter 3 gives you the heads up on creating a safe shop in which to work and on keeping safe while working. As an added bonus, Chapter 19 offers ten habits to get into that can make your woodworking time accident free.
You’ve seen a few shows on TV and working with wood looks pretty fun. After all, you get to use your hands and create something that you can proudly display to your friends and family. But where do you begin to learn to do woodworking? This part provides you with the basic vocabulary from which to build your woodworking skills. Chapter 1 shows you all the steps involved with making a woodworking project, Chapter 2 introduces you to the various qualities of wood, and Chapter 3 helps you get up to speed with your woodworking space and workshop safety.
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.

One of the most important aspects of woodworking is understanding the properties of wood. I know this seems obvious, but you’d be surprised about how many woodworkers I talk to who don’t know why wood acts the way it does. Wood changes with the weather and the stresses put upon it (such as when it’s stacked in a pile under a bunch of other wood). It expands and contracts and can twist, warp, or cup depending on the stresses that exist within it (from the direction of the grain in the board). Being able to look at a board and determine where those stresses are and how they may impact the board as it experiences changes in humidity requires some basic understanding of wood and how it’s made.
The block height’s going to be a personal thing, depending on what you use it for. Mine’s about knee height, which is on the low end, but I did use to do a tremendous amount of prepping straight from the tree. As you’re the same height as me, I’d say 33″ would be a tad on the high side. If you imagine you’ve got a longish piece of wood to work down the length, you want to be holding it almost vertical, rather than angled as it’s less likely to slip. The higher the working surface, the more angled it’s naturally going to become, hence why mine’s so low.
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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.
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.
The first step in developing woodworking skills is to be able to discern the best glues, joints (ways of connecting two pieces of wood), and fasteners to use. Whether you need a dovetail joint for a drawer front or a mortise-and-tenon joint for a table leg, Chapter 10 introduces you to the wonderful world of wood joints. With an understanding of the joints in Chapter 10, you can build any furniture project and make it strong and durable.
My Stanley 51/2 was in a bit of a state when I got it and refurbing it took a bit of time and cash. Now it works a treat and looks like new. I’m nearly through the bench build and have spend hours using it – it really is a workhorse piece of kit. I did some final cleaning up of some oak legs the other day and I can’t really see how a smaller plain would do a better job.
The number one thing to know is that wood isn’t a static thing. It’s a natural product that’s constantly in movement. As a woodworker, your job is to understand how wood moves and how to use that movement to your best advantage (or at least how to keep it from ruining your masterpiece). This chapter helps you to understand how boards are made out of trees and to discover that the way the log is cut determines its ultimate strength and stability (and its beauty). Additionally, you explore the characteristics of a variety of species of hardwoods and softwoods.
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.
Over the years we've been asked numerous times if we carry children's tool sets. Unfortunately most of the tool sets commercially marketed for children are more like toys than real tools, and they either tend to break, or are unusable to begin with. Like learning to play music on a cheap instrument, working wood with poorly constructed tools will soon frustrate even the most ambitious student.
Second, my table saw. I would love to have one of the big cabinet table saws that start in the four digit range, but, really, my Dewalt Job Site saw has done a mighty fine job for the three or so years we have owned it. The alignment continues to be right on, even after being toted around, and like every other Dewalt tool I have owned, it is an absolute work horse.
Second, I assumed that you want to do things the fast and easy way and not necessarily the old-fashioned way. As you’ll likely find out by talking to other woodworkers, you can find almost as many ways to perform a task as you can find woodworkers. Everyone has his own unique way to do things and mine involves taking advantage of modern tools and shortcuts, rather than using old-fashioned, time-consuming, and often frustrating approaches that can be done better with modern tools and approaches (do you sense a little bias here?). For example, if you want to find out how to craft dovetails by hand with a chisel and backsaw, buy another book. But if you want to make joints that are just as strong and beautiful in a fraction of the time with a router and a jig, then this book is for you. (Don’t worry, in this book, you will still get to see many of the traditional ways things are done, if for no other reason than to help you decide for yourself how you want to approach a task.)
“Basic,” on the other hand, is a word that allows for growth – and that’s exactly what you want in your woodworking tool kit. You want to be able to take the same kit with you through many years in the craft. With my basic woodworking tools list, I wanted to provide a core set of tools that will serve you well from project to project. I’m especially concerned these days with the transition to hardwood furniture making, as opposed to plywood boxes of various sizes. That’s the transition I’m making right now in my own work!
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.
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