In this guest perspective from Bill Rainford, traditional joiner, we learn a powerful method for analyzing today’s tool prices and thinking about which tools you really need in your shop. This article is about woodworking hand tools, but as someone who has visited Bill’s shop, I can tell you that he is no hand-tool purist. You’d love some of the machinery, new and old, he has acquired and cared for over the years.
This wood bench plan is sponsored by The Home Depot. I have been compensated for my time and provided with product. All ideas and opinions are my own. This post contains some affiliate links for your convenience. Click here to read my full disclosure policy. My neighbor saw a cute wood bench at a local restaurant and wanted one for her house.  She snapped a few pics for me, … [Read more...]
You need tools to work with wood. And most woodworkers think tools are great. I know I love buying and using tools. Heck, I’m the first to admit I have a problem. (Does anyone know of a 12-step program for tool addicts?) I buy tools like candy (well, more than I buy candy, actually). I have special tools for almost any imaginable task and I can’t ever seem to get enough. Such is the life of a woodworker.
By video tutorial, you will get step by step process instructions of making a nice wooden folding sling chair from scratch. However, my first wooden chair was not the best one, but it was good enough to motivate me to make some more folding chairs like this one. If I can make this, you too can make one yourself. You can browse the internet for more folding sling chairs ideas and start making one now.
I consider this my “basic” tool list. Although I do not have a dedicated box for these tools, I assure you that they have a great home in cabinets, on shelves, and laying around on benches. When I do need to take my hand tools somewhere, the larger tools end up in a simple tongue and grooved latch box my grandfather owned. The smaller tools are always in my overall pockets. Overalls work great. They have multiple pockets, they’re comfortable, and they protect your upper body and legs. You only have to deal with small chunks of wood getting into the pockets, which can be dealt with if you or your other half are crafty enough to sew some flaps. It doesn’t bother me though. Thanks for your time.
Many species of wood fall into two general categories: hardwoods and softwoods. Knowing which type of wood is which and being able to choose the right wood for your goals can help reduce the negative impact of the inherent instability that is a part of solid wood. As you discover the variability of wood, you’ll undoubtedly come to appreciate that some wood products allow you the same level of beauty without having to worry about the wood changing shape on you. These include veneers and manufactured wood products such as plywood and Medium Density Fiberboard (MDF). All this talk of wood is covered in more detail in Chapter 2.
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After you have chosen the perfect table saw for your wood shop, the next major purchase one should consider would be a compound miter saw. While not as expensive as a quality table saw, a compound miter saw is invaluable for cutting compound angles (beveled, mitered and combination cuts) on the ends of a piece of stock. Once you develop your ability to make precise cuts with a compound miter saw, you'll find that your circular saw spends a little more time in the drawer than it used to.
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.
In 1900, just as it was when I was a student over 100 years later, the view is that it is better to buy a quality tool once that will last a lifetime than buy something of poor quality which will not serve you well in your work. Keep that in mind as you review the list — since the tools were not the cheapest back then and surely are not the cheapest today. But with this modest set of tools you can build an amazing array of projects just as many ‘Sloyders’ (Sloyd school students) have done before us.
But that’s not all. In this chapter I talk about one of modern times’ greatest gifts to the woodworker: manufactured boards (also called sheet goods) and veneers. Yep, wood technology can help you keep your sanity while also speeding up the process of making furniture. Oh, and it can also save you some bucks in the process. What’s not to like about that?

To corral shelf-dwelling books or DVDs that like to wander, cut 3/4-in.-thick hardwood pieces into 6-in. x 6-in. squares. Use a band saw or jigsaw to cut a slot along one edge (with the grain) that’s a smidgen wider than the shelf thickness. Stop the notch 3/4 in. from the other edge. Finish the bookend and slide it on the shelf. Want to build the shelves, too? We’ve got complete plans for great-looking shelves here.


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.
This time I surprised one of my favorite dice games and took it outside. I made a set of wooden dice in just a few hours, and instead of sitting in the room and doing nothing, we are taking our dice game out into the yard. With this set of wooden dice, dice games are becoming our favorite backyard game. Check out the step by step tutorial below so you can make your own.

I sincerely hope this list is helpful to you! Learning to build – to create from scratch things of beauty and function – has been one of the most personally satisfying and empowering experiences I have ever had. I love to see people take up tools and find their creative voice. Wherever you are at in your journey, from learning to read a tape measure to hand tooling furniture in your sleep, we are all in this together. So jump in, get your hands dirty, and let’s build something!


A marking knife is used for marking where you will be cutting with your saws. For getting into tight spots (like dovetails) and making very accurate lines (which is vital for tight fitting joints) you need just the right marking knife. You would think that any old knife would work, but you would be wrong. Years ago I purchased several that didn’t work well.
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