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.
Don’t follow the temptation to cheap out and buy a cheap combination square. Because, like me, you will eventually have to replace it because of its inaccuracy. If you want your joinery to fit perfectly, then you need to scribe it accurately with precise marking tools. Unfortunately there is really only one company (that I know of) that makes a super accurate combination square. But fortunately it is amazing, and I use it daily. I’ll talk about it in-depth in the Layout & Measuring Tool Buying Guide.
Summertime means loads of fun playing games outside with family and friends. We love to bring out yard games like Kubb, Croquet, and Danish Ball. My kids love to play the traditional Jenga. I thought it would be fun to make a giant sized version for the yard. The traditional Jenga pieces are 1.5 cm thick, 2.5 cm wide and 7.5 cm long, making the Giant Jenga pieces couldn't be … [Read more...]
Below you will find some of the free woodworking plans to be found on the net. Much of the information was gathered from the newsgroup rec.woodworking (also available via google groups). This list is far from complete. I'd suggest you learn to use a search engine like Altavista or Google. Just type in the project name you want to do, and "plans". This will help you find all sorts of things.
The last tool I recommend for every beginning woodworker is a quality router. While many routers available today offer two different bases (a stationary base and a plunge router base), for most beginners, a quality stationary base model will take care of quite a number of tasks, and can also be mounted in a router table should you choose to invest in (or even build one) one down the line. Choose a router model that is at least 2-HP and has electronic variable speed controls (as larger cutting bits should use slower speeds), a soft start mechanism and is easy to make bit changes (preferably with the ability to use both 1/2-inch and 1/4-inch shank router bits).
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.
If I were to give someone new one piece of advice, it would be to buy their chisels new, not used. I have wasted more time and more money trying to save butchered chisels than I want to admit. There’s a good chance that the used chisel will be bellied in the back or pitted at the edge and it will take more than beginner skills to fix it. You may make things worse rather than better. Sure, learn to do this _some_ day, but maybe not as a beginner first thing. I’ve had similar problems with used planes, but it isn’t nearly as bad a problem for a joinery plane. If there are pits that lead to scratches, it may not matter for anything other than a final smoother. Also, a tiny back bevel may save the day on a plane, but you likely don’t want that on a chisel. So, I’m less fussed about planes and, if it all goes south, you can buy a new blade for smoothing work and use the old for rough work (all in the same plane). You can’t buy a new blade for a chisel. Well, you can, but it’s called buying a new chisel. I use 3/8″ a lot. 1/4, 3/8 to handle all the mortises and dovetails and either 3/4 or 1″ for paring shoulders and for fat parts of some dovetails. I probably learn towards the 1″ because there are times you want to reference off the blade to keep moving in a line, like for a housing. I think Lee Valley’s version of the Narex are excellent and mine came with flat backs that could go straight to polishing.
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Somehow I overlook #1, the jointer and thickness planer, and I saw all the other tools and immediately thought that this was my first set of tools I bought when I started working as a carpenter on a friend’s crew. Then I saw my oversight and just couldn’t get over how incongrous those two items were to the rest of the list. Had I seen a scrub plane and a jack plane I would have more harmony in the list.
Quarter-sawn: Quarter-sawn milling is the least efficient way to cut a log, but it produces some of the best boards. You can mill a quarter-sawn board in two ways: the preferred way (Figure 2-3 left) and the practical way (Figure 2-3 right). Unless you have a mill of your own or you own the log and have it milled to your specifications, you’re going to have to live with the practical method of quarter-sawing wood. Don’t worry, this is still a great way to mill a log and, because it’s more efficient than the preferred method, it doesn’t cost you an arm and a leg to buy (maybe just the arm).
Woodworking For Dummies shows you how your raw building materials stack up, with everything you wood need to know about hardwood, softwood, plywood, veneer wood, plain-sawn wood, rift-cut wood, quarter-sawn wood, solid wood, man-made wood, and more. This down-to-earth guide gives you the goods on how boards are made from trees and the characteristics of hardwood and softwood species, plus all the buzz on