Block planes have become one of the most oft-used tools in a woodworker’s workshop. Some traditional woodworkers even keep them in their aprons! These little planes can be used to trim your joints, put chamfers on board edges, trim end grain, etc. I would recommend finding a low angle block plane, because the low angle lets you cut difficult grain more easily.
Just for the record, a jointer and planer are not from the ICDT kit – the philosophy on that column is, indeed, beginner AND basic (hence the Workmate). The tools we suggest in the ICDT manual are for those who are working at a kitchen table or in a backyard; the tools the editors would recommend for someone who is quite sure he or she wants to pursue serious furniture making would be rather different.
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.
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.
Introduction.Part I: What's All the Buzz about Woodworking?Chapter 1: Discovering the Basics of Woodworking.Chapter 2: Wood You Be Mine? Appreciating Wood for All It's Worth.Chapter 3: Putting Safety First in Your Workshop.Part II: Tool Time: Selecting and Setting Up Your Equipment.Chapter 4: Gearing Up: Choosing Tools That Are Right for You.Chapter 5: Getting a Handle on Hand Tools.Chapter 6: Peeking at Portable Power Tools.Chapter 7: Introducing the Big Guns: Stationary Power Tools.Chapter 8: Setting Up Your Workshop and Maximizing Your Tools.Part III: Together Forever: Basic Wood Joinery.Chapter 9: Stuck on You: Using Adhesives and Glues.Chapter 10: Working with Wood Joints.Chapter 11: Making the Most of Mechanical Fasteners.Part IV: Getting Your Hands (and Shop) Dirty: Turning Raw Wood into Furniture.Chapter 12: Understanding the Building Process.Chapter 13: Banging Out Bookcases.Chapter 14: Tackling Tables.Chapter 15: Creating Cabinets.Part V: The Grand Finale: Sanding and Finishing Your Masterpiece.Chapter 16: Smoothin' It Out by Sanding and Filling.Chapter 17: Adding Color: Stains and Paints.Chapter 18: Protecting Your Work with Topcoats.Part VI: The Part of Tens.Chapter 19: Ten Great Habits to Get Into.Chapter 20: Ten Common Woodworking Pitfalls and How to Avoid Them.Chapter 21: Ten Great Woodworking Resources.Index.
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.
After the wood is cut it needs to dry before it can be used, and drying the wood causes shrinkage in the board. So it’s important that the board be allowed to dry evenly or it twists, bows, or warps. If you buy wood from a lumberyard, it’s already been dried, but you want to acclimate it to your shop before you work with it. This way the wood will make any changes it needs to make with the different humidity level in your shop, and you don’t get any nasty surprises like a table leg that twists after you’ve glued your project together.
Basic woodworking tools are different from beginner woodworking tools. For one thing, I don’t like to use the word “beginner” unless I am using it accurately. It’s not a very useful label, in my opinion, because it implies that there are clear-cut and hierarchical steps in your growth as a woodworker. Who wants to return to grade school during his or her valuable shop time? So I only use the word “beginner” when I’m talking about someone who is touching woodworking tools for the first time.
I work with a lot of rough sawn boards (Wood Mizer) that are up to 12 inches wide. The worse defect is twist. First I saw the stock to rough project lengths and then using winding sticks, I attack the twist with a #5 hand plane, gradually moving the winding sticks toward the center. If there is bow or cup I can plane that out also. I now have a reference surface that can go thru my planer. The finished boards are perfect. This is not really difficult or excessively time consuming.
First, I assumed that you want to build furniture projects and not a house or some other large-scale construction project. For that, you’re probably better off with a book on carpentry, because if you apply all the little details that go into a good piece of furniture to framing a house, for example, it’ll take you too long to get the job done. (Of course, it will look awesome and be a work of art when you’re through.)
1. Power jointer and thickness planer. I have developed various means of straightening the edges of my stock with hand-held tools, but I don’t see a way to efficiently flatten the faces of rough or reclaimed lumber without a power jointer. It’s part of the first few steps for any furniture project, and I want to be able to move through this step quickly and into the more interesting work. The thickness planer is also a huge time-saver, compared to hand-held tools.
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.
Part I is your introduction to woodworking, wood, and woodworking shops. Chapter 1 gives you an overview of the woodworking process and gets absolute beginners up to speed on this fascinating hobby. Chapter 2 helps you to understand the unique qualities of wood. You discover the various types of wood used in furniture and how to find and buy the right boards for your projects. Because woodworking is an inherently dangerous activity, Chapter 3 shows you how to create a safe working environment and gives you some guidelines for working as safely as possible.
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.
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.
Drill four 5/8-in.-dia. 1/2-in.-deep holes on the large disc?inside the traced circle?then use 5/8-in. dowel centers to transfer the hole locations to the underside of the small disc. Drill four 1/2-in.-deep holes on the underside of the small disc and a 1/2-in.-deep hole in the center of the top for the dowel handle. Glue in the dowels to join the discs, and glue in the handle. We drilled a wood ball for a handle knob, but a screw-on ceramic knob also provides a comfortable, attractive grip.
Basically, as you beginner you will need the following tools: a drill, an impact driver, a miter saw and a sander. With these tools you can cut, join and finish wood as a professional. If you want to save time and improve the quality of your work you can upgrade and buy yourself a pocket hole jig, a router, a thickness planer and a table saw. I have created a complete guide with tool recommendations and reviews HERE, so you make an informed decision.
Part II is the section for anyone who loves tools. Chapter 4 helps you determine the best tools for your goals. It opens your eyes to the type of woodworking you intend to do and what tools will help you accomplish your goals. Chapter 5 introduces you to the tried-and-true hand tools and provides tips on how to choose and use them. Chapter 6 explores portable power tools. It gets you up to speed on what to use for what purpose. Chapter 7 is all about the big machines. This chapter gives you the lowdown on the machines that most woodworkers drool over (and that make woodworking easier, faster, and more fun). Chapter 8 helps you set up your tools and lets you get started using them by providing some projects to make some tool helpers called jigs.
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We’ve already done rope, and now we’re on to another rustic material we love: wood! It’s as basic of a material as clay and is constantly reinvented by DIYers, crafters, artists, hackers, and carpenters. To get inspired to create our own batch of cool wooden objects, we turned to our favorite fellow makers to see what projects they’ve come up with. Scroll down for our top DIY wood project picks.
I think it depends on the type of woodworker you would like to become. Are you more interested in traditional “electric free” carpentry or are you drawn to the ease and convenience of modern machinery? Also, I think you should take into consideration what kind and how much shop space you have available. I have worked with all the modern machines for years now, and are just presently finding personal satisfaction in traditional woodworking. In fact, last night I built my very first bookcase with just a few “powerless” hand tools. So in all, I would suggest some personal reflection…What type of woodworker do you want to become?…and from there garnish your shop appropriately.
Through and through milling is the simplest and most efficient way to cut a log. Milling through and through results in plain-sawn, rift-sawn, and quarter-sawn boards because the orientation of the growth rings changes as the boards are sliced off the log (see the Choosing the right wood cut for you section later in this chapter for more information).
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).
1: Table saw in place of a jointer. Any number of tips in previous issues address straightening edges of boards without a jointer. A jointer serves one purpose, but a tablesaw can serve many (just watch your local Craigslist for a decent one to come up.) The thickness planer is unavoidable, but until you can afford one, buy stock in the thickness you need.
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.
Yes Seriously! You can build an easy bed frame yourself without any other’s help. As everyone knows the starting point of any bedroom is a gorgeous bed. However, you also need something that lets you enjoy peaceful slumber in comfort and warmth, but since the bed took as the focal point of the room, you may need something that looks really good too.
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Two things which I took to instantly and now wouldn’t want to do without are an old-fashioned two foot, four fold ruler which gets used all the time (there’s nothing that comes close to it) and a 1 1/2″ butt chisel which gets used all the time for marking anything which needs to be chopped e.g. the side of a mortice. It also means fewer chops and therefore a bit more accuracy when cutting out a knife wall.
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.
On chisels, once a new comer learns to sharpen, Aldi sells a 4 chisel pack for about $20 US. They are blunt and the backs need to be flattened but once correctly sharpened, they hold their edge very well. These are my go to chisels for most work and they’re as sharp as a scalpel. My good chisels haven’t seen the light of day in over a year as the Aldi chisels work beautifully.
Of course, these wood joints would be almost useless without some sort of adhesive to go with them. Chapter 9 walks you through the most common types of adhesives available for woodworkers and shows you the best one for each job. In Chapter 11, I go over the ins and outs of screws and nails and show you when and where to use them to improve the strength of your joints.
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.
As someone who finds hand planing a challenge the minimalist approach seems like the best way to truly learn a tools quirks and develop the skill required. So the Veritas BU planes are going along with the Tormek required to sharpen those gargantuan irons and a diamond plate and oil stone are on the way to get my old Stanley no 5 humming. I never found a sharpening routine that didn’t look a ball ache to keep the BU planes working well and being a stick thin wimp the weight of the buggers for anything more than controlled smoothing shavings knackered me out.