When I came across your blog I was preparing to get started and looking for pointers, and decided to buy your series. In my opinion the choice to show the options was a good one. The series presented a clear overview of hand tool woodworking and you made it look easy and impressive at the same time. That series gave me the confidence to pick up the plane and start woodworking instead of coming up with a long savings plans to outfit a machine-shop. Thus, it was more an inspirational series than a build-along for me. I decided that was the kind of woodworking I wanted to be doing and began practicing. When you minimalised your kit for the later series, the builds themselves became more accessible. I felt I could actually build the pieces with the tools I had available. As a whole, you have provided me with the confidence to get started and the basic skills to continue.
The space behind a door is a storage spot that’s often overlooked. Build a set of shallow shelves and mount it to the wall behind your laundry room door. The materials are inexpensive. Measure the distance between the door hinge and the wall and subtract an inch. This is the maximum depth of the shelves. We used 1x4s for the sides, top and shelves. Screw the sides to the top. Then screw three 1×2 hanging strips to the sides: one top and bottom and one centered. Nail metal shelf standards to the sides. Complete the shelves by nailing a 1×2 trim piece to the sides and top. The 1×2 dresses up the shelf unit and keeps the shelves from falling off the shelf clips.
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.
Last, but not least…but often left until last, let’s talk routers. If you already own Ryobi batteries, this is the no-brainer entry-level router for you. As you get into doing more router work you will learn there are different kinds of routers (trim, combination, and full size). Honestly, I don’t own this router, and when I first purchased a router a number of years ago I had no idea what I was getting. If I did it again I would start here and get comfortable with it, then decide from there what my main applications are. I will add that if you are using a router table, which I totally recommend (I use this one), you will need a full size. My old router is going out right now, and I will likely replace it with this Bosch model.
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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.
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Your first backsaws should be (1) a dovetail saw, with fine rip teeth, used for cutting joinery along the grain (like dovetails), (2) a “carcass saw” used for cutting across the grain (fine cross cut teeth), and (3) a larger tenon saw used for cutting deeper cuts, like tenon cheeks, along the grain (rip teeth). All three saws are used very, very often in my workshop. You could certainly get by with just a larger dovetail saw and a carcass saw at first, if you don’t plan on immediately cutting large tenons. Buying backsaws can be very confusing because there is no standardized naming system, and a dovetail saw can be turned into a carcass saw (and vice-a-versa) by sharpening it differently. And practically everybody that’s selling antique saws mixes the names up. My buyer’s guide really clears this confusion up and will help you know what to look for.
Chapter 13 details making bookcases — the basic part of a carcass. Chapter 14 digs into tables where you get a chance to practice your edge-to-edge joints for building tabletops and use the most common and durable joint that exists — the mortise and tenon. Chapter 15 goes a little farther by providing plans to make a dresser and an armoire. By the time you finish with these chapters, you’ll be well on your way to feeling comfortable making furniture and will be ready to tackle more ambitious projects.
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.
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.
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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