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.
For woodworking, you want wood with few defects and as good a grain pattern as possible. For the most part, you want the top two grades of wood: Firsts and Seconds. These two are often grouped together and referred to as FAS (Firsts and Seconds). Most decent lumberyards are well stocked with FAS boards and some Selects. The common classes aren’t used in furniture-making because they contain far too many defects.
The fourth most important basic handheld power tool every beginner should buy is a random orbital sander. While palm sanders are less expensive and can use plain sandpaper (cut into one-fourth sections), the random orbital version uses hook-and-loop fastened sanding disks, and doesn't sand in patterns, using instead a random sanding motion. This will motion will serve to reduce the chance that any sanding marks may appear on the stock due to the sanding. Of course, be certain that your local woodworking supplier has sanding disks readily available in a number of grits to fit the model that you choose, as the key to proper sanding is to use progressively finer grits as you sand to reduce or remove any marks that are left behind from the previous sanding.
Like you, I too am benchless. I built the “Mozilla” Molson vice variant from last year’s issue (I forget which) and it comes in handy for a lot of operations. I clamp it down to a piece of plywood that I have covered with formica (actually, it’s two pieces that I have piano-hinged together for easier storage) laid across two sawhorses. As long as lateral thrust is not involved, this is a pretty stable way to work. I also have a Zyliss vise for working on smaller pieces. I’ve made do for nearly forty years with a radial arm saw and circular saw. I have only recently acquired a planer and router table (both on wheels) It makes the garage croweded because also sharing the space are two motorcycles and about 400 board feet of rough sawn Camphor. I currently attend classes in woodworking and this coming semester I’ll be enrolled in a class for handtools only (and sharpening).
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 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.
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!

Great book to dip your toe before you invest several hundred or thousand dollars in tools and equipment. The author does a great job breaking down such things as growth rings, seasonal movement, wants vs. needs as far as tools and equipment and what it takes to get started in woodworking as a hobby or potential source of income. A great and easy read that has come in handy time and again for reference as well as a recommended reading for others interested in this hobby.
This is a super cheap option for a pretty diverse tool. Like, how wrong can you go for $34, right? This tool rocks for doing cuts on larger pieces of wood that need to be more detailed than your circular saw will allow. For more detailed work I would totally go for a scroll saw, or even a band saw. But if you are building your tool box, this is a much more approachable item, both price wise and in terms of ability to be used in diverse ways. And, hey, woodworking isn’t exactly inexpensive, right?

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 tried to write a book that contains all the essential information for the novice woodworker as well as some more advanced tips and tricks to jumpstart your existing woodworking skills. You won’t find any useless theories or unnecessary technical jargon to bog you down. What you will find is practical, hands-on information and advice that will save you hours of frustration (pretty good deal, huh?).
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.
I was telling my brother of the different ways I sharpen and he seemed interested in the slab/sandpaper method. When I went to get the extra supplies I picked up a slab of granite, adhesive, and sandpaper for sharpening. When the job was completed, the saw, the can of finish, and the slab with sandpaper were gifted to my brother. I could have shortened my list a little,
You've seen a few shows on TV, and working with wood looks like it could be quite entertaining and rewarding. After all, you get to create something that you can proudly display to your friends and family. But where and how do you begin to move from expressed interest to hands-on experience?"Woodworking For Dummies" shows you how your raw building materials stack up, with ...more
The key to making furniture is having a plan. (Or is that the key to life? I always forget.) The good news for beginning woodworkers is that you don’t need to develop the plan; you need only to follow it. Project plans are abundant and easily found (check out Chapter 21 for some project-plan resources). After you get familiar with the way plans are written, you can build just about anything (depending on your skills, of course).
Definitely worth reading and extremely helpful for beginners and those wondering what it's all about. The problem comes with the large number of tools one needs before you can even start to contemplate whether this is a hobby for you. A better approach might be to pick one tool and then show what a true beginner can do with that in order to create some enthusiasm for woodworking.
Easy projects show how to get started with an increasingly popular hobby More than 18 million Americans have discovered how satisfying it is to build their own furniture. Packed with detailed illustrations and photographs, this book offers an easy-to-understand introduction to all aspects of woodworking-selecting hand and power tools, setting up a workspace, working with various types of wood, creating edges, joins, applying finishes, and more. Best of all, it includes lots of step-by-step woodworking projects-for dressers, book cases, tables, cabinets, and more-to help people dive right in and start playing in the sawdust. Jeff Strong (Lamy, NM) is a veteran For Dummies author as well as an accomplished wood-worker and furniture-maker who recently completed designs for a commercial line of furniture.
If you have read any of my last few build tutorials you have probably caught me raving about this. I added my Kreg Trak and Stop System to my mobile miter cart designed by Brad of Fix This Build That, and it is a thing of both beauty and function. The time saving and accuracy are impossible to emphasize enough. I get really excited every time I do repeat cuts now.
Youve seen a few shows on TV, and working with wood looks like it could be quite entertaining and rewarding. After all, you get to create something that you can proudly display to your friends and family. But where and how do you begin to move from expressed interest to hands-on experience? 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 Gearing up with the right tools Putting safety first in your workshop Using adhesives and glue Working with wood joints Smoothing it out by sanding and filling Adding color with stains and paints Protecting your work with topcoats Whether you want to put together a simple plywood bookcase or an incredible solid oak dining table, Woodworking For Dummies can help you get organized as you craft your plans for a piece thatll reflect your personal touch. Youll discover how to Measure and mark your wood Distinguish among saw designs Choose and use sharpening tools Hone in on hot melt glue Speed things up with modern frame joints Get down to the nitty-gritty on nails Apply water-based polyurethanes This handy reference packs in essential information for the novice woodworker and some advanced tips and tricks to jumpstart any woodworkers existing skills. Includes detailed illustrations and how-to photos.
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.

The key to making furniture is having a plan. (Or is that the key to life? I always forget.) The good news for beginning woodworkers is that you don’t need to develop the plan; you need only to follow it. Project plans are abundant and easily found (check out Chapter 21 for some project-plan resources). After you get familiar with the way plans are written, you can build just about anything (depending on your skills, of course).
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