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How did I Begin Woodworking?
Beginning woodworking? Me? It was inevitable I guess. I believe woodworking has been lying latent in my blood since the craft shows of the ’90 helping my grandparents sell their small hand painted woodworking projects. I watched as they created them with both a sense of wonder and disdain…if they built it we had to sell it. Long hours, busy crowds, heavy lifting…<teen sigh> But, as I say, I guess the sawdust got in my blood! Because, fast forward 20 years to the farmhouse table I desperately wanted to complete the look of my dining room, then factor in the zero budget I had and somehow, my immediate reaction was, “I’ll build it.” After a quick search through the new thing called Pinterest and perusal of my husband’s tools in the garage my mind was set. I was going to do it! I’ve never shied away from a DIY but now woodworking was a whole other animal. I dove in, took my time, made some mistakes, but kept at it and found a new love!
Now woodworking is what I do for most of my income! Below, I’ll share some tips and tools that make beginning woodworking easier with suggestions for tools, safety equipment and where to find good plans
What is Beginning Woodworking?
First, let’s define what we’re talking about. For our purposes here I define beginning woodworking as making cute stuff with wood! I’m not constantly in flannel, with a slouchy tool belt and a beard building a whole house in New England! (Although I do love a flannel and only time will tell on that beard, and I could!) I just started by finding cute stuff I liked on the internet that had plans and tried it! You only need to practice a few skills and a few tools and you’re ready to rock it!
How to get started with Woodworking
Word on wood safety
Second, safety first. I’m a safety girl, car seats, seat belts, helmets, I’m a fan. So, my first purchase suggestion: start with safety. Eyewear, gloves, mask, earplugs, are the ones I use. Seriously, it is hugely important to remember that while, it’s fun, and cool, to work with power tools, real damage can be done if you don’t make safety a priority. In addition, always read the manual on your tools. Additionally, watch videos to see it being used so you are operating it safely.
Third, we need some cool tools to cut and put together our new creations. You only need a few tools to get started and yo can make just about anything. I started with this saw, this drill and this Kreg jig. I have since upgraded, but for beginning woodworking these three tools will get you through most projects. Add this and you are ret’ to go pro! You can make everything from small farmhouse signs to a buffet with hutch and anything in between.
Tips for Success in Beginning Woodworking
For success in beginning woodworking and to preserve your children’s innocence by not hearing your foul language at HUGE mistakes, here’s where you need to focus in beginning woodworking. Just a few extra steps and attention to detail will save hours of frustration. These are the skills you’ll develop over time. We’ll go deeper on those next time. Let’s get our feet wet with basic information here.
Climb in the wood pit.
First, on the list of skills is get the best wood in that cubby. Dig through and look for the straightest pieces. Look down the wood from all angles for curves. Depending on the surface of the piece of wood the bend is called bowed, warped, cupped or just plain ol’ crooked.(Texas Y’all) You should look for pieces that are clean cuts with no bark left on, no huge dig outs, no saw marks, and solid, not loose, knots. Beginning woodworking is just easier the more pre-work you do in the wood pit. This step will make your life easier and spare those impressionable ears.
Have someone else do the work
Second, don’t do the heavy lifting and extra work! You can have those boys in orange or blue help you dig through the wood, lift heavy pieces of plywood, and find anything you can’t. Did you know that the guys at Orange or Blue will make a ton of cuts for free or nearly free? THEY WILL! So this solves many problems. Don’t have a truck? No problem have them make the cuts so it will fit in your car. Don’t have a table saw to cut plywood? Cool, cool, they cut that too. Orange has never charged me and I’ve had them make so many I offered. If they do charge you it’s a nominal amount. Can’t lift the heavy wood? They’ve got you, call for back up!
Focus on the measure
Third, before the saw blade hits the wood, measure to find where! Alright, we’ve spent an hour picking out the 6 best 2×4’s Orange or Blue have to offer,(no exaggeration some days) now what? Beginning woodworking starts with the cuts. This is the first chance to mess it up! So, my formula is: measure, measure, measure, and practice cut to get a feel for the saw, measure, measure, measure, cut for real. Once you know your saw you only need to repeat that first series when you replace your blade.
In general, we measure, draw a cut line, then cut leaving the line. This is because we can always cut more off but you can’t glue it back once it is scrap on the floor. So for precise results: measure, draw a line, and cut leaving the line. Got it? You’re’ new mantra!
Next, every saw and even saw blade has its own personality. Learn it and go with it, don’t fight that tool with the attitude of a surly teen hopped up on Dew and indie rock. Pick your woodworking battles and just go with it on this one.
Use a good plan
Fourth, when beginning woodworking you will need to follow a plan. Honestly, this is a really important tip. GET. A. GOOD. PLAN. There are a lot many trash plans out there that are hastily thrown together and not complete in necessary details. It may seem mean to say that but when you’re beginning woodworking you are already learning new terms and skills you don’t need the additional hassle of a poorly made plan. In my opinion, these ladies killing it with plans and tutorials are www.shanty2chic.com, www.ana-white.com, and www.jenwoodhouse.com and their new site of plans from makers and, of course, my tutorials. Once you get basic skills and knowledge of structure you can start modifying any plan you find to fit your exact needs.
The Last Thing You Need to Know about Beginning Woodworking and any DIY
- You can do this with no formal training and with practice you will get better. There is no such thing at a beginner project, just projects with fewer steps. Go slow on any project, take it step by step, google what you don’t know and you can build it!
- Believe in yourself, you’re learning a new skill, there are no mistakes just learning opportunities. If you were learning a new language would you quit after one mispronunciation?
- Drop your first projects in the comments!! I want to see! Here is mine: