Woodworking Beginners: Introduction To First Time Crafts
Woodworking: The Process Of Making Something Using Wood
The art of woodworking is one of the most ancient and
widespread. From the earliest days when humans first experimented
with the many uses for wood, our civilization has had a
connection with this material, in all its varieties and forms.
And the growth and advancement of mankind has been closely
intertwined with our ability to improve our woodworking skills
and to develop new uses for wood.
Primitive civilizations used wood as material for building
shelters, tools, weapons, utensils, and other items necessary for
survival. As time went on, they began to expand the use of wood
to include the creation of creature comforts such as furniture
and decorative items. They also built boats and rafts for
exploration, travel and trade.
As skills and knowledge continued to develop, and woodworkers
began to understand the wide variety of properties of woods from
different tree sources, wood became one of the most widely used
materials, found in nearly all areas of life, from home to work,
production to pleasure. Those who had a talent for working wood
became important artisans and craftsmen, and guilds and workshops
were developed to help document and preserve the art, train
apprentices, and represent the interests of those involved.
Different specialties within woodworking began to develop,
each with their own tools, projects, and techniques. These
Today, some of these categories have become obsolete as
steel, plastic, cement, and other compounds have replaced wood in
many situations. While wood is still used in numerous important
applications, including home and commercial construction and
furniture making, woodworking has become an activity practiced
less for necessity and more for pleasure, challenge,
satisfaction, and honor.
- Wheelwright - A person who makes wooden wheels and
- Cooper - A person who makes barrels and related goods.
- Turning - Using a lathe and cutting tools to create
symmetrical, round or curved pieces such as table and chair
legs, pedestals, and candlesticks. Some wood turners, called
bodgers, focused specifically on making bowls, cups, and other
- Carving - generally refers to any woodworking project that
involves removing pieces of the original wood to create a
- Carpenter - historically a wagon maker but over time the
term has come to be associated with woodworking in general and
more specifically with home and commercial construction.
- Cabinetmaker - Someone who specializes in making cabinets,
shelving, and some pieces of furniture, such as chests, curious
and other storage items.
- Shipwright - professional shipbuilder, often assisted by
craftsmen from other areas of woodworking.
- Parquetry and Marquetry - Creating beautiful and often
complex patterns with different wood veneers. Originally used
as decoration on furniture and some homes, but now has expanded
to include artwork and picture making. Parquetry typically
involves the use of geometric shapes, while Marquetry draws
from life images and scenery.
For some, woodworking is still a means of making a living, but
for many, it is a fun and rewarding hobby. In addition, the
tools, techniques, and applications have become more advanced and
sophisticated. A person just getting started in woodworking could
soon become overwhelmed with the amazing number of choices.
Most experienced woodworkers would agree that the art is still
a progressive experience, taking many years to learn and advance
in skill-level. The knowledge needed to create a stunning and
functional chest of drawers, grandfather clock, desk or other
fine piece of furniture for example, takes time and practice to
develop. And the skills needed often overlap the different areas
of specialization in woodworking.
Not knowing where to start or how to focus their interests,
many people new to woodworking become discouraged and frustrated
and soon give up. In addition, taking on projects that are too
difficult or trying to work with inadequate tools can also lead
beginners to decide that woodworking is not for them.
Luckily, tips and ideas from expert woodworkers can help those
new to woodworking get off on the right foot. In an effort to
provide a comprehensive overview of woodworking we have done the
work, travelled and talked to experts in their fields, and
grilled them over their secrets, their challenges, all their
experiences, and their key advice for beginners. Those
interviewed include fine furniture makers, master carvers,
seasoned shop teachers, and several other skilled craftsmen who
have been working with wood for decades.
One of the most common suggestions given was to start with the
basics of general woodworking and the use of common tools used,
and to avoid getting too complicated too fast. There was strong
emphasis on building a solid knowledge of different woods, using
key hand tools, starting with simple projects to develop key
skills, and learn about safety.
As one expert toy maker, shared, "Getting a good working
knowledge of woods and basic hand tools is the best thing a
beginner can do to ensure future success. You need to know what
type of wood works best for different projects, and if you know
how to measure, cut, shape and join with hand tools, you'll be
much better at it when it comes to using power tools and
Taking the experts' advice, comments, and tips to heart we
explored those beginning, foundation skills in a manner that is
easy to understand and does not intimidate beginners. You will
Also provided is a resources list with details on different
publications, websites, and other sources of information for
- common woodworking terms
- the traits and uses of some of the most popular types of
- general woodworking safety
- different types of hand tools and their proper use and
- basic types of projects for beginners
- introduction to woodcarving and the tools needed
It is important to note that the field is filled with talented
and skilled craftsman of both genders. Women are active in all
aspects of woodworking and have established reputations for
quality work. We spoke with several women in gathering material
and their input was an important contribution.
That is one of the beauties of woodworking; it is a field that
is open to people of all ages, genders, races, backgrounds,
educational levels, etc. Anyone willing to learn and to take the
time to practice can become skilled.
Woodworking is a vast and interesting realm with seemingly
endless applications and opportunities to learn. Enthusiasts can
take their skills to many different levels and interest
directions, and even make a living with their woodworking
abilities. By mastering the basics and establishing a solid
foundation, you take the first, and perhaps most important steps
to becoming a successful woodworker.
Copyright © 2005 by Ferhat Gul. All rights reserved. You
may redistribute this article in its unedited entirety, including
this resource box, with all hyperlinked URLs kept intact. Ferhat
Gul is the publisher of the brand-new "Woodworking Beginner's
Guide - Tips From Experienced Woodworkers to Help You Get
Started", made just for people who love woodworking. This
comprehensive, yet compact woodworking introduction for beginners
is easy to read and helps to save time, money and effort.
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