Woodworking Beginners: Secret Tips To Start Right
Woodworking: Where To Start - Tips From Experienced
Woodworking encompasses a broad area of skills, specialties,
and applications. Some beginners take on too much too soon or
blow their savings on expensive woodworking tools and machines
that they don't know how to use and might not ever need. And even
some basic techniques can be confusing or easy to do incorrectly.
Experienced woodworkers have some simple, but insightful tips to
help you get off to a good start.
Do Your Research
Initiative, courage, a sense of adventure, these are all good
things, and many fine woodworkers learned their skills by just
jumping in and trying to build something. Chances are whatever
they chose for their first project, it came out better than they
thought, but not really nice enough to use or display. Even those
brave souls that start from scratch with no preparation often end
up seeking out some books, magazines, or experienced woodworkers
to figure out how to do it right.
The woodworkers we talked to stressed that a person can save
themselves some time and frustration by learning about the
different aspects of woodworking before starting a first project.
Many suggested finding some good books or magazines, either at
the library for free or at the bookstore. Start with the basics
and learn about different forms of woodworking, types of trees
and woods and how they are used, various tools, etc. - just the
kind of information presented here in this article.
"I have an entire corner of my garage filled with books and
magazines," shared Paul Johnson, who has been woodworking since
he was a young boy. "I subscribe to a couple and keep those that
have projects or techniques that I would like to try. I also buy
a couple new books every year. When I first started woodworking,
I bought them left and right; whenever I came across one that was
recommended or had information I wanted to learn. They help give
me ideas for projects," he added. "I especially like those that
come with patterns."
After learning about the basics, you should have an idea of
what type of woodworking interests you, and you can move on to
books or even classes that teach hands on skills in that
Take Some Classes
In fact taking classes was recommended by several of our experts.
Whether it's a beginning class through the local college or
something taught by an experienced woodworker, it will typically
give you a good overview of different tools and woodworking
safety. Some building centers and lumberyards also offer classes
on basics or teach you how to make a specific project.
If you aren't big on classes, but you know a person who is
skilled in woodworking, ask if they would let you assist them
with a project, or perhaps just sit and observe. Most woodworkers
are pleased to talk about their art and share it with others.
Chances are they will be happy to oblige.
Keep It Simple
The answer, "Keep it simple," came up over and over, when asked
for advice for new woodworkers. Start with simple projects,
preferably those that use only hand tools. This way, you will
learn how to do the important things like measure, cut, shape and
join. Getting good at those basic skills is extremely
If you are brand new to woodworking and haven't used tools
much before, you might want to consider starting with a precut
kit. Most kits consist of wood that is already cut in the
appropriate shapes and sizes. It is up to you to follow the
directions and put the pieces together. These kits typically
require nailing, screwing, gluing, sanding, and finishing. You
can make birdhouses and feeders, benches, plant holders, and many
other fun items to get you started.
Even as you advance to more complex projects, don't worry
about planning and sizing your own lumber until you feel
comfortable and confident. You can buy lumber already prepped and
cut in many different widths. And table legs, chair spindles, and
other turned pieces are also readily available pre-made. Ease
into some of those more difficult projects over time, adding
greater levels of difficulty to each project.
The suggestions to keep it simple applied to woodworking tools as
well. Most people interviewed recommended buying tools as you
need them and adding to your selection as required for new
projects. If a project is purchased as a kit, or with printed
instructions, the list of tools needed is included. Depending on
what type of projects you choose to start with, you will
typically need hammers, tape measure, clamps, a square, saws,
hand drills, and a set of chisels. These will probably cost you
around $200-$300 dollars.
Some woodworkers said that investing in a good table saw early
on was important, but only if you will be doing projects with
many cuts, especially those with different types of angles. For
most beginner projects, a handsaw, or perhaps a circular saw will
It is strongly suggested that you begin by buying good tools,
but not top grade until you decide for certain that you want to
stick with woodworking. If it becomes clear that this will be an
ongoing interest, then consider buying the best quality tools you
can afford. Best quality doesn't always mean the most expensive,
and you will have to do your research.
Kevin Warner, who has been teaching high school shop for over
twenty years, had this to say about woodworking tools. "At
school, I have a limited budget for tools, but I would rather buy
a few high quality tools and have the kids share them than spend
my money on cheap equipment. There's nothing that will turn a
young beginner away from woodworking quicker than a crappy tool
that doesn't do what it should."
The same is true for home woodworking. Our experts recommended
spending as much as you could afford on the basic tools like
hammers, saws, screwdrivers, drills and bits. "These are tools
you will need around the house even if you don't pursue
woodworking," Sarah Greeley pointed out. "If you spend the money
up front, and care for them correctly, these tools will last you
a lifetime because you bought quality to begin with."
If you have a tight budget, consider purchasing tools at an
estate sale, auction or garage sale. Some may have worn handles
or look like they are rusty or dirty, but if they are quality
tools and generally sound, you can clean and repair them for less
than it would cost to purchase new.
In general, you get what you pay for with woodworking tools,
but sometimes you pay for the name, or for features that you may
not use in your particular type of woodworking. So again, you
will need to refer to books, magazines, Web sites, and other
woodworkers to learn more about different types and brands of
tools. And so you see, the tips have brought you full circle,
back to the research and learning, which is what so many
woodworkers stressed the most.
There is much to learn and, as has been said, it is an ongoing
process. But thanks to the wealth of information out there about
different aspects of woodworking, and the many Web sites and
Internet resources, it is easy to research your questions. You
just have to take the time.
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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