Photo courtesy of Velo Steve
The Wood Working Resource
Wood working is a wonderful hobby (or even profession) for anyone who is handy or considers themselves a Do It Yourselfer. Wood working combines the joy of using dangerous power tools to build fun projects, it caters to creative types as well as structured individuals. As an added benefit, the outcome of the hobby can be beautiful and/or functional pieces that can be used and displayed for many years to come.
Here at Begin Woodworking, we’ll cover many different aspects of wood working, all with a focus toward a handy person learning the art and craft of wood working.
Our goal is to be the Wood Working Resource for hobbyists. We’ll bring you tips, tricks, projects, videos and information from around the web, all with the goal of teaching you how to be a successful wood worker. As a comprehensive wood working resource, let’s look at the areas that this site will cover.
Wood working is a varied topic. Our goal will be to help the new wood worker understand proper techniques in order to be safe and productive. Most of us have limited time available for wood working, so understanding how to tackle a task properly will maximize the time we have available.
We’ll cover basic tools needed to begin, how to use them and how to maintain them. We’ll look at accessories that can make the hobby safer and more enjoyable, and we’ll also cover techniques to make your projects turn out perfectly AND to keep you safe. After all, using loud, powerful and dangerous tools is part of the fun of woodworking, but a single mistake can be very dangerous, so understanding safe practices is essential. A whole saw brand (SawStop) with it’s sole focus on keeping a spinning table saw blade from cutting human fingers!
Wood for Woodworking
Just like there is no one way to build a wood project, there is no correct Wood for Woodworking. A given project can be made from a wide variety of wood species, each having it’s pros and cons. When discussing projects, we’ll help you better understand why you might pick a certain wood species over another.
Understanding the difference between softwoods and hardwoods is key to success in a project. When building a project that will end up outdoors, wood type and finish are important considerations. If a project will be stained (instead of painted), it’s important to choose a wood that has a nice grain pattern.
Finally, wood prices vary based on where you live. Soft pine and birch are cheap and plentiful here in the Southeastern US, but the Western US grows Douglas Fir and Cedar, so those are cheaper out west. Hardwood varieties (Birch, Maple, etc…) are available at varying prices all over the United States.
For those of us that aren’t overly creative, woodworking projects typically start with a set of plans. While you may think that plans are hard to find, the reverse is actually true, there are many sources for Free Woodworking plans available on the Internet.
While there are all kinds of woodworking projects that you can tackle, having a good set of plans usually helps to move things along faster. Plans can always be modified to fit your needs… larger, smaller, taller, shorter, or you can take a plan for one project (dining room table that seats 10) and adjust it to your needs (maybe you only need to seat 4 or 6).
Woodturning is an entire subset of woodworking skills. It’s possible to be a great woodworker and never turn anything, or you can focus entirely on woodturning. In short, woodturning is using a machine (lathe) to spin a piece of wood. While the wood is spinning, special knives are used to carve the wood into a shape or pattern.
Wood for Woodturning
The beautiful part of woodturning is that there is no limit to the types of wood that can be used. When choosing the right wood for woodturning, the most popular advice is “whatever you have on hand”. That being said, many woodturners start with Cherry (particularly when turning pen blanks) because it’s beautiful, takes finish well and is relatively easy to work on the lathe.
In it’s most basic form, the only tools REQUIRED for woodworking are a saw and possibly a wood plane to smooth the wood. Woodworkers take many forms… some using only primitive tools (hand saw, hammer, wooden pegs, etc…) while others go all out and own many power tools like saws (tablesaw, bandsaw, mitersaw), drills (handheld, drill press, electric, battery powered), sanders, clamps, nailers, etc….
Woodworking can be done most anywhere… basement, garage, back yard, driveway, shed or full blown workshop. Some carpenters do most of their woodworking on a job site by mounting tools in the back of their trucks.
Any space will do, but tools and accessories tend to collect rapidly, so it’s best to have a space reserved for woodworking. Many use one side of a double (or triple) garage for woodworking. If the garage serves as workshop and a place for cars, tools can be mounted on rolling carts in order to make them easy to set up and then put away when done.
Woodworking is popular enough that there are many woodworking stores available. In many cities, there are one (or many) specialty woodworking stores like Rockler or Woodcraft. Here in Atlanta, GA we are lucky enough to have both stores plus a local specialty woodworking store called Highland Woodworking.
Check your favorite search engine for “woodworking store yourcityname” (When I use Google to search for “woodworking store atlanta, ga”, many results come up ranging from woodworking stores to lumber suppliers.
A wood plane is a tool for flattening wood. Planes are used to flatten, reduce the thickness of, and impart a smooth surface to a rough piece of lumber.
Before powered planers became widely available, the hand plane was the primary hand tool used for flattening and squaring up lumber. Today hand planes are still popularly used and come in all shapes and sizes depending on their use.
There are many options available for building your skills. Woodworking classes are available online, from local woodworking stores and from local businesses and colleges.
If a hands-on class is the method you use to learn new skills, check your local Internet search engine for “woodworking classes yourcityname” to see which ones are available locally for you. If formal woodworking classes aren’t for you, use a site like YouTube or a site like Start Woodworking to watch free videos that will teach you about woodworking.
As you can see, we have an ambitious goal here at Begin Woodworking, but our focus will always be on helping you learn how to tackle the craft of woodworking, build your skills and enjoy your time building.
Let us know what else you’d like to learn from this site. Leave a comment below!