Beginner: Where to start?

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Hello;
Sorry for the apparantly dumb question, but, as a beginner in cabinet making, where would I start? I have explored the local trade schools and community colleges, but they only offer industrial carpentry classes. I am primarily looking to build wooden enclosures for electronic devices which I manufacture. The biggest cabinet would probably be 24" x 12" x 15"
I guess there would be nothing the matter with learning on my own. Are there any good books to be recommended to me? Also, if you were instructing someone how to get into this, what prerequsite power tools would you recommend in order of their importance?
Again, sorry if this seems like a stupid question.
TIA!
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Mr Green wrote:

There is no such thing as a stupid question.
Given the size of the cabinet, you could build it from 1x12 pine and would need nothing more than a hand saw, hammer, nails (#8 finishing), nail set and you could come up with a cabinet that would do what you wanted. "Plain Jane" yes, but it would work and you would have done it yourself.
There are a number of beginners books at your local library. The New Yankee Workshop, Woodworks (fairly advanced) American Woodshop, and another on DIY, all can give you pointers.
The best advice I can give you is, begin with a good table saw. This might be a two stage purchase. You can get a fairly good saw for not a whole lot, but it will have a lousy fence. Take what you saved from the saw and buy a Beismeyer fence.
Once you have your TS set up, then buy slowly, as you find a tool you often find yourself needing but not having. Do not buy more quality than you need. Realize, you can always upgrade if you need to and there is some beginner who would love to have your beginning equipment.
Deb
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We all had to start sometime. Not all of us knew where to start and some of us still seem to flounder sometimes.
What do you want to accomplish? Fancy cabinetry or utilitarian box? Two a year or two a day? Just bought a house and started a family budget or just cashed out your blue chip stock portfolio?
Most shops start with a tablesaw. My first one was $200, my second (and last) one was $800 a few years later. You can also spend $2000 on a saw. A good blade is very important also ($50 to $120) Sander, router, drill, drill press, shop vac are usually near the front end of purchasing. Planer, jointers and specialty tools come later as needed.
What material do you plan to use? Buying rough cut hardwood requires different tools than using plywood or pine boards from the lumber yard. If you have a sketch or photo of what you want, post in on alt.binaries.pictures.woodworking From that, people can better suggest what you need to build it.
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Edwin Pawlowski wrote:

(and
saw. A

drill,
Planer,
Actually, Norm recommends a jointer as one of the first "large" power tools. He said so the other day. Gettinf those edges straight and true is a MUST.
FoggyTown
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I'm not as experienced as Norm or many of the guys here, but I still don't have a jointer. My edges line up though. Probably won't get one for another year as I have other priorities. I'm able to buy wood with a decent edge to start with or use a sled to cut in on the TS the first time.
--
Ed
http://pages.cthome.net/edhome/



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What if the OP is planning use plywood, MDF, or MDO for his cabinets?
Barry
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On Sun, 27 Mar 2005 13:56:51 GMT, Ba r r y

Router, straight edge of some sort, and a ball bearing guided router bit.
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Actually, Norm recommends a jointer as one of the first "large" power

There are other ways to get those edges straight. Hand plane is least expensive but requires some practice. Router table or run a hand held between the 2 edges using a straight edge.
Ken
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Shaper with power feed and an edge jointing cutter. I'm going to try this today with some scrap wood.
--
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satisfying as that made by the Arts and Crafts movement in the early years
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A hand plane wouldn't be my first choice for plywood.
I'd think about sawing them straight in the first place. For stage gear or plywood boxes that are getting biscuited and veneered / covered afterwards, then a reasonable table saw ought to give you an acceptable edge for glue-up, straight from the saw. You'd be better using a table saw than a handheld saw and a separate jointing step.
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Al little more info might help...
Mr Green wrote:

That sounds like industrial carpentry to me. But maybe you mean they teach construction carpentry...

Well if we know what type of cabinets you wanted to produce it would be a lot easier -- and where you are (generally) might be relevant if it is large quantities -- as some woods will be cheaper/more expensive depending on region. Do you want walnut, maple or cherry? Are you thinking of exotic woods?
Is this fine cabinetry? Is it a cheap white pine box you envisage? What quality of assembly would you like? In other words -- fancy joinery or butt joints, nails and wood filler...??
Maybe stained cherry, polished with a rag dampened with acetone for the finish. (Local joke eh...)
BTW a "budget per box" might help people understand what can be done. Even if your budget is ridiculous some people will help you understand why it is so and what can be done... -- even if it's nothing. LOL

We all have had a few in our time.
-- Will R. Jewel Boxes and Wood Art http://woodwork.pmccl.com The power of accurate observation is commonly called cynicism by those who have not got it. George Bernard Shaw
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Your using wood as an enclosure to electronic devices? I find it hard to believe that UL or CSA would approve of this. You might want to check out alternative materials. If your talking about an outer cabinet to hold racks of metal enclosures you might be ok. By using wood as a immediate enclosure, if you sell to a consumer and there is a fire you could be sued by not using approved materials or a certified product. The whole UL/CSA approval process can be expensive and lengthy. Suggest you do some Goggle searches on the subject.
Table saws though will cut lamininates and lexan which are more resistant to fire. There may be other materials suitable. Just something to think of before putting yourself at risk.

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wrote:

Seen any of the commercially available guitar and bass amps, or high end stereo gear?
Barry
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You may have a point, although these types of cabinets are lined with fire retardant materials. I do have a question. If wood is an acceptable enclosure for electric devices, then why is it a must to use a box (metal, bakelite, etc) for an electrical outlet or switch in a wall. Its not acceptable to create a wooden outlet box for a wall.
I'm saying what is or isn't acceptable, just giving him something to think about before getting into trouble. Didn't intent to imply that wood can't be used at all. He can make wonderfully looking fascias surrounding the equipment in wood.
I also agree with your suggestions of learning through the various ww shows, books, magazines and asking questions.
Derrick.

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Derrick wrote:

The circuit in a wall is governed by a building code that allows certain specified rated devices to be used. Building codes do not apply to devices that are not "permanently" installed.
I have seen no "fire retardant materials" on the inside of any wooden-cased electronic devices. It is commonplace to use wooden cases for speakers for example, and any "fire retardant materials" would likely negate the acoustic effect for which the wood is used in the first place.

Or the whole case. In case you haven't checked, most common plastics are not particularly fire resistant and produce some really _obnoxious_ vapors. Given a choice between styrene, which burns merrily, or ipe, which burns about as well as concrete, I'd prefer to take my chances with ipe.
Don't assume that all wood is easily flammable.

--
--John
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wrote:

UL/CSA is interested in all of that, but primarily the circuit. There are rules regarding the specs for any given category of device. Unless one of you here is a UL or CSA investigator the only way to know for certain is to ask them.
That said, plenty of electronic devices are housed in wood enclosures. Just follow whatever rules UL has for that. Generally speaking CSA will also likely use the same rules, but again, ask them, not us.
The NEC is a different animal than UL.
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On 26 Mar 2005 13:12:13 -0800, "Mr Green"

Hardwood plywood would work very well. Plywood can be had with birch, maple, mahogany, cherry, walnut, etc... faces. Most of the store bought speakers are actually made of this. Rarely are they solid walnut or cherry.

Tage Frid Teaches Woodworking: <(Amazon.com product link shortened)11884242/sr=8-1/ref=pd_csp_1/002-3272688-0615268?v=glance&s=books&nP7846>
Jeff Jewitt's finishing book: <(Amazon.com product link shortened)11884212/sr=8-1/ref=sr_8_xs_ap_i1_xgl14/002-3272688-0615268?v=glance&s=books&nP7846>
An excellent book to help you design and build the cabinets you already have in mind: <(Amazon.com product link shortened)11884263/sr=2-1/ref=pd_ka_b_2_1/002-3272688-0615268>
Most are also in public libraries. Note that none have "projects" in them. You've already got a project in mind.

Pick up the Tage Frid book and you'll get a good idea of what you'll need. Knowing exactly what material you want to work with first will also help you decide where to head. A table saw will most likely be your best first "major tool".
Other good stuff to have at the beginning, in no particular order:
Regardless of material: Random orbit sander Router Hammer & nail set Drill / driver & drill, screwdriver, and countersink bits Screwdrivers Sanding blocks & paper Decent paint brushes Jigsaw Circular saw Tape measure Combination square Sharp pencils
Plywood: Biscuit (plate) jointer (semi-advanced, but indispensable for plywood cases)
Solid stock: Block plane Chisels Sharpening stones & possibly guides
The list grows from there. <G>
Don't be afraid to make mistakes, throw out parts, and remake parts if they don't fit right.
Barry
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Mr Green says...

I don't think anyone needs classes for woodworking. They're nice, but not necessary. Possibly the biggest advantage of classes is the supervision and knowledge learned of safety. You can hurt yourself real, real bad with just about any woodworking tool, even hand tools. My worst gashes to date have come from chisels. You should watch New Yankee Workshop, Router Workshop, and Woodwrights shop on PBS, and Woodworks and DIY woodworking both on DIY network. DIY woodworking focuses on beginner and intermediate projects using tools most of us have.
Buy at least one book that covers all the basics and a book on finishing. I also buy a book with each major tool purchase--a table saw book, a router book etc. Use the advanced newsgroup search on Google. Just about every woodworking question can be answered that way. I think you need to start with a table saw. Plan on spending $500+ if you buy new. A router comes in a close second. A router will do just about anything with enough guides, fixtures and setup time. You will also want to build a router table. Buy router bits as you need them. Sets may seem like a good idea, but you don't know what you need until you need it. You will need a preferably cordless hand drill, and a drill press is nice too, but you can get away with a drill guide for most things. A drill press is really nice for drum sander attachments. You will need a good try square and at least one long straight edge. Get a block plane and at least one larger size plane. Good planes are expensive, cheap planes can be made to work if you spend time learning how and put the work into it. Pick your poison, but in any case you will need to learn how to tune them. If you buy surfaced lumber, then you can get by without a planer or jointer for a while. If you will be cutting any curves, then you need to think about a bandsaw. A hand held jigsaw can do curves too, but not as well as a bandsaw. A bandsaw is also best for resawing, but it is a big and fiddly machine. Buy the Duginske book if you get a bandsaw. You may find you never have enough clamps. It's an old woodworking joke, but not really funny because it is true. Pipe clamps are the most economical long clamp, but they don't have much reach. You will spend lots of money on clamps. You will need a large backsaw, razor saw, flush cut saw (get a Japanese one), two or three chisels, rasps, files, glues, nails, screws, finishes, solvents, brushes and on and on. I have only a very basic budget shop and I probably have about $4000 invested, maybe more. I really have lost count. I have a wish list that totals at least another $3000 or so, and probably $1000 of it is must have stuff.
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Hax Planks wrote:

Chisels and hand saws. Oddly enough.
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On 26 Mar 2005 13:12:13 -0800, "Mr Green"

You've had several excellent bits of advise.
FWIW, I began by subscribing to Woodsmith and building several of their projects. Other magazines, like Fine Woodworking (FWW), Wood and Popular Woodworking were also used. The quality of content in most magazines has varied considerably over the past 20 years EXCEPT for Woodsmith and FWW.
Woodsmith is consistently good for beginner type things with complete step by step instructions for what they build. Back issues/articles are available. The step by step make this a good choice if you're going to learn on your own.
FWW is aimed at a higher level of craftsmanship. In the beginning the things in there were the stuff of dreams for me. Today I could build most though not all of what appears in the pages of their magazine. FWW also has *some* back issues available and has a CD for sale that is said to have most of the articles from the beginning on it.
If you want a school environment, Places like Woodcraft offer classes, there's also schools like American Sycamore (and others) that teach classes on one aspect or another of WW.
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