I have decided to start doing a bit of DIY but to tell the truth I'm sixty+
and yes, I know it's a bit late to try and learn something new? I bought
some power tools namely; a rooter, power plane, 10" table saw, circular
saw, belt sander, cordless drill, hand chisels etc. I was thinking of
getting a nail gun, and a bench grinder but I only have a 6ft X 8ft
Groungsman Apex Double Door Shed to work in. A previous thread I put in this
NG suggested That I put paving stones outside the front entrance which I
thought was a good idea, therefor I could use most of the tools outside
(weather permitting as I live in Scotland, Glasgow) How should I start my
new hobby? I would like to buy a book that would show me how to use the
rooter as there is a lot of bits for different jobs. How do I set-up the
shed and what is the best sort of job to start with? Thanks for any advice.
It sounds like you're looking for something to make just so you can use a
particular tool, (the router in this case). As a start, I'd suggest you
reverse the order and find something you want to make using the tools you
have. You've got enough tools on hand to take you a long way. What do you
like to do in your spare time, (before you became interested in
With that pastime in mind, then think about what you could construct to make
it more enjoyable. Go do some window shopping to get some ideas. Start small
and work you way up. Sure, pick up some books, maybe something about
beginner woodworking projects. If you can't think of what to make, then
tells us what you like to do and solicit some ideas from the readers here
for something to build.
I started woodwork last year at the age of 63. I bought the cheapest of
(at Machine Mart or B&Q) as I needed them and am really enjoying myself.
So far I've made two cots for new grandchildren, a wardrobe, a chest of drawers
and new garage doors. I have roughly the same tools as you and the only thing
I would like is a band-saw but they are a bit expensive.
I mostly work outside, though I suppose my weather on the south coast is a bit
better than yours !
I would suggest you start with something that yeilds a useful item and does
not rush into precise joinery. How about making a pair of adirondack
chairs? Uses regular, faily inexpensive lumber. Here are free metric
plans - http://www.buildeazy.com/fp_adirondackchair.html
Don't worry about the age thing. I know that a lot of the older folks
in my woodworking club were restrained by several factors that kept
them from starting in woodworking until later in life. Some were:
1) Too much debt from family and kids
2) No time due to family and kids
3) No interest due to other activities
4) No patience or appreciation for different aspects of the craft(s)
I know a guy here that just started wood turning in his middle sixties
and he is now in his early seventies. Free of the above mentioned
problems, he is one of the best turners in the club.
To get the most out of what you are doing, find a club to join and get
with the members. Most are glad to have new blood and interested
I just recently picked up woodworking as a hobby too, and don't have
many tools. One book that I've enjoyed very much is called
"The Complete Book of Woodworking: Detailed Plans for More Than 40
available on Amazon.com. I didn't see it on amazon.co.uk, but you
might be able to find it somewhere else. This book was very
informative and interesting, and was a great guide to starting out
I've heard very good things about Router books by Bill Hylton also, but
don't own any.
Good luck with your new hobby!
Stop buying tools. Buy some timber instead, and a few books.
Tools are sold by people who want to sell tools. They're not interested
in whether they get used, or used well - they're just trying to shift
them. So back off on the tool thing - it's a good way to spend a _lot_
of money. In a small shed they also eat up storage space.
Books. Go to the library first, because UK libraries are still pretty
good on woodworking books. You can spend a _fortune_ on books!
Here's a rubbish list I really must tidy up some day.
The "workshop 3" (Workshop Book, Workbench Book, Toolbox Book) are good
ones to borrow soonish. You should also buy the Ian Kirby saw book
(because you already have a table saw). Tage Frid wouldn't hurt, even if
you have to buy it new.
Take a look on eBay for woodworking books. You're after Joyce's "The
Technique of Furniture Making" because it often comes up cheaply and
particularly for old out-of-print books; "Planecraft" and anything by
Charles Hayward or Bob Wearing. Any of the Fine Woodworking "collected
volumes" too. Avoid Time Life, Reader's Digest, anything on paint or
finishing, or anything that smacks of "Changing Rooms".
Don't be afraid of furniture books from the "antique" end of things
either. A good "History of deisgn styles in the 18th/19th/20th century"
is a good read and will give you lots of ideas too. I'm doing some Tudor
radiator cabinets just now - and why shouldn't I use a 400 year old
design style for them ?
Other useful books are tool catalogues. Axminster, Tilgear, Screwfix
Pricelists from your local timberyards too. Shop around on timberyards -
it's your biggest cost and most UK ones aren't very good. My local guys:
www.interestingtimbers.co.uk might give you some ideas on pricing.
Magazines. Go into Smiths and get copies of Fine Woodworking, Furniture
and Cabinet Making and Good Woodworking. You'll probably find Good
Woodworking the best read at first, but get at least one copy of the
others, just for inspiration (FWW is the only woodie mag I subscribe
Pat Warner's web site.
Routers really cry out for router tables, These are easy to make
(stupidly expensive to buy). A rolling "plywood cube" router table will
store away neatly and provide storage beneath it too.
You put a bench in it. This is your main tool of all - don't
underestimate it. 100 bucks from Happy Shopper (Northern Tools) isn't
good enough. Axminster's cheapies are more like it. Or build your own -
2x4 leg framing, lots of bracing and a top of doubled 3/4" ply with 4mm
MDF top skin against wear. Boxing the back and sides with 1/2" ply makes
it nice and rigid and turns it into a tool cupboard. Then learn to make
framed doors for the front. Buy a S/H cast iron woodworking vice to go
on it too - the country is full of these things (usually by Record or
Paramo) and they're not expensive, so long as you don't have to post
If you're at the DIY end of things, a Workmate is a handy thing to have
too, especially with that flagged outdoor space. You can put the table
saw / router table onto wheeled trolleys and use them outdoors too. A
table saw needs a big space around it, especially for working plywood
I'm a big fan of trestles for outdoor work too. Make a pair, and make
them so they either nest or fold for storage (shed ceiling, on chains).
Short ones that make something where you don't think afterwards "Why the
hell did I make _that_?" You're only learning yet, don't expect too
much. But make something that you can get finished.
If you read too many copies of Good Woodworking, you'll find yourself
making a dovecot (doves are evil things) or a decorative garden
ziggurat. Project guides that lead you through the whole process are a
good thing, but if you don't look wide enough, you'll find you've made
something that you really don't want afterwards. Why _does_ my Dad have
a half-completed windmill in his workshop ?
There's also the Making Things for the Workshop trap to fall into.
Mainly a problem for metalworkers, it's all too easy to turn "I could
make myself that router table rather than buying it" into "I fancy
making another router table, just to try out this new idea". Making
what you need is good. Having the workshop itself become your reason for
making anything is bad.
There's a great deal of woodworking you can do. Even in a tiny
workshop, you can fit a hobby into it. Some people take up turning, or
fly-rod making. Personally I like timber-framed barns, which also take
up little space (you do it on site, someone else's site). Don't commit
yourself just yet (stop buying those tools), try a few things out, see
what appeals to you.
If you're building simple fitted-in furniture around the house, then
we;'re talking plywood or MDF and biscuit joints. Now this is good stuff
- it keeps spouses happy and it gets the telly off the floor, but when
you've built one MDF cube with a door on, you've pretty much built them
all. Well, maybe not all
Try reading uk.d-i-y too
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