How to progress from zero knowledge to cabinet making

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I am a complete newcomer to woodworking other than stuff done in high school over 20 years ago. When I had a read I was an electronics technician and have a current hobby of buying old wood console radios from the 30s and 40s and repairing them. The electrics are easy but many of the cabinets were actually made of quite cheap and nasty mdf. I would like to make new ones but do not have the skill at this stage.
So what should I start with? Would box making be a good beginning? Can anyone recommend something like a set of projects to get me to a skill level that would let me attempt a full cabinet?
I have a spacious workshop and a couple of power tools (router and mitre saw) to begin with. I haven't even used the router yet as I'm not really sure what it does for me.
Any advise, pointers etc greatly appreciated. I live in Brisbane Queensland and have been looking for woodworking clubs but haven't found anything to date.
Kind Regards,
Wayne McDermott
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Router and Miter saw are a good start, start planning for either a table saw or a bandsaw so you can rip/resaw surfaced stock. I suggest a bandsaw since they are generally safer and can do more.
After that, find resources to help you that suit your learning style. There are plenty of books, if you cant find a club nearby.
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Todd the wood junkie wrote:

only 5 minutes from my home so I shall be visiting them this morning.
Wayne
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Wayne McDermott wrote: [snipped for brevity]

It was for me. My first project was a loudspeaker box. I used a jigsaw to cut the panels, and the router/straight edge combo to straighten out the edges. That in itself tought me a few things: NEED a table saw. Even a small one. Probabaly the most important piece of equipment would be a pair of quality safety glasses, followed by some ear-muffs. Then, learn to take your time. Contemplate your next moves with care. Never take too big a bite, especially when using a router, as they can be a nasty piece of kit in a hurry. Always assume that the machinery you are using will cut 'you' a whole lot quicker than wood. Don't be afraid to try new ideas. For instance, when making a box, the corners could be rabbetted, butt-joined, mitred..you name it, there are many ways to skin a cat. You can rabbet using a dado blade on a table saw, router table, using a regular saw-blade or a router with a straight edge. Learn to think backwards from the piece with which you want to end up. (How's that for sentence structure, eh?) I found that using a sketch was very helpful. With dimensions. Learn how to say: "^^%$*%^$% I won't be doing it this way again!!"
...and keep your blades/bits sharp. Dull ones are dangerous.
Ask us again when you have a specific question, we'll be glad to help.
Good luck with this great hobby and keep driving on the wrong side of the road!
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Robatoy wrote:

Thanks very much Robatoy ! Down here we prefer to think of ourselves as driving on the "correct" side of the road. :)
Your reply is much appreciated, I owe you a beer.
Cheers,
Wayne
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Wayne, Reading here is a good start. Although many in this group will encourage you, some will not. Ignore them and keep learning. Google is your friend. Start by building a simple project, such as a box with a hinged lid. Use pine or poplar to practice with. Buy the tools you need to finish a project. Woodworking does not require a significant number of tools. The majority of tools only serve to make the project go faster, and help with repeatability. Some will tell you too buy good used table saw. I would recommend a bandsaw as well. Its safer and easier to learn and you can straighten edges with a hand plane, yet another good tool to learn about.
Some here will recommend Harbor Freight tools to start with, I would avoid them. They will only frustrate you and waste your money. Find a friend/group or class near by, check with local tool suppliers, they should be able to steer you the right direction.
Dave
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Teamcasa wrote:

[snip]
Thanks very much Dave, just this morning I have found a woodworking tool supplier close to my home and shall visit them today.
In appreciation,
Wayne
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On Tue, 10 Oct 2006 18:53:46 +0800, Wayne McDermott

The mantra I tried to follow was one new skill per project. Try to take a hard look at a good example of what you'd like to make and try to figure out everything that needs to be done to make it. Then take one of those processes and do a project that uses just that, for example a simple picture frame would be a good test of doing mitered corners.
Try to do projects for your workshop, but go about making them as if they were going in your living room. They won't come out as well as you would like, but you'll learn a whole lot in the process. In the end it's going in your shop so it doesn't matter if you screwed up, and that screw up will be there in front of you as a reminder the next time. You might try making a bunch of boxes to organize your radio parts. Make each box a little different.
The important thing is to take the simpler projects all the way to completion, not just fool around with scrap pieces (though that's part of it too). Get a big done stamp on them, blemishes and all. Go through trying to get a good finish on them, as that's one area where things can quickly spiral into a disaster.
-Leuf
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Leuf wrote:

Wayne
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Wayne McDermott wrote:
> So what should I start with? Would box making be a good beginning?
<snip>
Do you have adult education classes available thru your local high school?
Might find a wood working class offered there,
Get a copy of Fred Bingham's book, Boat Joinery & Cabinet Making simplified from either the library or about $20 USD on Amazon and read it over.
Skip the boat stuff, but read the rest.
Some very good basic information about tools, joints, etc.
After that, you will have learned enough to know that happiness is a decent table saw with the best fence available.
Have fun.
Lew
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Lew Hodgett wrote:

Kind Regards,
Wayne
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Remember there is a lot you can do WITHOUT a tablesaw - pick projects based on the tools you have, and buy tools as you need them. I'll agree with the bandsaw recommendation - safer, and arguably more versatile than the tablesaw. Unless you're starting right off with production-scale cabinet-making or something like that. Furthermore, many people here will recommend that you get a TS that costs more than $500US if you're going to be serious about woodworking, and that would probably be a good investment, but maybe not on your very first project. I'd strongly recommend against buying up a whole shop full of tools before you really get into the hobby. If you buy slowly as you go along, you'll have a lot better idea of exactly what you need, and you'll probably run into good deals on used tools or sales also. You'll also have a chance to work on skills with each tool, rather than trying to master everything at once. I'd say there's a lot you can do with your router (buy a book about routers) and miter saw, especially if you get an inexpensive handheld circular saw and some hand tools. Make sure you get good-quality, accurate measuring tools (start with a combination square that costs MORE than $20US). By the way, someone mentioned Harbor Freight, which probably doesn't exist in Australia - think bottom-of-the-line chinese import tools - some are total junk, but some have their place for infrequent use, in my opinion. Again, after you've been woodworking a little while, you'll get a better idea of what you can save money on and what you should buy top-of-the line. Good luck, Andy
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Andy wrote:

Ryobi. I built an auxiliary table to give me more work surface, and it is quite satisfactory for everyday cutting. I'd love to have an extra $2,000 for a good cabinet saw, but you can work wonders with a bit of ingenuity and a few homemade jigs.
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Wayne McDermott wrote:
> Thanks Lew, I am going to look at table saws this morning.
Just remember, the table saw is NOT as important as the FENCE.
A table saw without a good fence is a total PITA.
Lew
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Wayne McDermott wrote:

MDF in 30's&40's? no chance, ply and bakalite yes MDF no.
--
Sir Benjamin Middlethwaite




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The3rd Earl Of Derby wrote:

You're absolutely right, the two cabinets i have are / were cheap ply with a veneer.
Cheers,
Wayne
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Wayne McDermott wrote:

No problem,my man :-)
Your first choice of tooling would be a router as most of the cutout and beading or rounding off work is done with the router. As most of the casing on those radios is square a table saw would be needed with an 80 toothed blade for fine cutting of plywood.
--
Sir Benjamin Middlethwaite




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The3rd Earl Of Derby wrote:

Thanks Ben,
Assuming I get my skill to a level that I can attempt it, I was thinking of remaking the cabinets in something better than ply, maybe something like a maple of cedar...when I find out exactly what would make a nice cabinet. What would you suggest?
Wayne
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Wayne McDermott wrote:

I think that wood, working with it and the end result in getting a high mirror finish is down to personal preference and I would be biased to choose select a type for you because I fall in love with Walnut, Rosewood and Cedar,particulary Walnut this wood has a stunning appearence when highly french polished. However on saying that quite a few of those old radios where covered in Walnut veneer I suspect that this type where in the higher priced bracket of their day.
--
Sir Benjamin Middlethwaite




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On Wed, 11 Oct 2006 03:00:35 +0800, Wayne McDermott

I like maple, but it will burn on you if you're not careful, and it is very hard. That's not to discourage you- it's a very nice wood, and good to work with once you get used to how it wants to be cut and shaped. Avoid stains with it, though- it gets blotchy very easily. Leaving it blonde and polishing is beautiful.
Cedar is difficult for a number of reasons- while it can be very pretty and smell great, there is an acid in the wood that can harm you after prolonged contact with the dust (just make sure you wear a mask) and it has an annoying ability to eat through a lot of finishes. Again, not to discourage you- just make sure you do a little research first on that one. Personally, I only use it for outdoor applications, where the water-resistance makes it particularly useful.
Seeing that you're in Austrailia, I think I'd be using lacewood (they might call it silky oak) like a fiend. Stunning stuff, and it grows in your neck of the woods. Sort of looks like african mahogany with a pattern like snakeskin- and it's superb to work with.
And to answer your first question, of course box-making is a great place to start- a cabinet is really just a big fancy box when you get right down to it.
Good luck, and have fun!
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