Jan, "woodworking" is a very broad term. Perhaps you should narrow down
your focus to a particular facet of the craft. I suggest you go to your
local library and take ourt some books on the basics of woodworking, tools.
From these you can obtain a basic understanding of hand tools, etc.
ASnother consideration might be your local adult education provider,
community college or technical school. Many offer courses for the begining
woodworker. Therre are also do-it-yourself books in may bookstores.
Some very good advice on the previous message. I started, as many, doing
home maintenance and improvement and was starting to feel like I knew what I
was doing. Then, several years ago I took a college level class in intro to
cabinetmaking which was very enjoyable and an eye-opener. Not only did I
learn a lot, but the shop was equipped with older, but very good equipment.
I was introduced to the Unisaw, upper end but home-quality jointers, lathes
and a host of equipment that ended up on my "some-day" list. They also
taught the basics of sharpening and other skills. Our instructor also
insisted we do a part of our projects using hand tools, even though the shop
was pretty Norm-ized.
Don't just jump in and start buying from the Sunday sale ads. Every
purchase of a piece of floor machinery should be preceeded by research,
touching and talking with folks who know. There is a lot of expertise
within this newsgroup (not talking about me either). Don't get trapped in
the big-brandname trap either. There is very good equipment offered by a
host of manufacturers and some do certain items better than others. Also,
don't overlook the little things. In the end you could well have as much
invested in hand tools, clamps, benches and accessories as the heavy
equipment in your shop. You DON'T HAVE TO BUY IT ALL AT ONE TIME! In this
regard it is better to choose carefully and buy stuff that will last, rather
than buying a lot of "entry level" stuff. This also lets you get acquainted
with a tool and a skill as you go. Don't overlook the used market.
Classifieds, estate sales, garage sales and ebay offer a lot of good, used
I have a daughter that occassionally hangs out in the "cave" as it is
called - we found this - pick a simple project and do it - I know that there
are some "kits" out there for some introductory type things. Test the water
so to say before taking the deep plunge. Try to find what interests you most
and see if there is something that could fulfill that vision.
Try to find kits that need a minimum of large tools to finish. You'll quickly
learn what you like and what you don't like and that can guide you.
The other possibility is to take a class. Some junior colleges offer both
regular and non-credit courses in woodworking that will teach you the basics in
a semester or so, as well as letting you make some things.
The alternative is to check with the local woodworking stores like Woodcraft
Supply (if they have a store near you). They frequently offer one-day courses in
all kinds of projects at all kinds of price ranges.
I'd strongly suggest that you get some experience before you start making major
investments in tools and equipment.
On Fri, 8 Oct 2004 08:55:30 -0500, NorthernGal2 email@example.com (Northern
I'd suggest starting off by reading a few issues of Wood, Popular
Woodworking, etc. I spent an afternoon at the library scanning past
issues -- learning the nomeclature.
There are (at least) four forks in the roads of woodworking. Your tool
selection would depend on the fork you choose.
My take on it:
You need to decide what you want to build (jewelry boxes, cabinets,
chairs, etc.) Also decide what kinds of materials you want to work
with (starting with logs, rough boards, or surfaced boards, what kind
of wood, etc.) Then you can inquire as to what tools might be
To build some skills, start by cutting a 6" square from a board, as
perfect as possible. Any difficulty you have with this will point you
in the direction of your next tool purchase.
Next, start to learn some joinery (books, internet, or classes) to
connect pieces in various ways to build a larger piece.
Then you need to study finishing. The effort of finishing a piece will
often take as long as construction, so it's a significant skill.
NorthernGal2 firstname.lastname@example.org (Northern Gal) wrote in message
It seems silly, but a good job of sanding can transform a piece of
junk into a pleasure to the eye.
You can buy unfinished wood, and if you do a poor job of finishing, it
looks like something from the dollar store.
For instnce, if you stain end grain, it looks all muddy and ugly.
But if it's well sanded, the end grain becomes quite attractive!
So this sould be one of the first things you learn to do. Buy some
unfinished wood, like a small box, and sand it nicely, and then stain
and finish it.
And when you get to hard woods, the skills will be more impressive -
everyone will oh! and ah!
Welcome to the club, Jan. Hope to see one of your projects on a web
page some day.
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You go to the book store and or library and obtain and study some books
on the subject that go into depth answering those very questions.
Continuing or adult ed classes are good ways to start as are any local
woodworking guilds or clubs.
When you can ask specific questions and have some hope of understanding
the answers come back and ask them. We'd be happy to answer them.
On Fri, 8 Oct 2004 08:55:30 -0500, NorthernGal2 email@example.com (Northern
Why ? What are you looking to get out of it ? Do you want a hobby,
or furniture ?
Is there anything you've ever wanted to make ?
Anything you've ever seen and thought "I fancy a go at that" ?
Mainly by doing some. Make something. Make anything. Do it badly. Just
_do_ something. It takes practice, so get some in.
What do you have already ? Some of the absolute basics are a
workspace and a workbench. These also need storage space and lighting.
The size of the space depends on what you're making - it can get
pretty small if you have to, but something like furniture making
really does call for a good stable bench.
Courses are great. You get instruction, a full set of tools to use,
access to big complicated machines you really won't get hold of
otherwise, and you do it in the company of other people.
None. Not yet anyway. The mistake _everyone_ makes is to buy too
many tools and not enough timber. It's not about tool ownership !
That's called _collecting_ -- fine hobby, but it ain't woodworking.
Don't buy anything unless you really can't manage without it. Then
don't buy it today. If you really still need it tomorrow, then maybe
go and buy it.
Buy the best tools you can. Spend twice as much and buy half as many.
Beyond a toolbox that you can carry with one hand, you never _need_
more tools to do woodworking. OK, so what you have influences _what_
you can do, but it doesn't stop you doing something and having fun
If you have absolutely no money, get a tent, an axe and a drawknife.
With that little (and a woodland) you can make Windsor chairs!
You don't need any tool with a glossy advert. You don't need anything
where the pricetag makes you whistle. You need almost nothing with a
lead and a plug on it - of those you might use, the best of them are
the immobile machines, not the shiny hand-held powertools in the shop.
Second hand tools are a great deal, once you know a little of what you
want and how to get it going.
A good basis for a toolset will probably be posted somewhere. It's
mainly obvious, but some things that beginners tend to omit are good
tools for measuring and marking out, sharpening kit to look after what
you have, and finishing kit.
Finishing is either the best part or a chore - people have their own
views on this. One thing that's clear though is that it needs lots of
cheap supplies and it's a real pain to run out. It can be worth buying
a couple of nice big rolls of glasspaper, a range of assorted potions
etc - doesn't cost much and it's a nice luxury to have all you need
ready to hand.
Books can help too. There are a few real classics out there that
everyone ought to have, a few that are excellent beginner's guides,
and some that are essentials for the first time you use a particular
technique or machine.
Most of all though, you need to get an understanding of timber. Find a
good supplier, which means nearby, affordable and with a wide range.
Good timber is cheaper than bad timber, but you have to search for it.
The "retail" stuff is hugely over-priced, compared to buying it from
somewhere with sawdust on the floor.
The best advice I can give you is to do what I did when my interest
Go to your library for an afternoon and browse the many, many books
they'll have there.
It will give you a sense of the scope of "woodworking" and allow you to
decide on where you want to start. That will give you direction on the
tools you'll want to start with.
Intarsia? Band and scroll saw.
Shelving and bookcases and tables? Table or radial arm saw and router.
I've always been of the opinion that everyone should have one year of shop
courses when they go through high school and get a grounding in all the
basics -- woodworking, electrical, plumbing and automotive.
All good practical skills that you need later in life, as opposed to
calculus and geomtery (;=P)
Seriously, go to your local library and go through the stacks on "home
handyman" and "hobbies" and anythign else that looks like a good category.
The Time Life and Reader's digest books are good startign points for
determining a small task that you can use as a stepping stone. A small
beside table or locker (basic cabinet with a drawer and maybe a shelf) is a
good small project.
Home Depot will have the lumber sizes you need and can cut the wood to size
(probably a small additional charge) and make sure that you pack along the
book so they have the dimensions needed.
A night-school program is also a good method of learning the basics of
handling yourself in a shop SAFELY.
Best of luck!
I did social studies homework during my high scholl shop class. My
instructor did not instruct. The college class was a bit better.
Working for a summer at different trades might be more valuable. A
summer of framing, a summer of wrench turning with a master mechanic,
a summer of cleaning clogged sewer pipes and septic systems. Ooh that
summer work does not sound so good anymore.
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