Yeah, I work a lot with numbers and computers and such and I have the
same enjoyment of making something tangible.
A good place to start is to get a few decent chisels, a little handsaw
(western or japanese, as long as it's sharp), and practice making some
joinery by hand. A few books from the library will get you started in
the basic technique (there are many good authors out there). Use
something cheap like scrap poplar just for practice. Even if you end
up using only machine tools later, the things you learn by doing this
will be good skills down the road. It teaches you about accurate
layout and gives you a feel for how to work the wood compatibly with
After you've done a half dozen or so mortise and tenon joints and
dozen dovetails, you'll be itching for something more. Maybe try a
small bookcase, small hanging cabinet, or possibly a side table. You
might be tempted to make it out of a really cheap wood (like poplar
again) -- but don't. If you can afford it, then make it out of a wood
that you like, even if it costs a little more. At the end of the
project you will care more about the labor you put into it than the
modest difference in wood cost.
If you want to get into using the table saw straightaway, the best
projects to make on the tablesaw first are jigs. Tenoning jigs and
crosscut sleds are extremely useful. Just be sure to understand all
the saw safety rules, understand what causes kickback, don't remove
the safety guards and pawls, and don't get in a hurry.
This describes me perfectly -
"white collar guy that works with numbers and computers all day that
has a earning to create something tangible and real"
Couple of personal questions, if you don't mind.
How old are you? Where do you live? Have you purchased any tools
I am 35. I live on Long Island. I became interested in woodworking
about 4 months ago and so far I have spent approx. $2,500 putting
together a modest shop in my basement.
Luckily for me there is a woodworking club (300+ members) right here
on LI. I've been attending their monthly meetings since June. GREAT
group of people!
I have all the same questions that you have -- what kind of wood,
where should I buy it, what tools do I need, what should I build???
I must say, before June of this year I think I underestimated the
complexity of woodworking -- there sure is a lot to learn.
If you come across any plans for simple projects, please e-mail me. I
will do the same.
I'm 32, living in a central IL city of about 100K. I have a very beginner
shop/set of tools. Intro tools from gifts or inheritance. I'd rather not
drop a bundle into equipment before I'm sure I'll stick with it. That
actually is my wife talking than me though.
The local community college has a 6 week beginner course starting next week
that I might take. The class conflicts with my tennis lessons. But I can
move tennis to another night of the week for 6 weeks. That will probably
make me feel better - having some hands on demonstration and instruction.
ANYBODY can play tennis, and not hurt themselves too badly. ;-) Take the
class! The frustration you save, not to mention the wood not butchered and
the bad tools decisions you avoid, will be worth the time and money, even
if you get to play no tennis at all between now and Thanksgiving.
The class will start you down that slippery slope just fine....
Take the course even if you have to forgo tennis lessons for a few weeks. It is
the absolute best way to learn if you'll like it or not, at very low cost.
"I have always felt that a politician is to be judged by the animosities he
excites among his opponents." Sir Winston Churchill
Take the course. I poked around, played around, read some magazines and a
book or two. Then I tool a four day basic course and learned more than the
previous year. With some basic instruction, you are less likely to get
frustrated and less likely to injure yourself. You will also have more
confidence when taking on a project.
Starting out, you don't need a lot of tools or the most expensive tools.
You do need to know how to use what you have though.
Both of you guys - go out and buy the S4S and get doing something with it.
I'm in the same industry as you guys, but I'm a sales guy and the one thing
I can tell you already is that you're both more on the technical end as
evidenced by the methodical approach you're both taking. Just jump in there
boys and buy some lumber and build something. Even something bad, just
Now, it goes without saying that you will have to continue to invest in
toys... err, tools over time, but let's don't put the cart before the horse.
For now, just make sawdust and mistakes. While you're out there buying your
lumber, buy a decent hand plane. Don't get all carried away with what you
buy, and for pete's sake, don't ask on this forum which one to buy. You'll
never get any work done if you open that flood gate. Just go buy a plane
and then go to your local lumber supply and buy a piece of rough cut
schmorgus board. Take it home and plane it. Don't screw around with
sharpening you plane, don't screw around with anything. Just set your piece
of wood down and hit it with the plane with a very shallow cut. Now - touch
it. Makes ya wet don't it? Ok - lesson - you'll be surprised what you
don't need in order to do what you want to do. Talk about creating
something tangible and real. Hell, just hitting a piece of rough cut with a
plane and feeling that nice smooth surface is creation in itself. Oh, and
by the way... just as a side note, you can probably hand plane just about
any piece you will be working with in less time than it will take you to set
up an electric planer and achieve the same results. Ok, maybe a slight
overstatement there, but not much of one.
Certainly you can buy finished stock, rough stock costs less initially
but if you do not have the tools or knowledge yet, then buy finished
product. Some hardwood yards will plane and joint one edge for you at
an additional cost.Try searching for a hardwood yard in your area. You
can buy rough or finished boards from online companys. I never have so
I can't reccomend a particular company.
You have the right idea, I would buy inexpensive softwood, pine,
poplar, etc for your beginning projects. As far as what to build? What
do you need or like,bookcase,magazine stand,etc. In the future you
might decide to build furniture from expensive woods, by then you will
have down more than just the basics.
Perhaps not a good recomendation, but I'm a beginner as well, and
here are my first projects:
oak Go board (really just 3 pieces of HD oak biscuited together)
plywood camp table
plywood and oak stair tread step stool
oak round Limbert occasional table
oak tavern mirror frame
oak & walnut chest
pine knock-down camp benches
Now I'm thinking about more furniture and decorated boxes
Hope this Helps
My start was wife wanted a shelf with rounded corners and curved
supports with contoured edges that would be painted. Sears 3 wheel
bandsaw, router and table and couple of bits, BIG mistake but I hark
back to time when Sears was not a foul name. All gone now except the
bits that gather dust. All of the tools were bought the same way,
something NEEDED. Got a chance to get familiar with each one as they
were acquired. I realize now hearing protection should have been
procured earlier than it was along with other things like air
filtration. Tage Frid Teaches Woodworking books 1&2 shows more than
one way to do a LOT of things and isn't something you go through once
and put aside but something that will be pulled off the shelf several
times for reference. Almost everything can be done in more than one
way when working wood. Second and third attempts at same task are
always improvements over the first, and get done faster also.
I thought I'd learned enough about woodworking from watching my grandfather
as a kid to be able to pick up a couple of machines and start right up.
Fortunately a friend needed an extra hand in her workshop (She's a
full-time oak crafter.) and I offered to give her several hours a week if
she'd get me up to date/par. I was very lucky - she's very safety aware
and routinely uses all the safety features my grandfather's machines didn't
even have; dust collection, eye protection, ear protection, various sticks
and pushes - all routine to her. I probably would have quickly discovered
the depth of my ignorance on my own, but probably that would have been
more costly and painful. I still check books at the local books stores and
home improvement centers and have purchased several but the all-inclusive
books often lack depth. I'd like to have a couple of good reference books
and would appreciate more recommendations.
My advice may be a bit different than others - my wife tells me I am a
bit "different" sometimes. I think you should start by building stuff
that doesn't NEED to be perfect but can still benefit from various
joints, edges and finishes. These, to me, would include shop furniture
you are going to need such as shelves, cabinets, and boxes for various
sets of tools that you have that don't have boxes. Early on I boxed up
chisels, cheap carving tool sets and drill bit sets. The boxes, while
not great and sometimes pretty crappy, are worth far more than the
tools ;) You can also practice by building patio furniture, bird
houses, etc. Pretty much all of these can be built (shop stuff and
outdoor stuff) using basic Borg pine, construction scraps and found
wood such as pallets (I have some really nice shop boxes and cabinets
built from pallet wood of various unknown species). The found wood got
me started on both "exotic" (i.e. not pine) woods and rough wood
without breaking the bank. It also made me start looking for planes on
ebay and at garage sales ;)
Save that living room bookshelf or formal diningroom table until you
have played with the hobby a while, but build at least some useful
stuff while learning
Start with some finished stock. Go with the pine or the poplar. As far
as the project, start small. Don't take on something too big the first
time or you might get discourarged too early in your woodworking
experience. Good luck.
I'd suggest watching cable TV's DIY...Woodwork Show ..it's on
regularly, shows a complete project,the projects usually require
several types of toys/tools,DIY gives you computer access to their
site and info re:plans, needed supplies etc, and it's free...good
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