Sorry about the Neil sideshow I have been participating in. It's done
I have been extremely busy the last year or so and I don't see any end
in sight but I want to start getting into this much more for a
release. The problem is that I don't have the time to do anything
really big and I figured it is better to do a lot of smaller things
over and over again but...what? I know I need to get A LOT better
with joints, almost all joints! I can make them but they don't fit
together perfectly and that irritates me.
I am tired of making things for the shop because I can simply say,
"Well, this is for the shop, so who really cares if that part doesn't
fit so well." Should I start using "real" wood or stick with the
cheap stuff? Maybe part of my problem is that I have been building
things with cheap-o pine and MDF and whatnot.
Any suggestions on what to make over and over again? Boxes of some
sort, maybe? Picture frames?
I have a table saw, a nice Bosch jigsaw I got at a garage sale for
$75, a small drill press, a cheap-o router, and a DowelMax that I am
sharing with another friend. I work out of a half a garage and push
everything against the wall. I don't know if any of this makes a
difference or not.
Woodworkers and sailors have something in common, patience.
Patience is a virtue applies.
Reading the above indicates to me you probably need to improve your
One way to do that is to you real material that costs real money so
that when you get in a hurry and make a mistake, there is a price to
pay, not only in money but also time.
Start by building some sleds out of Baltic birch plywood.(Cross cut,
45 miter, box loint, panel trimming, etc).
Not only do you improve your skills, you get something that is useful.
You have a router, build a router station.
The NYW version worked for me.
You have a drill press, build some jigs for it.
The above will consume $200-$300 and probably a years time, but you
will have accomplished something as well.
What Lew said below is good advice. Those jigs are going to help you hone
your skills because precision is a requirement for them to work well. After
that, you will have the tools needed to tackle projects for the house. Look
around at things you might want or need (mirrors, picture frames, decorative
shelves, etc if you want small projects). You can also adopt a longterm
project that is bigger (say a curio cabinet, end tables, or similar) with
the knowledge that it's going to take a year or two to finish. Break the
bigger project into smaller sub-projects so you see results and get the
satisfaction of seeing something finish that goes into the whole. For
example, completing the carcase can be one of those sub-projects. Same for
drawers, top, etc. Take your time and enjoy what you are seeing come
There is never a situation where having more rounds is a disadvantage
How about a set of drawers? The drawers will be made over and over
again, but in the end you'll get something useful. A small one with 3
drawers and a nice frame could be a nightstand or a wider one may be a
couple in end tables.
Go ahead and use the pine. Sometimes all it takes is a little work and
you've got a beautiful piece of wood. (Or at least not an ugly one.)
Once I get my CMS dust collection stand finished, the next project is
going to be a half dozen or so bins for screws.
The most important thing is to simply go out there and build something!
Since you're just practicing, just screw or nail the parts together. If
you get a better idea later, it's easy to take apart.
Never teach your apprentice everything you know.
Yeah, smaller things are easier on the pocketbook to toss after a
learning experience. Lee Valley had an old woodwork training book
(from 1917) which might interest you. _Projects for Woodwork Training_
Yes, for pity's sake, use real wood. Jummywood and termite barf ain't
fit for nuttin' but the fireplace. <gd&r>
Jigs, boxes, small tables, whatever catches your fancy. If you make
something others want, when they start turning out nicely, you can
sell them and recoup your original losses.
Pick up a set of Marples Blue Chips and learn how to use them, too.
To see what is right, and not to do it, is want of courage or of principle.
Make over and over again...? Why? Are you hoping to go into
It really doesn't matter all that much what you make, as long as you
learn from your mistakes, exercise your patience, and _enjoy_ what
you're making. No one here can answer what pleases you.
There are lots of, ahem, branches to woodworking and they are very
different animals. Some people love fussy work such as chip carving,
others like building large items like kitchen cabinets. What triggers
your 'man, that's sweet, I'd like to make/own one of those' reaction?
When you find something that just begs to be made, that's what you
The other factor is what will you do with the stuff you make. Will
you keep the stuff, furnish your house, give them away as gifts? If
it's gifts, something small is best, of course. If there is a SWMBO
in the picture, you'll get your orders from on high. ;)
All great advice. You guys pegged me good: I need to work on my
patience! I ain't got none.
What I meant by "over and over" was the same sort of thing: like when
somebody suggested that I make drawers. That would be doing the same
thing over and over again. Good advice.
I personally would like to build bigger things like cabinets or
something like that. I guess I could build cabinets for the garage:
one for my drill press, maybe a router table (even though I do have
one of those small, pre-made tables already), or even put several
together to make a decent workbench.
I was wondering about starting to use hardwood because I thought that
maybe my results could possibly be better. I have tried making hand
cut dovetails and have done alright but i have trouble cleaning out
the waste and I thought that maybe it was because the pine I was using
was soft and, well, stringy (sort of). I thought maybe the hardwood
would clean up better. I am probably 1000% wrong but I have no clue.
Making jigs is also a great idea because that, in of itself, will
force me to become more patient because if the jig is off, then it
will be of no use. I guess in addition to patience, I will need to
work on my anger management skills because I am sure I am going to get
frustrated to hell and back trying to get the jigs to be perfectly
Oh, as far as learning how to sharpen chisels, I think I have got that
one down. I have played with the Scary Sharp method to clean up some
old chisels that were given to me and it worked really well. I have
found that it is faster and easier to sharpen freehand than playing
around with jigs. I had bought one and the person who gave me her
father's old chisels included one he had and neither worked as well as
nothing. Plus using noting was a whole lot faster. It seems awful
strnage to me but I actually had a lot of fun sharpening those
Thanks for all the suggestions.
I'd suggest the difficulty indicates the chisels, while sharper than out
of the box, are not optimally sharp yet or they would slice even pine
end grain smoothly w/o tearing.
One thing I'd wonder about w/ the combination of freehand and sandpaper
method (in conjunction w/ your admitted lack of patience :) ) would be
whether actually did truly flatten the backs of the chisels sufficiently
to get that perfect bevel-forming straight line that the edge is formed
against. Particularly as I've had some difficulty in that regards in
the paper wanting to roll instead of staying put if try the loose method.
Just a thought...oh, can you pare a continuous thin shaving off of pine
end grain the width of the chisel? If not, it isn't yet really, really
$0.01, fwiw, imo, etc., etc, etc., ...
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