You love working with your hands and admire the extensive skills of seasoned woodworkers. Why not learn yourself? Even those who’ve been working with wood for years will admit they’re still discovering new aspects of the art.
Whether you’re planning to pick woodworking up as a hobby or for home renovation projects, the first step is to get a grip on the basics. Once you’re familiar with fundamental safety protocol, as well as the ins and outs of specific tools and different types of wood, you’ll be well on your way.
Specific safety precautions are particularly important to follow. While you should wear noise suppression headphones when running loud tools and latex gloves for staining and finish, you should also never be without appropriate eye protection. Get in the habit from the get-go of putting safety glasses on when you first enter your workspace and removing them only on your way out.
Other important safety considerations include:
- Wear appropriate clothing. Remove dangling jewelry and avoid loose-fitting clothes. Wear something comfortable yet durable enough to protect your body.
- Disconnect power before changing bits or blades. It’s not enough to make sure the appliance switch is off. Use power cables to disconnect from the source of electricity completely.
- Keep tools sharp. Dull appliances are not only inefficient, but they can also be dangerous. The last thing you want is for a tool to kick back while you’re working.
- Check for nails and screws. Especially if you’re using repurposed wood, carefully inspect and make sure to remove any metal before you make the first cut.
You probably already have many of the hand tools needed for woodworking. A go-to hammer is about to become your best friend. Make sure it’s a split claw for removing nails with a smooth, slightly rounded head. Since you’re just starting out, consider a lighter model that still feels good in your hand.
Phillips and flathead screwdrivers and a level, retractable tape measure remain standard-issue. It will also be helpful to purchase square head and star drivers, as well as two or three nail sets of varying size.
Chisels, hand saws, sharpening tools and a 6-inch layout square round off your must-have list. You may also consider a sliding bevel, which can be adjusted to any angle and locked, as well as a block plane for trimming.
As with hand tools, you’re likely looking at filling in what you’ll need together with what you already have. You probably own a power drill and circular saw, but if your drill is cordless, check into corded models. They are more powerful and have greater versatility.
Once you’re comfortable with a circular saw, consider investing in a table saw. Prepare to stock your shop up over time with a jigsaw, router, random orbital sander, compound miter saw and air compressor. In woodworking, there are tools you need to have and those that would be nice to have.
As you turn safety precautions into habit and become familiar with tools of the trade, it’s time to start learning the nuances of wood and which type is best for your purpose.
Malleable woods suitable for cabinetry and furniture include cherry, birch and pine. Birch has shock-resistant properties that also make it an ideal candidate for flooring. Oak and treated pine are fantastic for outdoor pieces, and if you’re into sculpture or custom paneling, check into walnut.
The possibilities are endless, so go ahead and plan your first project. It’s the next step toward becoming a seasoned woodworker yourself.