Woodworking Blog

These 5 Woodworking Tips Are Invaluable for Beginners and Experts Alike

Starting out in woodworking, as in any craft, is full of excitement, hope, and, yes, a degree of bewilderment. In the quest to put one’s heart, mind and hands into making things, it helps to have some guidance. I humbly offer these tips, most of which are really applicable to all crafts.

Woodworking Project Plans

1. Set yourself up for success

Start with projects that have a good chance of success. It is far better to succeed making simple, modest pieces than to get overwhelmed, frustrated and disappointed because you bit off more than you could chew with an elaborate project. Challenges edify only if they build confidence, so keep the early ones realistic.

Furthermore, a successfully completed project involves many stages: design, research, acquiring high-quality wood, configuring tools, stock preparation, joinery, surfacing, edge treatments, glue up and finishing. An extremely important part of learning woodworking is working through all the stages and appreciating how they interrelate. The learning experience can only happen if you get through all of them!

What’s more, you’ll have a lasting piece — however modest — to show for your efforts.

Types of Wood Species

2. Learn why it’s called woodworking

To be successful at this craft, you need to be as knowledgeable and skilled at choosing wood, preparing it, and accommodating its peculiarities as you are at working it with tools. Your work will be no better than the materials you choose and your understanding of them.

Unlike metal, glass or clay, wood is a product of biology and therefore extremely varied. Each species, each tree and each board is different — and the differences matter. Of course, this is part of wood’s wonderful appeal, but it does create considerable demands on the woodworker.

Learn all you can about wood — it’s fascinating — and go out of your way to experience a wide variety of wood.

Woodworking Tools

3. Invest in great tools

Like most crafts, woodworking requires a substantial infrastructure of tools. This can be intimidating and costly for a beginner, but it’s also very tempting as you browse catalogs while anticipating shiny new tools. Remember: tools are for making things, not for mere acquisition.

I suggest this sequence: Decide what you want to build, anticipate the steps required to build these pieces, then get the tools to perform those tasks excellently and efficiently. Avoid false economy — buy high-quality tools even if that means having fewer tools, deferring a purchase or spending more.

Also, it is better to choose a top-quality, versatile tool than a highly specialized gadget, especially one that is purported to require little skill. As an example, invest in a great backsaw, learn to use it well, and build confidence, rather than timidly opting for a saw guide system that will divert you from acquiring real skills.

Learning Woodworking Books

4. Ars longa, vita brevis

(Translation: Art is long, life is short.) Be a good learner. With the fantastic wealth of learning sources in various media that are currently available — including Craftsy woodworking classes — there is no excuse for neglecting this.

Choose reliable sources, but keep in mind that there’s almost always more than one right way to do any woodworking job. Seemingly contradictory teachings may all have value. Ultimately, you have to find your way — what’s right for you in your shop.

Remember, too, that there are no infallible gurus; something is not correct just because a supposed authority said so. Of course, don’t blithely dismiss expertise and tradition, but use your own brain and hands. Craft is very direct — you can see before you the honest results of your actions.

Woodworking Studio

5. Cherish your craft

If craft is important to you, accept that. Trust it. Make a place for it in your life, living space and financial space. Your crafting is important for the fulfillment it brings you, as well as for the beautiful, useful things it produces to enhance your life and the lives of those around you. Invest in it with heart and means, without apology. Your work and its fruits add good to this world. Take great joy in craft!

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9 Comments

Richard

I have a Ryobi 9″ bandsaw. I want to cut small blocks of wood for turning pens and bowls mainly. Can anyone tell me what is the best blade I can use in this saw for these projects. Thanks.

Reply
Rob Porcaro

Richard,

A small bandsaw like that will not be able to tension a wide blade very well, and you are doing small-scale work, so I suggest an all-purpose blade ¼”-wide, with about 6 teeth per inch, skip-tooth design.

Rob

Reply
GEORGE MATTHEWS

Rob Porcaro is right but for great results us a M42 bi-metallic blade from TUFF SAWS they cut any thickness and last longer than other blades, they also can cut through nails in the timber without damage to the blade is you happen to come across one when cutting. but they are expensive
george

Reply
FREE Get Perfect Woodworking Plans

Very detailed and helpful article, thank you for this great post!

Reply
Jade Brunet

I am happy to have found this information about woodworking for beginners. I find it interesting that this talent includes the ability of choosing wood, preparing it, and accommodating its peculiarities. I like the idea of woodworking because it gives the person a chance to be individual with his or her work.

Reply
Lafawnduh

I really appreciate the information given I am just starting wood work

Reply
Hardhat.jobs

Here’s a great step by step program to help you build any kind of craftsman project, big or small! It’s easy to follow and helpful TON!

Reply
Malenaclark

Couldn’t agree more with you on the fact mentioned in second paragraph. I experienced the same kind of problem while looking for the reliable Carpentry Services in Dubai . Finding one is a myth and if you could locate a dedicated service provider, you’re in safe hands.
Thanks for sharing this amazing post!

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