Helping Beginners, Hobbyists, and DIYers Get Started in Woodworking
Tips to Get You Started in Woodworking,
How to Guides, Best Tool Reviews
Sanding is a way of preparing a wooden surface using sandpaper or a sander. Sanding is done on different surfaces including walls, ceilings, doors, and floors among others.
Make your woodworking experience best by having top notch picks of miter saws and their accessories. Check our buying guides, information on how to use, comparisons and more.
Whether you are a career woodworker, hobbyist, or just getting started in woodworking, you are in good company.
We are a team of enthusiastic woodworkers who are passionate about all things around woodworking. We cover information from beginners to DIYers and anyone just interested in making things from wood. Researching and comparing the different tools, how to use them and how to choose the best tools for the projects you are wanting to accomplish.
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What is Woodworking
Wood Working is the art of creating things from wood using tools or hands. For some people, woodworking is a hobby, while for others it’s a career or business.
For it to be called woodworking, one must have the skills and the end in mind.
“Woodworking minus patience equals firewood.” – anon.
People who make items from wood are called woodworkers.
There are different types of woodworking and specific woodworking skills. Woodworking is the combination of all these skills, which we will cover below.
Wood finishes are used to protect and enhance the appearance of wooden surfaces. They can range from clear sealers to pigmented stains and paints. Choosing the right finish depends on the type of wood, the desired look, and the level of protection needed.
Is Woodworking a Good Hobby?
Absolutely! Woodworking is a great hobby for any gender. If you find joy in creating things from scratch using your hands, you will love woodworking. With just a few hand or power tools, you can start your woodworking hobby in your garage or backyard.
It’s also a great way to make new friends by joining community forums and clubs. There are also competitions and contests that you can participate in if you love challenges. Apart from creating great things for your home, you can also earn from your woodworking skills.
Reasons Why You Should Get into Woodworking
- Obviously, you will create awesome things for your home
- Great hobby or career
- You can create awesome gifts for the people you love
- Great way to connect and make friends
- Challenges and encourages creativity
- A valuable skill for anyone
- Rewarding and satisfying to make stuff from wood
- Great way to test and practice patience
- You can do repairs at home
- Good for your body and mind
- For some, woodworking is therapeutic
- There is a lot you can do with wood
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Beginners Guide to Getting into Woodworking
Here are a few tips to get started in Woodworking.
- Start by assessing whether you have a real interest in woodworking. Is it something that makes you happy or you want to start because of influence? Why do I say this? If you love building stuff and you have real interest in woodworking, your chances of succeeding are higher.
- Decide on whether you want to pursue woodworking as a hobby or career. This decision is especially key when deciding the tools to buy. Also, do you have time?
- Spend time watching woodworking videos and reading books. Not to know how to do things, but just to have a general idea of the field. This will also expose you to all the different specialization areas you can pursue. For instance, if you are into arts, you can choose an area like using scroll saw or decoration. If you are into interior design, you can choose to go with furniture making.
- Start by buying only the basic tools and slowly equip your tool kit. When buying a tool, choose a tool that will grow with you as your skill advances. Also, before buying an expensive power tool, rent it first so that you can assess whether it will meet your needs.
- Look for a mentor. Join local woodworking groups in your area if there is any. Take a woodworking class.
- Start with simple projects and be patient with yourself.
- Don’t get into the craze of buying the latest tools or building the most organized workshop. Focus on the skills.
- Learn about safety when using tools.
Types of Woodworking
Woodworking is an umbrella word for anything related to wood. If you go deeper, there are different types of woodworking. These make great specialization areas.
Carpentry in woodworking involves the use of wood in construction of small and large structures. This involves the use of hand and power tools to cut, shape and install wood. Carpentry skills apply in all the other types of woodworking including cabinet making, framing, residential and commercial construction, and roofing among others.
2. Cabinetmaking or Cabinetry
Cabinetmaking is a woodworking profession that involves designing, building, installing and repairing wooden cabinets and fixtures. Cabinetmaking involves cutting, shaping and forming wood using tools to make cabinets. Cabinetmaking requires high levels of designing and assembling.
3. Furniture making
Furniture making is the art of designing and building wooden furniture. This form of woodworking involves building stuff such as sofas, beds, chairs, wardrobes, dressers, among others. Many people in this area specialize in one or two types of furniture, since there are tons of furniture, and they are all in demand.
4. Repair and Restorations
This type of woodworking specializes in repairing different types of wooden furniture and other wooden products. This is key to antique, vintage and ancient pieces of furniture. Since these types of wooden products are usually very valuable, restoration requires understanding of different construction methods and materials and salvage skills.
Woodcarving involves the use of power tools or manual tools to carve decorative figures and designs from a piece of wood. There are different types of wood carving
- Whittling – carving a small piece of wood using a knife
- Chip carving
- Relief carving
- Carving in the round
- Chainsaw carving
An example of wood carving projects includes carving chess pieces, wooden spoons, animal figurines, wooden utensils, toy cars, and garden gnomes, among others.
6. Wood Turning
Wood-turning involves the use of wood lathe and cutting tools to make different wooden products. An example of wood turning projects includes making wooden bowls and plates, rolling pins, wooden spoons, mortar and pestle, and wooden vases, among others.
Joinery is a form of woodworking that involves building stuff by mainly joining them. This form of woodworking requires experience and understanding of the different joinery techniques to produce stable products. Joinery skills are required in making furniture, structures, buildings, roofing, cabinetmaking etc. Almost every woodworker has the basic joinery skills but there are a few who specialize in joinery.
8. Pyrography, Wood Burning, or Pyro gravure
This is a special skill of using fire to make drawings and designs on wood. Pyrography is mainly used to draw on wood, decorating cups, bowls, furniture, etc. The most ideal types of wood for wood burning are basswood, sycamore, and beech.
9. Scroll Sawing
Scroll sawing involves the use of scroll saw to cut detailed artwork, curves, and designs on wood, for decoration purposes. Some scroll saw projects include making jigsaws, logos, tree plaque, toys and name plaques.
10. Wood Mosaic and Wood Art
This involves making mosaics using wood for decoration and value addition. An example is creating furniture with mosaic arts and other forms of art. There is a huge demand for mosaic furniture.
11. Epoxy Woodworking
Mostly involves designing and building furniture such as tables with realistic epoxy designs such as river, ocean, among other designs.
12. Digital Woodworking
This is a type of woodworking that utilizes the technological advancements of Computer Numeric Control (CNC) technology. A design is fed on a computer and the machine does all the cutting.
This is the skill of making or repairing stringed instruments such as mandolins, guitars, violins, and banjos, among others. This type of woodworking is complex since you must understand music and how these instruments work.
14. Shipwright or a Boat-wright
Involves designing, building, and repairing wooden ships and boats
A traditional skill that involves using green wood to make chairs.
16. Master cooper
Using wood to make barrels, buckets, tubs, and troughs.
Key Woodworking Skills and Technique
Below are some of the most common woodworking techniques and skills that apply in almost all types of woodworking. If you are just getting into woodworking the best way is to learn one at a time.
DIY saw milling is the preparation of lumber before a project. It involves preparing and cutting a rough lumber into appropriate sizes depending on what you are building. While this is not a skill a beginner should necessarily know, it’s a skill every serious woodworker should know.
As a beginner you buy pieces of wood that are ready to go depending on what you are making. To mill at home, you will need such tools as a power saw, jointer, planner or a DIY saw mill.
2. Jointing and Planing
Joining and planing are two important skills to learn when milling. Jointing involves the use of a jointer to prepare the edges of a lumber and then smoothing using a planner. These two skills help you to level and shape the work pieces ready for working.
3. Cutting and sawing
This is the most basic woodworking skill. It involves cutting pieces of wood using a saw. There are different types of saws including,
- Hand saw
- Circular saw
- Track saw
- Table saw
- Scroll saw
- Jig saw
- Miter saw
- Chop saws
- Radial arm saw
- Reciprocating saw
- Panel saw
- Rip saw
Each type of saw has its own pros and cons and is made for different users and uses. The best starting point is learning to use what you have. Apart from learning to use a saw, you should also learn the basics of cutting.
4. Gluing and clamping
Another key woodworking skill is gluing and clamping. Here it’s all about understanding the different types of glue and when and how to use them. After gluing pieces of wood, you are supposed to clamp together so that they can hold well. You will also learn the different types of clamps and clamping methods.
5. Shaping and molding
Shaping involves cutting and carving pieces of wood into different shapes. Molding is a strip of wood that is decorated with different profiles for decoration or for covering transitions and gaps.
Wood scrolling is the use of a scroll saw to cut different designs, curves, and corners on wood. Scroll work involves cutting dovetail joints, angle cutting, and curve cutting. A few things you can make using a scroll saw include,
- Quotes plaque
- Jewelry box
- Wooden car toys
- Religious figure intarsia
- Wooden puzzle
- Personalized name plaque
7. Drilling and boring
Another key woodworking skill is drilling and boring. While most people use these two words interchangeably, there is a difference.
Drilling involves creating the first hole using a cutting tool, while boring involves enlarging or finishing the hole. Apart from understanding how to drill or bore one is also required to understand the different machines and boring bits.
Veneering in woodwork involves decorating a surface with a more attractive material. The different veneering methods include using contact cement, hydraulic press, or hammer. Veneers are made of beech, maple, oak, pine, walnut, and elm.
Wood finishing involves refining and polishing wooden surfaces for protection and to boost the appearance of the final product. Finishing is usually the last step. Finishing protects wood from environmental agents such as moisture. For household furniture, finishing makes it easy to clean. Finishing is also done to boost the appearance of items made from low-quality wood.
Types of wood finish
- Oil finishes
- Water based
This is obvious and you know it. Knowing how to measure and interpret measurement is a must have skill in woodworking. Knowing is not enough, you must also have the technical know-how on how to cut depending on the measurement.
Another key skill in woodworking is painting. This involves learning the different types of paint, their uses, how to mix paints, and also the technical know-how on how to paint. Another key thing in painting is understanding how to prepare the surface for painting.
12. Other woodworking skills
- How to treat wood
- Wood identification
- How to store wood
- How to choose the right tool
- First aid skills
- Interpersonal skills
The History of Woodworking
Woodworking has a rich history. Most of this history is preserved in woodworking museums.
You cannot talk about civilization without mentioning woodworking. Wood was one of the first materials that were used by the early humans, together with clay and stones. The use of wood dates back to ancient Greece, Rome, Egypt, and China and is well documented. For instance, it’s recorded that the Egyptians invented wood finishes and varnishes.
Then, wood was used to make hunting gear, furniture, coffins, and boats, among other things. Woodworking has then been passed on from one generation to the next. Some of the existing artifacts from these eras show incredible woodworking skills that are hard to match up to date.
Thanks to technological advancements a lot has changed. Think of CNC machines that can create complex designs that are hard for humans to create. Woodworking has also been made easier by the invention and development of woodworking power tools.
While there are many wood alternative materials, wood products have a huge demand.
Advantages of Wood/Timber/ Lumber as a Construction Material
Why are wood products still popular despite so many wood alternatives?
- Wood is more affordable
- Wood is easy to work with
- There are different types of wood
- Wood is a renewable resource
- It’s cheap to produce
- Wood is biodegradable
- Wooden structures are easy to modify
- Wood is water resistant
- Naturally beautiful
- Wood is very customizable
- Wooden structures are easy to maintain
Is Woodworking a Good Career
Yes, woodworking is an excellent and lucrative career. However, just like many other fields it is all about dedication, hard work, and honing your skills. High quality wooden products are regarded as luxurious and have a huge demand. Note, It will take time before you can earn six figures but it’s achievable. The best thing about woodworking is that it’s easy to get started since there are no barriers to entry.
Since woodworking is general, there are different areas to specialize in.
- Wood turning
- Furniture making