Woodworking 101: How to Get Started
Written by: Carlos Trejo December 2, 2020
Woodworking can be a wonderful hobby, but knowing how to cut wood, make doors and build stairs can also save you a ton of money. If you want to get started, however, you need to do it the right way. Woodworking is a skill like any other, and a learned one at that.
In past generations, many people were lucky enough to have a parent, grandparent, or trusted uncle who knew their way around a woodworking shop. Some even remember taking shop in high school, learning to make practical things like toolboxes and the like. But not everyone was blessed with that kind of early exposure, but you can make up for the lost time and learn the skills you need to complete home projects like a pro. Here are some key things you need to know to get started with your new woodworking hobby.
Woodworking Basics: What You Need to Know
Where to Start
If you are ready to get started with your new woodworking hobby, you probably have a lot of questions. So how can you get started safely, and what do you need to know as you set up your new woodworking room?
Even before you start building anything, you will need some basic materials to get started on your woodworking adventure. Many people choose to set up their workshops in a garage or storage shed, and adapting those spaces to a new use will require some basic supplies.
Lining the walls of a garage or storage shed with pegboard, for instance, will give you plenty of space to hang hand tools and power tools. You can even add a cord spool to keep all those extension cords neat and tidy.
You will obviously need electric power for your new woodworking shop, so make sure there are enough outlets available. If you have any doubts, an electrical upgrade may be in order; the last thing you want is an overloaded circuit that could become a fire hazard.
You will also need some basic knowledge, even if you plan to take a DIY approach to learn woodworking. If you have a trusted woodworker friend or neighbor, reach out to them for help. If not, check into woodworking classes at the local community college or extension center; these low-cost courses are a great way to learn the basics. And there is always the internet, especially the many detailed woodworking tutorials on YouTube and other video channels.
What Kinds of Tools Do You Need?
As you build out your new woodworking shop, you will need to outfit your new space with the right tools. Building a woodworking shop from the ground up can be an expensive endeavor. It is a good idea to begin with the must-have tools, those go-to items you will need again and again. Regardless of what you are building, here are some essential tools you will want in your woodworking shop from the start.
- Circular saw
- Nail gun
- Cordless screwdriver
- An assortment of nails, screws, and other fasteners
- Hand clamps
- Power drills
Once you have the basics of your woodworking shop laid out, you will need a secure place to keep all those items. Hopefully, you have already lined the walls of your space with pegboard. So all you need are some hanging hooks to keep most of the items in place. You can also use tool storage drawers to hold all those tiny materials, as well as smaller hand tools.
Now that you have the essential tools taken care of, it’s time to look at other tools that will allow you to expand the number of projects you take on. Some of these power tools can be pricy, but if they allow you to turn a contractor-led project into a DIY one they could pay for themselves in a matter of weeks. Here are some smart large form factor tools to consider for your new woodworking shop.
- Table saw
In addition to those larger tools, you might also want to add a jigsaw and a reciprocating saw to your woodworking repertoire. Both of these tools are highly versatile and can be used on dozens of home improvement projects.
As you continue with your woodworking hobby, you will probably find other tools you would like to have. If you plan to do some outdoor home improvements, you will probably want cordless hand tools at your disposal. Including drills, screwdrivers, nail guns, and the like. You may want to choose a single brand and stick with it since the charging stations should be compatible with one another. And while you are at it, look for a dedicated space where you can set up a charging station for all those tools, so they will be ready whenever you need them.
Woodworking Safety Tips
Woodworking can be a fulfilling hobby and a great way to save money on home improvement projects. For the cost of hiring a single contractor, you can build out an entire workshop and do the work yourself.
Even so, it is important to put safety first whenever you are working with power tools, and protecting yourself should always be your most important consideration. Here are some essential safety tips you should never ignore:
- Goggle up – eye protection is vital when working with power tools, so always wear a pair of quality goggles in your woodworking shop
- Wear a mask – Cutting wood creates fine particles, and those particles can damage your lungs. Always wear a mask when you are sawing, screwing, or drilling wood.
- Never disable safety devices – Table saws, circular saws, and other power tools come with guards and other safety devices built-in. Those guards are there for a reason, and you should never disable or tamper with them.
- Protect your ears – Power tools generate a lot of noise, so protect your ears with foam plugs or don specialized headphones to dampen the sound and prevent long-term hearing damage.
- Check cords for damage before and after every use. It is easy to nick a cord while cutting wood, so examine extension cords for signs of damage before and after every project.
- Wear proper shoes or safety boots – Protecting your feet is essential, so leave the sandals and flip flops behind when you enter your woodworking shop.
- Read the manuals carefully before using any new piece of equipment. Make sure you know where the emergency stop button is located, and always read the safety precautions before getting started.
Good Woodworking Projects for Beginners
Now that you have your woodworking shop set up and all your tools have been hung up, you are probably anxious to get started. But you will want to start slowly, with simple projects you can complete quickly.
As you gain confidence and experience, you can ramp up the complexity of the home improvement projects you take on, but for now, here are some easy woodworking ideas to get you started.
- Build your child a wagon. A wood wagon is relatively easy to build, and it requires only the most basic of tools.
- Give yourself a great place to sit. If you love those stylish Adirondack chairs but not the high price tag, you can build your own, all in your new woodworking shop. With basic supplies like a circular saw, a few pieces of wood, and a couple of dozen nails and fasteners, you can give yourself a comfortable place to sit when your project is done.
- A workbench. Having a workbench in your woodworking shop will come in handy, so why not build your own? Building a workbench is the perfect first woodworking project for beginners, you can get it done in a single afternoon.
- Make a set of sawhorses. This is another woodworking project that will add to the usefulness of your new shop. Every carpenter needs a set of sturdy sawhorses, and the ones you make will be vastly better than any you can buy.
Recycling/Reusing Past Materials
As you get started with your new woodworking hobby, you will probably find yourself taking on lots of home improvement projects. Once you have your woodworking shop set up, you will view your home through a different set of eyes. You will find all kinds of things that suddenly need an upgrade.
Every one of those woodworking projects will generate some level of waste material. Recycling those materials is the environmentally responsible thing to do. There are many ways to make your projects as green as possible.
If you have usable wood and other construction materials left over, you can donate them to a good cause. Habitat for Humanity runs a number of resale stores around the country, and that is a good place to start. You can also check with local charities to see what they need and where you can donate.
You can also reuse smaller pieces of wood and leftover construction supplies for your future projects. Those small pieces of wood, for instance, can be glued together to create a wonderful little birdhouse. So you can share your newfound woodworking skills with your avian friends.
No matter what your goal is, learning some basic woodworking skills is a smart thing to do. And now that you know how to get started, you can begin your new hobby with confidence.
Originally Posted on Porch.com