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What kind of woodworking tips are you looking for?

  • Questions about choice of timber for any project?
  • Safety tips?
  • Best tools to use?
  • Woodworking technique tips?
  • Finishing and sanding tips?
  • Best woodworking plans?

Congratulations! Unless you are just curious and haven’t actually begun, you probably can consider yourself a woodworker. And you want to gather more knowledge about a fascinating creative satisfying hobby.

Tips about choice of timber/lumber

Personally I love the finish of many woods but know that some don’t appeal to me because of color or grain. My view doesn’t consider how difficult a piece of wood would be to work with. Aspen, beech and furniture fir/pine are the ones recommended for beginners.

Besides appearance you may need to consider durability if it’s going to be outdoors. How well it would take the finish you intend for it. Machinability, how well it takes nails or screws, how it may change with humidity variations, smoothness of finish, chemical reactivity with metals, etc.

There’s nothing like a trip to a hardwood lumber company to explore the many types of exotic hardwoods that are available to the woodworker. Most people who serve the public there are expert in having the details about each type of wood and would probably make recommendations for your particular project.

An online source for more technical information about wood in general is found  here.

Safety tips for woodworkers

  • Safety goggles or mask are important for when you are cutting wood especially with power tools.
  • Masks or a respirator are important to prevent inhaling particulates, and can protect you from “toxic” fumes while finishing your project.
  • Power tools generate a lot of noise so ear plugs or ear muffs provide protection.
  • A fire extinguisher should be handy. As well as a first-aid kit including a tweezer to extract splinters.
  • Push sticks and push blocks to keep your hands a safe distance from machinery.

For more  safety information you’ll find it here.

Tips about woodworking tools

Each project may require a different set of tools. Do your homework and determine exactly what you need to go through all of the steps, start to finish.

Read the owner’s manual for each. Practice using the tool on scrap wood before even beginning on a project. Remember the each kind of wood cuts differently because of grain and density. Please, your first use of a circular should not be on the piece of lumber you purchased for a project. Practice is important.

  • Clean (and prep, if needed) your tools after use. Organize the storage of your tools.
  • Keep your tools sharpened. Consider checking and sharpening the blades after each project. Sharper is safer.
  • Do your research and learn about which basic tools you need and what are the best.
  • Woodworking techniques are related to certain tools such as saws, power tools, hand planes, chisels.
  • As a beginner you’ll want to familiarize yourself with the very basic tools you need

Woodworking technique tips

The kind of wood and sawing with or against the grain produces or prevents tear-outs.

You’ll find some tips here.

For preventing tear-outs sawing veneer wood, plywood or particle boards

  • Finishing tips
    Catch excess glue by using tape along the joints
  • Use Styrofoam between clamps and wood so prevent clamps marks on wood.
  • Make sanding blocks for your various grade of sandpaper to easier sanding.

Tips on best woodworking plans

Spend a bit of time research woodworking plans. What you will learn is that all plans are not created equal. Some just have images of the finished projects. Some provide photos of the project in various stages. More complete plans provide a photo or sketch of the finished project with instructions for each step.

Did you ever have the experience of dealing with instructions on how to assemble a book shelf or table or cabinet? Instructions can prove to be impossible (because they were written by a non-English speaker) or incomplete at best. Diagrams might work better for you. So be clear about how you best understand and can follow instructions: diagrams, instructions and photos cover all the bases.

When you find sites that have woodworking plans, do a thorough check. Is there customer service where someone will respond to emails (send a test email to find out) or respond online to questions? Are there reviews and recommendations on the site to attest to the value and completeness of plans? Again, they may be written by expert woodworkers but that doesn’t guarantee that these woodworkers are able to communicate to the beginner on how to move forward step by step.

I read one comment from a user of a woodworking plan for a bed: after construction, this couple had to take their project apart because the finished dimensions were what they needed.

Think you can trust an expert woodworker who has put together 16,000 projects?

Ted McGrath offers complete step-by-step details for 16,000 woodworking projects. With over 30 years of experience you can bet he knows what you need. These projects were created only when he was disappointed again and again by the woodworking project details he purchased. The range from bird-house to large more complex projects.