As with every endeavour in the DIY spectrum, the internet has put us in the golden age of woodworking. With countless blogs, image sharing sites and other resources, you have a worldwide well of blueprints and how-to guides to not only provide the inspiration, but take you through each of the subsequent steps. It can be a little intimidating for anyone who's had very little experience working with raw materials, so in this entry of the Woodshop Direct blog, we'll take you through our top tips for beginners when it comes to building with wood.
Know Your Timber
Whilst every set of instructions will tell you which wood works best for the project at hand, if you have any intention of turning woodworking into a serious hobby then you'll need to brush up on your lumber types. This eliminates any misplaced assumptions, and ensures every material purchase is based on demonstrable knowledge rather than the woodworker going on instinct alone.
For example, the differences between softwood and hardwood require proper understanding of their typical applications - the former is cheaper, easier to work with and favoured for garden furniture and fencing, whilst the latter works well for interior joinery and staircases thanks to its versatility. Even when going further into classifications, your choice of cedar, oak etc. can be down to more specific factors, including workability, the amount of figures it can produce and how its current foresting process affect supply rates.
Choose The Project That's Right For You
You first attempt at building with wood shouldn't be something as complex as a table tennis table or full bar (complete with beer tap...a dream for another day), especially when there's so many great ideas that remain relatively simple. Bird houses, ornamental woodwork, CD/DVD/Magazine racks, wine bottle holders, boards for chopping or dining and boxes of all sizes are just a handful of workable ideas to cut your tools on.
It's also wise to pick a project that will benefit your lifestyle. If your other homely passion aside from building with wood is gardening or landscaping, then a timber retaining wall is an excellent way to create a new flower bed, or balance out a sloping path. Or, if woodwork is something you're quite serious about, a handmade worker's table or bench is guaranteed to put you on the ideal learning curve.
Get The Best Tools for the Job
Whilst the more specific projects, such as motorized displays or anything with a magnet in it, may require more specialized tools, there are a dedicated set of tools which no woodworker should be without. From claw hammers to chisels, we covered this list of essential carpentry tools
in a previous blog, with full instructions for each.
It's vital that you have proficient use of every tool in your arsenal. For anything mechanised or that needs to be operated in a certain manner, always study the owner's manual very carefully. It's also very beneficial, regardless of your experience, to test out every new tool on a piece of scrap wood, trying out specific techniques that will save you time, stress and supplies when it comes to working on the real deal. In a later blog post, we'll also be going through the best practices for keeping your woodworking tools in the best possible working order and tip-top shape.
Pay Attention To Safety
Last but not least, whilst building with wood can be a most enjoyable and rewarding hobby, it does bear a lot of risk if proper safety precautions aren't taken. Wearing proper safety equipment, avoiding drugs and alcohol before working and keeping your extension cords to a minimum of one are common sense ideas, but other safety tips, such as not using dull cutting tools (actually more dangerous than a sharp blade), using woodworking power tools against the cutter and knowing where your steadying hand should be in relation to the active tool are pieces of safety information worth studying up on.
We hope these top tips give you a better picture of what's involved when it comes to building with wood, and that they drive you to start your first project with full haste! For all future updates to our woodworking and DIY blog, keep an eye on the Woodshop Direct Facebook page, Twitter and/or Google+.