Woodworking – An introduction
Woodworking can be defined as the art of creating things out of different types of wood with the help of tools. As one of the oldest crafts in the world, woodworking is used to make decorative as well as utilitarian objects.
Woodworking has become a very popular hobby and a lucrative profession. The tools and materials needed for woodworking can be bought from hardware, lumber and hobby stores. Woodworkers use both hand tools and power tools to shape the wood. Woodworking can include carpentry, carving, sculpture, turning, making furniture and much more. As you can see, this could easily start as a hobby and turn into an enjoyable career if you are passionate enough to pursue it.
As a hobby, woodworking can be very fulfilling and bring you several hours of recreation, along with the satisfaction of creating different things out of wood. While some people take pleasure in doing the actual woodworking, some prefer to collect beautiful works of art in wood and restoring them.
Woodworking is both relaxing and exciting, particularly if you like making things. To get started, all you need are some tools, hardware and basic lessons that can help you begin. When you work with wood, you can make a variety of decorative items, items you can use and much more.
Here is a history of the woodworking hobby followed by basic information you need to know to get started, including the tools you need, safety rules and tips.
Getting started with woodworking
Depending on what kind of woodworking you would like to take up as a hobby, such as making furniture, carving, scrolling, sculpting, turning, do it yourself fix-its around the home or restoration work, there are two ways to get started. One is to go in for a fully equipped shop. The second, and the better way is to start small and accumulate the tools you need, gradually. This is also a less expensive way to begin, since equipping a workshop can cost you thousands of dollars. Also, there are chances that you might end up adding tools you hardly use. Another thing is that one almost always buys a tool that has more than one use. For example, you can cut dados with a table saw or a router. Curves can be accomplished with a saber saw, a band saw or a scroll saw.
As a beginner, therefore, consider investing in a pre cut kit that comes with the wood pre cut in the necessary sizes and shapes. All you need to do is match the parts and follow the instructions to build the item. You would most probably need to nail, screw on, glue, sand and finish the piece. Kits usually consist of parts for making bird houses, feeders, benches, holders for plants and other easy items you can make and feel proud of.
When you move on to more complicated woodworking projects, you can purchase prepped up lumber in different widths. If you are making a table, table legs and chair spindles and several other pieces that need turning are available and ready for use.
Go in for a simple kit at first. If you buy your project as a kit, you will get instructions and a list of tools you will need. Depending on what you plan to make, you will probably need hammers, measuring tapes, clamps, saws, square, a hand drill and chisels. This should cost you around $200 to $300.
Do you need lessons?
Some beginners prefer to take a few lessons before they get started with the hobby. This familiarizes them with all aspects like understanding woodworking plans, safety measures, clean up, handling tools, etc.
A note about the wood you use
Woodworking uses wood and that can be expensive. So when you begin your hobby, use cheaper wood such as pine, which is soft, and then poplar, which is hard. This will help you practice with soft wood first, and then hard wood when you get used to handling the tools. If you plan to work with painted projects, choose MDF or plywood like Baltic Birch which is convenient to work with.
In woodworking, you also need to be aware of the nature of wood. You probably know that wood tends to change with weather conditions. It can expand or shrink, twist, warp or cup from its internal stress. It takes experience to look at a board and identify where these stresses are located and how they can affect the board when it is exposed to changes in weather. You will need to know and understand the right type of wood for your project.
Beginners’ tools for woodworking
Here’s an overview of different tools you need to be familiar with as a beginner in woodworking, followed by a short guide on how to set up a woodworking workshop at home.
1. A table saw
A small one should do and you will need this when you get serious about woodworking as a hobby. This does not mean you have to invest in an expensive one since you can easily get one in the range of $100 and $200. You can use this to cut wood when you build shelves and boxes.
2. Cordless drill
You will appreciate having a small cordless drill as this will help you drill holes to drive in nails. Drills are a neat way to perforate wood without damaging or splitting it and help you work conveniently. For about $50-$80 you can buy a 12-volt cordless drill.
Sanders help you smooth rough edges in the wood easily. You will get a random orbital sander for $35-$50.
For around $10 you can get a square to ensure that your projects are square.
5. Bar clamps
Bar clamps are very useful to help you assemble your projects. You can choose fairly cheap clamps for around $10.
Routers are useful for rounding corners and similar work. You can get one for under $ 60.
7. Miter saw
An important tool, it will help fix trim work and you would need to invest around $100 for one.
8. While this is really not a full list, it is a good beginners’ list. As you begin with various projects and complete them, you can decide what you want to add to this.
After you have got your tools and hardware, you would need to get the right wood for your project. Then, all you need to do is, get started. Choose easy tasks to begin with. Beginners usually use woodworking plans that give them a clear idea about wood patterns, simple projects, plans, etc. You can get woodworking plans for free online, with instructions, tips and pictures to make it easy for you depending on what you intend starting with.
A woodworking workshop at home
Now let us look at how you can set up a woodworking shop at home. You may start off with ready made kits and buy a few tools to get started, but eventually you are going to want to set up a workshop at home. Most people start by using a corner of their garage or basement to set up a workbench. Regardless of location or size of workshop, you need to have good air ventilation and dust collection system since an air or dust build-up can be a health hazard as well as a fire hazard.
You will also have to create storage space to keep your supplies, tools and wood. Ceilings are good choices for storing wood and rarely used tools. Storing tolls under your work bench is also a good idea. Make wall shelves or cabinets to store your hand tools for regular use.
Some woodworking hobbyists prefer to set up two work benches; one to do the rough work of putting the project together, sanding it and so forth and another for the finishing touches and drying.
Woodworking safety tips
Working with wood can be highly satisfactory as a hobby, but you also have to be careful about avoiding accidents. Here are some tips that will help:
- Ensure that you read instruction manuals related to each tool and equipment you acquire.
- Check each machine before you operate it.
- Wear eye protection when necessary and gloves to guard your hands from wood splinters, cuts from blades and saws and finish removers.
- Your electric equipment must be properly maintained and in good working order.
- Learn to use hand tools the right way. This includes chisels, augurs, power tools like routers, lathes, sanders, saws and drills.
- Be conscious about safety at all times. Wear well fitting clothes and if you sport long hair, tie it back since it can get caught when you use tools.
- Wear slip resistant footwear to avoid tripping over things.
- Wear dust masks.
In addition to safety, proper maintenance of your tools is mandatory. Keep your work area clean. Machines help you do your work efficiently. Make sure you switch them off when you finish for the day.
Now here are some tips about woodworking plans, which are the blueprint of your project. When you start out with your woodworking hobby without experience, your plan guides you step by step through your project.
- Take a good look at your plan and understand it. Ensure that all the instructions, measurements and the other information you need, are in it before you start your project.
- When you feel that the plan is complete, check whether the project is within your budget. Make a checklist of the materials you need and get an estimate of its cost.
- If the project is affordable for you, get your tools together. Take stock of what you need so that you do not have to interrupt your project.
- When you buy the wood you need, check different types of wood and the tools they must be used with.
- Get your safety gear together, ready for use before you begin your project.
- As mentioned earlier, you can buy pre cut wood kits, depending on your project. This will save you time and effort and will require only nailing, sanding, turning the screws on together and finishing. This gives you the satisfaction of completing your project sooner.
- Do not rush your project. Take it slow and steady so that you get it right the first time. Even one mistake can set you back, both in terms of cost and effort.
- Remember, clearing up after your project is done, is just as important as beginning it well. Get rid of the saw dust, wood shavings and extra debris.
You need not spend a lot of money to begin your woodworking hobby. It is also possible to rent equipment from your local hardware store. If you are not sure whether you will stick to this hobby, this can be a good option.
As a hobby or a profession, woodworking can be very relaxing. You can create many works of art that will be treasured for generations. Therefore, master the use of your tools. Some hobbyists like to keep written records of their learning process, techniques etc. so that they can learn from them.
While it can appear intimidating for beginners to get started with woodworking since it involves the use of tools, machinery and hands, make yourself familiar by getting as much information as possible. Knowledge is power. Woodworking involves a fair amount of skill and application. Don’t spend too much too soon on costly toolkits. Wait until you gain some experience. Learn how to measure, cut, attach and assemble. Learn to use your tools properly. Take your time and when you feel comfortable with your skills, go in for good quality material.
Start off by making gift items for family and friends, as this is fun. Who knows, you could probably make it into an enjoyable and lucrative profession.