10 Woodworking Tips for Beginners
If you’re a beginner woodworker, you might be intimidated by the hobby. There are tons of tools out there for woodworking and an infinite amount of projects from small to large. But woodworking doesn’t have to be intimidating. With woodworking tips it can be a fun, exciting hobby that produces awesome, tangible results.
Don’t be afraid to get started on woodworking projects. To make things easier for you, here are 10 woodworking tips for beginners.
1. Make Your Own Workbench
If you don’t have your own workbench, you can make your own using a pair of sawhorses. You can use them as your base, and use a bi-folding closet door as your surface. The closet door will collapse for easy storage later.
To make your workbench even more portable, you can use folding sawhorses too. Your whole workbench will now be portable.
2. Start Small, With an Easy Project
If you’re new to woodworking and haven’t completed many projects yet, you can start with a handful of easy projects.
Some ideas of some easy projects to get you started: magazine storage bins, a small step stool, a candle holder, a bird feeder, and a small portable bench. Small projects like this will only take a couple of hours.
These projects are great for gaining experience. They’re also great for building your confidence as a beginning woodworker.
3. Learn the Different Types of Lumber
Before you start a project, you should familiarize yourself with the type of lumber you will need.
There are three basic types of wood: hardwoods, softwoods, and engineered woods.
Hardwoods come from trees that don’t produce needles or cones. Oak, maple, cherry, walnut, and balsa wood are some examples of hardwoods.
Softwoods come from conifer trees, which produce needles and cones. Pine, redwood, cedar, spruce, and fir are all examples of softwoods.
Engineered woods are manufactured woods that don’t occur naturally in nature. Engineered wood may also be referred to as composite wood, and is often made from waste wood produced by sawmills. Popular examples of engineered woods include plywood, oriented strand board, and composite board.
Any of these woods could be useful for woodworking, depending on your project.
Pine is sustainable, versatile, and affordable. Balsa wood is not very strong but is commonly used in hobby and craft projects. Cedar is rugged and is often used for outdoor projects like outdoor furniture and decks.
These are just a few examples of wood types and how you might use them.
4. Learn the Essential Woodworking Tools
As a beginner woodworker, it’s easy to get overwhelmed by the sheer number of tools on the market. But you don’t need a lot of tools to get started. They don’t have to be expensive either.
Some beginner woodworking tools you might want to invest in are a tape measure, sawhorses, a workbench, a power saw, a hand saw, hammers and mallets, planes, and sanders.
Other tools you might want to learn and integrate into your woodworking tools are stationary drill presses, spindle molders, and thicknessers.
But if you’re just getting started, some basic tools will go a long way.
5. Get Proper Safety Equipment
Along with your basic woodworking tools, you will want to invest in safety equipment.
Safety goggles and gloves will provide some protection from tool accidents, as well as stray wood chips. A good set of safety glasses or goggles will have impact-resistant lenses and side screens. Even staining wood can be dangerous to your eyes and skin.
With loud power tools, long-term exposure can lead to permanent hearing loss. Earplugs or earmuffs can protect your hearing.
Earmuffs are larger than earplugs, but they are easy to take on and off and make for an easy fit. Earplugs are smaller and sit inside the ear.
If you are working with paint strippers, wood treatments, and other chemicals, you should use a respirator. Respirators will also protect you against sawdust, which can be a carcinogen, especially in large amounts.
The best way to stop an accident is to prevent it from happening. Make sure you are working in a well-lit workshop. Due to the combustibility of wood, especially chemically treated wood, a fire extinguisher is recommended.
6. Stain Like a Pro
Staining wood can highlight the natural grain patterns of the wood. It can also help the wood match other colors or tones and complement other wood projects.
Staining can be difficult for beginners. You may find yourself trying to stain wood with curves or deep recesses. Fortunately, there’s an easy solution for this.
You can use an inexpensive spray bottle filled with wood stain to spray hard-to-reach areas. Then mop up the excess stain with a clean rag. A cheap spray bottle can easily be found in your local garden section.
When staining wood, always mop up any excess stain. When wood has absorbed all the stain it can, the rest sits on top of the wood and takes extra time to dry.
Before you stain anything, test out the stain on a small piece of unused wood. The stain penetrates the fibers of the wood, soaking through it.
Staining is permanent, but a simple test on an unused piece of wood will allow you to see what the final product will look like before you commit.
7. Measure Correctly
It’s easy to jump into cutting without precise measurements. But measuring correctly before you cut will save you time and money.
Tape measures are great tools, but they aren’t best for small measurements. Use a steel ruler or digital caliper for precise measurements.
A carpenter’s pencil or a mechanical pencil are good tools for marking your projects. You can also use a marking knife.
Marking knives can make a thinner line than a pencil. However, the notches they make are permanent, so you have to be careful when using them. You can also combine the two, and use a pencil to darken any lines made by a marking knife.
When you do draw your line for cutting, make sure to distinguish which section is to be discarded. You can do that by placing a mark on the waste piece.
8. Stay Organized
Even as a beginning woodworker, you need to stay organized. You need a place to store all of your tools. It doesn’t have to be a dedicated shed or garage. You can start out by using a corner of your garage or basement.
If you have space, you can even build dedicated tool storage yourself. A few shelves or cabinets allow you to store your tools safely and keep them organized.
Keep your workshop organized by cleaning up after each project, instead of leaving things for later. Cleaning an entire space seems daunting, so start by spending a few minutes putting away clutter. Don’t wait for things to get out of hand.
By keeping your tools organized, you will save yourself time on future projects. No more searching for that “missing” tool. It’s especially important if you want to run your own woodworking business.
9. Learn From Others
A woodworking class can be a good way to get started. A class can help you learn essential safety tips, wood types, and safe cutting techniques. If you aren’t comfortable with using tools, a class can be a good introduction.
You can also find a mentor. Ask a friend or family member if they can help you with your next project. An experienced mentor will be able to watch your work and provide tips and help when needed.
10. Everyone Starts as a Beginner
Everyone starts as a beginner woodworker, and that’s okay. Many who are new to the hobby are intimidated by others with more experience. It’s easy to compare yourself to others who have been doing woodworking for years.
If you’re a beginner, you likely never learned the basics of woodworking. That can make your first few projects pretty tough.
Like any hobby or career, the more time you spent practicing your skills, the better the final results will be. Skills can be learned and refined. When you’re ready to take on new projects, you can try building something different and more advanced, furthering your skills.
Don’t be intimidated or discouraged by your initial woodworking efforts. Remember, everyone has to start somewhere. Don’t give up too soon.
Ready to Put These Woodworking Tips to Use?
Don’t be afraid to get into woodworking. It’s an exciting hobby that anyone can do. If you follow our woodworking tips, you will have an easier time with your new hobby.
If you’re not sure where to start with woodworking, check out our plans for thousands of woodworking projects. You’ll never run out of ideas for your next project.
And remember, be safe and have fun!