Getting Started on Woodworking: The Basics You Need to Know!

everything you need to know about woodworking

Not only is woodworking a gratifying hobby, but it can also be a profitable one that simultaneously provides many additional benefits for your bank account and overall health and wellness. You can save an abundance of money learning how to woodwork while also gaining a sense of accomplishment and a hefty dose of stress relief. It’s incredibly satisfying and equally as rewarding, regardless of whether or not you’re creating the piece for yourself or plan on selling it to make a couple of extra bucks. In other words, woodworking just feels good and if you’re looking for a new hobby, it’s definitely one worth considering. But what if you’ve never woodworked before or even held a saw before? No worries. One of the amazing things about woodworking is that it’s a fairly easy hobby to learn and it doesn’t have to cost a fortune like many other activities and trade skills. Even if you don’t own one single tool or have never thought about woodworking prior to now, it’s never too late to start this new adventure.

What is Woodworking?

Before even considering adding woodworking onto your list of new hobbies, you must first understand exactly what it is. Well, to put it simply, woodworking is a craft that involves cutting, shaping and joining wood pieces together to create or build things. It’s a trade and a skill that involves making items from wood, and can include everything from wood carving to carpentry, cabinet making, wood burning, joinery, woodturning, construction and everything in between. If it involves making something – anything out of wood, it can be called woodworking.

To expand on that, woodworking can also consist of super simple projects to more elaborate, extravagant masterpieces. It can consist of building a bird house or a bench, or building a shed or entire house from scratch. The options are endless, which makes it such an excellent hobby to get into. You might like absolutely every area of woodwork or perhaps you’ll find that you prefer one area of expertise over another. It’s entirely up to you and woodworking is so vast that you’re certain to find something that you really enjoy.

Getting Started: The Essential Tools

Despite common belief (or misconception), you do not have to have a garage full of tools or a woodworking shop to start creating things from wood. In fact, a lot of woodworking can be done with next to nothing other than a few basic tools, such as a saw, glue, hammer, nails, screws, etc. And sure, there are always the more expensive options out there but rarely are these tools mandatory.

Typically, basic tools that you likely already have in your home or that you can pick up at your local hardware store at an affordable price is all you need to start woodworking. However, the type of tools needed will depend on the type of woodworking you want to practice (keep this in mind as we’ll circle back on this in just a moment).

Generally speaking, there are five essential woodworking tools you’ll need to start building items out of wood. These are the tools you’ll be using to cut, finish, assemble, measure and hold the wood pieces in place during the building process. And just like any other tool, there are different options for each and you likely won’t need all of them to begin. For example, there are several types of power saws to choose from, but you won’t need all of them to start woodworking. You may not need any of them either, it depends on the project you’re doing or the type of woodworking (hand tool woodworking wouldn’t use any power saws).

To give you an idea of the type of tools you may need at one point or another, here’s a quick look:

  • Power saw: electrical saws used to cut wood
  • Handsaw: simple and easy tools to use for quick work or where more precision cuts are needed
  • Planes: wood cutting tools use a fixed blade to shave off wood fibers to give them shape and to make them progressively smoother
  • Sander: tools used to smoothen and finish the wood pieces
  • Assembly tools: tools used to assembly the pieces
  • Hammer
  • Mallet
  • Power drill
  • Screw gun
  • Measurement tools: tools used to properly measure wood pieces from all sorts of angles
  • Squares
  • Tape measurer
  • Helpful extras: additional tools you can use to enhance the process
  • Sawhorse
  • Workbench

Again, none of these tools are mandatory. The tools you’ll need depend on the project you’re working on and the type of woodworking you’re doing, which brings us to the next step…

The Different Types of Woodworking

Woodworking can be summed up as any type of project that is built with wood. However, there are various types of woodworking that can help you narrow in on the tools you’ll need and the type of hobby you want to have. For example, if you love power tools, you’ll probably want to avoid hand tool woodworking as it forgoes any power tools. Perhaps you’d prefer a mixture of power tools and hand tools, this would be called blended woodworking. Understanding the different types will help you decide on the type of woodworking that is best for you.

  • Hand tool woodworking: the use of classical tools and methods such as hand saws, chisels, scrapers and planes, to build things instead of electrical tools
  • Power tool woodworking: the use of power tools such as table saws, miter saves, drills and sanders to build your projects
  • Digital woodworking: the use of digital programs and devices to design and cut your materials
  • Blended woodworking: the use of a mixture of hand tools and power tools
  • Specialty woodworking: areas people typically specialize in for an artistic craft

Safety Precautions

Just as with any new hobby, you’ll want to take time to thoroughly learn about the potential risks associated with woodworking. While it is deemed as one of the safest hobbies you can have, it could still be dangerous if proper safety precautions aren’t taken. This is particularly true due to the tools used with woodworking, regardless of whether you’ll be using classic handheld tools or digital ones. Here are some basic safety precautions to follow (but make sure you do your own research as well):

Wear Proper Safety Equipment and Clothing

Step one is to always make sure you’re wearing proper safety equipment and clothing any time you’re doing any type of woodworking. This does not matter if you’re using a handheld saw or a power saw, wearing proper equipment and clothing, such as ear protection, safety glasses and gloves is key. You’ll also want to avoid wearing any clothing that is loose or baggy clothing as it can snag or get stuck in a machine. This goes for jewelry too. Better yet, just remove it (the jewelry; not your clothes).

Make Sure You’re in the Right Mindset

This safety precaution goes without saying but we all need reminders sometime and this one is definitely worth it. If you are not in the right mind set, whether you’re intoxicated, on medication, angry, not feeling well, etc., do not do any woodworking. Avoid anything that can impair your judgement or reaction time.

Always Remember to Disconnect the Power

If a tool isn’t being used, disconnect it from its power source. It’s the number one rule for preventing injuries, as failing to disconnect the power source before doing certain tasks, such as changing blades or bits can result in serious and even fatal injuries. And as annoying as it may be to constantly be unplugging and plugging in machines, it’s absolutely necessary.

Limit The Use Of Power Cords

If you don’t have to string power cords throughout your space, don’t. If you do, keep them minimal. Having too many extension cords running all over the place makes it far too easy for someone to trip. And if you’re following the prior safety precaution (disconnect the power), you really only need one heavy-duty extension cord.

Sharpen Up

You must keep your tools sharp, as using blunt blades and bits can be just as dangerous (if not more so) than using a super sharp tool. It can also make your woodworking project more difficult. So, save yourself the added hassle, stress and risk – keep those tools sharp.

Never Go Over a Blade

Never go over a blade, regardless as to whether it’s running, being used or sitting stagnant. It takes a split second for an injury to happen and it’s up to you to eliminate any possible risks.

Read The Manual

As boring as manuals can be, make sure you give them a good read before using any tools. They’re there for a reason and the information in those manuals can mean the difference between a safe woodworking experience and a trip to the ER.

Now it’s time to get you woodworking. With the basic knowledge provided, you can start working on your very first woodworking project. If you aren’t sure where to start, you can find many plans online that come with all the steps you need to start building a masterpiece. One of our recommendations is Ted’s Woodworking Plans program.

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