Easy Woodworking Projects for Beginners
Any beginner in the art of woodworking should always start with an easy project. Choosing something that is beyond your level of expertise will likely result in frustration and the possibility to ruin it. If you choose an easy task, however, and you complete it successfully, it will hone your skills and keep your enthusiasm at its prime.
The experience you gain from this easy task will enable you to choose a project that’s just a little more difficult the next time, and before you know it you will be able to successfully finish any project with a high difficulty level.
So exactly what are some projects that are easy for beginners?
Bookcase or a Set of Shelves
A small bookcase or a set of shelves would be a very good place to start. This will allow you to practice your skills in measuring, cutting, and joining. You may find yourself needing to plane the pieces and you’ll certainly need to sand them before applying the finish unless you want to take the easy route and buy the boards ready to go. Once you are finished, you’ll find lots of use for such pieces. Whether it is used for keeping children’s books up off the floor or kept for your own workshop, it’s totally up to you.
If you prefer a much smaller project, a jewelry box would be a good choice. Depending on the design you desire, it can be as elaborate or as simple as any other beginner task. You could do small dovetail joints and you’ll definitely need to cut out mortises for the hinges and probably the clasp. Here you’ll get to practice measuring and drill tiny holes to screw hinges on.
Another project that’s good for any beginner is a planter box. The gardener of the family will be thrilled to have this and be able to show off their pretty plants. It won’t really matter if the corners of a planter box are not absolutely perfect as long as it just sits there and holds the plants. The worst part (if there really is one) can simply be turned to the back or covered by the trailing tendrils of the plant.
Spice Rack or a Coat Rack
Other smaller projects include a spice rack or a coat rack. The spice rack will allow you to practice in measuring things accurately, while the coat rack could be made a bit more challenging with the addition of a shelf above it. If you need a guide or a project plan, you can either download free woodworking plans for beginners from the Internet or buy woodworking magazines and books. The library is also a good source. Most plans will tell you what you need to complete a project, both in tools and materials.
Drilling Basics and Skills
Drilling can be done using a power drill or a hand drill. These days, most drilling is done by either a cordless or corded power drill. Although cordless drills are invaluable for getting into awkward places, if the hole is tiny and hard to get at, a hand drill might be more useful.
When drilling, the first and most important thing to consider is safety. Wearing goggles at all times will keep those bits of flying debris like sawdust, masonry dust, or tiny splinters out of your eyes. It is also ideal to wear a dust mask.
Another important note to remember is to choose the right type of bit for the material you are to drill. You can’t drill wood using a masonry bit or vice versa, so make sure to know what goes best for what. Remember to attach the drill bit to the drill securely.
When working on a wall, make sure that there are no power cables or water pipes behind it. If you are to drill into something slippery like tile, place some sticky tape over the spot to help stop the point of your bit from slipping. This also helps in preventing the tile from shattering. Keep the drill angled perpendicularly to the surface. Sometimes, making a little nick at the spot where the drill is to enter can be helpful. You can use the point of a nail or a bradawl to tap into it and then slowly start drilling. Hold the drill with both hands and let it do the work. There’s no need to apply any pressure.
If it won’t go in or if there are lots of smoke and heat building up, check to see if you have the appropriate drill for the job. If the material or surface you are drilling is moveable, clamp it down. Never attempt to hold the item still with one hand while the other hand is drilling; that’s a recipe for disaster. Usually, there are some splintering at the exit hole. If you need to drill right through an object and you want a nice, neat finish, clamp another piece of wood tightly to the back of it. Slow down the drilling speed as you reach the end as it will also help reduce tearing.
If you are drilling inside, make sure to tape a small bag to the bottom of the hole before you start your work. The lady of the house will surely thank you for that. This will catch most of the debris, saving everyone from a big clean-up once the job is finished.
Essential Hand Tools for Woodworkers
A lot of woodworkers love their power tools, but good hand tools are just as necessary. In fact, years ago, our forefathers have accomplished many wonderful things using only hand tools.
One hand tool that’s essential to any workshop is a claw hammer. Most people will have used one at some point in their lives. When choosing a claw hammer, make sure that it feels comfortable in your hand and that it isn’t too heavy.
A rubber mallet is a handy tool that you can use when you want to fit something together without leaving any marks on it.
A speed square is used to quickly mark a square line, with an angle of up to 45%, across the end cut off a piece of lumber or any other angle you require.
A very versatile tool is the sliding bevel. This is handy for duplicating angles as it can be locked in place. It is also possible to adjust it for any angle.
Retractable Tape Measure
A retractable tape measure is another handy tool that you will use constantly, especially if it has both metric and standard markings on it.
A utility knife, especially one with a retractable blade, will have many uses such as marking lumber or cleaning a hinge mortise.
Chisels and Screwdrivers
Chisels and screwdrivers are both always in use at any workshop. Woodworkers should have at least a good basic set of each. Both the Phillips and flathead types of screwdrivers are a must to have.
Another necessary part of the woodworker’s basic toolset is the level. Most projects you make need to have their horizontal or vertical levels taken. Having at least one long and short will be most useful.
Nail sets are very important for a woodworker, especially the ones that come in a variety of sizes to suit the job on hand. They are used to sink nail heads just below the surface of the lumber.
A small block plane is another useful tool specifically for shaving that thin sliver of wood off your stock.
Handsaws are necessary for any workshop. There are many varieties of handsaws that are very useful including coping saw, pull saw, compass saw, keyhole saw, and large and small crosscut saws.
There are many other tools that are essential to any workshop, but it will all depend on the type of work to be done. Files, rasps, pliers, and sanding blocks are just some useful tools a woodworker needs. Lastly, a large piece of pegboard is great for hanging your tools on, keeping them handy for the next use while being safely out of the way of little fingers. For those tools that won’t hand, a lockable cupboard is a good alternative. Although shelving may seem to be the best way to store things, they’ll just get covered in dust and sawdust. Plus, it is more possible for children to get at.