Tips For Beginner Woodworkers Just Getting Started

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Blog entry by Cricket posted 05-20-2019 01:56 PM 3450 reads 1 time favorited 36 comments Add to Favorites Watch

I know we have discussed this several times before, but I am hoping to have a discussion thread filled with tips we can reference for woodworkers just getting started.

If you were helping someone one brand new to woodworking, what tips would you offer?

What helped you get started?

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-- Community Manager

36 comments so far

View Woodknack's profile


13552 posts in 3437 days

#1 posted 05-20-2019 03:07 PM

Read books, lifetimes and or careers of knowledge just waiting to answer questions you won’t know to ask.

-- Rick M,

View JayT's profile


6419 posts in 3268 days

#2 posted 05-20-2019 03:50 PM

Wood moves, regardless of what you do. Learn the basics of wood movement and how to accommodate for it in your projects instead of having a lot of time and effort wasted because a project tears itself apart.

There is always more than one way to accomplish a woodworking task. Find a way with the tools and skills you possess.

-- - In theory, there is no difference between theory and practice. In practice, there is.

View Rich's profile


6779 posts in 1646 days

#3 posted 05-20-2019 03:59 PM

Watch Charles Neil's 26 part video series on building a pie safe. It’s free on youtube. As I’ve said here many times, it doesn’t matter that you don’t want to build a pie safe, the videos are applicable to any woodworking project you want to tackle.

Topics include wood movement, joinery, design, proper tool use and safety… The list goes on and on.

-- Half of what we read or hear about finishing is right. We just don’t know which half! — Bob Flexner

View Murdock's profile


165 posts in 3541 days

#4 posted 05-20-2019 04:00 PM

- Use your safety gear (Safety glasses, dust mask/respirator, guards when possible, etc)
- If something you are about to do feels awkward, stop, rethink.
- Measure twice cut once isn’t always true, sometimes you need to sneak up on that cut to get it perfect
- Knowledge comes from books, video’s, talking with others more experienced
- Unlike knowledge, skill only comes from doing
- Ask questions, that is what places like this are for
- The highest priced tools are not always the best for you
- On the other hand the cheapest tool is usually the worst, but can sometimes get the job done
- Don’t buy a tool because you are “supposed to have it” buy it because it makes your life easier or there is a need for it in your project.

-- "Anyone who has never made a mistake has never tried anything new." - Albert Einstein

View diverlloyd's profile


4103 posts in 2914 days

#5 posted 05-20-2019 04:48 PM

Keep your digits away from anything that is spinning. Don’t work when you are tired and keep everything as sharp as possible.

View HokieKen's profile


17326 posts in 2195 days

#6 posted 05-20-2019 05:11 PM

When you finish your first project, you’ll be happy with it. When you finish your 10th, you’ll look back at your first and realize how bad it was ;-) At some point you’ll hit a plateau but the learning and improvement will never end. Or at least they shouldn’t. But, that learning curve is steep for the first several years for a hobbyist. So, cut your teeth on small projects with a variety of woods you can acquire reasonably. Don’t make your solid Walnut dining room table your first one.

-- I collect hobbies. There is no sense in limiting yourself (Don W) - - - - - - - - Kenny in SW VA

View doubleDD's profile


10276 posts in 3100 days

#7 posted 05-20-2019 05:24 PM

I would suggest not going out and buying a bunch of tools especially power tools. Starting with the basics and learning what they can do and how to use them will pay off in the future. I’ve seen people going out and buying bigger and better tablesaws for instance and they still have problems with their work. Besides good tools, the maintenance and tuning it up will help you along the way. As said above, it will be a slow learning curve but it all comes together with your mistakes.

-- Dave, Downers Grove, Il. -------- When you run out of ideas, start building your dreams.

View EarlS's profile


4416 posts in 3405 days

#8 posted 05-20-2019 05:36 PM

Start small, don’t think you need every power tool or hand plane out there. Figure out what you like to make. Figure out what style you like. Pay attention to all of the things made from wood that you see in a day. Really look at them and think about how they were made.

You will make mistakes, you will throw things away. Things don’t always come out like you want them too. Learn from those opportunities. ASK QUESTIONS!!! This board has numerous folks that will help out if you ask.

Above all, do it because you enjoy it. Take your time, there really is no big rush.

-- Earl "I'm a pessamist - generally that increases the chance that things will turn out better than expected"

View bigblockyeti's profile


7195 posts in 2777 days

#9 posted 05-20-2019 09:03 PM

You can never have too many scraps, there’s always a project that’s going to need what you threw away just a month ago. This is especially true for hardwoods or anything remotely expensive, never let it go!

-- "Lack of effort will result in failure with amazing predictability" - Me

View TravisH's profile


763 posts in 2992 days

#10 posted 05-20-2019 09:51 PM

Pick something that will be meaningful to you.

View Joe Lyddon's profile

Joe Lyddon

10961 posts in 5109 days

#11 posted 05-21-2019 06:56 AM

OK… READ UP… Sit down and READ THIS!

You are working with a piece of wood with a chisel, cleaning out a dado, etc.
You are really INTO IT…
You have your left arm wrapped around the wood holding it down good so you can clean out the dado…
You have your left hand behind the dado, holding the wood so you can use the chisel real good…
All of a sudden the Chisel ATTACKS you by cutting that dado in a stuck place and shoots forward…
Yes, you guessed it…
That sharp chisel just attacked your left hand… into a finger… and all of a sudden there is BLOOD all over the place and you are SHOCKED to seeing your finger bleeding… You also happen to be in the 8th grade making a table… and there are other people around… They guide you to the teacher and get First Aid… a band-aid wrapped around your finger and it stops bleeding… You finally settle down and realize what just happened.

You just learned that you had your hand in a very dangerous position… Right behind that dado… Inline with the chisel you’re using… because you were thinking about the DADO and NOT your hand.

Never get your hand(s) in line with anything that can CUT you!

That includes a lot of things… Table saw blades… Band saw blades… Jointers & planers… hammers… screwdrivers… carving knives… ANYTHING!!

Think SAFETY FIRST before doing ANYTHING…

If, when thinking about what you are doing, or about to do, is possibly dangerous, STOP… STOP and think of another way to do what you want to do!

I still have a small scar in the index finger of my left hand (no, it doesn’t hurt anymore LOL)... BUT, it has reminded me for YEARS of what & HOW it happened and how it could have been avoided.

I learned the hard way… and was lucky that it was just a VERY SHARP hand controlled CHISEL and NOT a Power Cutter!

Work SLOWLY and safely THINKING about WHAT you are doing…

DO NOT GET IN A HURRY forgetting to be SAFE!


-- Have Fun! Joe Lyddon - Alta Loma, CA USA - Home: ... My Small Gallery:

View GR8HUNTER's profile


8337 posts in 1769 days

#12 posted 05-21-2019 02:39 PM

keep tools sharp … Charles Neil on youtube :<))))))))))

-- Tony---- Reinholds,Pa.------ REMEMBER TO ALWAYS HAVE FUN :<))

View bigJohninvegas's profile


980 posts in 2519 days

#13 posted 05-21-2019 04:02 PM

Already lots of good tips here.
I struggled as a new woodworker. Made several critical mistakes with the projects I was choosing, and not understanding why or how I made the mistake in the first place. Luck would have it, I did not hurt myself.
Then I found a small woodworking school. Took a basic class. What an eye opener that was.
Turns out for me, most of my early mistakes were caused by not having my table saw tuned up.

So My number one tip, Before you start buying a bunch of tools, is to find other woodworkers in your community.
Clubs, Schools and such. Lumberjocks too of course. READ!
2. Choose small easy projects to get started, and as your skill level improves choose bigger projects.
Its very easy to go to big or complex. Sets you up for failure.
3. Don’t buy tools till you know you need it.
There are a lot of cool looking jigs and gadgets out there. Most of it you don’t need.
Take the time to figure out what sort of woodworker you want to be. Hand tool, or more power tools for example.

-- John

View htl's profile


5386 posts in 2216 days

#14 posted 05-21-2019 10:10 PM

Don’t get in to wood working for the money!!!
To make money in most wood working projects takes speed and it takes time to build up your speed.
Study up on some drafting as this will help you be able to visualize projects on paper to be able to see it as a whole project in your mind, or at least the one part of the project you are working on that day.

-- An Index Of My Model making Blogs

View CFrye's profile


11220 posts in 2896 days

#15 posted 05-23-2019 02:21 AM

Using a tool without instructions is an accident waiting to happen. Instructions can be written or verbal from someone that has used it and understands how to use it PROPERLY.

-- God bless, Candy

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