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Forum topic by Eein posted 10-11-2018 01:25 PM 818 views 0 times favorited 18 replies Add to Favorites Watch
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2 posts in 636 days

10-11-2018 01:25 PM

Topic tags/keywords: resource question

Hi guys,

My name is Ian, and I’ve never attempted to create anything out of anything. I have some coding experience from college but I’m really looking to learn a skill that would allow me to make real physical things that I designed and made from scratch myself. I think I’m in the right place to learn something like that, after looking over the site, but I have no idea where to begin. Maybe I’m on the wrong site, but does anyone have a link to some absolute braindead beginner basics to getting into woodworking? Anything helps.

Thank you!
- Ian

18 replies so far

View Mr_Pink's profile


193 posts in 1144 days

#1 posted 10-11-2018 01:43 PM

I don’t know what type of woodworking you want to do, but for hand-tool oriented material, I would look at Paul Sellers new site

Also, Richard Maguire (The English Woodworker) does an outstanding job of explaining how things can be built with a minimal tool kit. You can find him on YouTube and here. I think he’s underrated as an instructor.

View TheFridge's profile


10859 posts in 2258 days

#2 posted 10-11-2018 01:49 PM

Get ideas for what you want to make and figure out tools from there

-- Shooting down the walls of heartache. Bang bang. I am. The warrior.

View Tedstor's profile


1690 posts in 3405 days

#3 posted 10-11-2018 02:15 PM

Populer Woodworking covers the basics pretty well, and has an entire microsite devoted to easy projects.

Start with a “5 board bench”. You’ll need a tape measure, hammer, saw, and a carpenter square. All stuff everyone should own anyway.

View GR8HUNTER's profile


7551 posts in 1485 days

#4 posted 10-11-2018 02:17 PM

Welcome 2 LJ’s
search internet for ideas
go from there :<))

-- Tony---- Reinholds,Pa.------ REMEMBER TO ALWAYS HAVE FUN

View BlazerGator's profile


25 posts in 1961 days

#5 posted 10-11-2018 02:21 PM

You can access lots of episodes of New Yankee Workshop on YouTube (and maybe even on the NYW website, if it’s still operational). You don’t need to load up on all the tools Norm features, but it will provide a pretty good variety of projects. This show got me to look at furniture in a different way and to appreciate joinery. Previously, I imagined screws and nails did all the work. It is a well-produced show that can give you some familiarity and vocabulary that will make it easier to understand other resources you’re drawn to after that.

-- Blaze

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5788 posts in 3123 days

#6 posted 10-11-2018 02:26 PM

Two sites that I recommend to beginners, one is Popular WoodWorking Magazine has a section called “I can Do That”. Link. The other one that recommend is Steve Ramsey’s Wood Working for Mere Mortals. The way to get started is to look at what tools you have, then select a project that you can make that won’t require a huge outlay in new tools. Keep it simple to build your confidence, make mistakes, and learn from them.

-- Bondo Gaposis

View lumbering_on's profile


578 posts in 1262 days

#7 posted 10-11-2018 02:43 PM

Some good suggestions here already. I’d also suggest you look into Fine Woodworking’s site

You should also see if there are some local courses you can take. Nothing is better than getting hand-on experience.

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8908 posts in 3349 days

#8 posted 10-11-2018 02:59 PM

Welcome to LumberJocks Ian.

Building a “5 board bench” is a great idea.

View jimintx's profile


934 posts in 2357 days

#9 posted 10-11-2018 03:07 PM

As already written, in current times the videos on youtube are a remarkable resource.

No idea where you are located in the world, but …
—- look at classes offered by local woodwork stores, including the simplest ones that Home Depot and Lowe’s sometime have
—- check for woodwork classes offered by other types of private businesses, or individuals
—- Check for local community college, or simply websites, that offer wide arrays of classes in all subjects
—- see if there is a wood work club you might join and become more involved in

A jillion years or so back, I was devout about watching the weekly episodes of Norm Abrams show “New Yankee Workshop”, and Roy Underhill’s “The Woodwrights Shop” on my local PBS tv station. Also got a lot of info from “This Old House”, also on PBS. I’d still watch those shows if they were offered. I really learned about wood working techniques and tools from those programs.

-- Jim, Houston, TX

View MrRon's profile


5913 posts in 4016 days

#10 posted 10-11-2018 03:12 PM

Welcome! You have taken the first step by posting here. To get started, all you need is the desire, which you obviously already have. There were many good suggestions, but I would pick one and go with that. It can become overwhelming when you are bombarded by too much information all at once. Ask questions and start a small project. You will gain experience as you go on. Don’t forget, this is not rocket science; if it were, there would not be anyone on these forums. You learn by doing and making mistakes. We all make mistakes despite our years of doing woodworking and are still learning.

View LittleShaver's profile (online now)


674 posts in 1392 days

#11 posted 10-11-2018 03:32 PM

Just start making things. Start simple, and keep at it.

The quote below came today from Lost Art Press:

‘Persistence and the courage that goes with persistence are needed, but as the work grows so does the interest. We end by finding ourselves entering upon a new and most illuminating heritage, illuminating because only by the intent, patient work demanded by a craft do we really discover ourselves, our possibilities, our strength, and our weaknesses. By committing ourselves to it we grasp a chance to develop as personalities, ready to act, to accept challenges and have a kind of endurance. We learn to reason our way out of the bad patches and with the help of a little ingenuity to rectify our blunders. Better still, we learn how to avoid them. Best of all, we discover the amount of quiet satisfaction that grows in us once our creative instincts have found an outlet. Fine furniture is always a joy to behold. It is a greater joy still to make it.”

— Charles Hayward, The Woodworker magazine, 1962

I would caution about spending too much time researching. There are many ways to do just about anything in woodworking, and, contrary to many assertions out there, I don’t believe there is any one “best”. Find some techniques that align with your needs, tools, skills, and project and use them. If you keep looking for the best, you’ll never get anything made.

Hand tools are the least expensive point of entry to the craft. Old tools can be made to work as well or better than new tools and give you the opportunity to figure out how and why they do what they do.

Welcome to LJ. This is a great site for getting some practical guidance.

-- Sawdust Maker

View cmiers's profile


1 post in 721 days

#12 posted 10-11-2018 03:42 PM

Hey Ian,

I will pass along what worked for me when I was starting out, but it will be different for everyone depending on your background and how you learn.

I will start by saying that nothing you can watch/read/listen to will come close to being as instructional as actually attempting something, seeing where things do not go as expected (and trust me you will encounter the unexpected), then trying again. This process is how almost everyone who makes things (woodworking or otherwise) learns and gets better. This process can be daunting to the beginner and in some cases dangerous if you are using tools you are unfamiliar with. The most important thing you can do from the beginning is to learn AND FOLLOW safe practices in your work. It does not matter how fast you are learning or how good you can make something look if you seriously injure yourself with a tool. So first things first, make sure you are well aware of how to use a tool that you are working with. There are safety instructions that often come with tools, there are videos online, you can go to a store that sells the tool and ask the sales person about how to safely use it. People are very willing to freely share safety knowledge and help prevent injuries down the road. Now that the obligatory safety talk is out of the way, let me actually answer your question.

Your BEST option to learn quickly is to find a class you can take that is geared towards beginners. A class is more valuable than reading a book or watching a video because while all of these formats provide you with someone who knows what they are doing providing instruction to you, only the class actually allows that person to see you working on the project and provide you with real-time specific feedback about what you are doing and how you can improve. You do not have to pay a ton of money to find this type of instruction. If you look around, I bet you will be surprised by what is offered around you (or at least within a somewhat reasonable drive). On the cheaper end of the spectrum, look for woodworking stores as often they have Saturday miniclasses or even some of the classes offered by the big box stores (I have seen some classes on things like basic cabinetry or decks offered, although in full disclosure I have never attended, so I do not know what they are like). While these miniclasses are a good way to get your feet wet in woodworking, you will not learn all the foundations from the 2 hour class, but rather how to do specific projects. If you do enough small projects, you start to learn more and can continue to extend your knowledge. Another option is you can look at your local Art Center or Community Colleges as these places often offer some form of beginner woodworking class which will run for many weeks in an evening or weekend time slot. This option will not only provide you with hands on instruction geared toward beginners, but will also help you build confidence in your abilities, gain hands-on experience with tools and machinery, and meet other people in your area with similar interests.

While the in person class route is what I would suggest, I do not know where you are located and for the sake of completeness, let’s assume you do not have access to any of these classes or that your schedule does not allow you to attend them. In this case, there are a ton of easily accessible resources for people new to building and making things. The ones that you choose to use will largely depend on what you want to make, the tools/resources you have available, and just plain personal preference.

You will see a huge number of books written on woodworking. The number is actually overwhelming, and they are not typically cheap. While I think that reading books and learning from them is extremely valuable, it is not where I typically tell someone new to an already expensive hobby to spend their initial dollars. For this reason, I am not going to recommend any specific book here as an entry point for you, because I don’t know how you learn or what you are interested in. Instead I have some advise for you that will cost you $0, but will still be very beneficial: swing by your local library branch and check out some books on woodworking, cabinetry, furniture, construction, DIY projects or whatever tickles your fancy. This has been how many people got started for decades. The best part is, that for no money investment on your part, you can dip your toe into these different areas and see what interests you the most. Once you find the area you are fired up about, then you can invest in some books specific to that topic if you so desire.

There are a ton of woodworking magazines. Again, you can thumb through some of these at your library or bookstore and get an idea of what they are like. Each magazine has a slightly different feel and will concentrate on somewhat different material, but at the end of the day, it is personal preference. Personally I like Fine Woodworking, but it is largely because that is what I grew up seeing my dad read, so it was what I grabbed first when groping for woodworking knowledge. There are plenty of other great magazines out there: Popular Woodworking, Wood, Woodsmith, Woodworker’s Journal, etc. From what I have heard, it seems that Wood is maybe geared a little more toward beginners and will provide you with projects better suited to getting started with woodworking. Woodsmith is probably the next level, since they write under the assumption that you have some idea of what you are doing, to avoid repeating the basics as frequently. After that, Fine Woodworking and Woodcrafter’s Journal provide continued reading enjoyment even for advanced woodworkers by touching on some mid level content, but mainly concentrating on more advanced topics. With that being said, I still think that Fine Woodworking is a great magazine for anyone that is deeply interested with woodworking as you will definitely learn from the articles, but it may be a little while before you attempt some of the projects outlined in the issues.
Mechanical Caveman posted a brief review of some of these magazines:

If you get deep into the hobby and find you have a strong interest in period furniture or handtools, I would HIGHLY recommend Mortise and Tennon Magazine. It is definitely not your traditional woodworking magazine, but is gorgeously done and I always look forward to the next issue (they put out 2 per year).

Another thing to consider is that many publishers now offer online content/membership which can give you access to back issues of the publication, instructional videos, etc. So if you do not want to read the paper version, or want the online content in addition to the paper version, that is something else to consider. Which leads to my next topic, woodworking online.

I mentioned the online resources now offered by many of the woodworking magazines, but what about online resources in general? Well there are more than you will know what to do with. You obviously have some idea since you are posting in an online woodworking community, but I’ll outline just a few other resources in case you have not run across them.

You can find literally thousands of free resources, articles, videos, podcasts, etc. online about something related to what you are interested in making. Youtube has seen an explosion of “maker” and woodworking channels providing instruction for people of all skill levels ranging from the brand new to highly seasoned. If you just start searching and watching videos related to what you want to build, Youtube’s magic algorithms will set to work and lead you into a deep black hole of information that you can learn a lot from (and lose many hours in the process). As for specific channels/people, this is a personal preference, but I can provide some of the channels I have come across in my YouTube adventures (disclaimer, I have not watched some of these for a while now, so I cannot attest to how they currently run their channels):
Paul Sellers
The Wood Whisperer (Marc Spagnuolo)
Matt Cremona
Renaissance Woodworker (Shannon Rogers)
Fine Woodworking
Woodworking Journal
Wood by Write
Rockler Woodworking
Highland Woodworking
Jimmy DiResta
April Wilkerson
Popular Woodworking
The Samurai Carpenter
Jay Bates
and many more that I am sure to have missed.

As a side note, some woodworking shows have been picked up by streaming services. For instance, some of the seasons for the PBS show Rough Cut and many seasons of the Wood Whisperer are on Amazon Video for free streaming to prime members. So you might do a search on your favorite streaming service, if you pay for one, to see what they might have.

My BIGGEST piece of advice for someone new to woodworking and learning from watching online content is to remember that many of these people make their living by making this content, and if it is being posted for free to Youtube that those dollars have to come from somewhere. This is usually in the form of advertisements or sponsors for the show. It can be overwhelming at first because it seems like you need to have all of these expensive tools or a wall of parallel clamps (which would cost more than my vehicle is worth), but if you watch them with the mindset that they have to display and promote some of these products to make money allowing them to post the video content for free viewership, then you will be fine. The other major pitfall of the new woodworker is feeling like you must buy all of the tools right away. We all love tools, I am guilty of tool lust and I will be the first to admit it, but it can be a danger to new woodworkers, because you don’t know enough to understand what you will actually need yet. Don’t just buy something because it is on a list somewhere of “25 tools every woodworker must own”. Some of these lists are fine, but I have what I consider a better approach for you: decide on a project you want to make. Then buy what tools you can manage to complete that project with. When I say what tools you can manage to complete the project with, that will depend on the time you have to spend on the project, your space constraints, and mostly your budget. If you have very little time but a lot of disposable income, you will make different tool buy decisions than someone who has very little money to spend, but can use a different (cheaper) set of tools to still get it done, but it will just take longer. Another thing to keep in mind is that some tools that would be a thrill to own and are described as essential by someone who does this for a living are not necessarily essential for the hobbyist just starting out. If you do this for a living and time is money, spending $700-1000 on a tool that takes 25% of the time to do an operation that you would typically do with a cheaper tool can be worth it, but only because the tool will pay for itself in the time savings via more shop throughput. If you are not making money by selling your time/work, then start with a more traditional tool and learn the skills to master it’s use. You can always sell and upgrade later if you want.

Well that answer was WAY longer than I intended it to be, but hopefully you can get something useful out of it. Good luck in getting started!


Edit: When I started writing this there were not any posts, but it looks like many people have already said what I did but more concisely. Sorry about that!

View Andybb's profile


2762 posts in 1376 days

#13 posted 10-11-2018 04:40 PM

Great for beginners.

Steve Ramsey - Woodworking for Mere Mortals.

-- Andy - Seattle USA

View Richard's profile


11309 posts in 3805 days

#14 posted 10-11-2018 10:25 PM

Some good suggestions here already. I d also suggest you look into Fine Woodworking s site

You should also see if there are some local courses you can take. Nothing is better than getting hand-on experience.

- lumbering_on

I agree!

Rick S.

-- Richard (Ontario, CANADA)

View TDHofstetter's profile


4 posts in 634 days

#15 posted 10-11-2018 11:41 PM

Heya, Ian. I don’t have any links to hand off because I don’t know your situation or latent skill set or preferences. You really need to be deeply involved, especially right at first here as you decide what sort of woodworking you want to do… and also as you decide whether you really enjoy woodworking. Ya, I know, that may sound like blasphemy to some but the truth is that some folks just really aren’t suited for it and so their tools sit and rust away.

Look around. What might be handy to have? Maybe even… what do you see that might be repaired, or maybe rebuilt a little differently for good effect? Try that. Don’t pour money into tooling before you start, buy tools that you need for the projects at hand. So… leap in (at whatever rate suits you) and see if your attention span and attention to detail satisfy your critical eye. Don’t be alarmed if some of your early projects take a long time – one of my good friends took two years to build a serving tray. She now makes the most delicious small wooden boxes you have ever seen.

-- -- Tim --

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