Novice that needs encouragement and advice

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Forum topic by Woodchuck76 posted 01-19-2019 07:28 PM 574 views 0 times favorited 8 replies Add to Favorites Watch
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1 post in 1392 days

01-19-2019 07:28 PM

Confident in the ability to learn,watch Youtube videos, and take advice from others, but lack the experience and toolage. Have build several “Home Projects.” (i.e. Baseball display wall placard that looks like home plate to display several special baseballs from kids youth careers, a couple of nightstands made from pallet wood material, really just experimenting. An L-shaped sewing desk made from ¾” oak plywood and pine frame for my wife. Describe my ability as novice at best, with a desire to do more and learn more!

Tablesaw, compound mitre saw, router w/o router table, have access to a planer, and Hand tools
(No objection to purchasing tools that I feel may be necessary or make the job easier)

Project: Sit/Stand mechanical desk
I am looking to make a sit/stand desk that will incorporate the satisfaction of building my own desktop from hardwood, maybe even several different species of hardwood and utilizing new technology of a mechanical base that will be purchased. I would also like to possibly incorporate so inlays of objects that are special to me (i.e. golf club, guitar, baseball, cross, fish). I think that you get the point!

Reason for my reaching out to the community:
Long time lurker of the website and seeing all the magnificent pieces that are created, I thought that maybe (at least some of you, WHO HAVE THE PATIENCE to deal with a NOVICE (AT BEST) would be willing to share information on techniques, glues, epoxies, wood, and encouragement to go through with it and build something for myself! Thank you in advance for any and all words that may be shared with me!

8 replies so far

View John Smith's profile

John Smith

2726 posts in 1046 days

#1 posted 01-19-2019 08:08 PM

welcome aboard.

I would suggest you pick just one project, get it started,
then when you are unsure of anything, ask questions as you go.
and if you have the budget for it, purchase some books on basic
woodworking and finishing. most will discuss fasteners and adhesives
as well as joinery. if you can find a source for quality lumber,
it would be easier to guide you through the process vs using pallets.


-- there is no educational alternative to having a front row seat in the School of Hard Knocks. --

View ChefHDAN's profile


1772 posts in 3733 days

#2 posted 01-19-2019 09:00 PM

Welcome to LJ, +1 on John’s comments’
In my experience having started as a novice many years ago with just a circ saw & a cordless drill, I’ve found that many projects can be done “by feel” along the way, but once I acquired better layout and measuring tools coupled with some good drawing IE Sketchup I was able to spend more time building my vision rather than figuring out how to make things work. I still don’t cut everything to the measurements on my drawing because things do change along the way, but building a project first digitally allows me to have different ideas and see how they work without realizing I just wasted a piece of stock.

-- I've decided 1 mistake is really 2 opportunities to learn.. learn how to fix it... and learn how to not repeat it

View Redoak49's profile


4920 posts in 2872 days

#3 posted 01-19-2019 09:25 PM

The best advice that I can offer is to start doing. Make small projects and know that you will learn by doing. You are going to make mistakes and projects will end up scrap. There is no short cut but enjoy the process.

Make projects to learn not just to make something.

Make sawdust and be safe and enjoy.

View bilyo's profile


1167 posts in 1986 days

#4 posted 01-22-2019 08:53 PM

I agree with all of the above. Mainly, don’t get discouraged by the seeming “perfection” of the projects you see presented by others. For every one of those you see, there are lots of mistakes made in getting there. Getting books on basic woodworking is an excellent way to get started. But, again, most books contain so much information you can easily get overwhelmed. As said above, pick a simple project, find out how to safely cut the joinery and assemble the pieces for only that project. Then, go do it. If you have a problem along the way, post a question and a photo or two here. Have fun.

View a1Jim's profile


118143 posts in 4460 days

#5 posted 01-22-2019 09:39 PM

Hi Chuck
See if this approach will work…
As I always tell my students start by what you want to make with dimensions that will work for you or plans or at least a photo of the design you have in mind,so usually how it goes is they can’t get the dimensions of what that want to make, so we try using objects in the photo and scale it to size along with your own personalizing of the item to meet your needs,As an example the stand up desk may have to be shorter if your 5ft tall versus someone who is 6’6”.After you have your plans drawn out then we can talk as to where to go from there. So for us to help see if you can post a photo of the desk and even a rough drawing, then we will be able to help with the next steps. I know it might be a little scary or intimidating but working on it step by step all the folks here will help you though. Sometimes the hardest part is getting started and you have already done that by selecting what you want to make. you can do it! we will help!


View mel52's profile


1704 posts in 1148 days

#6 posted 01-24-2019 02:59 AM

Welcome to LJ’s. You will find a wealth of info here, just ask, and then use what’s best for you.

-- MEL, Kansas

View woodbutcherbynight's profile


6297 posts in 3292 days

#7 posted 01-24-2019 04:17 AM

Take it slow, Rome was not built in a day. Keep in mind your 1st project doesn’t need to be the size of the Taj Mahal. Be realistic about choosing projects. Making a simple box with a top that fits and has a hinge is going to bring you experience you can use for the next project.

Probably toughest thing to get a handle on is that we are our own worst critic.

-- Live to tell the stories, they sound better that way.

View Kirk650's profile


680 posts in 1631 days

#8 posted 01-24-2019 05:05 PM

Remember that a good woodworker will make mistakes, and a really good woodworker knows how to hide them. Just get started and learn while you work. And ask questions. There are very accomplished woodworkers on this forum.

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