best way to learn joinery

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Forum topic by all10digitsstill posted 10-05-2013 08:02 PM 1730 views 0 times favorited 13 replies Add to Favorites Watch
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8 posts in 2705 days

10-05-2013 08:02 PM

I am a complete rookie with a few tools in my garage. I am looking to build projects that will use no nails, screws, or brads to hold it together. I love the idea of dovetail joints but seem way above my skill level at this point. My first project is to build a workbench. I am planning on building the one shown on Anyway, where do I start with joinery? Is there a book that you guys would suggest? How about a website? The internet is full of info on this topic, it just varies so greatly. Some of my first projects are going to be box designs. I want to build crates for a record collection. I also want to build a giant dollhouse for my girls that will be nothing more than a series of boxes for the rooms. I never thought building a box could be so difficult! Please help get me started in woodworking. Thanks.

-- Brian

13 replies so far

View Loren's profile


11014 posts in 4656 days

#1 posted 10-05-2013 08:07 PM

Do you intend to cut joints by hand or do you have
some machines you want to use?

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8 posts in 2705 days

#2 posted 10-05-2013 09:27 PM

I do not have any hand saws. It would all be done with router or table saw. Should I do it by hand? What kind of saw is required?

-- Brian

View Loren's profile


11014 posts in 4656 days

#3 posted 10-05-2013 09:37 PM

Get the book “Classic Joints With Power Tools” by Yeung Chan.
It’s excellent and there is plenty of stuff in there using the
router and/or table saw.

View firefighterontheside's profile


21359 posts in 2865 days

#4 posted 10-05-2013 09:37 PM

Watch some old episodes of new yankee workshop on youtube.

-- Bill M. "People change, walnut doesn't" by Gene.

View richardwootton's profile


1701 posts in 2963 days

#5 posted 10-05-2013 10:06 PM

You should check out Paul Seller’s website. Tons of great info and a lot of it is geared towards people with very few tools. Also, The Woodright’s Shop with Roy Underhill is a great thing to search through on youtube.

-- Richard, Hot Springs, Ar -- Galoot In Training

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Rick Dennington

7137 posts in 4202 days

#6 posted 10-05-2013 10:57 PM

I sure wouldn’t attempt to build a work bench untill I got some joinery techniques down first…..I would practice on scraps of wood to figure out which ones you like (there are all kinds)/ will be doing….Mortise and tenon, dovetails, finger joints, box joints…...They all require lots of practice (and patience)...Get some shop time under your belt before attempting these, and you’ll be glad you did…..Otherwise, you’ll get discourged and frustrated trying to learn them…Don’t give up…..keep plugging away….Read all the woodworking magazines you can get, watch videos on these techniques, read some more magazines, Youtube, etc…...Did I mention read woodworking magazines…..?.......... Practice, practice, practice…..I’m still learning…..!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

-- " There's a better way.....find it"...... Thomas Edison.

View jeffswildwood's profile


4837 posts in 2985 days

#7 posted 10-05-2013 11:39 PM

I feel you buddy, I have been doing woodwork for a few years and my goal has always been to build projects with no nails or screws. I have come close as in being able to hide my screw but I also want to take my game to the next level as in box, dovetail joints, mortise and tenon ect. To me that IS the next level. I’ll be watching this forum with interest!

-- We all make mistakes, the trick is to fix it in a way that says "I meant to do that".

View a1Jim's profile


118161 posts in 4585 days

#8 posted 10-05-2013 11:46 PM

I’ve seen many books on the subject but it’s hard to top this one by Gary Rowgowski. It shows three ways on how to make each joint ,with a variety of tools.


View Tim's profile


3859 posts in 2969 days

#9 posted 10-06-2013 12:34 AM

You can do all of it by hand, that’s how it was done back in the day, but you may not want to try that unless you really find that interesting and fun. If you have the tablesaw and router you can do mortise and tenon, dadoes, dovetails, and lots of other kinds of joinery with them. You need some jigs, but it can be done.

Paul Sellers blog and youtube videos and the Woodwright’s shop on PBS are good suggestions if you want an idea of the tools it takes to do basic joinery by hand.

View bullhead1's profile


228 posts in 3257 days

#10 posted 10-06-2013 12:49 AM

Like someone once told me when I was learning something, “Baby steps first”. I’m afraid if you have little or no experience, attempting to make a workbench without screws or nails may result in you becoming frustrated and abandoning your goal. Not knowing your level of experience and patience level all I can suggest is to practice the skills you have and build from there. I wish you luck in reaching your goal.

View BArnold's profile


175 posts in 2841 days

#11 posted 10-06-2013 12:59 AM

Each of the books mentioned will be good references to get you started. Like many folks, I learned a lot by watching Norm on New Yankee Workshop when it was on TV full time. There have been other TV shows as well, but it seems there’s not a lot to choose from at this point. Besides, the books will always be there for you to review.

Don’t feel like you MUST learn to do all joinery by hand. I’m a power tool junkie, do virtually everything with them, but still find there are things I can do by hand more efficiently at times. We each find our own balance in things like that and shouldn’t listen to others who insist on one way or another.

-- Bill, Thomasville, GA

View all10digitsstill's profile


8 posts in 2705 days

#12 posted 10-06-2013 01:06 AM

Just ordered “Classic Joints with Power Tools”. Hopefully I will learn a thing or two from it. I appreciate everyone’s response. I am going to read, research, watch YouTube, and practice!

-- Brian

View kdc68's profile


2992 posts in 3285 days

#13 posted 10-06-2013 01:17 AM

Practice, practice, and more practice…..Reading books and watching woodworking shows and videos are all excellent advice…but it boils down to putting what you’ve read and seen to work. Become accustomed to the tools in your arsenal. Practice techniques on scrap or inexpensive wood. Build projects that incorporates the joinery you wish to learn. Visit a Woodcraft store, they offer classes in woodworking. Good luck to you and welcome to Lumberjocks

-- Measure "at least" twice and cut once

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