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Easy Woodworking Projects

If you have ever wanted to try a woodworking project or to teach your kids some woodworking skills then you start with a simple project.  Something that you or your kids can make easily in a couple of hours where you don’t need much in the way of tools or materials.  You will need some basic knowledge and have a couple of tools hanging around and the finished product will be fantastic.  Once you get the hang of these easy projects then you can move to bigger and better woodworking projects.

Book Shelf

This is hands down the easiest project that you can start with.  All you need are some pieces of scrap wood and a few tools, it is probably more difficult to hang the bookshelf than it is to make one.  This is a very basic project and you can always use another bookshelf…right.

Birdhouse

You probably made one of these in school or in the Boy Scouts when you were a kid.  Birdhouses are one of the most common first projects every woodworker tries.  It can also teach you how to make something durable and suited for outside.

Window Boxes

Not only is this project easy but you can add some colorful flowers to the windows after you are done.  Window boxes can even be added to an apartment, you don’t need to do a lot of finish work after all you’re going to fill them with dirt and flowers.

Bench for the Garden

Don’t be intimidated because it uses big pieces of wood it is actually a fairly easy thing to make.  If you have already tried book shelves and birdhouses then this might be your next big project.  You can learn joinery while making a new bench for the garden.

Plate Rack

This is a little harder than the other projects listed here but you will have the skills in no time.  This project will also help to develop your finishing skills, you want the rack to look smooth and neat.

You can make any or all of these projects without spending a fortune.  Many of them can be made with scrap lumber that you have hanging around.  Don’t worry about little things like knots in the wood and almost all of these can be done in an afternoon.  It’s a great way to spend the afternoon with your kids and teach them some basic woodworking skills.

Tips for Making Outdoor Furniture

If you are looking for your next woodworking project, then how about making some outdoor furniture for the backyard?  The first thing you need to decide is what you want to make do you want some Adirondack chairs or a picnic table?  Both are fairly easy projects to pull off.  There are a ton of different styles and projects that you can choose from, you might want to head to the local garden center for inspiration.  Here are some tips for making outdoor furniture.

Working With Plans

To get a set of plans for your project you have some choices, you can draw them up yourself or buy a set of plans.  Drawing your own will give you exactly what you want but that may not be something that you can do easily.  The other option to buy plans is fairly easy you can get them almost anywhere.  You may find exactly what you want or you can get a set and modify them to what you want.  Once you have the plans then you need to go and get your materials, cedar or pine are both good choices for outdoor furniture.

Dry Your Wood

To make sure that your project turns out perfectly you want to buy the wood a couple of weeks ahead of time before you are ready to start.  You want to store the wood in a cool and dry place with the boards spaced out so they can dry out properly.  Letting your wood dry out is how you prevent the wood from splitting or warping when you are trying to build your furniture.

Outdoor Materials

You want to make sure that everything you buy is suitable for outdoors, materials like finishes and glue aren’t always meant for outdoor use.  Make sure that your glue and other materials will last through the first rainstorm.  It isn’t just glue that you have to worry about you also need to get the right fasteners.  That includes hinges or screws, you don’t want anything to rust.  Ideally grab fasteners that are stainless steel or brass, both will endure the weather just fine.

Take all the time you need to work on your project, whether you start by drawing your own plans or you buy them on the internet.  At the end of the project you will have a great piece of furniture that you and your family can enjoy for years to come.

Choosing Hardwood or Softwood

Different project require different types of wood but when you are starting a project that is one of the first things that you have to choose.  Good quality woods don’t come cheap but they will give you the best results.  A handmade wood project can last for years which is one of the reasons wood can be so expensive.  If you are building a piece for a client then you both need to decide what wood suits your project best, choosing hardwood or softwood, dark or light will all be part of the project.  Let’s look at the different types of wood you can choose from.

Softwood

Softwoods come from trees like pine, cedar, spruce, juniper, redwood, cypress and larch trees.  Mostly you will see this type of wood in furniture and a variety of other woodworking projects.  This type of wood tends to be cheaper than most hardwoods and it is readily available at any lumber or craft store.  Some woods like pine are really soft and can be a little delicate for some projects.  If you are working with a client have them look at the different softwoods available before they make their choice.

Hardwood

Hardwood is another material that can be used in your projects.  You get hardwood from trees like oak, walnut, cherry, oak, maple, teak, beech, holly and ash.  Hardwoods are much more durable and sturdy than any softwoods, but not all of them.  Be careful what type of wood that you choose, ideally you want the best wood suited to your project.  Hardwood is not going to be cheap, so make sure you are ready to work with this type of material.  You do not want to waste expensive wood because of mistake.  You will find hardwoods used a lot in furniture particularly kitchen tables or anything that needs a durable wood.

How Much Wood do You Need

Check your project plans to see how much wood that you are going to need.  Always measure the timber before you whip out your credit card you don’t want to buy a piece that is too short.  Check with the sales staff and find out if the wood has been dried or not, ideally you want dried wood.  They type of wood you end up choosing is going to be based on taste, need and of course the price.  Select your wood carefully and enjoy the fruits of your labor.

Evaluating Different Types of Wood

When you start a new wood working projects there are a couple of things that you are going to need.  You are going to need a plan, the right tools and most importantly you are going to need some wood.  There are quite literally hundreds of different types of wood that you can use in your project going from the very cheap to exotic woods that will cost you thousands of dollars.  Evaluating different types of wood can be challenging if you’re new to woodworking so let’s show you to do just that.

Get What You Like

First and foremost don’t purchase wood that you’re not crazy about.  Don’t feel you need to compromise on either quality or style when it comes to your projects.  When you visit a lumberyard or even a craft store the sales people may pressure you to buy what they want to sell you rather than what you might want.  On the other hand many of the people that work here are fairly knowledgeable and they may have reason to suggest a different type of wood.  Closely look at each piece of wood and whether it meets your specs, if it doesn’t you can totally ask for something different.  It is up to you what piece of wood you want and ultimately buy.

What to Look For

You want to examine each piece of wood carefully to make sure it is straight.  You can work with wood that has some curves but that will take some experience before you are ready to handle that.  You are also going to need to search for splits or warped wood, you want to look at each side and check out the edges.  The last thing you want to do is by an expensive but useless piece of wood.  If there are cracks or splits you won’t be able to use it or it will look awful.

Knotholes are another thing you want to check for, now knotholes are naturally occurring and can add character to a piece but you want to check with your plans first.  Some plans don’t work well with knots.  If you are building something that is going to be staying outside like a bench or a picnic table then you want to make sure that you have treated lumber.

If you are new to wood woodworking then spruce and pine are good beginner woods, they are considered softwood and easier to work with.  Once you have experience then you can move up to cedar or oak.

Finding Furniture Designs

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If you are new to woodworking then finding furniture designs that you like and your skill level can handle might be challenging.  The more you practice and hone your skill the more options are open to you.  If you head into a furniture store there are a plethora of options that you can be inspired by.  Bear in mind that you don’t have to replicate something you find in a furniture store.  When you design and make your own furniture you have the choice of wood types, size and styles.  You can customize however you want.

DIY Versus Store Bought

When it comes making your own furniture or buying it, it should be noted that you probably won’t save any money by doing it yourself. The materials and the cost of tools if you don’t have them already will cost you more than a piece of furniture.  That is not meant to discourage you in any way, handmade pieces are generally better constructed and there’s no doubt you will use better quality wood.  Handmade pieces of wood can last for decades becoming family heirlooms.  Furniture from a store is usually of Chinese manufacture and not well put together at all.

Consider Your Space

Consider your space when finding designs for furniture, you need furniture that fits with your space.  Space can be a luxury in some homes,  open space design can make a home look bigger than it is but when you try and put in a huge dining room set or cabinets you may find it overwhelming.  If you are new to wood working you may that type of furniture is beyond your skill set.  Start with a small hallway table or side table that is fairly simple construction and the materials are less expensive.

Type of Wood

The type of wood you choose will reflect your personal style.  Do you prefer dark rich woods or are you more into the blonde Scandinavian woods?  What kind of finishes do you want to use?  Brushed nickel is very much in style and it looks great with almost any style of wood.  Brass can be kind of gaudy but it can work well with lighter woods.  If you know a metal worker then wrought iron can blend well with your wood pieces.

When it comes to making furniture start with something simple and work your way up to more complicated projects.  There are plenty of design plans online with a ton of different options for finishes and different types of wood.

Getting a Deal on Woodworking Tools

Woodworking is not a cheap hobby at all and having a fully equipped workshop is a big investment.  Tools, in particular, are not cheap and some of the bigger tools like jointers, planers and saws can run into the thousands of dollars. But getting a deal on woodworking tools is easier than you think.  You can buy some of the larger machines used which will save you thousands.  Whether woodworking is a hobby or a business the more complicated the project is the more tools you are going to want to get your hands on.  Let’s have a look at how you can pick up some great bargains on used tools.

Classified Sites

Your best source to find used woodworking equipment is to hit Craigslist but bear in mind that you may have to travel a bit to get a bargain but if you’re saving hundreds or even thousands of dollars over new then it is well worth it.  There are a couple of things to keep in mind when you’re buying things off of Craigslist.  First, always bring a friend with you, there is safety in numbers and if you do buy the equipment you’re going to need help moving it.  Get lots of pictures of the piece before you even leave home and as much info as possible.  If the seller won’t tell you then don’t bother.

Take it for a Test Drive

Like anything you buy used, you are going to want to check it out first and make sure it is in good working order.  Most machines aren’t really that complicated, the parts are generally made from sheet metal or cast iron so check for cracks or rust.  Unplug the machine and have a look at the motor even if you know little or nothing about motors just check and make sure it doesn’t have a burnt smell.  Do all of the moving parts work the way they are supposed to.  Turn the machine on and give the equipment a try and make sure that it works.  Lastly, you want to find out why they are selling and if the rest of the tools are in good working order.  You want a piece of equipment that has been cared for.

When it comes to woodworking tools always keep one ear to the ground looking for a bargain.  You can also check on some of the online forums where other woodworkers like you may have tools for sales.