Woodworking has been a valuable and much sought after trade for thousands of years and while machines can produce many wood products today, the actual art of woodworking using your own tools will ALWAYS produce something special and more valuable in the right hands. This isn’t always about making money, to many people it’s simply a wonderful feeling to create something out of some basic raw materials and shape it into a useful or attractive item.
This can be a fun hobby for people of all ages and can also be the start of something more. It’s not difficult to turn your weekend projects into something lucrative by selling your items around town, in your own store or even an online shop you’ve created yourself. The best part of this is, you really have no limitations besides your own skill, available materials and tools on hand. Even the most complex wooden carousel can be handcrafted without electricity…if you have the time, desire and patience. Wood is one of the most versatile materials on Earth and all it takes is looking at a catalog of woodworking plans to realize this.
What Are Woodworking Plans For?
If you’re new to all this, every successful structured project revolves around the woodworking plans you’re using. You don’t typically want to build a playhouse or cabinet by “winging it” in your garage. It’s much more effective to use a detailed set of plans. Woodworking plans are basically blueprints, a materials list and step by step instructions rolled into one. Some plans can be pages upon pages of detailed how-to steps while others can be a single object deconstructed on a single page.
Without these plans, it’s too easy to use the wrong measurements, put screws in the wrong holes, drill incorrectly and waste your valuable wood. If you’re using an expensive hardwood, you could end up sabotaging your entire project with one wrong move. Unless you know exactly what you’re doing or creating art stick to plans whenever you can, even if you made them yourself.
Where Can I Get Woodworking Plans
If you look back 20 or 30 years, woodworking plans basically came from just a handful of places. Woodworking shops, woodworking magazines, woodworking catalogs and lumber yards. Today, you can just hop online and find an almost limitless resource for all your needs with just a few clicks. You can get a handful of cool little projects from sites like Home Depot and Lowe’s but it’s probably easier to find a comprehensive catalog or program that offers you a huge amount of them.
Home Depot has very nice weekend projects like this Building A Picnic Table Guide but as you’ll see, there’s not a lot there. Programs like Ted’s Woodworking come with thousands of projects at a small one-time fee and there’s always membership programs like Finewoodworking.com but these require monthly payments and if you forget about them, they can put you in the red if you don’t pay attention. Most people starting out will try all of these at some point or another.
Magazines today offer some decent projects and you can get them in electronic format for your Kindle, iPad or smartphone. It’s very convenient to have digital plans because you won’t lose them and they won’t blow away while you’re working.
What Tools Do I Need To Start Woodworking?
This is the big question most people will have and it varies greatly on what you’re trying to do. For small projects like birdhouses and hat racks, you can get by with hand tools like a rechargeable drill, Sawzall and electric screwdriver. For projects like a picnic table or shed, you’ll need larger tools like an electric saw or even table saw. The bigger the project, the bigger the tools you’ll need and the more money you’ll be spending initially to set up your workshop. Most people start small and gradually buy larger more professional equipment as time goes on. It’s also pretty common for families to share their tools or maintain a garage that everyone can use if they need to.
The choice of how you do things will really depend on you. This is actually one of the more fun components of this craft. You have a lot of freedom at your disposable and everything you build can be created with a lot of flexibility in regards to tools.
You’ll always want a good supply of various screws and sandpapers to secure and sand down your finished projects and maybe paints, stains and lacquers as well. Just start small and add things as you need or want them.
What Are The Best Starter Projects?
If you’ve ever taken shop class, the best things to start with are small and easy to do with limited resources. Birdhouses, doorstops, picture frames, small chests and things like this are relatively easy to make and are very forgiving if you mess up a little bit. These are very fun, small projects that can be finished in just a couple of hours by adults and kids alike.
When selecting that starter project, it’s best to start small and use a plan that offers a little flexibility while producing something that could be used on your property, in your home or might make a nice hand-made gift for a relative.