Saturday, March 20, 2010

Using a Router Table: The Basics

Using a router table is an important aspect of woodworking at home.  It is one of the first major tools I tell anyone they should purchase.  While there are some things you can do with a hand held router other things are impossible without using a router table.  Let's take a look at some of the things that can be done with a router table.

  • Working with long, short or narrow pieces of lumber.  A router table is very handy if you are doing mass production of pieces at one time. 
  • Edge trimming-using a router table eliminates the need to hold the piece and the pattern while you cut.
  • Using as a jointer-provides a space saving alternative to having a separate jointer.
  • Slots and grooves-saves time when doing multiple identical cuts.
  • Stopped cuts-much safer than using a hand held router. 
  • Dovetails-allows for a wide variety of joint sizes and configurations.
  • Raised door panels
  • Finger joints and drawer locks
This is only a small list of things you can do with a router table woodworking at home.  As you progress, you will be able to incorporate new techniques along with these.  The types of bits you own will also expand what you will be able to do with your router table.  Owning a router table will save you time and money.  I guarantee it will be a purchase you will not regret.

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Wednesday, March 17, 2010

Marking and Measuring: You'll Need to Sharpen That Pencil

An important part of any woodworking at home project is actually one of the most basics.  That would be measuring and marking correctly.  If you cut to much off the wood, then you have to scrap the piece, or go buy a "lumber stretcher."  I remember my dad telling me the story of the time he told my brother to go to the tool box and get a lumber stretcher.  My brother went and came back and said he couldn't find it!  LOL  Ok, so back to business, here are a few tools needed for marking and measuring while woodworking at home.

A lot of problems with "fit" are directly to do with marking and measuring.  These are the first things you do in any project so how well you do it will depend on the success of the rest of your project.  Most of these mistakes occur because using the wrong tools at the wrong time.  Here is a list of basic tools you will need for marking and measuring:

  1. A tape measure
  2. Precision marking ruler with 1/32 units
  3. A T-square
  4. Pencil set specifically for woodworking.
  5. A combination square
  6. A sliding bevel
  7. A protractor
  8. A digital caliper
By owning these tools, you will be able to take the guess work out of marking and measuring.  As I've stated before, if you are just beginning start out small and work your way up.  This includes tools as well.  Don't run out and buy all of these today just to never use them again.  I started with a speed square, a pencil, and a tape and worked my way to these types of tools.  As you grow, you will as well.

Click here for more information about these types of tools, as well as sign up for a FREE woodworking catalog.

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Take a look at this page I published on coffee table woodworking plans, great video!

Saturday, March 13, 2010

Beginning Woodworking Projects: Start Small

When starting with woodworking at home, it is easy to become overwhelmed at the possibilities.  I know I was there at one time.  In this post, I would like to give you some suggestions for beginning woodworking projects.   These projects are relatively simple and can be completed in a few hours, with limited tools.

One option is to purchase pre-made kits.  These kits include everything you need; all you have to do is put together the pieces and finish it however you would like.  These kits include instructions, so it takes all of the guesswork out of what you need to do.  They also offer a valuable lesson in finishing.  Finishing tends to be a weak point for many new woodworkers.  Since everything is laid out, and assembly time is minimal, you will be able to devote more time to finishing and getting used to that process.  I believe no matter how much work you actually put into a piece, if it's not finished well, it's no good.

Another direction you can take as a beginner with woodworking projects is wood carving.  The basic tools for this are carving wood and a carving knife.  You can actually find the wood to carve in your own backyard!  You can learn to carve such things as walking sticks.  Carving is one of those areas I believe is very open to creativity and style.  Each piece you create with carving is unique, and you can add your personal touch.

So that's a few beginning woodworking projects you can get started on with little money and limited resources.  I hope this aspires you to begin to take action, so you can become the woodworker you want to become.

For more information on woodworking kits and carving please click here.

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Take a look at this page I published on high chair woodworking plans.

Thursday, March 11, 2010

Learning Woodworking is Not Hard!

Terror and fear grips many people with the thought of learning woodworking.  How about you?  It's not that tough.  Having done woodworking at home for a few years, I want to share a few tips with you. It all begins in your mind.  Yes, in your mind.  Once you get in the right frame of mind to do woodworking, all it takes is a little action persistence and imagination.
  • Take action.  You can read all sorts of books about woodworking, but you have take action in order for learning woodworking.  This first action does not have to be the biggest action, but it needs to be something.  Start with a small project, such as a birdhouse, then work up to larger projects.
  • Be persistent.  Sometimes you will make a mistake.  That's ok, don't give up.  I have found that I learn from my mistakes.  Step back, take a breath, and try again.  If you are afraid you are going to make a mistake, do a trial run of a project using scrap wood. 
  • Use your imagination.  Since woodworking is like an art to me, I tell people imagination is one of my best tools.  By using my imagination, I am able to deviate from the plan just a bit, or add a special touch if it's something I am doing for a loved one.
See learning woodworking at home is not hard.  It just takes the right mindset to begin, and everything else will fall into place.

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Wednesday, March 10, 2010

Finding Downloadable Woodworking Plans

The internet and downloadable woodworking plans have made woodworking a lot easier.  A few minutes after turning on my computer, I am able to find answers to any question I may have about woodworking at home.  Even though there are major advantages to downloadable woodworking plans, some of them aren't that good.  So let's take a look at what to look for, where to look, and some of the benefits of these plans. 

The first benefit of downloadable woodworking plans is how much time I save.  I can save time being able to plan my projects while still at home.  I find exactly what I need at the best price, by comparison shopping online.  So in addition to time, I save money.  I can easily organize my files on my computer, keeping my shop cleaner, since there are not plans laying everywhere.

Next, what do I look for in these plans? This is where I am going to tell you, "You get what you pay for." I tend to stay away from any type of plan that is free, unless I have a good knowledge of what I am doing and want to tweak a plan or explore new ideas. These plans tend to say things like "get some screws." Ok, what kind of screws? You see my point. Look for downloadable woodworking plans that offer step-by-step instructions. Instructions that are detailed and tell you exactly what you need. Additionally, look for a money-back guarantee. If you are not satisfied with your purchase, get your money back.

A great place to find information about plans and where to obtain them is woodworking forums and DIY message boards. Simply type in "woodworking forums" into a search engine and many results will return. Sometimes you can find other woodworkers who are willing to share plans and ideas with you, as well as reviews of woodworking plans and products on the market. If you don't see what you are looking for, post a question. Most avid woodworkers will be more than happy to help. Furthermore, I do believe in karma with forums. So if you see a question you can answer, make a post.

The internet is a powerful tool in woodworking at home, so use it!  By knowing what to look for and where to find it you will be able to find what fits your needs.  For instant access to 14,000 woodworking plans, click here. 

What's Needed For DIY Woodworking Plans

Many years ago I found my love for DIY woodworking plans.  My dad helped me complete my first 4-H woodworking project.  We built a kitchen towel rack.  I received an award, and my dad hung it in my mother's kitchen.  My dad was well equipped for DIY woodworking plans; he had all the tools.  Even after a few years, I am still finding tools for my workshop.  To get started with woodworking at home, you will need a few basic tools, a woodworking space, along with a few general safety rules.

If you are like me when I began, you don't have a lot of big tools at your access for DIY woodworking plans. That's ok. You don't have to have all of the big stationary tools to begin with DIY woodworking plans. My suggestion is to wait until you find that woodworking is right for you before making major purchases. Beginning tools that I recommend are:

* A speed square, tape, and pencil for marking.
* A circular saw is great for straight cuts.  A guide jig can be built for cutting straight.
* Use a jigsaw for curves.
*  Use a block plane for shaping of the wood.  A router is also good for shaping wood, along with tongue and groove.
* A cordless drill is great for drilling holes.
* A block sander or small hand sander can be used for smoothing wood.  The local hardware store is a good place to get a good deal on a hand sander.
* I suggest investing in a good clamp set for DIY woodworking plans. You will need many different sizes. Clamps will securely hold your wood after you glue it.

You are also going to need a space for DIY woodworking plans.  While this does not have to be a large space, I do suggest an area such as the garage or basement, that is mostly undisturbed.  Use an area of the wall to hang your tools.  A sturdy workbench with a vice for holding things is necessity.  When you buy a vice, make sure it is for woodworking in order to avoid denting the wood.

When woodworking at home always remember, "safety first!" I used to think I didn't need to practice safety. After a few minor scrapes, I've learned better. A few safety precautions for DIY woodworking plans I recommend are:

* Safety goggles: I have learned the hard way more than once by getting sawdust in my eyes.
* Use ear protection when running tools, especially for extended periods.
* When sanding, use a face mask since there will be many fine particles in the air.
* If you have children, make sure you unplug the tools and store them properly. Most larger machines have safety switches. Get in the habit early of doing these things so no one else gets hurt!
* Be sure blades and bits aren't dull.  Kick back can occur when using a circular saw with a dull blade.
*  Safety devices on tools should not be tampered with.  When using your circular saw, do not tie off the guard; hold the guard as you cut.  By tying the guard, it could run off when you set the saw down, and cause potential harm.

So you see, DIY woodworking plans are not complex.  All you need is a few basic tools, a space and some imagination to begin creating woodworking projects to be proud of for many years.  For instant access to 14,000 woodworking plans, click here.