Many would-be woodworkers find themselves afraid to tackle woodworking projects because it’s something new they’ve never done before. Others think they need to spend thousands of dollars on tools and equipment. Both are wrong. In reality, a few handy tools and some basic skills are all you really need to finally get started on the dream project you’ve been putting off for far too long. Here’s the rundown on five woodworking tips and tricks any beginner can use to begin crafting like a pro in no time at all.
1. Pick the Right Projects
If you’re new to the wonderful world of woodworking, you first need to determine the types of projects you want to complete. Are you simply okay with making picture frames or would you rather explore your interest in wood carving?
There are a myriad of specialties within the realm of woodworking, and you need to narrow your interests to just a couple of options in order to achieve any kind of success. If you’re just starting out, however, you’re better off not attempting furniture making or cabinetry until you’ve mastered birdhouses, picture frames, or other modest projects.
It’s important to know your capabilities and avoid the urge to give up woodworking due to disappointment. By picking a project you know you can complete and master, you’ll be able to handle any future woodworking project that comes your way.
2. Get Jiggy With It
You can cut wood with a number of different tools, but none is as versatile or as inexpensive to learn with as a jigsaw. In fact, a jigsaw can be used to complete nearly all of your home improvement projects. It’s a “Jack of all trades” saw which will get used more often than any other type of saw you may have in your garage or woodshop.
That being said, jigsaws really shine when it comes to making curved or oddly shaped cuts. While you’re better off going with a table or band saw for precise straight cuts, jigsaws also do a decent job in this regard. Plus, jigsaw blades are small, inexpensive, and completely interchangeable, allowing you to stock plenty of blades and swap out with ease for different projects. If your budget is limited and you can only invest in one type of saw, make it a jigsaw. You’ll be glad you did.
3. Choose The Right Screws
You’re going to need to connect different pieces of material together for nearly all woodworking projects. Nails are a common choice for this, but screws are much, much better.
While there are endless types and sizes of screws, wood screws should serve you best on most occasions. Wood screws typically have an unthreaded shank and a coarse pitch to tap solidly into the wood and sit flush. With most wood screws, you’ll need to drill a pilot hole prior to screwing into the wood. Many woodworkers make this a fun task and drill pilot holes into several screws ahead of time to make sure they’re ready to go.
Other types of screws include drywall screws, sheet metal screws, and machine screws, which are designed to be used just as their names suggest. Choosing the right screws for a project will largely come down to the type of materials you’re working with. If you use screws designed for your application or the material you’re using, you should be just fine.
4. Practice Drilling
With screws comes drilling, so you’re going to need to invest in a cordless drill as well. When the battery is fully charged, a cordless drill can go anywhere and last for several hours. It also won’t break the bank. From quickly tightening screws to drilling out large holes in certain materials, it’s an incredibly functional tool every woodworker should own.
With your cordless drill in hand, it’s time to practice drilling. I know drilling seems easy, and it is. However, there are a few tricks worth practicing, such as catching dust and drilling pilot holes, to drill cleaner holes and get the most from your drill.
5. Sand From Coarse to Fine
Splinters, burrs, and other imperfections are a common occurrence when working with wood. While sanding is a simple fix, many beginning woodworkers actually get sanding all wrong.
When sanding almost any type of project, it’s important to start with a coarse grit of about 40 or so and gradually work your way up to 100, 200, or even finer for finishing depending on the project. Hand sanders work just fine but take more time and effort to use. If you plan on dedicating yourself to learning the craft, an orbital sander is the way to go.
By keeping these tips and tricks in mind, you’ll be well on your way to crafting like a professional in no time at all.