Many individuals avoid woodworking projects due to lack of experience or the misconception that they must invest a significant amount of money on tools. However, the truth is that possessing some fundamental woodworking skills can serve as a cost-effective alternative to expensive tools, allowing you to bring your long-desired project to life.
Here is a breakdown of the essential beginner woodworking skills to assist you in getting started.
Drilling holes involves thinking step by step.
When engaging in a DIY project, drilling holes will likely be necessary at some stage. The most convenient approach to accomplish this task is by utilizing a cordless drill. Cordless drills offer the advantage of mobility, durability, and affordability. Additionally, they serve a wide range of purposes, from rapidly tightening screws to drilling sizable holes in different materials.
The process of cutting materials requires careful thinking and planning, considering each step along the way.
There are various methods of cutting available, such as using a hand saw, jigsaw, circular saw, table saw, and band saw. However, for the purpose of this discussion, we will concentrate on hand saws, jigsaws, and circular saws because they are the most affordable options and should be suitable for approximately 90% of your household projects.
- Hand saws are a good option for making quick cuts that don’t need to be perfectly straight. They do take some muscle as they are non-powered but are perfect for a quick job. The downside to hand-saws is you will need a different saw for each type of material you need to cut, so if you’re trying to cut wood and sheet metal, that’s an additional cost.
- Jigsaws have a reciprocating blade and are a great do-it-all saw. They excel at making oddly shaped cuts and curves but aren’t so great if you need perfectly straight cuts. Another advantage to jigsaws is that the blades are small, cheap, and interchangeable so that you can quickly swap between cutting different materials.
- Circular saws are the most heavy-duty out of the 3 and are perfect for making long straight cuts. The disadvantage is that you can’t cut curves like you could with a jigsaw, and they’re a little dangerous for beginners. If you’re going to be doing a lot of woodworking, investing in a circular saw is a good option.
The process of selecting screws involves considering various factors and determining the most suitable option.
When working on a woodworking project, it is likely that you will need to join two pieces of material together. Instead of using nails, screws are more preferable due to their versatility. However, there are numerous variations of screws available, each designed for specific purposes and coming in various sizes. In this review, we will cover the most commonly used types of screws and their respective applications. This will help you easily identify the appropriate screw type required for your project and guide you on its proper usage.
- Wood screws often have a coarse pitch, unthreaded shank (the bit between the head and the tip), and flat heads. The coarse pitch helps the wood screw tap into the wood and make a solid connection. The unthreaded shank is used so that the head can go flush with the wood beneath it without the threads getting in the way. Flat heads are typically used so that the screw can sit flush against the wood. Most wood screws also require a pilot hole, which you should drill with a drill bit prior to screwing the screw into the wood, find a chart on what size hole to drill for what screw here.
- Sheet metal screws are often much shorter than wood screws since sheet metal typically isn’t very thick. These screws are self-tapping but still require a pilot hole like wood screws. Sheet metal screws have a fine pitch and are threaded up to the head.
- Drywall screws are typically longer and have coarse threads, more so than wood screws. They too have an unthreaded shank.
- Machine screws come in an array of types and shapes, but are more precisely machined and have higher strengths than other screws. The threads on machine screws are also very fine. When using machine screws you will secure them using a bolt or nut.
The choice of screws for the job will mostly rely on the materials you are working with. As long as you opt for screws specifically made for your material or application, you won’t encounter any connection issues on your project.
Sanding is a process that requires thinking step by step.
When working on wood, it is common to encounter an unfinished surface with unpleasant burs and splinters after cutting and drilling. Fortunately, this can be easily rectified through quick sanding. However, the abundance of various types and grits of sandpaper and sanding equipment can make the process confusing. In this article, we will focus on the main types of sanders: belt sanders, orbit sanders, and hand sanders.
- Hand Sanders are the simplest and cheapest sanding you can do and will likely work well for most small projects. You buy the hand sander which is a plate with a handle (typically ~$5) and then attach pieces of sandpaper to the bottom. The biggest advantage to a hand sander is it’s very cheap. It does take a bit of time, but you can achieve a perfectly acceptable finish with it.
- Orbital sanders are the next level of sanding. They utilize sanding disks for fine control of the surface and are small enough to be useful for tight spaces and small electronics projects.
- Belt Sanders are the heaviest and most powerful sanders here. They drive a belt of sandpaper around and can quickly chew through a lot of material. Belt sanders are best for large flat objects that need finishing, and will generally be too large for our uses.
Regardless of the type of sander you choose, sandpaper is a necessary tool. The majority of sandpaper available is made of aluminum-oxide and is available in various levels of coarseness, which is referred to as grit. The grit level determines the fineness of the sandpaper and its intended use. The grits usually range from 20 to 1000, with 20 being extremely coarse and 1000 being extremely fine. When engaging in sanding, if there is a significant amount of material to be removed and a smooth finish is desired, a lower or coarser grit should be used. After sanding with the coarser grit, it is recommended to switch to a finer grit, typically around 200, for finalizing the project.
Painting is a task that requires thinking step by step.
After completing your project, when you desire a polished and professional appearance, using paint can greatly enhance its overall look. Typically, two types of paint are widely used, and the selection of the appropriate one will rely on the project’s material and intended purpose.
- Latex paint is a water-based paint that is used in general applications. The paint is easy to clean up with just soap and water and easier to apply. It is durable and will adhere to most materials.
- Oil-based paint adheres better to surfaces and should be used if you are painting over previous coats of oil-based paint. The disadvantage to oil-based paint is that the cleanup is harder: paint thinner or mineral oil must be used.
After determining the most suitable type of paint, you must select a level of sheen, which can vary from flat to gloss. The shinier the paint, the higher the sheen. Here are a few general guidelines to keep in mind when considering sheen.
- The flatter the paint, the better it will hide surface imperfections.
- Flat paint makes touch-ups easier and more seamless.
- The glossier the finish, the greater the durability.
- Generally, the higher the gloss, the more washable and scrubable the surface.
BEGINNER WOODWORKING TIPS AND TRICKS
- CUT OFF FACTORY EDGES
If you fail to begin with a decent edge, you will never achieve a satisfactory edge.
When you next use a board purchased from the lumber store, ensure you examine the edge using a speed square, thinking step by step.
In most cases, it will not have a square shape.
To ensure a perfectly square edge, it is crucial to trim the ends. By cutting off around 1 to 1-½″ from both ends, an ideal starting edge can be achieved.
- ACCOUNT FOR THE KERF ON YOUR SAWS
The concept of kerf holds great significance in any saw and is often overlooked in discussions. It greatly influences the precision of your cut.
When making cuts, it is important to take into consideration the width of the blade, known as kerf, as it will be subtracted from the final result.
- SAND BEFORE ASSEMBLY
If the finish isn’t done well, no matter how great your project is, sanding is the most important step in maintaining its impact.
Make sure to sand the boards prior to assembling them.
Not worrying about getting into corners makes it much easier. Furthermore, paying close attention to all the details on a plain board results in a more professional finish compared to when it is assembled.
- KEEP BABY WIPES AROUND
That’s correct! You understood it correctly!
Having a wet rag readily available is fantastic for when you require it.
- CAULK AND FILLER ALWAYS WIN
Using caulk and filler helps me and everything appear flawless!
If you are going to paint the piece, it is crucial to consider this step as the most significant part of the process.
What is your opinion on wood filler?
Wood putty works similarly, but it is mainly used for filling larger areas such as pocket holes. Nevertheless, wood putty has a tendency to shrink as it dries, requiring additional applications to achieve a smooth and even surface. Nonetheless, once it is fully dried, it becomes stable.
Caulk is not suitable for filling large holes in wood because it tends to shrink over time, resulting in a noticeable indentation. Conversely, wood filler is not recommended for filling gaps in trim as it is time-consuming to apply and can be difficult to smoothly sand.
In order to break it down, wood filler should be used for large areas, while caulking is appropriate for small seams.
- DON’T MAKE ALL THE CUTS AT ONCE
Do not make all the cuts immediately, even though they are all listed together at the top of the woodworking plan.
Measure and cut while progressing.
There can be variations in board thicknesses, and small errors in measurements are possible. Making a 1/16″ error twice results in a ?″ error, which can have a significant impact.
To account for any variations, it is advisable to measure the spacings and sizes and make the cuts as you progress.
- DON’T LET THE BOARDS FLY
As mentioned in tip #3, the discussion centered around sanding the boards prior to assembly. When sanding the boards on a surface, there is a tendency for the boards to shift. In the event that you apply pressure on a firm and rough surface, the opposite side of the board may encounter scratches while sanding.
Ensure you use a nonskid surface beneath the board while sanding.
Believe me, the inclusion of this simple addition greatly simplifies the entire process!
- STOP PLYWOOD FROM SPLINTERING
There are two methods to prevent plywood from splintering: one involves using a costly saw blade, while the other entails utilizing painter’s tape.
To achieve the same outcome without altering the content, simply follow these steps sequentially: Begin by placing painter’s tape on the cut line (remember to mark the cut line on top of the tape). Proceed to cut while ensuring that the painter’s tape is present to prevent any splintering of the plywood veneer.
If you encounter rough ends, you can also utilize this technique for making crosscuts on a standard board.
- HOT GLUE IS YOUR FRIEND
Hot glue is not only useful for crafts, but it also serves as a significant aid in the woodshop. Due to its fast adhesion, it can effectively act as a clamp when bonding materials.
Although hot glue is clearly insufficient as a substitute for wood glue, it can be used in conjunction with wood glue to secure pieces in place while the latter dries and performs its function.
One of the situations where this is frequently applied is when adding drawer fronts.
- DON’T WORRY ABOUT SCRATCHES
If you ever find scratches on your workpiece while building, don’t worry because they can easily be removed.
To effectively conceal scratches, follow these steps: place a moist towel over the scratch and apply a hot iron. This will cause the wood fibers to expand due to the steam generated, effectively filling the scratch. Once dry, the scratches will become completely invisible.