Monday, February 27, 2017

So....You want to learn about woodworking!?

If you want to give this a real try, then there are two fundamental areas you must learn first.

The first one being about the wood itself.  How the tree grew influenced its characteristics, understanding the make up of the wood itself, how to read the grain. The differences between hardwoods and softwoods. How the way wood is processed affect greatly its look and its working properties.

Knowing how the wood is made, how it moves and why, its strength and weakness, allows you to built confidently and properly a piece that will outlast us all.

Second being the tools used and how to keep them sharp and serviceable.
There are a Bazillions of choices out there, awaiting the unwary buyer. Which ones do you really need? How do you tell the good ones versus the crappola?

How to use them properly so that they don't wear you out or hurt you, which ones when?
And perhaps most critical, you need to know how to look after and sharpen them properly.
Understanding the concepts of Coarse, Medium, and Fine in tools selection and usage.
Knowing which ones and how to keep them working in top notch conditions will save you a boatload of money...

Unless and until you gain some good knowledge about the above, you could only progress so much as a woodworker and never reach proficiency. That you want to stick to power tools or hand tools, makes absolutely no differences in this regard.

Once you gain this knowledge, you can then better understand the uses of the various joinery methods at our disposal. How best to join wood for its intended use, is critical to sound construction.
And you can learn various methods to execute them, using either or both power and hand tools.

Having learned about wood properties, will help you navigate and understand the bewildering world of adhesives and finishing products for wood. When to use the right one for specific applications.

Woodworking spaces, considerations
Depending on your own circumstances:
- Level of interest, budget and space available
- Power or hand tools have different requirements
- Noises and dust control
- Lighting and access

Some essential shop fixtures and jigs
Power or hand tools?

Branching off
Depending on your interests, there are a myriads of woodworking specialties, each ones requiring a different skill and tool set.
Some examples:
- Luthiery (the making of musical instruments)
- Woodturning
- Woodcarving
- Chair making
- Furniture making
Etc, etc. The possibilities are endless..... Limited only by your imagination.

And above all, for lots of us, woodworking is a gateway to relaxation. A place where time stand still and evaporate along with the worries of our daily grinds. A place in time where you are solely concentrating on the immediacy of the task at hand. Keeping track of where that sharp tool edge is on the wood and the position of your hands in relation to it, is all that matter in the moment.
Forget either and chances are pretty high that you will cut yourself... just saying :-)

And that is why it can provides you, not only a distraction and an outlet for exploring your creativity, but also a chance to unwind and smell the wood (not the sawdust!)

So where am I going with this?
Well, I have pretty well finished my son's tool kits, now I need to make them some sort of curriculum and figured out how to deliver it to them.
That and they will need some sort of tool storage... Portable, so I can deliver it myself :-)

How my bright ideas usually start :-)

Bob, the long range planer.


  1. Portable tool storage
    look at this:
    In the background you see another one attached to the wall with a french cleat - great idea.
    It is demonstrated in the video.
    How to design the hinges?
    Look at the link on this:

  2. Neat ideas, thanks Sylvain. I was thinking something like a Dutch tool chest, if I can get to fit everything inside :-)
    I am a big fan of French cleats to hangs shop stuff on the walls, that is how all my currents shop furniture, tills etc hangs on my walls.

    Bob, back from his Rotary meeting

  3. Bob,

    Very true but.....I'm not sure I would have ever started if I thought it thru :-). I just wanted to make something and before I knew what happened I had a shop full of machines, benches, and tools.


  4. exactly Ken, I followed the same path ..before you knew it, there I was lots of tools i rarely used :-)
    I want to start them off on the right foot :-)


  5. Hi Bob,
    I had the same thought as Ken. Would I have started just because of a curriculum? At the end I have. I read Jim Tolpin's "New Traditional Woodworker". But I read it because I wanted to build something and was searching for answers.
    So, seems a good idea to me. I would have loved if someone would have prepared something for me.