How to work the wood?
November 3, 2006 2:28 PM   Subscribe

I'm about to buy a house that has a workbench in it and I'd like to learn some woodworking. Can anyone point me to some resources for learning the basics? I mean I know measure twice, cut once, but beyond that, I'm lost.
posted by sholdens12 to Home & Garden (15 answers total) 14 users marked this as a favorite
Pop down to your local Home Depot type store and check out their book collection. Home & Garden and Sunset both put out very good basic woodworking books.
posted by tkolar at 2:35 PM on November 3, 2006

Fine Woodworking
posted by Good Brain at 2:43 PM on November 3, 2006

Best answer: I recently picked up The Complete Illustrated Guide to Furniture and Cabinet Construction which has some good advice, but it assumes a little knowledge of the basics. Woodworking Basics: Mastering the Essentials of Craftsmanship, also by the well-regarded Tauton Press, has received some favorable reviews and I plan to get a copy soon.
posted by exogenous at 2:46 PM on November 3, 2006

Watch the New Yankee Workshop on PBS. The things he's doing will likely be a little more advanced than you will start with, but you will get a pretty good overview of the various tools and what they do.

Check out your local high school or community college for a night course in introductory woodworking.
posted by davey_darling at 2:48 PM on November 3, 2006

Go look at furniutre with new eyes, look at the fasteners used. Find a good repairable item, like desk or table and use it as your own learning project. Read Fine Woodworking but remember that magazine is very high end mostly, the Tauton Press library is good, get a basics type book. But really looking at how things are made is a great way to understand what works. Finally get an air compressor and use the tools it can power and a good drill press.
posted by Freedomboy at 2:57 PM on November 3, 2006

Best answer: For an online resource, try Sawmill Creek. They're very friendly and helpful with advise for newcomers.
posted by maxwelton at 4:56 PM on November 3, 2006

Get some training on power tools, and buy a good leather apron so the table saw can't throw an offcut through your solar plexus.
posted by weapons-grade pandemonium at 5:23 PM on November 3, 2006

I learned a lot by going to an adult education night class. The first class taught you how to make a board (no, seriously), which was a way of introducing all the tools and covering safety. I stuck with the class until I got to the point where I was waiting a lot for the noobs to finish their work and I spent most of my time correcting the settings of the tools. At this point, I no longer needed the instructor to help answer questions, I needed time and practice, which was perfect for home.
posted by plinth at 5:32 PM on November 3, 2006

Best answer: I'm learning right now, using Box by Box.
posted by claxton6 at 6:11 PM on November 3, 2006

My master-craftsman boss lent me Krenov's The Fine Art of Cabinetmaking from his library as a good place to start. I got a used copy super cheap at Amazon. Krenov's approach is less a how-to guide and more a this is how I make and think about things type a book, but it's thoughtful and well written.
posted by princelyfox at 6:22 PM on November 3, 2006

for practical advice, don't hesitate to ask these folks.
posted by killy willy at 6:47 PM on November 3, 2006

There is a strong correlation between woodworking and computer users so there are lots of forums for wood working to give you ideas and get specific assistance if you've got questions.

I frequent these:
Woodcentral (handtools/turning).
WWA Info Exchange.
UK Workshop.
posted by Mitheral at 6:56 PM on November 3, 2006

IMO, Fine Woodworking and its ilk are WAY too advanced for the beginner -- requiring specialized tools and jigs and experience.

I recommend Family Handyman magazine, which is not specifically about woodworking, but contains in each issue 1 or 2 projects that are not only doable by the beginner, but are so clearly described in photographs and drawings that you really can't mess up. I've never seen woodworking projects described with the care and level of detail FH provides, it's borderline artful.

If you want to dive in, there's always someone selling a collection of a dozen or so FH mags on ebay.
posted by stupidsexyFlanders at 9:27 PM on November 3, 2006

Best answer: Browse the magazine rack at your local bookstore and buy magazines based on individual projects you think you would like to build. If you like Shaker furniture that is a good place to begin, simple designs and straight lines and you can make it out of pine, which is easy to work (if tough to finish nicely).

And don't get suckered into buying a lot of tools right off the bat. Buy tools as you need them for a specific project, not as you want them.
posted by LarryC at 11:23 PM on November 3, 2006

I'd be inclined to go the exact opposite route to davey_darling and buy Roy Underhill's original Woodwright's Shop book: not necessarily for projects, but for the attitude. Yes, he's hokey, but it makes economic sense to buy a set of hand tools (flea markets, pawn shops, etc) before splashing out on power tools.

But I'd certainly look at night classes: there's a reason why trades are taught through apprenticeships.
posted by holgate at 2:50 AM on November 4, 2006

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