A Beginners Guide to Woodworking

Helping New Woodworkers Make Better Projects

A Beginners Guide to Woodworking: Helping New Woodworkers Make Better Projects is my sixth book, and it’s all about helping new woodworkers get the best start possible. A new hobby is always difficult in the beginning, but it doesn’t have to be that way.

A Beginners Guide to Woodworking

a beginners guide to woodworking book how to help new woodworkers make better projectsLooking back to the beginning, there were a lot of things that I wish I knew when I started. I never had a real mentor who understood woodworking, so the process took a long time, and I made a lot of mistakes.

In the beginning, you can accidentally do the wrong things, and they can set you back and slow down your progress on the things you really need to know. You can buy the wrong tools, use the wrong type of wood, get bad glue, or waste money on things you don’t need.

I help new tens of thousands of new woodworkers through my website and through email every single month. Since I cannot be with you the entire time, and help you in person, I put everything I could into creating a book that will help you get through the beginner struggle, and make you a better woodworker faster.

Inside the Book:

  • Why you don’t want to be a woodworker, and why this is a bad goal in the beginning.
  • How to pick out a project that will be successful.
  • Executing a simple design really well, and getting to the end with less stress.
  • Working on your best asset as a woodworker, patience.
  • Recording your progress through notebooks and taking pictures.
  • All about wood, an entire chapter devoted to the medium you create with.
  • Where to buy wood, and how to find deals on your most used resource.
  • My personal list of favorite wood species that will make your projects look amazing.
  • An entire chapter on tools, what you need and what you can skip to save money.
  • The difference between expensive and inexpensive tools.
  • Finding deals on tools, and how to fill your shop for pennies on the dollar.
  • Finding a good bench, and setting the foundation for your shop.
  • Shop setup ideas, housekeeping, and why you don’t even need a shop at all.
  • Getting the most from the small shop, maximizing the space.
  • My personal small shop layout that has been helpful to my success in woodworking.
  • Research methods, and how to figure out how to make any project you see.
  • Advice and tips on avoiding mistakes that can cost you a lot of time and money.
  • An entire chapter on safety, and why you should take it seriously.
  • Paying it forward when you become an expert, and why you should.

These are only 19 of the over 200 topics that are presented, with even more great ideas and tips about getting started in woodworking. Let’s look into each of these in a little more detail, and show you how understanding what the experts know is the best way to get yourself started in woodworking.

You Don’t Want to Be a Woodworker

a beginners guide to woodworking book to help new woodworkers make betterwoodworking projectsWhen you are brand new, wanting to become a woodworker is actually a really bad way to get into the hobby. A woodworker is just someone that works with wood. If you have the desire to build from wood, but nothing to build, it can lead to frustration.

In the beginning, it’s better to want to become a guitar maker, or a pipe maker, or a cabinet maker. Knowing your project right away sets your direction, and makes the decision process much easier down the road. It also ties your success to another activity.

Woodworking is a skill, just like painting, sculpting, or writing. The skill needs a goal in order to be expressed, and this is where your project comes in. I explain all of this in more detail in the first chapter of the book.

How to Pick out a Successful Project

What if there was a way to pick out a project that had a much higher success rate than other projects? What if there were actually three ways? In the beginning, knowing your heading is a huge benefit, but it can be tough to pick out.

Woodworking is such a giant hobby. There are many different things you can do in woodworking, and each one of them can be taken very deeply as well. In a field so vast, it can be difficult to choose the right project that will have a high success rate.

Failure and quitting are tied together. In the beginning, you want to pick out projects with a high success rate, which will give you more confidence. The three ways explained in the book are the best ways to choose a unique project that will have a much better chance of being completed.

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Executing a Simple Design

It can be tempting in the beginning to shoot for a very elaborate design. While there is nothing wrong with lofty goals, attempting to create a gift to the world in the form of a kitchen cabinet on round one can be overwhelming.

One of the reasons that people tend to quit new hobbies is that they are perceived to be too difficult. If you shoot for the moon on the first try, no matter what your hobby, it is going to seem very difficult.

This is where picking out a project, and then creating a traditional design is much better than going over the top. In the end, a classic design done well is always going to look better than a complex design that was built poorly.

Your Best Tool as a New Woodworker

Your best tool as a new woodworker is patience. While this may not sound as glamorous as you might have hoped, the truth about woodworking is that patient woodworkers tend to have better projects in the end. Thankfully, you are in complete control over this tool.

All you have to do in the beginning to be successful is to slow down. If you slow down, have some patience, and look at what you are doing, you will have much better outcomes more often. It’s through rushing that steps are missed, mistakes are made, and projects turn out poorly.

You have all the power in the world to make great projects. The big difference will be you forcing yourself to complete each process well before moving to the next. Your patience, and willingness to not stop until it’s right are what will make you an expert quicker.

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Recording Your Progress

It’s important to record your progress as a new woodworker. Keeping a woodworking notebook and taking a lot of pictures are two of the ways that I explain in detail inside the book. These have helped me a lot, and they can help you too.

A woodworking notebook is a place to record important information, ideas, and your progress as a woodworker. Over time, it will become a place that you refer back to, and a timeline of your progress that will make you smile every time you open it. I’ll show you what you need to put inside to guarantee that smile in the future.

Taking pictures is a visual catalog of your progress. It is also a reference of what you have created with your own hands. The change in skill level will be easy to see as you look through your pictures in the future, and you can instantly re-live older projects too.

All About Wood

The second chapter in the book is called All About Wood. There is a lot that you can learn about wood, and you can spend your whole life without learning it all. That’s way too much for any beginner, so I took care of that for you.

All you really need to know about wood is covered in a single chapter, right in the beginning, so you know what you need right away. Wood is a natural material, and it has some properties that you need to understand before you use it.

After you know the basics, the rest is just fun academic reading that will make you a more educated woodworker. Since you are going to be learning so much at once, this is the short list of what you need to know about wood to get started.

a beginners guide to woodworking helping new woodworkers make better projects woodworking

Finding Deals on Wood

I am super cheap, so any time that I can find a deal on something I go for it. Wood is no different, and since you are going to be using wood for everything you make, it is just a good practice to look for deals.

Having been a woodworker for a long time, I know a lot of ninja methods for finding wood on the cheap that I explain in the book. These have been personal favorites, and have resulted in a lot of free or cheap wood for my projects.

Once you have the tools, the only real expense when you make something is the wood. If you get the wood for free, or for very little, you can make projects that have a very low production cost, which can be a huge help if you are selling what you make.

My Favorite Wood Species List

Over time, you are going to come up with your own list of favorite wood species that you enjoy working with. It might be the look, the price, or the finish, but you will fall in love with certain types of wood when you use them.

The down side to this process is that it takes time. In the beginning, you end up making a lot of bland looking projects until you discover the different types of wood that are available in the world. Now, thanks to my list, you don’t have to wait as long.

There are two lists included in the book, both with complete explanations. One is my “best bang for the buck” list, and one is my “money is no object” list. Each of these lists will expose you to some amazing types of wood that will take your projects over the top.

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All About Tools

Just like the wood chapter, this chapter focuses on tools, and everything you need to know in the beginning. There are so many tools you can buy, and knowing what you need in the beginning can help you avoid flushing money down the toilet.

Tools are a marketing thing. Once companies figured out that you like buying tools, they started making more of them. In the beginning, you are the most susceptible to purchasing something you don’t need. This section helps give you the knowledge you need to avoid those mistakes.

There are certain tools that have stood the test of time, and they are cornerstones of any successful woodworking shop. These are the tools that are presented in the chapter, and they are a great place to start your learning.

Expensive and Inexpensive Tools

The world of tools has a lot of different price points depending on where you shop, and what you are buying. It can be tempting to grab something from a discount tool store when it’s less than half the price of the same item at a woodworking store.

There are times when you can buy inexpensive and there are also times when you need to spend a little more to get the right thing. Knowing the difference in the beginning is hard, but there are a few sections in the tools chapter that can help.

I have both higher end and entry level tools. Most of mine are right down the middle, and I have had a lot of success with all of them. Buying the most expensive tool is rarely if ever  necessary, but knowing when to avoid the bargain basement tool is important .

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Finding Deals on Tools

As a new woodworker, you are going to have to buy some tools. If you have nothing but a dream and a bench, you are going to have to buy a lot of tools. Well, depending on what you decide to build it may not be a lot, but any expense is worth looking into.

The world is full of quitters, and in Chapter Three I show you how to take advantage of the deals you can find when someone is exiting a hobby. There is nearly zero difference between new tools and gently used tools. If someone else is getting rid of them, there is no reason you should not benefit from that.

There are many ways to find deals on tools, and they can help you stock up, especially in the beginning. Tools can last a long time if you take care of them, so knowing what to look for can save you a lot of money as you fill your shop.

Your Workbench

While it’s nice to have a bench, I explain why you really don’t need to have one in the beginning. The desire to make things is more important than the environment in which you make them. Do not think that you can’t be a woodworker without an expensive bench, all you need is a comfortable place to work.

So many times we allow small things to stop us. There are people out there that have not started something because they think it has to be a certain way in order to get off the ground successfully. In woodworking, your desire is more important than anything else.

All you really need at first is something to work on. It can even be the ground. I’ll show you a lot of great ways to get your bench on the cheap, but if you have somewhere to set your stuff, you already have everything you need to get started.

a beginners guide to woodworking helping new woodworkers make better projectsYour Shop and Getting Set Up

The shop is the same as the bench. If you can have one, great. If not, well that’s great too, and it should not discourage you from being a woodworker.

In Chapter Four I show you several ways that you can still work even without a shop.

There are a lot of great ways that you can have a space, even if you don’t actually have a dedicated shop. There are people that work at their kitchen table who turn out amazing pieces of woodworking.

It’s them being comfortable in the area they are working, and using that area to turn out great pieces of work.

If you are fortunate enough to have a shop in the beginning, there are also several ways that you can make it work well. From layout, to tool storage, the things you actually need to know in the beginning are all covered.

Maximizing a Small Shop

Most of us that have shops have small shops. It’s rare that someone has the luxury of a large shop. For most of us, woodworking is a hobby, and our shops are garages, basements, and sheds in the back yard.

If you have a smaller area that you are thinking about making into your shop, the tips and ideas in Chapter Four will help you get the most from the space. There are tricks that you can use to store things better, and arrange them better, and this makes even a smaller space look and feel bigger.

If you incorporate a couple of these things into your shop layout and design, you can make your area very functional. Again, it’s not about the area you work, it’s about what you want to get from that area.

My Personal Shop Layout

Inside the book I show my personal shop layout, and how you can do the same kind of setup in your shop. I believe that this is the best way to set up a small space, and it creates an environment that is very comfortable to work in.

Your shop needs to be comfortable. If you can set up an area that makes you happy to work, then you are going to have a much better chance at success. This layout has been very comfortable for me, and makes it easy to gain access to all of your tools.

The layout is also designed so that you don’t have to move around as much to get to everything. This means less walking, less fatigue, and more energy for making projects that you are proud of.

a beginners guide to woodworking book how to help new woodworkers make better projectsResearch Methods and Woodworking Projects

After a while, any woodworker is able to dissect just about any project by looking at it, and see how it was made. This is a skill that generally takes time to develop, but I will show you several great ways that you can jump start this process.

Thanks to modern advancements that were not around a long time ago, you can do certain things in your down time to figure out how a certain project is made. Some of these are paid, but most of them are free. It’s just a matter of doing them.

Being able to effectively dissect a project, figure out the tools you need, and then figure out the building methods is your secret weapon to making a successful project. The beauty is that you can do nearly all of these things in your spare time.

Avoiding Woodworking Mistakes

Making mistakes is part of the experience of any new hobby. However, the more you can learn from the mistakes of others, the less you will have to make yourself. This is how you leverage their experience to further yours.

There is value in making a mistake, as long as you learn. There is even more value in learning from a mistake that someone else made. In this way, you get the same information, but you don’t have to go through the loss of time or materials.

There are several great ways that you can do this in your spare time, and the book explains all of them. This is akin to standing on the shoulders of giants, and can help you move forward much faster than without.

Woodworking Safety

Most people don’t think about woodworking safety until it’s too late. This is a bad way to learn about safety, and you should get serious about safety long before you actually harm yourself. Thankfully, it’s easier than it looks.

The safety chapter explains many of the common safety items that can make woodworking a much safer long term hobby. There are more of course, but these are a good beginning that you can build upon based on the tools and activities that you perform in your shop.

There are also helpful ways to encourage yourself to wear the gear you buy, because after all, a pair of safety glasses on the bench are only protecting the bench. The trick is getting yourself to wear the gear, and that’s easy too.

A Beginners Guide to Woodworking Book!

Paying it Forward

After a while, you will learn enough to help others. I believe that if you have benefited from the experience and the knowledge of those that were farther along than you were in the beginning, you should help those behind you now that you are an expert.

Helping can take many forms, and they are all explained. Some people like to share pictures, others videos, and others books. Depending on how you share your craft with the world, you may naturally do these things even from the beginning.

You have the ability to shape what someone thinks about woodworking. They will learn from you, and it can cause them to become lifelong students of woodworking. If you do the right things, you can share the hobby you love with others, and make their lives better too.

Inside the Book Re-Cap

Here is another look at just some of the over 200 different features in the book, and how they can help you become a better woodworker in the beginning.

  • Why you don’t want to be a woodworker, and why this is a bad goal in the beginning.
  • How to pick out a project that will be successful.
  • Executing a simple design really well, and getting to the end with less stress.
  • Working on your best asset as a woodworker, patience.
  • Recording your progress through notebooks and taking pictures.
  • All about wood, an entire chapter devoted to the medium you create with.
  • Where to buy wood, and how to find deals on your most used resource.
  • My personal list of favorite wood species that will make your projects look amazing.
  • An entire chapter on tools, what you need and what you can skip to save money.
  • The difference between expensive and inexpensive tools.
  • Finding deals on tools, and how to fill your shop for pennies on the dollar.
  • Finding a good bench, and setting the foundation for your shop.
  • Shop setup ideas, housekeeping, and why you don’t even need a shop at all.
  • Getting the most from the small shop, maximizing the space.
  • My personal small shop layout that has been a reason for my success in woodworking.
  • Research methods, and how to figure out how to make any project you see.
  • Advice and tips on avoiding mistakes that can cost you a lot of time and money.
  • An entire chapter on safety, and why you should take it seriously.
  • Paying it forward when you become an expert, and why you should.

Additional Information About Westfarthing Woodworks

a beginners guide to woodworking book to help new woodworkers make betterwoodworking projectsWhile I publish the overwhelming majority of my woodworking content for free, I also have several books available as well. You can see them on my Available Books Page, and they cover several different woodworking disciplines.

You can also Join the Community, and receive updates from me about new articles, upcoming books, and when I release new books. It’s completely free, and full of great tutorials, freebies, and great content.

I hope you enjoy reading A Beginners Guide to Woodworking as much as I have enjoyed writing it. And if you have any questions along the way, feel free to email me, or to leave a  comment and I will be glad to help. Happy building.

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