Woodworking in Small Spaces

Woodworking in small spaces like basements, apartments, or garages can be a challenge as a beginner. However, the size of the shop does not mean much. It’s really more about the quality and the determination of the woodworker. Here is how you get the most from your small shop.

Woodworking in Small Spaces

woodworking in small spacesThe only real limitation from a small shop is the size of things you can produce. In a second floor apartment, it’s going to be difficult to make big furniture pieces. You can find ways around it by making the items in sections, but it’s still not ideal.

As you look at your space, remember that you only need enough room for your tools and for your materials. Add in a little for moving around, and you have enough room to start making things from wood.

Having worked in several very small shops, and still working in what most would say is a smaller space, I don’t believe that the shop makes much of a difference at all.

If you desire to make great projects, then you find a way. It’s much more about you than your circumstances. Read more “Woodworking in Small Spaces”

How to Choose a Woodworking Project

How to choose a woodworking project will show you a proven way to select the right project, and increase the chances that you will complete it. Choosing a project is an important step in woodworking, and can be the difference between a fun experience or a bad one. Here is how you do it.

How to Choose a Woodworking Project

howto choose a woodworking projectMost people end up in woodworking by accident. What happens is that they need something for the house that is made from wood, or they need something else that is made from wood, and they are forced to figure out how to make it.

Other times, they need to finish something, or change the color of something that is made from wood. In cases like these, they brush arms with woodworking. This is where the bite happens, and suddenly it begins.

Woodworking is a means, not an end. Woodworking is no different than plumbing, or welding. The skill itself is not the product, it’s what you use the skill to make that has all of the value.

So, when you choose a woodworking project, sometimes the project chooses you instead, and this is actually a really good thing… Read more “How to Choose a Woodworking Project”

What Tools do I Need to Get Started Woodworking?

What tools do I need to get started woodworking? This is a very common question from beginning woodworkers. The answer is pretty easy, and if you follow this advice you can save a lot of money in the beginning. Here is what you need to do.

What Tools do I Need as a New Woodworker

what tools do i need to get started woodworkingWoodworking can be a money pit. Like any hobby, there are thousands of manufacturers and stores that are lined up and ready to take your money in exchange for materials and tools of the trade.

As a new woodworker, getting started in woodworking can be costly. However, you can lower that cost if you make good buying decisions. After all, at the point where you are right now, you may not really need as many tools as you think.

Also, by purchasing the right tools, you can significantly reduce your costs. What are the right tools? This is where you need to look at what you are making, and it will become abundantly clear.

Think about what you are building, and the answers to the questions you have about tools become easier. Here is why… Read more “What Tools do I Need to Get Started Woodworking?”

My Best Woodworking Posts…so far

These are some of my best and post popular woodworking posts so far. I write a lot on my site, and sometimes the best stuff gets pushed down before people have a chance to read and enjoy it. Here is some of my best work all in one place.

My Best Woodworking Posts…so far

My best woodworking postsWoodworking has been a lifelong passion of mine, and the only thing I have ever done consistently for more than a couple years. Woodworking has always been what I return to, even when it’s to advance my other hobbies at the time.

After a very long time, hundreds of projects, and many more interests, I decided to combine my love of writing and my love of woodworking together. My site was born, and I really enjoy sharing my love of woodworking with anyone that cares to read about it.

The following are some of my best and most popular woodworking posts, and they will each show you something that can help you be a better woodworker. They are both my favorites and reader favorites, so please enjoy my best woodworking posts…so far… Read more “My Best Woodworking Posts…so far”

Make and Sell Cutting Boards

Every woodworker needs a side hustle to make some cash for new projects. You can make and sell cutting boards easily from the scraps that you create. Not only are cutting boards easy to sell, but they are also nearly free because you are using scraps to make them. Here is how to get started.

Start Saving Your Scraps for Cutting Boards

make and sell cutting boardsIf you are making cutting board from scraps, then you are going to need to start saving your scraps. Select a place in the shop where you can put them. This will be your cutting board area.

Since cutting boards come in several different shapes and sizes, you can use just about anything you have for scraps. This includes wide and narrow pieces, long and short pieces.

Even really thin pieces of wood can make great looking accent lines. Use these with a contrasting species, and they will really stand out.

If you are making these from new stock, simply look around for deals on wood. Second grade pieces, small cutoffs, and anything that’s the right size will work. Many woodworking shops have a scrap bin. This can be a place to find great wood for cheap, just like I did for a different project. Read more “Make and Sell Cutting Boards”

How to Make Several Boards Look Like One

Sometimes when you are making a project, you need to make several boards look like one board. This is handy for making smaller tops, tables, and projects where you are edge gluing wood. If you pay attention to your pieces, you can make several edge glued boards look like one larger board. Here is how.

Lining Up the Boards and Making Selections

how to make several boards look like oneThe first step in making several pieces of wood look like one larger piece is to make good selections. Line up your pieces of wood and start arranging them.

Flip the pieces around. Flip them over. Change their arrangement. Keep on doing this until you get the grain lines to meet each other nicely.

As you move the piece around, you will notice that some of the arrangements look much better than others. You will also see that as you get the pieces right, the boards start to look like one large piece. Keep working like this until you are satisfied that your arrangement is the best it can be for the boards you are using. Read more “How to Make Several Boards Look Like One”

The Secret to Making String Art

This is the secret to making string art. If you want to know how to get your nails all lined up nicely, and how to get them to the same depth, this is for you. I promise that there is a far easier way to make string art than pounding in nails for hours.

The Easy Way to Make String Art

the secret to making string artIf you really want to get your string art to the point where it looks professional, do not hammer in the nails. Instead, use a drill.

The best way to do this is to use a drill press, because it drills straight every time. However, if you have a hand drill you can still make it work.

Once you have selected your nails, use a caliper or a micrometer to measure the diameter of the shank. Once you know your measurement, dig out your drill index. Find a bit that is just smaller than the shank of the nails. If you get the perfect drill, you can almost push in the nails by hand. However, even if you still have to hammer them, it’s far easier. Read more “The Secret to Making String Art”

Woodworking Resolution For the New Year

woodworking resolutionIt’s the new year, and everyone is busy making resolutions to lose weight, quit smoking, and get into better shape. This year, how about making a resolution that will actually be fun to keep?

This is your guide to making a woodworking resolution.

There are many easy things that you can do to increase your woodworking knowledge and skill. Implement some or all of the following techniques, and this will be your most productive woodworking year ever! You don’t have to do all of these, but make sure to pick up at least a few and give them a try.

Woodworking Resolution Ideas:

  • Try Something New
  • Take More and Better Pictures
  • Keep a Woodworking Notebook
  • Become a Student of Woodworking
  • Build a Woodworking Library
  • Take a Class – Learn a New Technique
  • Set Aside a Little Money Weekly for Tools
  • Start A Project You Have Been Avoiding
  • Make Yourself Some Hand Tools/Jigs

Try Something New This Year

woodworking resolutionOne of the easiest woodworking resolutions is to try something new. This is also a sure fire way to learn a new skill, and improve the skills you already have. Building a different project than you normally make causes you to learn new techniques, use unfamiliar tools, and solve different problems. This is a great way to make a huge leap in your woodworking ability.

I wrote a whole post about trying something new, but the main point is to make sure that it’s different than what you normally make. If you are a guitar maker, try a different instrument. If you make cabinets, maybe try making a table or a piece of wall art. It doesn’t matter if the project is easy or complex, it just has to be different.

If you normally make red tables and then decide to make a blue table, all you are going to learn is where they stock the blue paint at the store. Look around and find something that you would really like to make, and then make sure it’s different than your normal projects. It will make you a better woodworker.

Take Better Pictures of Your Projects

woodworking resolutionEvery woodworker should be taking pictures of their projects from start to finish. Not only do you preserve the memories, but you also build a woodworking portfolio that can be referred to when needed. With digital cameras and computers being so common now, the cost of taking pictures is close to nothing.

I have been taking pictures of my projects from start to finish for years, and even wrote about picture taking in one of my woodworking tips. The pictures are a great reference, and they help me remember how certain projects were made. In the event that I don’t remember something about a build, I have pictures to look through.

You should be taking pictures frequently, even if they are just on your phone. If you do have a digital camera, take your pictures and save them in folders on your computer. If you are not printing out every picture, digital makes photography almost free. So, take lots of pictures as part of your woodworking resolution.

Keep a Woodworking Notebook

woodworking resolutionAnother great woodworking resolution is to keep a notebook. This is actually a two step process. One notebook is very small and stays with you at all times to capture ideas. The other stays at home or in the shop. This one records the ideas, plus any other useful information from your projects.

Ideas come all the time…and they also go all the time. Unless you write down your woodworking ideas, you are bound to forget the majority of them. When I started this process, I couldn’t believe the results. Just reading through the notebook after a week proved to me that I had forgotten the majority of what I had written down. Thankfully I still had them on paper, because a few of them were pretty good.

Once a week, go through the notebook and transfer the best stuff to your in-house notebook in a special ideas section. The rest of the notebook is for project measurements, drawings, finish recipes, and anything else that you need to get on paper. Getting ideas out of your head and onto paper is the easiest way to remember them.

To see my woodworking notebook, take a look at my post.

Become a Student of Woodworking

woodworking resolutionBecoming a lifelong student of woodworking will always ensure that you keep a fresh edge about the craft. Continually learning is the only way to keep moving forward, and it takes surprisingly little time per day.

If you read, watched videos online, or worked on a new technique for just one hour a day, and maybe a couple couple on the weekend, it would be 400 hours of learning by the end of the year. Four hundred hours of learning is like working a full time job for ten weeks, and it only took you a small amount of time per day. I don’t care what you study. After 400 hours you will be much better than when you started.

Pick a subject, buy a book, or watch videos. As long as you are spending the time learning about woodworking, you will be moving in the right direction. This is a great way to increase your knowledge over time, and a huge part of your woodworking resolution.

Build a Woodworking Library For A Low Price

woodworking resolutionIt’s no secret that I love books. Having written four of them myself, I really enjoy books and hold them in high esteem for anyone wanting to learn something. If you are collecting books on woodworking to increase your education, there is no better place than discount book stores and markets.

I wrote a whole article on building a woodworking library, and the main focus is to have you not break the bank doing it. I have dozens and dozens of books. Most of them came from used book stores. Even in a second hand store they have a clearance area, and I have been able to find many books for $1-$3 each. Some of these were $20-$30 new.

When you build up a library as part of your woodworking resolution, it provides you a resource that covers many aspects of woodworking. Buy books that interest you, especially when you find them really cheap. Even if you don’t use it right away, it may become something you try in the future.

Take A Class – Learn A New Technique

woodworking resolutionThere are many woodworking stores that offer classes. Maybe there is a new technique or tool that you want to learn? Taking a woodworking class is a great way to get hands on information from a real live person.

Books are great, and I use them all the time. However, there is something to be said about having a real person teaching you something. Not only do you have the benefit of their expert instruction, but you also have the ability to ask questions. This alone is worth the price of admission. Most good books will answer the majority of your questions, but a person can answer all of them.

Look for woodworking stores and woodworking clubs in your area. Most of these places offer classes, and sometimes they are pretty inexpensive. Some classes are going to be more than others depending on the subject matter, and a few may require that you purchase some materials as well. Either way you go, a class is a great way to jump start your woodworking skills for the new year, and a great woodworking resolution.

Start Setting Aside Money For New Tools

woodworking resolutionBuying a new tool can be a pain in the budget. Especially if that new tool is several hundred or several thousand dollars.

If you are looking for an easy way to alleviate that pain, then saving money in a tool fund is a great woodworking resolution to adopt.

The power of small things over long time periods is amazing. Even if you only saved a dollar each day in a jar, you would have $365 at the end of the year for tools. That could be a nice bench top power tool, or several other tools.

If you can set aside $20 a week, you will have over $1000 at the end of the year, and that can mean a huge start to next year’s resolution. Yes, it’s going to take you a whole year to make this resolution work. However, next year is coming anyway, whether you save money for tools or not. You might as well start saving now and in a year you will be very happy that you did.

Start a Project You Have Been Avoiding

woodworking resolutionPeople love to procrastinate. Inaction is safer than action, and you can never fail at a project that you never start. While that’s a true statement, you still end up failing by default, which is worse than giving it your best try and coming up short.

Today is always the best day to do something. Yesterday is gone, and tomorrow may never come. You can only really count on today.

If you have something that you have always wanted to try, or have been worried about starting, make this the year you start it. You can start small, and that’s ok. A large scale build like an acoustic guitar can be daunting. I can tell you from experience that the hardest part of the build is just committing to it and starting.

If you break down the project into smaller chunks, it will be easier. Most projects have logical sections or stopping points. Look for those in the build and break up the project. All you need to do is start the first segment, and finish it. Then, start the second. Before you know it, a long and difficult project can be completed step by step, and it wont feel nearly as hard as you thought.

Make Yourself Some Hand Tools/Jigs

woodworking resolutionThis should be part of every woodworker’s diet. Make your own tools. Once you have a few tools that you made yourself, you will instantly have a higher level connections with the tools that you use for your projects. It can’t be explained, but when you use a tool that you made yourself, you end up working better.

I have several tools that I have made in my shop. I use my 1/8 sheet sanding block all the time, and my hand plane a little less often. When I put that hand plane to work, I feel more connected to what I am doing than at any other time. I understand everything about that hand plane, because I made it. At the time I am using it, I am taking something I made and using it to make something else. It’s a powerful experience.

Start out easy and make yourself a nice sanding block. Then, move on to a hand plane, or an awl, or some sanding sticks. These are commonly needed tools, and you will really enjoy using the tools that you made with your own hands. I wrote about this in my article called Chop Your Own Wood. It explains how making your own tools can warm you twice.

I really hope this is your best woodworking year ever. Spend time learning, and then take that learning out into the shop. Apply the knowledge, and next year you will be an even better woodworker.

If you have any questions on making a woodworking resolution, please leave a comment and I will be glad to answer them. Also, please share my work with your friends on Pinterest! Happy building!

Additional Information About Westfarthing Woodworks

While 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.

Woodworking Mistakes and Why They Are Good For You

Woodworking mistakes are actually good for you. A mistake gives you the opportunity to learn. This rarely happens when everything goes well. Yes, you do learn with everything you do, but a mistake gives you an opportunity if you look at it the right way.

woodworking mistakesI have done the vast majority of my learning through making mistakes. Not having a teacher, and relying on woodworking books and looking things up online has afforded me several woodworking mistakes.

The way you handle a woodworking mistake is where you can decide to make it something beneficial. After all, if a piece was ruined then you need to find a silver lining somewhere.

Beginning woodworkers tend to see mistakes as failures. They think that they cannot be a good woodworker if they make mistakes. This cannot be farther from the truth. Every good woodworker has made many mistakes in their careers. Even current woodworkers still make mistakes after years of practice. The difference is that they are better at pivoting than they were in the beginning. Hiding the errors or pivoting the project slightly are something that you get better at with time.

The best form of learning is by doing. It is through the act of practice that most woodworking mistakes occur. These afford you more of an opportunity to learn about the craft than at any other time. They also teach you little changes you can make to your designs that turn your mistakes into design opportunities.

woodworking mistakesThere are some strategies that can help you cope with the inevitable woodworking blunders that will come your way. First, beginners should expect to make many mistakes.

Divorce yourself from the idea that you will hit a home run on the first try. People who can do that are rare, and people who think they can do it every time are delusional. Expect some failures in the beginning, and they will not be as big of a hit when they come.

Second, make sure that you are learning something from your mistake. The first time you do something wrong it’s called a mistake, the second time you do the same thing wrong it’s called a choice. When you know the wrong way of doing something through trial and error, then you also know the right way too.

Once you know that brad nails don’t work like real nails, you will never forget the glue again. If you do, then you are making a decision, not a mistake. We all make mistakes, the key is not to make the same mistake a second time.

woodworking mistakesStudy your mistakes. Make sure that you completely understand why things did not go as you had intended. Once you have a thorough understanding, you then have the ability to try again without making the same error.

Woodworking mistakes will teach you, and it can take years and years of making mistakes until you have made enough to call yourself a good woodworker. Eventually, you will have done enough things wrong that you know the way to do them right by default.

That sounds bad, I know. However, if you are making a project several times (like a guitar maker, or furniture maker) you will have many different disciplines to learn. Each of those has their own woodworking mistakes that can happen along the way. As you make small mistakes here and there, it strengthens your ability and skill. You will come to a deeper understanding of what you are doing, and will be able to create better and better projects.

As for the random pictures…it’s confession time. The Thor Hammer has a couple bricks inside the head. I thought it would be a good idea to make it heavy like the movie. Not only is it a pain to show people, but it’s also a pain to lug around. I gave it to my brother in-law for a display piece, and that’s the best thing for it.

The pipe looks beautiful, but you can’t smoke it. The laminated wood has glue in the tobacco chamber, which would not be good to smoke. Lastly, the inlay on the wine ceremony box was under filled, which means I had to fill it a second time to get it level. I’m not proud of my mistakes, but I have definitely learned from them.

The moral of the story is not to worry. Mistakes are going to happen, and that’s ok. Spend your time learning as much as you can. Destroy some wood, and make sure that you come out with more knowledge on every project. It’s only wood, you can buy more.

If you have any questions on Woodworking Mistakes and Why They Are Good For You, please leave a comment and I will be glad to answer them. Also, please share my work with your friends on Pinterest. Happy building!

Additional Information About Westfarthing Woodworks

While 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.

You Don’t Want to be a Woodworker

What? You don’t want to be a woodworker? Stick with me for a while and I promise that you will understand what I mean. Lots of people call themselves woodworkers, myself included, but we are really something more. Woodworking by itself is not an end product, it’s a means of accomplishing something.

you don't want to be a woodworkerIs there something you want to make? Is it made from wood? If you answered yes to those questions, then you need to learn woodworking. The real question what do you want to be.

Woodworking by itself is just the ability to make things from wood. It’s a skill, or a means to an end. I coach new woodworkers to start with the end in mind. This means, start out with what you want to make.

If you want to make tobacco pipes, then you really want to be a pipe maker, not just a woodworker. Woodworking is what will get you to be a pipe maker, which is what you really want to be.

Similarly, if you want to make a guitar, woodworking is what will allow you to call yourself a guitar maker once you complete your instrument. The thing you really want is achieved through woodworking. For that reason, you need to select the tools, materials, disciplines, and study materials based on what you want to make.

If you begin with the end in mind, you will be far more successful at woodworking. The range and scope of all that you can make from wood is too big to comprehend. Almost anything you see in the world around you could be made from wood. The tooling may be similar in some cases, but widely different in others.

When you decide to use woodworking as a vehicle to your success, make your buying decisions based on what you are building. If you have no idea what you want to make, then figure that out first before you invest in tools that may do nothing for you.

While there are some standards that every shop has, you may end up spending money on something that you hardly use. That is a drain on your budget, and will slow down your progress.

you don't want to be a woodworkerInstead, pick out what you really want to make first. This can be one big thing or a couple things. Once you understand what that is, begin tooling up for those projects. You will save money, and learn the skills necessary to make what you want.

This is a sure fire recipe for success in woodworking, because learning the skill will reward you with the item that you wanted to make. This is far better than just buying tools without direction and hoping that you can make something you like with them.

When I first started making things from wood, I was making magic props as a young kid. I knew how they were made, but they were really expensive from a magic shop. My father helped me, and I was able to make several things including a box that made things appear, and a box that my brother sat in while I shoved a dozen dowel rod “swords” through it. All of these were made on the basement floor in my parent’s house.

This was my first taste of woodworking, and what it could do for me. The props were expensive from the store, but I could make them for a small fraction of the price myself.

One of my next projects was an electric guitar. I asked my dad for a Gibson Explorer, because James Hetfield from Metallica had one, and I was convinced that it would make me a better guitar player. After all, if it was good enough for him, then it was good enough for me. <y dad was not about to get a 15 year old a $1000 guitar, so we made one instead. Again, woodworking helped me achieve my goal of having a high end guitar.

you don't want to be a woodworkerI never once wanted to be a woodworker. When I made those magic props I really wanted to be a magician. I enjoyed magic at the time, and knew I needed to perform good tricks in order to be successful.

The same thing happened later with the guitar. I wanted a nice guitar, and woodworking got me there.

It wasn’t until several “wants” and even more projects later that I realized woodworking was the only constant thing I was ever interested in. I have made so many different projects over the years that being skilled at making things from wood kind of sneaked up on me. I never even realized it until several years later.

Begin with the end in mind when you are getting into woodworking. One of the biggest tragedies in woodworking is when a beginner buys a bunch of tools with no idea what they want to make. The “want” is what drives you to become a better woodworker. The desire to make something specific is what makes you learn how to use the tools, manipulate the wood, and create something beautiful.

Without the drive from the end goal, woodworking can be a non-starter. A shop full of tools will never get any use of you have nothing to make. Have that end goal. It can be as simple as a picture frame or as elaborate as a book case that covers an entire wall from floor to ceiling. Whatever that end goal is, use it to make you learn about woodworking.

Once you tackle several projects, you will become more rounded. At some point, if you continue making things, you will be able to make almost anything you want. At this point you will know that woodworking has served you well in your goals, and will continue to serve you well for the rest of your life.

If you have any questions on You Don’t Want to be a Woodworker, please leave a comment and I will be glad to answer them. Also, please share my work with your friends on Pinterest! Happy building!

Additional Information About Westfarthing Woodworks

While 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.