Wood Crafting For Beginners

Beginning wood crafting includes the selection of hand tools, work bench, power tools, storage,and an understanding of wood and safety procedures.

Basic woodworking is a valued craft that can be accomplished by most anyone with a desire to learn, an understanding of wood, access to the right tools, and an understanding of safety precautions. The desire to learn wood crafting includes patience and precision. The more carefully you concentrate on each segment of a project and the more you strive for accuracy in the selection of materials and in measurement, the more successful your wood crafting project will be. The ability to read directions and follow them precisely is an important component of working with wood. Also, the desires to care for your tools and to store them carefully are important attitudes for any wood crafter to have.

Safety is of great importance in basic woodworking. The development of good safety habits when first learning to work with wood will carry into the more advanced projects. It is important to not eat, smoke or drink in your work area. Someone concentrating on their work may put something to their lips that isn't food but instead, a dangerous chemical. Smoking is dangerous when working around sawdust or the flammable materials used to complete a wood finish. It is best to get into the habit of not bringing edible items into the work area as they can become contaminated by chemicals, spill on a project, or put the wood worker at risk of consuming a non-food item by mistake.

Another safety tip is to not wear loose clothing when you work with wood. Loose clothing is too easy to catch in power tools. If you wear long-sleeved shirts, make sure you roll the sleeves up or you button them tightly against your wrist. It is a good idea to also leave jewelry off when working on a project. Rings, necklaces, and watches all pose a threat of becoming caught in a power tool. Also, if you have long hair, tie it back so it doesn't get caught in equipment. Wear goggles and a dust mask when working with wood during procedures which may cause wood particles to fly or involve chemicals which can damage the respiratory system. When putting varnish or stains on wood, always make sure the work area is well-ventilated.

Keep safety in mind for the general contents of the work area. Make sure you don't work with power tools that have frayed electric cords. Use only grounded outlets for your power tools. Make sure you keep a fire extinguisher and a first aid kit in the work area. Always keep safety guards on power tools and use push sticks with such equipment as table saws and jointers. Keep the floor and workbench organized and clean and keep the tools clean and periodically inspected for loose screws, dull blades, rusty spots or any part that can pose a potential hazard to the user.

Once you are familiar with basic safety, you are ready to make the decisions concerning the types of basic tools you will need. The most important tool to the beginning wood crafter is the workbench. The size of the workbench should be in proportion to the area you have designated as your wood working space. A large workbench is great to have, but if you are limited in your work space, a smaller, narrow workbench will do. The workbench should be made out of hardwood if possible. It must be sturdy and ideally have at least one vise and hopefully some holes along the edge to insert pegs to hold work in place. The workbench should have a couple of small drawers to put small tools and objects for quick access. It is also good to have a shelf under the work bench to store scrap lumber.

Above a work bench, it is convenient to hang a peg board for tool storage. Another possibility for tool storage is a tool box with a handle and a hinged lid. There are also large tool chests available for purchase that are made of metal, have multiple drawers, and are set on casters which glide across the floor. It is nice to have all three storage options for convenience and accessibility. The most important things to remember about storage are that storage areas should fit your needs, your space, your budget, and that you must get into the habit of using them. Tools left lying around are both a hazard and an inconvenience.

After the acquisition of the work bench and tool storage, you will need basic tools to start wood crafting. Tools are expensive, so you will want to start with the basics. Basic hand tools include a crosscut saw, backsaw, a dovetail saw and a coping saw. A curved-claw hammer, wooden mallet, tack hammer, a planer, a standard screwdriver, Phillips screwdriver, a bar clamp, miter box, band clamp, c-clamp, auger bit and brace, nail set, steel square, measuring tape, combination square, try square, protractor, scratch awl, knife, T-bevel, a folding wood ruler, and a mortise gauge will provide you with an excellent start to your tool collection. When purchasing tools, choose a well-known brand name and buy the best you can afford. Poor quality tools don't last long and will not help to provide the quality work you are hoping for. On occasion, you will find carpentry tools for sale at estate auctions or at yard sales. Be sure to inspect them carefully when considering their purchase and stick with well-known brand names. Also, in the purchase of any hand tools, make sure you hold the item in your hand and check for balance, comfort, and for quality workmanship.

For your first projects, hand tools will probably be adequate. Start with simple designs and projects that can be completed without extensive time or knowledge. Be patient. Wood crafting is a talent that is gained progressively over time and with experience. Your first projects should familiarize you with the basic usage of hand tools. As you progress to larger and more time-consuming projects, the purchase of basic power tools should be considered. Power tools such as a circular saw, a band saw, a router, a jointer, and a table saw are good investments for the serious wood crafter. Extreme caution should be exercised in using these power tools, however. Carefully follow the safety and usage directions that accompany the power tools.

The basic wood crafter also needs to understand the types of wood available for projects. There are three basic kinds of wood. Hardwood is the wood from deciduous trees (trees that lose their leaves in winter) such as oak, cherry, and maple. Softwood is made from conifer trees (such as pine and balsam). Plywood is wood that is made of thin sheets of wood glued and pressed together. The choice of wood depends on the project and the type of finish you hope to put on the project. If you are making a piece of furniture, hard woods are the best choice. If you are planning to make a birdhouse that will be painted with an exterior, oil-based paint, plywood may be the most economical and best choice.

When beginning wood crafting, start with a simple project such as a simple shelf, a birdhouse, or a pegged hat rack. Find a wood pattern in a woodworking magazine or go to the library and check out a basic wood working book for beginners to find your first projects. Another possibility in project selection is your local lumber yard. They often have many beginning project books along with the materials needed to make those projects. You can sometimes also locate simple wood crafting project directions for free at lumber supply stores or on the internet.

After you have set up your work space, selected your basic tools, familiarized yourself with safety procedures, and chosen your first project, you can begin to enjoy this useful and satisfying craft that has been in existence since prehistoric times.

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