Woodworking projects such as small home furniture items e.g. side tables, are a great starting point for beginners. However, if you are brand-new to carpentry and woodworking, then you probably don’t have very many tools or much experience, so you want to start very simply.
Here are some suggestions for your toolbox, and a beginner’s project.
1. Safety Glasses
A first-aid kit, and PPE. In addition to full-coverage safety glasses, you might want a some gloves and a work apron. Safety glasses are very important, to keep dust, small particles and fragments from getting in your eyes. Always protect your vision. Dust masks are recommended, especially for sanding.
2. Drills and Drill Bits
For basic projects you can get by just fine with standard 1/8″, 1/4″, 1/2″ wood-type drill bits, and a power drill, popular makes are Makita, DeWalt, and Bosch.
3. Measuring and Marking Materials
A 25-foot measuring tape, metal rulers with easy-to-read numbers, carpenter’s pencils, a combination square, a T-square, speed squares, angle finders, levels, and a workbook for notes will be helpful as you progress.
A selection of hand saws, rasps, and files, will make your your projects turn out much nicer. Also, consider purchasing a circular saw, a woodworking jigsaw, and if you will be doing a lot of projects, a chop saw. Check and sharpen all blade teeth, and install new blades as needed.
5. Hammers and Mallets
A plastic or wooden mallet, a good quality framing hammer, and a nail bar will also be valuable.
6. Screw Guns Have Become Popular
Working with Phillips and Torx bits can save a lot of time compared to hammer and nails, tacks, drilling peg-and-hole, etc.
7. Wood Glue
Brands like Gorilla glue are very good at bonding wood surfaces together. Clamps are essential for working with glue type projects, so that joints will stay tight during the drying process.
Needed for practice project:
- Screw gun
- 2″ screws
- 48″ or longer section of 1″ square stock
For a beginner’s project:
- You can build a 12″x 12″ wooden square using 1″x 1″ square wooden stock. Measure and cut 2 pieces @12″.
- Then, cut 2 pieces @10″. Lay out your long pieces in parallel on your bench pointing away from you, and line up the short pieces between the ends of the long pieces.This should roughly form a square.
- Take one long piece, and drill a 1/8″ hole, centered, approximately 1/2″ from each end of the piece. Try and hold the drill as vertical as you can.
Stabilize the workpiece by hand or with a clamp while drilling. Repeat the process with the second long piece.This pre-drilling will facilitate an easy countersink for installing screws, and help prevent splitting.four holes have been drilled vertically, turn each piece so that the holes now pass sideways through each piece. You are now ready to assemble the square. Set up your screw gun and fasteners. If there is adjustable torque, back off the selector to prevent splitting.
Otherwise, use careful pressure on the trigger during assembly. Start two screws into the holes, where the points are just visible coming out the other side. (OPTIONAL: Add a little bit of wood glue on the joining faces for extra strength.) Align the long piece and one short piece together, so that the end, or top of the long piece is level with the flat face of the shorter cross piece, and the end of the short piece is snug against the side of the long piece, forming a 90-degree or ‘right’ angle.
Assemble the joint using your screw gun, making sure not to over-torque the screw. The screw head should sink slightly into the side of the workpiece, but not cause the wood to split. Repeat at the bottom left, with end/flat alignment, to form your second 90-degree angle. Start two more screws in the second long piece, and assemble the right-hand angle joints, lining up the ends as before.Your finished product should be a wooden square. Edges and joints should be flush, smooth, without gaps, and all portions of the square should lay flat on the table.
Measure with your speed square or combination square to check your angles. When you can build a square like this easily and consistently, then you will be ready to move on to more elaborate things like tables, work benches, and chairs.
Getting consistent in your measuring, cutting, matching edges and corners, and assembly processes now will save you time and money later. Try and obtain scrap waste from a local lumber place or furniture shop for use as practice pieces. This will let you work on drilling countersink holes, setting and driving nails, removing them, installing and removing wood screws, and become familiar with using wood glue.