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Getting Started in Woodworking

Getting Started in Woodworking

It is never too soon or too late to get into woodworking; whether you are looking to grow your craftsmanship to a professional level and make a living out of it, or to simply enjoy the process and fulfillment at the end of a woodworking project. However, getting started may seem like a monumental task when you put together everything you need. To simplify things for you, below is a brief step-by-step guide on how to get started in woodworking.

Set Up Your Workshop

The first step will, of course, be to designate and lay out a working area. Before turning your garage space or shed into a wood workshop, you first have to envision your workshop in that space. Make sure the space is adequate for the scale of work you’re hoping to complete, the woodwork machinery required, and additional workers (if any). Failing to plan for movement, working, storage, and future expansion is a common rookie mistake when setting up your first workshop.

A well laid out workshop which is kept neat and organized makes it easier for work management and maneuverability. The essentials are the workbench, a tool cabinet, a pegboard, and additional workstations for specific tasks. Remember that the wood workshop needs to be free of moisture, as humidity damages wood and iron tools.

Get the Essential Tools

You can’t start working on wood until you have all the right tools. As a beginner, you at least need to have the essential woodworking tools before you get to the heavy-duty woodwork machinery. The essentials are the cutting, curving, measuring, and joinery tools ranging from hammers, mallets, chisels, and clamps to saws and tape measures. In woodworking, there is a tool for every task, so depending on the type of woodwork you want to practice, you will ultimately end up with an extensive collection of tools.

Do not worry if your tool cabinet is practically empty at the start, you will acquire more tools and equipment as the need arises.
Always get high-quality tools for guaranteed quality work, ease of use, and a long life. Also, make sure you understand the purpose and how to use each and every tool. Don’t be afraid to ask or look up how specific tools are used and cared for.

Invest in Safety

The workshop is not exactly a death trap, but there is a lot that could go wrong, so it is prudent to protect yourself from work-related injuries and accidents. Here is a list of must-have safety gear to make your workshop a safe working environment.

  • Goggles: to protect your eyes from sawdust and other debris
  • Earmuffs: to keep sawdust out of your ears and protect them from loud power tools and equipment
  • Face mask: to keep you from inhaling dust, polishing fumes, and smoke
  • Gloves: to protect your hands from the notorious splinters, pricking, and bruising
  • Heavy boots: to keep your feet safe from sharp objects on the floor and other potential hazards like electric shocks and falling objects
  • Apron: a tough apron worn over your regular clothes keeps them clean, protects against piercing from sharp objects, and keeps loose clothing away from spinning equipment
  • Fire extinguishers: storing woodwork chemicals and electrical power tools in the same space can be a risky combination that may cause a fire

Source Woodworking Materials

Now that the workshop is equipped and ready, it is time to source your woodworking materials. The problem with selecting the right wood is the many different types available, all with unique properties. Depending on the project you are working on, you may need to consult a wood expert to ensure you select the most suitable type of wood. One crucial skill in selecting wood is telling apart damaged and low-grade wood from quality wood. Every type of wood has observable properties indicative of its quality, workability, and age. Always watch out for signs of moisture or fungal and physical damage before purchasing any single plank of wood.

Keep Practicing

You will not learn every aspect of woodworking overnight, and you will learn largely from experience and mistakes. Even masterful woodworkers still learn on the job. Remember to stick to your skill level and gradually let them grow to avoid frustration and expensive trial and error. If your creations don’t look as skillfully made at the beginning, don’t let that bring you down. As you continue to practice, getting your hands dirty every day, you will eventually polish up on your skills.

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by Brian Perry // Brian Perry is a contributor to Businessing Magazine.

Opinions expressed by contributors are their own.