Woodwork projects mark a common foray into the world of DIY for many Australians. These projects are eclectic and can be as simple as sanding scrap timber for a chopping board to engineering the internal structure of a samurai workbench.
For anyone about to attempt their first woodwork project, it’s a great idea to develop an early understanding of the basic tools and methods that you’ll need to wrap your head around before getting started. It may seem simple enough for most to drill a hole or to cut timber, but without the correct technique, the easiest of tasks may be carried out without finish, impacting the quality of the final product.
Although each woodwork job is unique, there is basic set of tools that you’ll want to source before you purchase project materials.
Essential Woodworking Tools List
- Combination square & tape measure
- Jigsaw and/or coping saw
- Shoulder or smoothing plane
- A bench with clamps would be helpful
- Joinery gadget
- Plenty of nails
- A Sander
- Varnish and paint
Aside from sourcing a basic toolkit, it would also benefit the prospective woodwork maestro to get a grip on some of the basic techniques that they will be using to create their projects. Instead of jumping into the deep end, take a moment to touch up on some of the basics.
This isn’t meant to be patronising, but for anyone who remembers their first time shakily gripping a 4×4 and sawing with the weight of the wood at the wrong end, creating a rough splintered cut, will appreciate the gentle caress of a sawing guide.
As essential to the cutting technique itself is measuring. Make sure your measurements are done to the millimetre and for a piece of wood, mark the measurement on three sides of the timber instead of drawing a line right around from one measurement, as precision will mean a lot for the aesthetics of the final product.
When cutting, the first step is to make a notch by resting your thumb on the wood and applying pressure before gently sliding the saw back and forth (do not press down) until the groove is formed. By working a groove into all three marked sides of the wood you can gently saw through the wood without causing the piece to splinter as it breaks.
For more difficult cutting techniques, visit instructables.com.
When painting look for oil based paints, as they commonly have better adherence to surfaces and will be more durable and weather proof. The level of sheen is also important when determining what paint will best suit your job, with higher gloss paints being more durable where flatter paints will cover an object more completely. Make sure when painting that your strokes are first vertical, then on the second layer horizontal to achieve an even finish.
Sanding is one of the more laborious skills required for woodworking projects but it is also one of the most essential. There are only a few things to remember when sanding; when using a hand sander, don’t be afraid to change the paper often to avoid dulling, use a sander block and make sure the grit matches the job. A low grit will better suit a more coarse surface, where a higher grit sandpaper will be used to add the finishing touches to a piece.
See the video below from Expert Village for tips on achieving a perfect, articulate surface (just prepare for the cringe inducing sound).
Cool Woodwork Projects
There are a lot of simple DIY projects out there for woodwork beginners. The best thing about the woodwork plans available across the Internet is their execution is open to creative input. Any drone can follow instructions with an absent mind, but those immersed within the DIY ethos will recognise that in every woodwork project there is an opportunity for personal touch.
To avoid the frustration that may leave you with the impression that undertaking woodwork projects is like assembling IKEA furniture, it’s best to start simple, so here are some of the best project ideas for beginners approaching the craft.
Project 1: Chopping Boards
Crafting a chopping board is one of the most simple timber projects for budding woodwork enthusiasts. Not only is it easy, but the final project looks sensational and a professional finish is achievable for DIYers of any skill. The level of personal touch available is a little more obvious for the chopping board than other woodwork projects, with the types of wood and finish on the market meaning there’s an endless range of product outcome.
Just choose any pretentious sounding wood that best suits your project; maple, hickory, mahogany, cherry, cedar or some veneer panels, and coat the block with some board oil before allowing it to set in. Choosing a wood shade pattern can also determine how the final product will turn out, so take your time when piecing the board together. For full instructions visit therodimels.com.
Project 2: Plant Hanger
A plant hanger can significantly improve the Feng Shui of an outdoor area. There are a lot of ways to craft plant hangers, but wood projects are timeless and contemporary, always blending with the reaches of the great outdoors. Luckily for you, plant hangers require only the simplest of woodwork repertoire and resources to come together.
Simple designs like the one shown can be made with less than five separate items and will not consume too much of your spare time to build. Plant hangers can also be made to almost any shape, as long as the plant’s bowl can be firmly secured by glue, meaning the design outcome rests in the palms of the craftsman. If this is your kind of thing, visit visitbiggerthanthethreeofus.com.
Project 3: Wooden Beer Mug
This is a project where the rewards can be reaped immediately. A wooden beer mug is a classic throwback to the middle ages and looks great behind a thin plane of glass at a bar’s highest reach. Unfortunately the design featured is made from pallet wood, making it unsuitable for drinking from, but there are alternative materials available for those keen to test their craft.
The project is quick to put together but may need some time to sit before being completely stable. There are also no complex skills required, just make sure to sand the wood before piecing it together. And finishing a wooden beer mug only to fill it with liquid gold and sling it back surely must carry the same sort of euphoria as drinking champagne out of the Bathurst cup … right? Find out for yourself at instructables.com.
Project 4: Picture Frames
A wooden picture frame can cost double it’s material value, just from the cost of labor alone. By removing the middle man, you can save some coin and craft a personal frame for your family memories. As well as varying options in wood types, it’s also be possible to paint the wood to suit your walls.
Before making the frames, measure the wood to suit the size of photo it will cover, as using thick wood for small photo’s can look tacky. The frames will require even cuts at 45 degree angles and will require moulding at the joint, but is nonetheless an entirely achievable project for DIY beginners. Follow the instructions at instructables.com.
Project 5: Wine Rack
The wine rack is an entry level woodwork project that can add sophistication to a boring wall, as well as safely display wine that would otherwise cramp a dusty bar or cupboard.
The design is simple enough to produce, requiring a choice piece of wood cut at the desired length (remember these racks can stack) with holes drilled a few inches apart at your chosen angle, and attached to the wall with some brackets. For any extra details of the design visit camillestyles.com.
Project 6: A Wooden Wagon
There is possibly no better father-son project than the wooden wagon. It’s the prefect bonding project that will require more time and finesse than the other projects on the list, but will also offer the most rewards. If built well enough, it may just become a heirloom for your grand kids too.
The wooden wagon will require some concentration when fitting the wheels and the handle to the cart, as well as some cool cutting for the non abrasive curved edges at the cart’s sides. But in the end, it’s just a process of following the instructions provided by popularmechanics and choosing a paint scheme that your kids like most.
Project 7: A Wooden Welcome Mat
A neat alternative to the quickly deteriorating canvas door mats, a wooden door mat can set the tone of any abode without even needing to open its doors. The wooden mats are super simple to put together and with a little bit of varnish or oil will be a perfect compliment to potted plants.
Why not use the basic design outlined at domesticimperfection and add your own characters or shapes to the wooden grates, leaving a welcome message to visitors or creating a colour scheme to suit your home’s entry.
Bonus Project: The Hide-A-Key
A Hide-A-Key is a great idea for anyone who has to leave a spare key around for their kids, roommates or spouse. It can save you from the pain that comes with being locked out as well as the costs fielded from the windows you break after waiting four hours for someone to bring you a key.
What’s maybe the best feature of this design is that it costs almost nothing to make, it’s borderline free and is equally simple to create. Just find an even branch and cut it at appropriate lengths, hollow the centre with a jigsaw, pin the cover back at the top so it slides open and then throw your keys in. It’s a very discreet alternative to the rock versions of hide-a-key’s that have become commonplace.