iNow

Woodworking: Amateurs, Craftsmen, & In-Between

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I have a fairly high stress, high pressure, cortisol and adrenaline stimulating job with big clients and big money and big expectations. Working out and exercise help, as does awesome craft beer, but I’ve recently begun to get into woodworking. There’s a certain zen about it. 

I’ve got zero experience and even fewer coaches / mentors available to me. Like me, my pops was a corp software guy who grew up in NYC, so I’ve been watching YouTube for a couple of weeks and doing a bunch of trial and error this past month or so. 

One of my goals is to avoid using screws and power tools when possible (except the table saw, but no routers, pocket hole jigs, etc.), so I’m sticking with hand tools and playing around with joinery. Started with some basic rabbets, then did a few dados. Crawl... baby steps... walk... maybe one day start to run...

Built a few cool shelves and holders for my pegboard as practice. Holders for wrenches and screwdrivers, organizers for clamps and safety equipment, shelves with fronts for tape rolls etc. (cosmetics obviously matter less on garage furniture so it’s been a safe spot to practice). Seriously... You’ve never seen a more organized, tight, OCD space for tools than what I’ve pulled together.

Made my chisels scary sharp and built a cool holder from them and my mallet, a homemade push stick, and a wonderfully square crosscut sled with a few useful stops and features for my saw. A homemade marking gauge and similar tools, too.

They're total shit, and embarrassing frankly, but made my first dovetails this weekend. They look like a 4 year old made them, but they hold the pieces together well and I’m pretty stoked about successfully pulling them off on the first try. I’ve been avoiding trying DTs for a while. Found them a bit intimidating really, but knocked out a couple and super glad I did. They’re crap, though. Loose and janky and obviously from an amateur, but they hold.

I’m planning to build a dovetail cutting guide next to help me be better at them, as the handsaw work is clearly where I fell short this weekend (I’ve become pretty good with my chisels). Then next on the docket is to play around and try hand cutting some mortise and tenons, build some basic shelves, and once I’m confident enough maybe a media console for my basement. 

Seems silly to be my age and trying so many of these things for the first time, but I enjoy it. It settles me. Calms my mind. It’s zen. 

Anyone else here enjoy woodworking? Any tips, tricks, or templates you’re willing to share, whether amateur, craftsman, or something in between? 

 

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18 minutes ago, iNow said:

Anyone else here enjoy woodworking? Any tips, tricks, or templates you’re willing to share, whether amateur, craftsman, or something in between? 

1

If you're making a frame or something, it often looks MUCH better if you make the edges end in a 45 degree angle, so that they all fit together as a slant.

image.png.636fdee7fdc2eda078628f2aff8732c2.png

 

Also, if you're avoiding screws, it's also interesting to learn how to fit wood together like this:

image.png.6f1b87138b3ab7d3184ab40bfe33419c.png

This way you can avoid using wood glue. Often, it'll be a tight fit that you have to tap together with a hammer, but the idea that you made something without any glue, nails, or screws, is a good feeling.

 

Additionally, stain and varnish can go a LONG way in making finished products look beautiful. But make sure to only apply stain lightly unless you want REALLY dark wood.

image.png.825b705a471481f2e736f02602974ce6.png

Also, avoid allowing stain to "pool" up. It'll result in these:

image.png.f08afe96314fb4033bb20d5be34ede12.png

 

Which in my opinion look ugly. Those blotches. But others disagree. It's up to you.

 

 

Additionally, a fun project to do is to make a chest. But you'll probably have to use hinges.

image.png.f84f1dffc08f912b4cd427e18efb3a6d.png

For that special someone. Note the corners.

 

 

Anyways, a lot of trial and error is involved. 

 

 

 

 

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2 minutes ago, Raider5678 said:

Also, if you're avoiding screws, it's also interesting to learn how to fit wood together like this:

That looks like a finger joint, yeah? Another I still need to try. 

3 minutes ago, Raider5678 said:

the idea that you made something without any glue, nails, or screws, is a good feeling.

150% agree

3 minutes ago, Raider5678 said:

Note the corners.

That’s cool! Are those dowels?!?

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2 minutes ago, iNow said:

That looks like a finger joint, yeah? Another I still need to try. 

150% agree

Yeah.

However, when working with finger joints, measure twice and cut once.

If it's too tight, you can alway's cut a little off.

If it's too loose, you can't fix it.

 

Actually, make that a tip for ANY project.

Measure twice cut once.

 

 

Forgot to mention with staining, don't forget to sand. It makes a massive difference. Especially with things that others will be touching. 

3 minutes ago, iNow said:

That’s cool! Are those dowels?!?

 

That's not one I personally made, that's an online example. However, I've made them before and have seen a lot made by others who live near me.

But in all likely hood, it is a dowel. It's also possible it's something else but I wouldn't have any idea what it could be.

Edited by Raider5678

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9 minutes ago, Raider5678 said:

have seen a lot made by others who live near me. <...> It's also possible it's something else but I wouldn't have any idea what it could be.

I’m attracted to how creative woodworking can be. When you get right down to it, there’s a certain artistry involved, but it’s not just willy nilly or randomly throwing colors at a canvas... It’s all supported by a foundation of forethought and planning, basic structural engineering, and even architecture. 

10 minutes ago, Raider5678 said:

But in all likely hood, it is a dowel.

Looking more closely, I realize it may just be a piece of felt for softer closing of the lid. 

Edited by iNow

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30 minutes ago, iNow said:

I’m attracted to how creative woodworking can be. When you get right down to it, there’s a certain artistry involved, but it’s not just willy nilly or randomly throwing colors at a canvas... It’s all supported by a foundation of forethought and planning, basic structural engineering, and even architecture. 

1

Precisely.

My grandpa spent the last 40 years doing this type of stuff.

Sells benches, chests, chairs, etc, by the order, for close to $500 a piece.

It's more than just a art, it's a way of life for some.

Also, he's going on 96 years old and still rides motorcycles.

You're onto something when you say there's a certain zen about it.

30 minutes ago, iNow said:

Looking more closely, I realize it may just be a piece of felt for softer closing of the lid. 

1

Very possible, and quite likely.

I haven't inspected it closer.

You've already got a better eye then me.

Edited by Raider5678

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11 minutes ago, Raider5678 said:

My grandpa spent the last 40 years doing this type of stuff. <...> he's going on 96 years old

He apparently started even later than I did. I guess there’s hope! :cool:

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11 minutes ago, iNow said:

He apparently started even later than I did. I guess there’s hope! :cool:

Not to be rude, but, how old are you?

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1 hour ago, iNow said:

Anyone else here enjoy woodworking? Any tips, tricks, or templates you’re willing to share, whether amateur, craftsman, or something in between? 

I wish I was a better woodworker. I'm more of a practical crafter than a hobbyist, and I like to make things rather than buy them when I can. I'm putting the finishing touches on a double bathroom countertop I made with small river stones embedded in resin that sets up looking like water. It's a cool effect, and it's turning out well.

I have a lot of saws and joiners and drill presses and sanders, but I don't have the room to have them all up in their own place at all times, so projects take me longer than they should, and I don't get enough time to just mess around gaining skill. It's really cool that you want to go old school with this. I knew a guy that made tables and chairs without hardware, also did gorgeous woodcarving. If you go full Amish, be careful with the beard around drills.

Here's my tip: since you're using chisels and hand planes, you don't need premium pieces of wood all the time. Start collecting scraps from anyplace you can, and look for grains, colors, and textures that attract you. I have a hunk of purpleheart wood I found somewhere as scrap, and I keep hoping to make something cool out of it. 

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Woodworking and other hobbies that involve building things is how I manage to keep what little sanity I have left. I'm not really good at most of them but it's the effort that gives me release. The idea of conceiving an idea then  drawing it and finally building it gives me a lot of pleasure.. 

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12 minutes ago, Phi for All said:

since you're using chisels and hand planes, you don't need premium pieces of wood all the time. Start collecting scraps from anyplace you can, and look for grains, colors, and textures that attract you.

Great tip. Thank you!

13 minutes ago, Phi for All said:

If you go full Amish, be careful with the beard around drills.

Lol. I have been letting my beard grow, too

9 minutes ago, Moontanman said:

The idea of conceiving an idea then  drawing it and finally building it gives me a lot of pleasure.. 

Exactly!  And to think it all started with me deciding to fix a busted arm on our recliner. 

20 minutes ago, Raider5678 said:

Not to be rude, but, how old are you?

Depends on the day and the situation, TBH. 

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10 minutes ago, iNow said:

Depends on the day and the situation, TBH. 

 

Ah, makes sense.

I'm usually around 27 - 29 year's old when participating in a work or school environment, however when I'm relaxing and doing nothing I revert to the usual thing any 15-year-old teenage boy does in his free time and surfs the web. 

Additionally when I'm trying to convince someone older than me of something I turn into 600-year-old budda and spout of wise sayings one after another in an effort to garner respect and trust.

And then there's also the occasional mood swings where I have a bad mood and act like a 3-year-old.

 

You?

 

 

Sorry. That sounds like it was laced with sarcasm. It was intended to be humorous.

Edited by Raider5678

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18 minutes ago, Raider5678 said:

It was intended to be humorous.

You hit your target. I LOL’d. No worries. 

Speaking of targets, I should consider a homemade dartboard with different colored inlays. The material is cork though, right?

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6 minutes ago, iNow said:

You hit your target. I LOL’d. No worries. 

Speaking of targets, I should consider a homemade dartboard with different colored inlays. The material is cork though, right?

Yep.

https://shop.mantoncork.com/4x5x1-2-inch-thick-cork-sheets/?gclid=Cj0KCQiAyszSBRDJARIsAHAqQ4p-K9OuPNi8uoyVye-GzMUbkINUuJARRcUnJVgPMY3AoGfa91wuURIaAiQlEALw_wcB

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  Don't forget to preknife any cut lines, keeps to edges sharp with reduced splintering. You should try to fine tune joint fits with a chisel. Tight fits is best, though you will need to focus on keeping all joint cuts as square as possible.  

 Ideally you should need to lightly tap in any joint fits without damaging wood surfaces. Most cutting blades are 1/8 th in thickness mark both sides of any blade cut where pieces can be salvaged and knife score all cut lines.

 

Edited by Mordred

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I've been doing woodworking since college. My dad was an extremely talented cabinet maker and my first major project was to design a waterbed which he and I built together. One of my fondest memories with him. We drove to southern Missouri to buy white oak and black walnut directly from the sawmill. The past couple of years I've spent a lot more time building things for outdoor use. We have a cabin on the Black River and I've been building foot bridges, benches, tables, an outdoor shower, and other items. I find wood working extremely rewarding. I've also taught my kids and wife and they can all build things.

Here is a picture of waterbed we've been sleeping in for over 30 years.

 

waterbed.JPG

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21 minutes ago, Mordred said:

Don't forget to preknife any cut lines, keeps to edges sharp with reduced splintering.

Good tip. I’ve learnt this the hard way. Pencil just wasn’t getting it done. I’ll also now sometimes exaggerate my knife lines with a chisel prior to taking a saw to it. 

14 minutes ago, zapatos said:

white oak and black walnut directly from the sawmill

Nice. I’ve been exploring materials like this, but lack the equipment to make it flat, remove hills and valleys and curves and whatnot. A smoothing plane just follows the undulations instead of removing them. 

16 minutes ago, zapatos said:

I find wood working extremely rewarding.

Same here, though I’m admittedly still rather short on rewards. 

18 minutes ago, zapatos said:

Here is a picture of waterbed

That’s beautiful, and the dog seems to like it, too! I had a waterbed in college. Lots of fun, but had to give it up bc it made the bedspins unbearable after drinking too much. I spent several nights abandoning the bed for the floor.

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10 minutes ago, iNow said:

Nice. I’ve been exploring materials like this, but lack the equipment to make it flat, remove hills and valleys and curves and whatnot. A smoothing plane just follows the undulations instead of removing them. 

Over the years my shop has become very well equipped. Table saw, band saw, radial arm saw, miter saw, jointer, planer, router table, drill press, assembly table, couple of work benches, and other assorted goodies. My band saw is relatively new and I'm still learning it. 

If you are interested in a magazine that gives solid tips and step by step project plans you might like Woodsmith. 

http://www.woodsmith.com/magazine/

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34 minutes ago, zapatos said:

you might like Woodsmith

Thanks. I actually subscribed to their eTips newsletter in December and set the DVR to record their show on PBS. Those guys are masters. 

Interestingly enough, the cross cut sled I built is actually modeled on their plans. Made the stop block and cursor DIY instead of purchasing a commercial option like Kreg, though.  https://www.woodsmithvideoedition.com/projects/table-saw-sleds/two-sided-sled/

I basically have a table saw (incredible cyber Monday deal after watching them for about a year) and some hand tools. I did, however, plug my shop vac into the saw like a makeshift air filtration system.

Edited by iNow

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18 minutes ago, iNow said:

Good tip. I’ve learnt this the hard way. Pencil just wasn’t getting it done. I’ll also now sometimes exaggerate my knife lines with a chisel prior to taking a saw to it. 

A Japanese Kiridashi knife is designed for that job.  It is composed of a hard thin plate, which holds the sharp edge, laminated to a softer main section for strength. 

marking.knife.skew.l.jpg

 

Quote

Nice. I’ve been exploring materials like this, but lack the equipment to make it flat, remove hills and valleys and curves and whatnot. A smoothing plane just follows the undulations instead of removing them. 

A jack plane or bigger will get across the undulations on longer pieces. Also, look into Japanese pullsaws as well because they make hand sawing effortless with extremely clean edges. By pulling the thin blade always stays rigid in the cutting direction and the kerf is much thinner than with a push saw.  I'm a big fan of Japanese tools. Here's an article on them. The Shark saws mentioned are great and I'm SO glad I just found them again just now after ages trying to remember the name.

https://www.infinitytools.com/blog/2016/05/24/introducing-shark-and-japanese-style-pull-saws/

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8 minutes ago, StringJunky said:

Also, look into Japanese pullsaws as well

Lol. Just grabbed one on Saturday (a double cut saw, actually), which is part of what prompted me to try my first dovetails on Sunday. I’ve also been scanning craigslist for a decent deal on a bigger plane (jack or otherwise), but no luck so far. 

Edited by iNow

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9 hours ago, iNow said:

Nice. I’ve been exploring materials like this, but lack the equipment to make it flat, remove hills and valleys and curves and whatnot. A smoothing plane just follows the undulations instead of removing them.

A lot of mills will sell wood designated S2S, or S3S. That is, Surfaced 2 Sides, or Surfaced 3 Sides. That way you have lumber that has been run through a surface planer. That will let you get closer to the source but still address the difficulty you are currently experiencing with that aspect of wood prep.

13 hours ago, Raider5678 said:

Also, avoid allowing stain to "pool" up. It'll result in these:

image.png.f08afe96314fb4033bb20d5be34ede12.png

 

Which in my opinion look ugly. Those blotches. But others disagree. It's up to you.

You may have tried this already, but some woods such pine (which it looks to me what we may be seeing in this picture) have a pore structure that almost guarantees a blotchy finish. If you apply a pre-stain wood conditioner it will go a long way toward giving you a nice even finish.

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1 hour ago, zapatos said:

That way you have lumber that has been run through a surface planer. That will let you get closer to the source

That's sort of where I am now, going to places like Menards and picking up lumber that's already been properly dimensioned. It's more pricey than I'd like, but works.

My longer-term / ideal state, or where I really want to be, is to be able to get a gorgeous piece of black walnut or maple or something similar and use it as a live edge top. I bet if I find a decent mill that will go a long way (and also help to more quickly drain my paychecks!).

It's currently unrealistic, but a farmhouse table for our dining area would be super cool, especially with a top that accentuates the wood grain and character, but I have a LOT more work and practice needed to improve my skills before even attempting that.

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I used to pick up rough sawn red oak lumber a saw mill. The guy ran the saw mill knew me and would save the best cuts for me... I don't have a shop, I used skill saws, routers, anything that is hand held. Makes the whole harder but I enjoy the feeling of running the wood working tools in my hands.. 

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11 minutes ago, Moontanman said:

I used to pick up rough sawn red oak lumber a saw mill. The guy ran the saw mill knew me and would save the best cuts for me... 

There are a LOT of furniture manufacturers in the south. Have you ever seen if Lifestyle Furnishing in High Point (they're the #3 manufacturer in the US) has a manufacturing plant you could get scraps from? There used to be a place in Denver on our Furniture Row that would pretend you weren't diving in their dumpster. 

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