Many people will often shy away from various woodworking projects just because they assume they’ll have to buy tools worth thousands of dollars, or simply because they haven’t tried it before. In actual sense, having some woodworking skills can be a great substitute to the expensive tools, taking you a step closer to making your dream project possible. Let’s look at the 5 most essential woodworking skills for beginners that should help you get started.
You are going to drill holes at some point in any woodworking project. One of the easiest way to accomplish this is using a cordless drill. Cordless drills are ideal as they can practically go anywhere, won’t break your bank, and will last a long time. Moreover, they are very functional as they can quickly tighten screws and drill large holes in many materials.
Although it sounds quite simple (and it really is), drilling holes requires a few tricks to make the most out of the drill, and help you to drill better holes. You also need to make sure that you drill the right depth every time. With these skills, you can easily drill holes that are consistent in depth, always in the right place, and make less mess. Here’s a good video on drilling straight holes:
Cutting can be done in a number of ways, using tools such as a jigsaw, handsaw, table saw, circular saw, and a band saw. In our case, we’ll emphasize more on jigsaws, handsaws, and circular saws because they are relative inexpensive, and will work for the greater part of your home woodworking project.
Handsaws are ideal for making quick cuts, especially those that don’t need to be perfectly straight. However, they do require some muscle because they are not powered, but will perfectly do for a quick job. The major downside of handsaws is the need to have a different saw for every type of material you need to cut. If you need to cut a sheet of metal and some wood, you may incur additional costs.
Circular saws are ideal for heavy duty tasks compared to these 3 tools, and will be perfect for long straight cuts. However, they don’t allow you to cut curves as you would with a jigsaw, and they could be a bit dangerous for the beginners. But if you plan on doing a lot of woodworking, you should invest in a good circular saw.
Jigsaws are great do-it-all saws, which can be used in a variety of woodworking projects. They have a reciprocating blade, which makes them excel at making some oddly shaped curves and cuts. However, they are not great for straight cuts. One major advantage of jigsaws is that the blades are cheap, small, and interchangeable; allowing you to quickly swap them when cutting different materials.
Here is a great video to cut a straight line with a circular saw.
In your woodworking project, your will need to join two pieces of material at some point. Screws can be the most ideal fasteners because of holding strength. But it just depends on a variety of factors. The most common applications are discussed below, so that we can give you a head start in deciding what type will be needed for your project, and how you can use them.
Wood screws: these often have a coarse pitch, flat heads, and an unthreaded shank (the part between the tip and the head). Wooden screws can be tapped into the wood to make a very solid connection due to the coarse pitch. The screw’s unthreaded shank is used to make sure that the threads don’t get in the way when flushing the head with the wood beneath it. Flat heads are basically used to make sure the screw sits flush against the wood. Keep in mind that most of the wood screws might require a pilot hole, which should be drilled with the drill bit before screwing the screw into the wood. Be sure to find out the size of the hole to drill for each size of screw.
Sheet metal screws are usually shorter than the wood screws because in most cases, the sheet metal isn’t that thick. Just like the wood screws, these screws will often require a pilot hole, though they are self-tapping. The sheet metal screws are usually threaded up to the head, and have a relatively fine pitch. For drywall screws, the threads are coarse and the screws typically have a longer profile, actually more than the wooden screws, and have an unthreaded shank too.
Machine screws come in a variety of shapes and sizes; the only difference is that they are more precisely machined for higher strengths compared to other screws. Their threads are also very fine, and you will need to secure them with a nut or bolt.
Selecting the right screws for your project will basically depend on the materials you choose to work with. Sticking with the correct screws for your project’s materials or application will make sure that you don’t face any problems with connecting different pieces for your project. Check out this great video below on screws for the shop:
When you are through working with wood – drilling holes through and cutting it – the surface will have splinters and unsightly burs. A quick sanding is a simple solution for this, but the sheer amount of different types of sanders and grits of sandpaper in the market can get you confused. Here are some of the most common types of sanders we’ll cover here: hand sanders, random orbital sanders, and belt sanders.
Hand sanders are the cheapest and the simplest of the three, and will surely work well for small projects. You just need to purchase the hand sander; a plate with a handle grip, on which you attach the pieces of sandpaper at its bottom. Some of the major advantages of hand sanders is that they are very cheap, won’t take you much time to get the job done, and you can produce great finishes with it.
The next level of sanding is random orbital sanders, which use sanding discs to control the surface finely. They are also small enough to be used in small electronic projects and in tight spaces. The belt sanders are the most powerful and the heaviest of them. They work by driving a sandpaper belt around and will quickly chew through the material. Due to their size and orientation, they are more suited for large flat surfaces that need finishing, and can be generally too large for smaller projects.
Regardless of the sander you opt to use, you will be primarily using sandpaper. Most sandpapers are aluminum-oxide in different grits. The grit is ideally the measure of how fine the sandpaper is, and will be dependent on what you are using it for. In a typical scale, grits range from 20 to 1000, where 20 is extremely coarse and 1000 is extremely fine. In general, if you need to smooth out a lot of material, a coarse or low grit will be ideal. After you’ve finished sanding with the coarse grit, you should move on to a finer grit, generally up around 200 to finish the job. Here is a video on sanding:
Of course, when you have finished building your project, you would want to have that professional-finish look. Good quality paint can do wonders for you. In general, you have two kinds of paint to choose from, and your choice will depend on the material as well as the intended use for the project.
Latex paint is water based and great for general applications. Moreover, this paint is very easy to clean up, as water and soap will do the job just fine. It is also very durable, easy to apply, and can adhere to most of the common materials. Oil based paint will adhere better to surfaces, and can be used to paint over previous oil-based paint coatings. The main disadvantage with oil-based paint is that cleaning it up is more difficult. To solve this, use mineral oil or paint thinner.
After choosing the type of paint ideal for you, you also need to select your preferred sheen level, ranging from gloss to flat. Generally, the higher the amount of sheen, the more glossy the paint will be, and the less difficult it will be to clean the surface. With these tips, you are ready to tackle the basic woodworking projects on your own. Below is a great video on painting your projects: