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post #1 of 21 Old 06-03-2015, 10:51 PM Thread Starter
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Advice for beginner

I recently became interested in woodworking when I tried to make my daughter a simple box. It was a disaster but it served its purpose. I don't know if the way I am trying to learn woodworking is the best. I'm starting off with hand tools, making straight cuts is difficult, wood is always warped, and trying to make dovetail joints by hand is nerve racking. So am I going about it the wrong way, trying to learn this craft? Should I buy the table saw, miter saw, band saw, etc. or keep trying to learn it by hand. I have some of the smaller power tools but I don't know if i should invest in the bigger ones. It is starting to turn me away from woodworking because I am not getting the results.

Thanks for any advice.
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post #2 of 21 Old 06-03-2015, 11:01 PM
where's my table saw?
 
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It's like any skill...

To play a guitar at a beginner's level, you have to memorize the chords, learn the finger positions and follow the melody.

To learn hand crafted woodworking, you have to get the proper tools, learn the techniques for sharpening, learn the various wood properties, learn the various joinery methods etc. It will not come overnight or easily.... much is about practice.

Power tools makes the process go faster, but you still need all the other knowledge. joinery methods, wood properties etc.

If you want to go faster and get more immediate results, then go for the power tools. If you enjoy the process and making things more by hand then stay with hand tools. You will find that to do quality work you will need both sets of skills.

Finger pickin' is way different than strummin'...just sayin'

The answer to your question will only be as detailed and specific as the question is detailed and specific. Good questions also include a sketch or a photo that illustrates your issue. (:< D)

Last edited by woodnthings; 06-03-2015 at 11:52 PM. Reason: punctuation
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post #3 of 21 Old 06-03-2015, 11:49 PM Thread Starter
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Great analogy, I also play the guitar and I'm working on that finger picking.

I'm sticking with it, I do enjoy woodworking. I wish I had someone around that knew the craft so I could ask question but I will keep watching videos and keep learning. Might back up a bit and learn sharpening, just got my first wet stones in and need to sharpen my chisel and go from there.

Another question, is buying wood from a place like home depot a good idea or would the mom and pop stores have better quality. Also what kind of wood should I start on for making dove tails?

Thanks again
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post #4 of 21 Old 06-03-2015, 11:58 PM
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I agree.

Wood working is like being a doctor or a lawyer we are only masters of practice. No piece of wood, cut or finish is ever the same.

I have a lot of respect for someone that can make something from basic Hand tools. And to be honest every woodworker has the most basic of tools in their tool box and I would bet that they are used as much if not more than the big power tools that fill our shops. I would be screwed if I didn't have my hammers, chisels, and hand saws. Great advice woodnthings!
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post #5 of 21 Old 06-04-2015, 12:04 AM
where's my table saw?
 
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home store woods

Used to be Home Depot had mahogany in 1 X 's, I donno if they still do. That would be a good wood to start with. I don't care for Pine. I do like Poplar and it's easy to work and stays pretty straight and flat. Oak is not the easiest to start out with.

Menards and Lowes have a fairly good selection of those woods in 1 X's also. I worked in Cypress a few years back and found it great to work. The harder woods, Birch and Maple are best for more advanced work with hand tools in my opinion. Oak sometimes has a mind of it's own and will split down the grain line when you least expect it.

The is a whole family of chisels to choose from. A basic set of Marples will get you started. Then for more serious paring a crank neck or two or a slick for larger things, but they get expensive.
http://www.ebay.com/itm/Firmer-Chise...item5d4d5f8eca

The answer to your question will only be as detailed and specific as the question is detailed and specific. Good questions also include a sketch or a photo that illustrates your issue. (:< D)
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post #6 of 21 Old 06-04-2015, 01:32 AM
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Id suggest you spend some time when you are selecting boards from the big box stores as nearly 80% of them will be warped, cupped or bowed. Start with good, straight and square lumber. As your skills increase, you will know what to do with rough lumber to make it usable.

I started with power tools and was solely focused on the end result, and getting there as soon as I could... I'm getting more hand tools now, as I'm starting to enjoy and savor the process of working the wood more and, not just the end result. Each past project has been a learning experience that has spawned or fed another project that is more challenging.

Subscribe to a few woodworking magazines... Fine woodworking has been a great source of knowledge and inspiration for me. Popular woodworking is another.
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post #7 of 21 Old 06-04-2015, 08:12 AM
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Tomex,
I read your post then I signed off. But, I signed back on to offer this advice. Take it for what it is worth. A good beginner project is building a pair of sawhorses. You don't need to go purchase high quality box store material. I tell guys to find free salvage material... old crating lumber or whatever, use your imagination (that is part of the exercise). Nail it, screw it or glue it together. No one is going to see it except you. Then once you have built those you can use them to make other things but it adds to your tools. Sawhorses are tools.
And if you find in a few months, "gosh those are lousy sawhorses, I can do better, then build another set and disassemble the first set." Remember, you are only building a tool for your use.
There are many Youtube videos on building sawhorses, find one you like. Yes, you will need to build the first set on the ground. That is why your building the sawhorses so you have somewhere to work. Workbench comes later..don't worry.

Good luck and think safety.

Marty
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post #8 of 21 Old 06-04-2015, 08:26 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Tomex View Post
I recently became interested in woodworking when I tried to make my daughter a simple box. It was a disaster but it served its purpose. I don't know if the way I am trying to learn woodworking is the best. I'm starting off with hand tools, making straight cuts is difficult, wood is always warped, and trying to make dovetail joints by hand is nerve racking. So am I going about it the wrong way, trying to learn this craft? Should I buy the table saw, miter saw, band saw, etc. or keep trying to learn it by hand. I have some of the smaller power tools but I don't know if i should invest in the bigger ones. It is starting to turn me away from woodworking because I am not getting the results.

Thanks for any advice.
For one thing cutting dovetails by hand is very difficult. At one time people used to judge the skill level of the craftsman by looking at the dovetail joints they made. The assumption is if the dovetails were good everything else the guy did would be of fine quality.

If all your wood is warped I think you need to find a better place to buy wood. Very little of the wood I get is warped.

Anyone serious about woodworking should have a table saw. You don't have to buy a new one. Unless a machine has been abused a used saw will give you a lifetime of service. You can usually tell by looking at a tool if one has been abused. A miter say is very handy to have. A person could live without a band saw unless they did a lot of projects with curved cuts. In general the projects you do will tell you what tools you need. Just getting started you may have to buy quite a few tools. Over time you will find yourself buying fewer and fewer tools.
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post #9 of 21 Old 06-04-2015, 01:20 PM
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A very good and cognitive topic for beginners! I just can imagine how it is realy hard to start work without experience! Tomex, well done! By the way, excellent comparison, Woodnthings (about guitar)!
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post #10 of 21 Old 06-04-2015, 01:44 PM
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working with no power tools may as well be a different hobby IMO. or if we are sticking to the music analogy, a different instrument.
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post #11 of 21 Old 06-04-2015, 04:39 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Steve Neul View Post
For one thing cutting dovetails by hand is very difficult.
Its no more difficult than any other operation that requires accurate marking out and cutting.Additionally,you won't get any better at it unless you try and after the first few it does get a bit easier.One should always strive to attain higher levels of proficiency unless happy to get stuck in the rut of mediocrity.It saddens me when people are limited only to tasks that involve pressing buttons on machines and are unable to use hand tools because they have been frightened off by tales of difficulty.We are all born with the same number of hands and with practice we should all be capable of similar levels of attainment.The route to proficiency begins when you make the effort to unleash the dormant capabilities.


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post #12 of 21 Old 06-04-2015, 04:54 PM
where's my table saw?
 
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the most under rated machine in the shop ....

The bandsaw can be used to make dovetails with a jig to get the angles just right. This video shows how:
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=OauPLATMPok

The answer to your question will only be as detailed and specific as the question is detailed and specific. Good questions also include a sketch or a photo that illustrates your issue. (:< D)
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post #13 of 21 Old 06-04-2015, 06:23 PM
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Great advice and ideas from all previous posts! Most of todays woodworkers probably read a lot of woodcraft books/magazines, had very few wood tools, and their first project was to build a simple item. IMO with a lot of practice (& mistakes), using each tool for what/how it was intended, we do gain knowledge & get better. You must learn to walk before you can run. Plan your work, then work your plan, and be safe.
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post #14 of 21 Old 06-04-2015, 08:03 PM
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Woodworking with nothing but hand tools vs woodworking with power tools is kindve like cooking over a campfire vs using a gas range; both will do the job, and both require skill, but one is easier to get started in. Hand tools still have their place, but I wouldnt want to build a book shelf with nothing but a hand saw and a screwdriver.

If you're just starting off, look for a decent table saw, as someone already mentioned. A used model will do you fine, something like the older craftsman contractor saws. If you're not opposed to spending to get a new saw, Lowes carries a delta brand contractor saw, fantastic bit of machinery. A table saw will do nearly anything you could want when it comes to wood working, and is a lot more enjoyable than using hand tools to boot.

Again, there's nothing wrong with starting with hand tools, but it really isn't they way I'd want to learn. Its a lot easy learning something when instead of having to juggle design, layout, tool holding technique, cutting technique, and the like, you can boil it all down to "make sure everything is laid out properly and push".

I need cheaper hobby
etsy.com/shop/projectepicfail
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post #15 of 21 Old 06-04-2015, 09:13 PM
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+1 what Epic said.

HJ

Electricity was invented for a reason
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post #16 of 21 Old 06-04-2015, 10:04 PM
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electricity is a "new invention" comparatively speaking...

Electricity has only been around for about 200 years:
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Electricity

The modern electrical grid has only been around for about 100 or so years which allows electric motor to power devices formerly run off flat belt drives powered by waterwheels:
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Electrical_grid

Beautiful hand carved and constructed, intricate furniture has been around for centuries before the power grid. The English, Flemish, German and Norther Europeans have been making unbelievable stuff:
http://touchwoodukcouk.blogspot.com/...te-series.html

Further back, the Chinese made beautiful pieces way before the Europeans. And before them the Egyptians ...just sayin'.

As woodworkers we have a choice of using power or hand tools, or both. I'd be lost without my hand planes, chisels, scrapers and hand saws even though power tools comprise most of my shop equipment. It's not "either - or", from some it's what does the job the most efficiently and to others, the most enjoyablly.
Speed is not always the goal, just as in motorcycling, it's not the destination, it's the journey.

The answer to your question will only be as detailed and specific as the question is detailed and specific. Good questions also include a sketch or a photo that illustrates your issue. (:< D)
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post #17 of 21 Old 06-04-2015, 10:35 PM
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I'd imagine though, that if those 17th century craftsmen had the option to use table saws, band saws, routers and planers, almost none of them would have said no

Dovetails as a beginner, with hand tools only? Over the past few years I've pieced together a pretty complete small basement shop, and I have yet to attempt dovetails. You're way more ambitious than me!

Ernest Hemingway once wrote, "The world is a fine place and worth fighting for." I agree with the second part.
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post #18 of 21 Old 06-04-2015, 10:42 PM
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Ben Franklin demonstrated that lightning is electricity. Lightning has been around almost forever. Electric tools are another story.

If you can saw in a straight line and use a chisel, you can cut dovetails. Power tools will speed the operation up . . . they can turn out bad dovetails very rapidly, just as rapidly as they can turn out good dovetails.

Both paths can lead to the same place. The questions are what are your goals and budget?
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post #19 of 21 Old 06-04-2015, 10:47 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by epicfail48 View Post
Woodworking with nothing but hand tools vs woodworking with power tools is kindve like cooking over a campfire vs using a gas range; both will do the job, and both require skill, but one is easier to get started in. Hand tools still have their place, but I wouldnt want to build a book shelf with nothing but a hand saw and a screwdriver.
.
Epic
+1: Great analogy.
Jim
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post #20 of 21 Old 06-04-2015, 11:02 PM
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http://www.pbs.org/woodwrightsshop/home/


http://www.popularwoodworking.com/wo...s-schwarz-blog

The answer to your question will only be as detailed and specific as the question is detailed and specific. Good questions also include a sketch or a photo that illustrates your issue. (:< D)
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