Going from rough to fine carpentry - Woodworking Talk - Woodworkers Forum
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post #1 of 27 Old 01-28-2020, 10:28 AM Thread Starter
I did that once...
 
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Going from rough to fine carpentry

Hi new friends,

I am at a life stage where I can finally set up a dedicated woodworking shop in my 2 car garage. I have old job site grade tools (some hand me downs, and some I've purchased over the past 15 years of tinkering). My plan is to upgrade to new tools - soon to buy a jointer, planer, bandsaw, drill press-all of which I do not currently own. I just bought a skil worm drive table saw, and plan to put build an outfeed table for it to sit in.

My question is this: has anyone else dealt with anxiety about trying to transition from rough carpentry to finer wood work? I'm tired of phrases like "do your best, caulk the rest" or "putty is my buddy". As I'm about to spend 3-5K on new tools, I want to manage my expectations about how better tools might improve my accuracy and precision. (I have a lot to learn!)

Just to give you an idea of where I am, I've built a 12x16 woodshed, a 10x20 treehouse (15' feet up between 5 trees--that was fun), a live edge platform bed, an oak trestle table, and an Adirondack Guide boat (with my father in law's expert oversight).

That was a lot of words to express that I'd love to hear from you about transitioning from rough to fine carpentry. Cheers!
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post #2 of 27 Old 01-28-2020, 10:57 AM
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To me, transitioning happens by just getting in there and starting and completing new projects. I do not know how any other person is going to tell you how this happens. As the complexity and skill level of new projects increases so does your knowledge/experience base.


George
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post #3 of 27 Old 01-28-2020, 01:15 PM
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Strive for perfect joints, sand properly but not over sand, try for same patterns in the wood and color for adjoining pieces, like the grain and color is continuing from one board to the other when possible.

Try to do every project just a little better than your last. Never back down from something you don't know how to do, research and practice until you have it mastered then move on to the final part of your project.

Example, I had a client way back after I had started mostly doing trim work after transitioning from building to the finer side of wood working. This was a high end home with a lot of specialty projects. The lady told me she wanted English Paneling in this room.

She also told me she wanted a radius stairs. At that time all I had ever built was regular stairs but several of them, never built a radius stairs.

This was all before the internet was even known about, but there was always the library and it was full of great information.

When it came time for the English Paneling I told the lady, there are several ways to build English paneling, I want you to be happy with your home. If you will tell me exactly how you want this paneling that is the way it will be. She told me and that is the way it was built.

When the trim salesman came out to get the order for the parts of the stairs, I told him to go ahead and do the take off on these stairs. I knew I could figure out what to do if I had the parts. He told me he couldn't do that because this was his first day.

I asked him if he had a catalog with the parts for a radius stairs. He said he did and it showed exactly how to build the stairs. I built the stairs and they turned out perfect. So don't back off from something you don't know how to do, if you have time to research.

Watch where your fingers and hands are at all times and be aware of where the cutters are. Never have your hands, fingers or body in line of anything that can come at you. Safety is top concern.

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post #4 of 27 Old 01-28-2020, 01:26 PM
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Easy, just draw finer cut lines. 😀

Wise men speak because they have something to say; fools because they have to say something -Plato

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post #5 of 27 Old 01-28-2020, 02:23 PM
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Online forums are a great place to learn so you're in the right place!

I would say in a nutshell, you've got to go to school before you embark on any projects. I, like most others, am basically a self-taught woodworker.

There are so many ways to learn & free: "University of YouTube", Fine Woodworking videos, as well as various books. I think Paul Sellers may be the single best resource for a newbie woodworker. He is a bit anal at times, but very strong on the fundamentals of layout and hand tools.

Watching other people's work in project videos is valuable. Top notch are Guys Woodworking, David Beoff, Doucette and Wolfe, Matt Cremona, Mike Farrington, and many others. I recommend you check out those channels.

IMO hand tool skills are the foundation of any fine woodworker. We tend to focus on machines starting out, but I highly recommend you focus on assembling a basic set of quality hand tools.

I look at any tool I buy as an investment. I started out buying cheap tools & I promise that is a mistake. All it leads to is frustration, inconsistent results, and maybe getting hurt.

That's a good budget, but again it will take you only so far if you buy decent tools. The first machine should be a table saw, and it should be the best you can possibly afford. Jobsite saws like the one you have there honestly won't take you very far in ww'ing.

Good luck!!
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post #6 of 27 Old 01-28-2020, 04:23 PM
Go the distance!
 
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Do what you can,
with what you have,
where you're at.

Decide what you want to build.
If you don't know what you're doing,
get some cheap wood and build a prototype.
Along the way, gauge where you're at.
What don't I know....what do I know.
What needs improvement.
What tools can improve the process.
If it doesn't work out, put it in the wood stove...
and start again.

Experience.
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post #7 of 27 Old 01-29-2020, 05:37 AM
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I learned a lot from watching New Yankee Workshop.
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post #8 of 27 Old 01-29-2020, 08:06 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by skakid73 View Post
has anyone else dealt with anxiety about trying to transition from rough carpentry to finer wood work?
I never have, I just did it. Tony B


I'm tired of phrases like "do your best, caulk the rest" or "putty is my buddy". As I'm about to spend 3-5K on new tools, I want to manage my expectations about how better tools might improve my accuracy and precision.
Every one has a different eye for beauty - and some people never see flaws no matter how obvious they are. That being said, Better tools will improve accuracy. If a table saw is incapable of making a straight cut, your project is doomed. Kinda like using a wobbly lathe.

Just to give you an idea of where I am, I've built a 12x16 woodshed, a 10x20 treehouse (15' feet up between 5 trees--that was fun), a live edge platform bed, an oak trestle table, and an Adirondack Guide boat (with my father in law's expert oversight).
Your tree house is incredible
The best way to build your skills is to always challenge yourself. Which apparently you are already doing.
Better tools will also make the job go faster and easier.

You can learn an amazing amount from youtube, however, you will also witness the most unsafe practices. That part is up to you to take notice and not replicate. For safety, your tool instruction manuals are a good start.

Just keep building stuff.

Tony B



Retired woodworker, amongst other things, Sold full time cruising boat and now full time cruising in RV. Currently in Somerville, Tx

Last edited by Tony B; 01-29-2020 at 08:11 AM.
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post #9 of 27 Old 01-29-2020, 08:15 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by DrRobert View Post
.......................I look at any tool I buy as an investment. I started out buying cheap tools & I promise that is a mistake. All it leads to is frustration, inconsistent results, and maybe getting hurt.

That's a good budget, but again it will take you only so far if you buy decent tools. The first machine should be a table saw, and it should be the best you can possibly afford. Jobsite saws like the one you have there honestly won't take you very far in ww'ing.

Good luck!!
Very well said.

Tony B



Retired woodworker, amongst other things, Sold full time cruising boat and now full time cruising in RV. Currently in Somerville, Tx
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post #10 of 27 Old 01-29-2020, 11:34 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by DrRobert View Post
There are so many ways to learn & free: "University of YouTube", Fine Woodworking videos, as well as various books. I think Paul Sellers may be the single best resource for a newbie woodworker. He is a bit anal at times, but very strong on the fundamentals of layout and hand tools.
This is exactly how I got started. Self-taught from YouTube and books.

I'm also a big advocate for hand tools. There really is a sensuality to them that I've never felt with my electrics. But everyone has their happy place when they get to choosing what tools to use.

My big piece of advice right now ... Learn while building. Don't worry too much about experience, as that will happen while building. Decide to build a box with dovetails. Just build it the best you can. You'll be proud. Then as with most first projects, you'll assign it a place in the workshop. Then your next boxes will be better ... and better ... and better.

Good luck to you on your new adventure.

Geoff
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post #11 of 27 Old 01-29-2020, 11:38 AM
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Frank Hit the nail on the head. Move from +/- 1/16 to a knife line and than decide what tools you need to do this.
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post #12 of 27 Old 01-29-2020, 12:43 PM
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start small - learn how to dimension a board - that is to make a board to some dimension thick, wide and long - very accurately. sides parallel and end square. not as easy as it sounds. then try building a box - your design. learn from every mistake. each project will get more and more complex as you learn. be your own critic...

enjoy the journey!
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post #13 of 27 Old 01-29-2020, 03:45 PM
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Three years ago, I was making terrible bookshelves and worse side tables (although at the time I thought they were amazing). Now, I'm better. Part of that is tools, most of it is just trying new things and always trying to make your next project better than your last one. The new tools aren't going to instantly make you a better woodworker, but they'll allow you to better use the skills that you've developed and will continue to develop as you push yourself.

Just keep building, and you'll keep getting better.
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Follow along in my journey from amateur to slightly less so at my blog!
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post #14 of 27 Old 01-29-2020, 05:08 PM
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I retired 10 years ago when I was a weekend warrior - now I'm a decent craftsman. I'll never be a master but I'm happy. Folks around here think I'm a master... Never throw out your cut-offs. Use them to practice joinery

Its' never hot or cold in New Hampshire... its' always seasonal.
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post #15 of 27 Old 01-29-2020, 07:09 PM
where's my table saw?
 
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You will need different tools and machines ....

You can't do fine woodworking with a Skilsaw, a claw hammer and a Stanley tape measure. You could try but it won't turn out very well.

Most of fine woodworking is about accurate joinery and precise fits. In my experience, measuring is not as important as having the pieces fit well together. I don't care if the box is 1/2" longer than I thought it would be.


So, an accurate tablesaw setup especially the fence and the miter gauge is critical. A thickness planer is great for making pieces all the same width or thickness. A jointer is necessary to prepare the wood for the tablesaw. You don't want wobbly or twisted wood against the fence or on the table where it can twist and kickback. A bandsaw is the best machine for making thick boards into thinner ones, better than the table saw in my opinion. Rather than rip a 3" thck board on the table saw, I'll use the bandsaw every time, then joint the faces.


Sometimes the wood will dictate what you make with it. For instance, I thought I had some great looking Flame Box Elder until I saw how badly it cupped while drying out. I decided to use the cup to my advantage. Like I said, there were no dimensions or plans, I just worked with what I had.
Here's the build:
https://www.woodworkingtalk.com/f2/k...ep-step-13808/


Other times, by using rough sawn wood I have on hand I can pick and choose the grain that works best. In this case, I used some Red Oak I had milled from trees I cut down to clear the land for my house. Here's the build:
https://www.woodworkingtalk.com/f2/m...d-build-37911/


There are other project where joinery is primary, like a Mission style quilt rack, all mortise and tenon joints:
https://www.woodworkingtalk.com/memb...on-quilt-rack/



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 #16 of 27 Old 01-29-2020, 07:28 PM
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I agree with doc Bob, learn to use hand tools. Maybe even make some of them. Get a good stout work bench, or better make it. I really like the European style with side and end vices and square bench dog holes. Get tools for what you are going to make. I would not buy plans, find something you like and measure it. Then adjust to suite your tastes. Understand wood! It moves, you can't stop it, accommodate it. Start with cheap hardwoods.

What tools depends on what you want to make. A decent cabinet saw is what most people will tell you for a start, pretty good suggestion. I would get a planer and skip the jointer. A hand plane and shooting board work great for making a perfect edge. You can make a scrub plane or convert a bench plane so you can quickly take the twist out of a board before putting it through your planer. A steel frame bandsaw has many uses and far out preforms the typical 14" cast iron ones. BTW, making planes is great fun, not all that hard to do. Along those lines a cabinet scraper or two are great tools. Cheap big box store planes can be made into decent tools with some work.

Have fun, be safe.
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post #17 of 27 Old 01-29-2020, 07:33 PM
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Originally Posted by GeorgeC View Post
To me, transitioning happens by just getting in there and starting and completing new projects. I do not know how any other person is going to tell you how this happens. As the complexity and skill level of new projects increases so does your knowledge/experience base.


George
I don't really know how to say this any better.

Wise men speak because they have something to say; fools because they have to say something -Plato

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post #18 of 27 Old 01-29-2020, 08:47 PM
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In addition to what the others have said, learn to tune and adjust your tools. If your power tools aren't set up properly, you'll be pulling your hair out trying to figure out why you're not getting square cuts or the like. Buy good tools, learn to set them up, and buy good blades. Take your time to measure, mark, and also check your setup on a scrap first. Have fun,
Mike Hawkins
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post #19 of 27 Old 01-29-2020, 10:16 PM
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I went through this transition a very long time ago. I continued to earn a living as a carpenter while I set up a woodworking shop. There is a difficult mental transition to go through. On a jobsite you have to think on your feet, adapt to conditions that aren't quite what you expected, find creative solutions sometimes. If you want to work to high standards in a shop, you have to be in complete control right from the start. You can begin by making a very long list of the operations you are going to perform in sequence from start to finish that anticipate and prevent problems rather than discover and adapt to them. The aesthetic sense today is driven by the expectation of machine made perfection which can only be achieved by this degree of control.
I had a hard time for a while when I was going back and forth. I'd go out on a job and be frustrated I couldn't work to shop standards. I'd go back to the shop and have forgotten how to be conscious of every little aspect of every move I made. I'd berate myself for making mistakes doing things as simple as picking pieces up and putting them down. Life got simpler when I developed a business that kept me in the shop.
Perhaps someone with better mental balance, without my level of OCD could go back and forth; but my experience is that these are two different skillsets which compromise each other. If you want to build objects in a shop, it involves forgetting some skills useful to a carpenter.
Best of luck. I hope you get to end up doing what you enjoy most.
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post #20 of 27 Old 01-30-2020, 05:16 AM
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All good stuff above!

When I made this library stool, I wish I had made a pine or poplar prototype to learn on that, rather than the one of the pair that I kept for myself. It turned out that suitable hinges were a major design issue.
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