Time to Step Up My Skills #1: The Beginning - My Space and My Tools

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Blog entry by AngieO posted 05-02-2013 02:09 PM 1685 reads 0 times favorited 21 comments Add to Favorites Watch
no previous part Part 1 of Time to Step Up My Skills series Part 2: The Project and The Wood »

As some of you know, I started my woodworking journey last summer in August. While I’ve always had a desire, and even bought my first tool back in 1995, I didn’t actually take my first real steps till then. It’s very interesting how things happen. As a crafter by nature, I’ve always had an outlet for my need to create things. But it wasn’t till a sweet dear friend of mine introduced me to Pinterest that I took the plunge. (I’ll have to thank her for that someday… perhaps with a project that I’ll build)

Last summer when I started this journey I had nothing more than a hammer, crowbar and a jigsaw that my husband was reluctant to let me use. I acquired a stack of pallets and that was my workbench. I’d say that I started off my first month doing nothing more than finding pallets, dragging them home and disassembling them. I had no money to put toward wood so free wood was my only option.

Soon I started acquiring more tools. My fist… a used Black & Decker miter saw. I was so excited! I remember bringing it home and just grinning from ear to ear wanting to show EVERYONE my new toy. Now… I’ve went from my pallet bench to a one car garage with more tools than I dreamed I’d have in less than a year.

Now I still have my same miter saw, but I’ve added a table saw, band saw, router & router table (actually three routers, w/two tables), an old scroll saw, ROS sander, air compressor w/three nail guns and… the “love of my life”... my new planer. I do have two hand planes and one chisel… but I don’t really use them. I feel pretty blessed to have the set up I have. I’ve really been enjoying it.

If you look back at the projects I’ve done so far… you’ll see that I started out making a few frames, then some boxes. I made a workbench and then I’ve played around with making a few jigs. Recently I made a handful of doll beds. Making these doll beds and having my own space has really ramped up my desire to do more. I have all these plans and ideas in my head to make furniture. For example… I want to make my own queen size bed, and along with it, two nightstands, a dresser and a chest of drawers.

So I have to ask myself… Can I really do it? Do I have the skills to make some nice pieces of furniture? I’ve decided that I CAN do it! And that I WILL do it. Now… where do I start?

Well, today I’m going to start by asking my fellow LJers to join me in this journey. I wanted to start a blog series to take you along with me as I begin to “Step Up My Skills”. I’ve never done a blog like this so I hope I don’t bore you to death. Before I jump head first into building a bedroom set… I’ve got a smaller project that I’m going to make that will stretch the basic skills that I’ve learned since last summer. I hope you will join me and find out what my project will be in Part 2 of Time to Step Up My Skills. :)

It’s a beautiful sunny day here in Southern Indiana (for now, lol)... So I’m off to the shop to see what kind of trouble I can cause out there. Hope you guys have a great day!

21 comments so far

View PurpLev's profile


8536 posts in 3672 days

#1 posted 05-02-2013 02:32 PM

it’s a slippery slope from “just developing interest in woodworking” to equipping an entire garage full of specialty tools. it can be daunting (the more you have the more you worry), but at the same time when working on a project, it makes things easier and more accessible and feasible.

good luck on your journey. you are far ahead than many others.

-- ㊍ When in doubt - There is no doubt - Go the safer route.

View Alongiron's profile


647 posts in 2717 days

#2 posted 05-02-2013 03:23 PM


You have what it takes to be a fine woodworker and that is passion. Without passion none of us would be doing this. It also takes patience in measuring correctly, sneaking up on the line and taking projects one step at a time with out getting ahead of yourself or hurrying up to get it done.

Good luck to you, I look forward to following you and hopefully I can learn from you as well.

Take Care


-- Measure twice and cut once.....sneak up on it! Steve Lien

View Grumpymike's profile


2259 posts in 2339 days

#3 posted 05-02-2013 04:25 PM

Angie, you have gone along way in the last year and I have followed you every step of the way.
I admire your tenacity and pray that it doesn’t wan.
I look forward to your blog and wish you well on your adventure.
I’ve seen your doll beds, so why not a queen size?? It’s only bigger boards. and with a bit of hardware for the rails, its the same thing in a larger scale.
IMHO … Go for it!!
This is not a weekend project, so take your time and if you have to wait a few weeks to buy the material ,or order it on line and wait for delivery, it’s ok, the wait will give you more scheming time … uh, er, planning time?
I wish you the best as I look forward to your blog.
Where to start? I would suggest with the headboard or footboard and let the rest evolve.

-- Grumpy old guy, and lookin' good Doin' it. ... Surprise Az.

View JoeinGa's profile


7736 posts in 2031 days

#4 posted 05-02-2013 05:41 PM

You go, Girl!
There’s plenty of us that are behind you 100%! And we’ll be watching to see how you’re progressing. We already know you aint afraid to ask questions… So you’ll always have plenty of answers (opinions) to choose from.

And dont forget about Bre wanting to work with the wood too. Bring her with you on this journey.

-- Perform A Random Act Of Kindness Today ... Pay It Forward

View Toolz's profile


1004 posts in 3766 days

#5 posted 05-02-2013 06:01 PM

Congratulations Angie. Glad to see your hubby is supporting your hobby. The first “serious” gift I gave my wife was a De Walt scroll saw for her intarsia projects, the second was a huge plastic toolbox full of chip carving knives and pyrography supplies. ;-)

-- Larry "Work like a Captain but Play like a Pirate!"

View AngieO's profile


1267 posts in 2171 days

#6 posted 05-02-2013 06:40 PM

Thanks for the comments guys!

Toolz…. Lol… Well… Actually the hubby wasn’t very supportive. He’s actually my EX now. But it’s all good. And had nothing to do with my woodworking.

View Richard's profile


1916 posts in 2714 days

#7 posted 05-02-2013 07:55 PM

Angie , it looks like your getting all the important tools lined up for the journey. And being from Southern Illinois orginaly , I would suggest one more item for the Garage Workshop since the Summer Heat is coming soon. A VERY BIG FAN.
Have fun and work Safe girl.

View Monte Pittman's profile

Monte Pittman

29386 posts in 2362 days

#8 posted 05-02-2013 07:57 PM

You made it this far because you have what it takes. Nothing should stop you now.

-- Nature created it, I just assemble it.

View DaddyZ's profile


2475 posts in 3064 days

#9 posted 05-02-2013 07:58 PM

Congrats on filling your shop.. Now get ta work !!!!

That Bed ain’t gonna build itself !!!

;) Good Luck

-- Pat - Worker of Wood, Collector of Tools, Father of one

View stefang's profile


15881 posts in 3358 days

#10 posted 05-02-2013 08:47 PM

I hope you enjoy your woodworking journey.

-- Mike, an American living in Norway.

View Lenny's profile


1596 posts in 3551 days

#11 posted 05-02-2013 09:12 PM

Welcome aboard Angie (the journey, not LJ). As you probably already know LJ is a fantastic community of passionate woodworkers. If you have questions/issues along your path, you’ll certainly have support and resources here. Bon Voyage!

-- On the eighth day God was back in His woodworking shop! Lenny, East Providence, RI

View Dan Krager's profile

Dan Krager

4033 posts in 2258 days

#12 posted 05-02-2013 09:23 PM

Angie, you have passion, but it also takes a great deal of patience. Stay excited, but pace yourself. You KNOW what happens if you get in a hurry, and it’s just not worth that expense. Unless you are going to treat this like a hole in the water into which you throw money (a boat), you will find careful planning a bonus on the completion side of a project.
Down here in our country you should be able to find a local sawmill, and if you’re lucky, one with a well run kiln. I use rough air dried lumber for my finest pieces. Start by finding the closest mill and work out a deal for 100 bd ft of lumber (that’s a good minimum deal). Prepare a place to sticker it (carefully stack it with uniform spacers evenly placed). Then you have time to practice some skills and wait for the lumber to be ready. If you can’t store 100 bd ft of lumber, a bed project will be a LONG time coming. I’ve planned my shop around handling a 10 ft stick. Most mills offer random width and length (no cherry picking) and about 10 ft is common offering. You plan abut 40% waste from any given pile due to warping, twisting, and checking unless you luck into a really fine sort. (some lumber graders are more “lenient” than others). The larger the project the more planning required.
You can PM me with questions, and I’ll even take you to some mills if you want to make the trip.

-- Dan Krager, Olney IL One should always prefer the probable impossible to the improbable possible.

View TechRedneck's profile


768 posts in 2881 days

#13 posted 05-02-2013 11:59 PM


It looks like you have the “sickness” like many of us here.

You know your hooked as a woodworker if you go to sleep at night thinking about how you are going to put together your next project, you have a bunch of woodworking books spread around the house, when you can’t pass up a WoodCraft or Rockler store, you spend hours reading tool reviews, you spend hours watching woodworking videos, spend hours on LJ’s and put off things you need to do around the house to steal some shop time.

My wife loves to sew and quilt, she is usually up in the loft on weekends and I am down in the shop. We meet up for lunch and dinner. Your shop becomes a haven for you and sometimes you go there just to sit or putz around.

Before you dive into a big project, try working on some joinery with scrap pieces. You should take some time to learn to sharpen your tools (chisels and planes). I have a shop full of power tools, however if you want to do “fine” work, then you will need to go to some hand tools at some point to tweak that mortise or shave a few thousands off of a tenon for a nice fit. I have found over my journey that the power tools are great for getting stock prepped, then use a table saw sled or shooting board to take it right up to that perfect fit.

I cut my stock to within 1/4 or 1/8” and let it acclimate to the conditions for at least a week, then fit each piece and cut to final dimension as I build.

I hope you keep your passion and keep us posted as you go.

-- Mike.... West Virginia. "Man is a tool using animal. Without tools he is nothing, with tools he is all.". T Carlyle

View gfadvm's profile


14940 posts in 2714 days

#14 posted 05-03-2013 01:02 AM

Angie, I honestly believe you can do anything you set your mind to. I started out with a POS Ryobi miter saw and gradually increased my tool collection. Two tips: practice new joinery on scrap or cheap pine and don’t be afraid to venture outside your ‘comfort zone’. We are here for ya.

-- " I'll try to be nicer, if you'll try to be smarter" gfadvm

View AngieO's profile


1267 posts in 2171 days

#15 posted 05-03-2013 02:14 AM

That’s funny you guys mention testing out joinery on scrap. That’s exactly what I did today. I had some pine that I know I won’t use for anything else. I tested out the joinery for my next project. And… it pays off. I’m figuring out the problems I might run into. Also trying different methods. I only have on chisel… and if I had to guess it’s about an inch. So I picked up a smaller one today. Gonna play around with that tomorrow.

I have two hand planes. NEITHER of which I’ve had any luck with. I think I will need some one on one to figure it out. Eventually I’ll find someone.

Lots of good advice on here. Thanks guys!

showing 1 through 15 of 21 comments

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