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View Iggles88's profile

Rookie looking to start first project

by Iggles88
posted 12-11-2011 09:00 AM

21 replies so far

View Sawdust4Blood's profile


397 posts in 2927 days

#1 posted 12-11-2011 09:14 AM

Wood magazine and popular woodworking both regularly do basic projects designed to build skills. Try beginning there. Sounds like you have a pretty functional sets of tools to begin with. Start doing things and see where it goes from there. There’s always another tool to have so I would recommend adding them as you need them for projects.

-- Greg, Severn MD

View Loren's profile (online now)


9953 posts in 3553 days

#2 posted 12-11-2011 09:24 AM

Get a planer.

Build a work bench.

How are you going to make the mortises?

Chisels work and there are different types. I have a lot of chisels
and can’t seem to stop acquiring them. Mortising machines work too,
and there are two major types: hollow chisel and slot mortiser –
one of which you can build yourself. Then you get into loose tenon
vs. mortise and tenon. Tenoning can be a pain but it is an essential
legacy skill you can avoid if you like by using biscuits or loose tenons
or whatever. I recommend learning how to do it before you become
addicted to “cheating” on tenoning.

A fine bandsaw can help with tenons and all sorts of other things.

View Eagle1's profile


2066 posts in 2970 days

#3 posted 12-11-2011 04:14 PM

I have to agree with sawdust4blood. Most of the woodworking books have projects for different levels of experince. Personally I would start with making a box. 1 you can uswe it for things in the shop that you need to put something in. Make it with 45 angle’s that is a good way to learn. Box’s with 45’s can be a pain, alot of people will tell you that. Then I would just work up from there.
As far as the next piece of equipment I would get a bandsaw. There are a lot of things to get you started to learn after that.

By the way welcome to LumberJocks.

-- Tim, Missouri ....Inside every older person is a younger person wondering what the heck happened

View Lumber2Sawdust's profile


139 posts in 2771 days

#4 posted 12-11-2011 05:15 PM

I have to agree with Loren’s recommendation of building a workbench.

I used various items as a workbench in the past, from sawhorses on a gravel floor, to a particle board shelf in the corner of a garage. Building the workbench was a great project. The bonus is that you have a great place to work for future projects. I was reminded of that fact yesterday as I work on some gifts for Christmas and was able to clamp a piece in the vice on the bench. I’m still learning all of the ways the workbench can make life easier, but it has made my woodworking much more enjoyable.

The bench I build was a design featured on Fine Woodworking’s Tools and Shops issue in about 2004. Find a design that works for your needs, budget and skills, and start making sawdust.

Good luck

View jumbojack's profile


1673 posts in 2529 days

#5 posted 12-11-2011 05:50 PM

Welcome to Lumberjocks!
I echo the idea to start with a few boxes. Most projects revolve around the box. The knowledge you gain from such a ‘simple’ undertaking will open your eyes to what you don’t know.
Learn to use the jointer, it is not difficult but there is a learning curve.
I also think the next tool you ‘need’ is a planer. There is nothing harder than trying to build something that is ‘square’ with material that is not. Building on that idea, you absolutely need something to check for square. It can be as simple as a stick to check diagonals, but square is essential.
You are going to make mistakes and covering them or fixing them is part of the mystique we all enjoy. Do not be discouraged by them. Woodworking mirrors life, you deal with the hand you dealt.


-- Made in America, with American made tools....Shopsmith

View ShaneA's profile


6889 posts in 2504 days

#6 posted 12-11-2011 06:18 PM

Welcome, I like the suggestions given above. A workbench or other shop accessories where you can hone your skills and practice would be a good start. Less expensive materials used on these will also be good if mistskes are made. Good luck.

View RGtools's profile


3372 posts in 2560 days

#7 posted 12-11-2011 06:22 PM

If you don’t already own one a solid combination square (Starrett makes the best) is an important tool for both hand and machine work.

As far as a first project pick something that needs to be functional but does not need to be perfect (a small step stool would accomplish this). If it fills a need in your shop or your home, you will look at it everyday and learn from it. Years from now you will look at t and see just how far you have come. A workbench is good too, but if you are going the power route it can be avoided until you can dream up the bench you want. Build a strong set of sawhorses instead.

-- Make furniture that lasts as long as the tree - Ryan

View Iggles88's profile


247 posts in 2266 days

#8 posted 12-11-2011 06:29 PM

Thanks everyone for the advice. Ive received the suggestion of the workbench a bunch of times and while I’d love to build one I’d really like to wait until I can build the workbench that I’m envisioning in my head like RG said. I have a combination square, I have enough tools to check for square. I should mention I’m not brand new to woodworking, I’ve spent plenty of time in woodworking shops when I was younger however I never got my hands dirty so now I’m giving it a go because i was always fascinated with some of the projects that would come out of my grandfathers shop, I’m excited to get into a project I just didn’t want to rush into a project and fail, I wanted to find a good project that I could successfully finish to build some confidence. Not a final decision but I think I’m going to build a wall shelf and towel rack. From page 80 of 2010 best ever woodworking projects and shop tips. My thoughts on my next tool were either a track saw, planer, or router table. Thanks again for everyone’s suggestions and advice.

View patron's profile


13594 posts in 3246 days

#9 posted 12-11-2011 06:41 PM

the journey
of a thousand projects
begins with the first one

have a great trip

and welcome to LJ’s

-- david - only thru kindness can this world be whole . If we don't succeed we run the risk of failure. Dan Quayle

View BigYin's profile


406 posts in 2322 days

#10 posted 12-11-2011 06:51 PM

Make a traditional tool box

(Copy and paste all of it)

-- ... Never Apologise For Being Right ...

View Smitty_Cabinetshop's profile


15111 posts in 2524 days

#11 posted 12-11-2011 09:26 PM

Or a six-board chest of a size that’s most useful to you. Even one that’s sized to be a sawhorse for the shop…

-- Don't anthropomorphize your handplanes. They hate it when you do that. -- OldTools Archive --

View Don W's profile

Don W

18606 posts in 2473 days

#12 posted 12-12-2011 12:57 AM

think of something you need or want and build it. Look through project here as well. Recommendations for the next tool is going to be difficult because we all build different. My suggestion is start building stuff. As you find you want or need tools, buy or make them.

You will find a lot of use here find and restore older tools. That’s an option but not for everybody. I’d recommend starting with hand tools, but then, I didn’t.

Welcome to LJ’s. Have some fun.

-- - Collecting is an investment in the past, and the future.

View Betsy's profile


3391 posts in 3801 days

#13 posted 12-12-2011 01:05 AM

Just try making something square – once you get that down everything else is easy!

Welcome to LJs. It looks as if you’ve got a great set of tools started. The suggestions above are good ones. I got hooked when I made a few simple toys for my nephews it was all downhill from there.

You might want to look at the books with “weekend” projects. They are generally very basic yet give you the chance to try new things. I wouldn’t start with anything big. It’s expensive and you may get discouraged. Start small and go from there. Also I’d suggest looking at some classes at your local Woodcraft or Rocklers. There are also several woodworking schools that have weekend classes.

Good luck and welcome to the fold of sawdust makers. :-)

-- "Our past judges our present." JFK - 1962; American Heritage Magazine

View Iggles88's profile


247 posts in 2266 days

#14 posted 12-12-2011 03:40 AM

Betsy hit the nail right on the head, I don’t want to get discouraged by failing at my first project that it what this is all about. I also was intrigued by the thought of building things for my two baby sisters along with an on the way Bruce or nephew, I was looking at plans for a simple rocking horse but even that I’m thinking might be too much for me right now. All of the suggestions have been taken into account and they’re all good ones. I definitely want to start with building something square, I built a very simple bookcase once before for work but I had problems getting everything square because I skipped steps that I wouldn’t skip now, I finished the bookcase but I wasn’t exactly proud of it (although the person it was built for loved it, or so they say.) I really appreciate all the help and love this website, it’s amazing how many people have responded and how many people want to lend some advice. I will definitely remember this when I’m a seasoned vet! Thanks again

View gfadvm's profile


14940 posts in 2595 days

#15 posted 12-12-2011 05:48 AM

I would recommend you build some stuff for your shop. Boxes with mitered corners, box joint corners, and other types of joinery are good technique builders. I would also strongly recommend you build a good ‘Super Sled’ for your table saw. It will be invaluable to you. Shop storage with drawers is another skill builder (use different joinery methods for the drawers). These should get you off to a good start. And keep you busy for a while! A planer would be my recommendation for your next tool followed by a bandsaw.

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

View piper74's profile


3 posts in 2263 days

#16 posted 12-12-2011 06:30 AM

my first big project was a set of Adirondack Chairs. there are a ton of online plans out there and you can get as simple or as complex as you want. here’s a pic of the ones I did

View Iggles88's profile


247 posts in 2266 days

#17 posted 12-12-2011 06:34 AM

Piper, I really like the chairs that you made and I’ve also had people suggest them to me but I just don’t think I’d use them too much. What I’m going for is something around the workshop, some storage or something to that effect

View Lifesaver2000's profile


551 posts in 3018 days

#18 posted 12-12-2011 07:41 AM

I suggest that you take a visit to the library. I live in a VERY small town, just big enough to have a library, but even it has half a dozen books on woodworking. If you live in a larger town or city, there may be dozens of them.

Between the various books I found there are projects large and small, simple and advanced. Some for the shop, others for after you get ready to build for the house. Best of all, they are free, and might give you ideas for other books to look for.

Even if you don’t build anything that is specifically in the books, being able to looks at lots of plans by various authors can give you ideas for how you want to build your project.

View RogerM's profile


790 posts in 2304 days

#19 posted 12-12-2011 05:21 PM

In addition to a workbench you might want to try building some cabinets for your shop. Look into the router bit system offered by Sommerfield’s Own. Excellent and quick method for building face frame cabinets.

-- Roger M, Aiken, SC

View helluvawreck's profile


30147 posts in 2772 days

#20 posted 12-12-2011 10:41 PM

I would just build a nice traditional box. You might even want to build you a box with a couple of drawers in it and some space under the lid. It could be a tool box for some of your hand tools. Good luck and welcome to Lumberjocks. Of course you’ll also need a work bench and why not a wall hanging tool cabinet while you’re at it. This way you’ll be gaining some skill and fixing up your shop at the same time.


-- If a man does not keep pace with his companions, perhaps it is because he hears a different drummer. Let him step to the music which he hears, however measured or far away. Henry David Thoreau

View Richard's profile


1916 posts in 2596 days

#21 posted 12-12-2011 10:43 PM

Build your own basic Router Table to put one of your routers in and you can then use it to make more projects. The table dosen’t have to be super fancy with a lift and super adjustable fence, it just needs to work and then when you get tha basic skills of table routing down with it you can use it to build your next better table. Some people like to go full bore on the most expensive router table they can find and then never really learn how to use it right because it has to many adjustments to deal with.

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