A Great Woodworking Starter Project

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Forum topic by backtobasics posted 05-05-2010 01:23 AM 4632 views 0 times favorited 16 replies Add to Favorites Watch
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3 posts in 3153 days

05-05-2010 01:23 AM

Topic tags/keywords: starter project intermediate

I wanted to reach out to you veterans for some advice. What would be your ideal project that you would give to a beginner/intermediate wood-worker that you were mentoring. I have done some wood-working in my life; basic bookshelves, a tv stand with cabinet raised panels and a coffee with end tables (basic construction with router edges and inlaid marble tiles). With that said, I would like to get your ideas on a good “starter” project that would combine many beginner/intermediate skills using different tools. I have a router, table saw, band saw, lathe, planer, etc. and would like to try some intermediate skills on this project using as many tools as possible. I appreciate your thoughts and insight.

-- Brian, May you never experience worms in your wood or Wormwood in your life!

16 replies so far

View 8iowa's profile


1587 posts in 3960 days

#1 posted 05-05-2010 02:23 AM

One of my first projects, more than forty years ago, was a 4’ x 4’ bookcase with a plywood back. I only had hand tools back then, and cut the rabbet in the back of the sides with a 1/4” chisel.

This bookcase is still in daily use at my daughter’s house. A bookcase is a downright sensible piece of furniture.

-- "Heaven is North of the Bridge"

View Sean's profile


156 posts in 3814 days

#2 posted 05-05-2010 02:29 AM

Bookcase is good. Or a simple box. Can always use a box to put stuff in…always seem to have more stuff than places to put it. My second project was a chessboard, thats always a good one.

-- "Democracy is by far the worst system of government. Except all the others that have been tried." ~ Winston Churchill

View carl1949's profile


7 posts in 3238 days

#3 posted 05-05-2010 06:05 AM

Coffee table was the first thing I learned to make. Really simple and easy. If this fella you are teaching is young, that would be a perfect thing to try.

Platform Bed Plans

-- -- Carl

View a1Jim's profile


117328 posts in 3776 days

#4 posted 05-05-2010 06:12 AM

I teach adult woodworking and I find it’s best to build something you interested in , It can be as simple as a bird house or more involved like a book case or dresser. No matter how well it turns out you will learn by doing.
You have plenty of help here on whatever project you decide on.

-- wood crafting & woodworking classes

View richgreer's profile


4541 posts in 3274 days

#5 posted 05-05-2010 02:30 PM

An interesting project for a beginner is an adirondack chair. There are lots of plans available and lots of variation on the theme. Some are easier than others to make. I’ve built them with nothing more than a circular saw, a jig saw, a router and a drill.

-- Rich, Cedar Rapids, IA - I'm a woodworker. I don't create beauty, I reveal it.

View Moron's profile


5032 posts in 4092 days

#6 posted 05-05-2010 02:39 PM

define “beginner” ?

I think a very simple birdhouse would be perfect, or a blueberry picker ?..............anything that can show the fundementals of cutting a piece of wood/plywood perfectly “square” and the skills to get there like squaring up the blade, the miter gauge etc.,

-- "Good artists borrow, great artists steal”…..Picasso

View Gary's profile


9386 posts in 3632 days

#7 posted 05-05-2010 05:11 PM

It appears you are a little beyone the “beginner” stage, considering what you have already built. Since we don’t know what type of furniture? you want to try, how about looking thru the projects section to see if you can find something you might like to try. You could always PM the LJ that built it for any help you might need…

-- Gary, DeKalb Texas only 4 miles from the mill

View sawblade1's profile


754 posts in 3226 days

#8 posted 05-05-2010 05:22 PM

Try Minwax .com they have various patterns for free for all levels of woodworkers

-- Proverbs Ch:3 vs 5,6,7 Trust in the lord with all thine heart and lean not unto your own understanding but in all your ways aknowledge him and he shall direct your path

View Wolffarmer's profile


407 posts in 3437 days

#9 posted 05-05-2010 06:23 PM

Hey, That site has a lot of stuff. Who woulda thunk?

-- That was not wormy wood when I started working on it.

View Gregn's profile


1642 posts in 3182 days

#10 posted 05-07-2010 03:37 PM

I assume you are referring to yourself for the project. As I didn’t catch a second party involvement in your post. From your description of your skills it sounds as if you have the basics skills already. My thought would be to choose a project in which you would be able to practice making several different types of joints. This would give you a chance to work on your joinery skills plus allow you to use several different tools in the process as well. A good example of this would be to make a paper towel holder using your scraps to build it. I know this sounds really simple to do. You can make a towel holder with 3 drawers the same size that would allow you to lay it down, stand it up or hang it. For each drawer you could do different joints.
1. You would be making grooves for the drawer bottoms.
2. you could make box joints.
3. you could make dovetails.
4. You could make sliding dove tail joints.
5. You could make rabbet joints.
6. you could make dado joints.
7. You could make drawer lock joints.
The case for the drawers would also allow you to use different joints, and the sides of the case would make the up rights for the dowel to hold the paper towel.
Actually you could do any project and incorporate different types of joinery.
As A1Jim said find a project that interest you, this will give you the enthusiasm to want to follow through with the project. Learning to do different joinery on scrap will allow you to make mistakes and still keep going to finish a small project like this. The end result will be that you improve your woodworking skills, learning to do different joints and accomplish your desire to use several different tools on one project.
When your done you will have a conversation piece where you can point out the different joints and all the tools you used to make that small project.

-- I don't make mistakes, I have great learning lessons, Greg

View Stevinmarin's profile


838 posts in 3275 days

#11 posted 05-07-2010 06:30 PM

I agree with Gregn, anything that has drawers would definitely be “intermediate” in my book. Plus, such projects usually require multiple drawers, which is good practice.

-- Entertainment for mere mortal woodworkers.

View backtobasics's profile


3 posts in 3153 days

#12 posted 05-07-2010 09:45 PM

As a point of clarity, this is indeed a project for myself, which I would consider myself a novice that may have intermediate wood-working skills, just depends upon the comparison and the skill :). Anyway, I want to thank everyone for the feed-back on this topic. Sawblade1 – what a neat find with the Minwax .com website (they have quite a list of fun projects – awesome). I like the Adirondack Chair (thanks richgreer – they even have one at Minwax .com ;)). I have always wanted to make one so sounds like I just need to do it now ;). Gregn, thanks for the box project. I have been fascinated by joints lately and would love to grow in that area (enjoy Greene and Greene type projects). Now, I just need to take my first attempt at some fun joints and a box project sounds like a perfect compliment to that goal. Give me a couple weeks and hopefully you will see a post from me with these projects.

-- Brian, May you never experience worms in your wood or Wormwood in your life!

View pmayer's profile


1032 posts in 3264 days

#13 posted 05-22-2010 01:24 PM

One of my first projects was Norm’s shaker style bedside table. Simple joinery, very basic drawer, edge joining for the top. Still use them and love them, even though there is plenty of evidence that they are an early project. :)

I have also written a couple plans that are beginner to intermediate projects that you might consider; a bookcase and a serving tray. They are available free here:

-- PaulMayer,

View Sarit's profile


550 posts in 3339 days

#14 posted 05-25-2010 12:29 AM

The simple workbench or anything that helps them to do more woodworking.

View Eli's profile


141 posts in 3205 days

#15 posted 05-25-2010 02:42 AM

Shaker Stepstool!

showing 1 through 15 of 16 replies

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