New to woodworking. Would like some advice

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Forum topic by mazzy posted 05-04-2011 03:55 PM 1716 views 2 times favorited 24 replies Add to Favorites Watch
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56 posts in 2607 days

05-04-2011 03:55 PM


I’m a total greenie. I have a Ryobi BT 3100 table saw, Ryobi plunge router, Dewalt DW 735 planer and other odds and ends. I like to work with my hands (have built two experimental aircraft in the past) and want to be able to make some beautiful projects like I see on this website.

Where do I start? Is there a book like “Woodworking for Dummies”? Some book or online course which would guide me, step by step, through simple projects to get me started learning how to use the tools of this trade?

Any advice would be appreciated.


-- Mazzy, San Francisco Bay Area,

24 replies so far

View Bertha's profile


13529 posts in 2720 days

#1 posted 05-04-2011 03:59 PM

Wow, Mazzy, a newbie with a 735? That’s a healthy start! And welcome to Lumberjocks. Looking back, the most influential books for me were on joinery and hand tools. I don’t doubt that there are good comprehensive books out there but I don’t have my finger on that pulse. A local lumberjock built a desk out of a pallete the other day, so you won’t have trouble finding good projects here! Welcome!

-- My dad and I built a 65 chev pick up.I killed trannys in that thing for some reason-Hog

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3259 posts in 2703 days

#2 posted 05-04-2011 04:16 PM

There is a Website called: They are sponsored by Fine Woodworking Magazine. You can get help there if you have questions about woodworking.

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623 posts in 3058 days

#3 posted 05-04-2011 04:19 PM

There are lots of books that you can buy and read. If you buy and read them all when you finish reading you will be left with one question – How do I do that? Start by trying to do a small project, it really doesn’t matter what. Use books and magazines as a reference material to learn how to do something that you are working on. That way you will have a better understanding of what is being discussed.

Ideas for projects – We have 47,151 to look at for ideas.
Questions – We have over 27,000 members to ask. Someone probably knows the answer or knows where to find it.

Bottom line, just start.

-- Jack T, John 3:16 "For God so loved the world that he gave his only Son, so that everyone who believes in him might not perish but might have eternal life."

View juniorjock's profile


1930 posts in 3793 days

#4 posted 05-04-2011 04:28 PM

Agree with all of the above. I will never stop reading, so hopefully I’ll never stop learning. But it does seem like I do better when I can actually watch something being done the proper way. I’m sure there’s a ton of DVDs out there – just do a search. But, don’t forget the books and mags. Welcome to the site. Good Luck.
- JJ

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Jack Barnhill

366 posts in 3393 days

#5 posted 05-04-2011 04:43 PM

Here are a couple of schools in the area that teach basic woodworking and beyond. I have no connection with the schools.

Pleasant Hill Education Center Wood Shop
(Woodworking Basics Woodcarving)
3100 Oak Park Blvd, Room 208
Pleasant Hill, CA 94523
(925) 937-1530 Ext. 3990

The Woodworker Academy
(Woodworking Basics, Furniture making & Woodturning)
1731 Clement Avenue
Alameda, CA
(510) 521-1623

I obtained these from here. I also have no connection with the linked website.

-- Best regards, Jack -- I may not be good, but I'm slow --

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4541 posts in 3102 days

#6 posted 05-04-2011 04:49 PM

I suggest looking for a woodworking club in your area. Probably the best way to find a club is to go to a store that sells woodworking supplies and ask if there are any clubs in the area. You can learn a lot from fellow woodworkers at these clubs.

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

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623 posts in 3058 days

#7 posted 05-04-2011 04:54 PM

LumberJocks also has 1411 videos!

-- Jack T, John 3:16 "For God so loved the world that he gave his only Son, so that everyone who believes in him might not perish but might have eternal life."

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Jack Barnhill

366 posts in 3393 days

#8 posted 05-04-2011 04:54 PM

As Rich suggested, here’s a link to the Bay Area Woodworkers Association website.

-- Best regards, Jack -- I may not be good, but I'm slow --

View BreakingBoardom's profile


615 posts in 3108 days

#9 posted 05-04-2011 04:58 PM

Well, welcome to LumberJocks. And welcome to woodworking. There’s a bunch of great, helpful people here so feel free to ask questions as you go.

As for where to start, I would suggest building a workbench if you don’t already have one. It’s a good starter project that can get you familiar with some basic techniques and when you’re done, you’ll have another important tool to help you. . . a workbench. If you need help or ideas, there is a plan for a workbench here from FineWoodworking. They also have a “Getting Started In Woodworking” video series here which may be helpful.

As for books, while they do have Woodworking For Dummies and The Complete Idiot's Guide To Woodworking, I bought a book called The Complete Book of Woodworking. It was a great starter book, and guided you through all the processes of woodworking, not just building stuff. It included wood selection, finishing, and much more. It also has over 40 project plans in the book to help you get some ideas.

Also, if you keep surfing this site, you’ll find that LJ Member Degoose will be holding an online course on how to make an End-Grain Cutting Board soon. You can sign up for that here. Hopefully some of this info helps. Be safe and good luck.

-- Matt -

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158 posts in 2719 days

#10 posted 05-04-2011 05:27 PM

Welcome to LJ and especially to woodworking…you’ve started in a good place. Besides everything that’s been mentioned so far, check out PBS in your area for any woodworking shows being aired. For a light approach, check out…he’s in your area I believe. Good luck and watch your fingers!

-- Skip from Batavia, purveyor of fine and exotic sawdust & chips.

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1764 posts in 2886 days

#11 posted 05-04-2011 05:38 PM


Welcome to LumberJocks!

What to do? Read anything you can find and watch everything you can find but don’t spend all your time on studying, instead, practice the craft. Pick something fairly small and simple and build it. You can do it and you will learn by doing.

Good Luck with your projects!

Be Careful!


-- Herb, Florida - Here's why I close most messages with "Be Careful!"

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567 posts in 3713 days

#12 posted 05-04-2011 06:13 PM

IMHO The advice to pick a project to get started is very good. Wood magazine and Woodsmith magazine often have “beginner” projects. Fine Wood Working is great magazine but a little intimidating to start with.

Once you pick a project, you can buy supplemental books for the specific tools you will be using:

The best table saw book/DVD I have seen is the John Eakes materials …
The best router book I have used is the Bill Hylton’s book – Woodworking with the Router.
The best finishing book I have used is Bob Flexner’s … Understanding Wood Finishing.

I think these three topics cover the stuff needed to get started.

I find DVDs to be invaluable. I like the fine woodworking series
- Wood Finishing with Frank Klauz
- Mastering Woodworking Machines – Matt Duginske
- The Versatile Router DVD with Pat Warner

If you are going to start with small boxes (a great beginner project) then Doug Stowes “Basic Box Making” DVD and Book is really good.

It is on sale this week from fine woodworking for 50% off.

-- Shawn, I ask in order to learn

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1067 posts in 2877 days

#13 posted 05-04-2011 06:30 PM

Welcome to LJ !
All excellent suggestion above, my $.02 would be to look at jig projects sleds etc which will give you experience as well as practice and you’ll wind up with more “tools” to work on your next projects

-- I've decided 1 mistake is really 2 opportunities to learn.. learn how to fix it... and learn how to not repeat it

View Alster's profile


101 posts in 3241 days

#14 posted 05-04-2011 06:44 PM

I recommend a copy of Roy Underhill’s The Woodwright’s Apprentice. It contains some wonderful projects, and proceeds in a step-by-step fashion from beginning to end. It emphasizes hand tools, but there’s no reason you can’t do a lot of what is asked for with electrons.

View WayneC's profile


13754 posts in 4124 days

#15 posted 05-04-2011 07:02 PM

There are Woodcraft and Rockler stores in the bay area. They should have classes available. I know the Woodcraft here in Sacramento has one on large shop machines that shows you how to use the basic machines as well as all kinds of specialized classes.

-- We must guard our enthusiasm as we would our life - James Krenov

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