Help Me pick a first project

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Forum topic by Texchappy posted 06-05-2012 09:46 PM 1254 views 0 times favorited 12 replies Add to Favorites Watch
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252 posts in 2271 days

06-05-2012 09:46 PM

Started a project for my first – a small box for an old beam style torque wrench. It’s sitting on my bench with two good sides and the ends have turned out horribly. I could just retry the ends but someone on another board has suggested a larger project (boards 18” or longer and thicker than the 2/4 I’m using) might be easier to work with.

So what projects would be good to start out?

I’ll only be using hand tools and I have very few of those.

One project that I thought of but certainly not the only one I’d consider is a little Japanese toolbox like Mads made.

-- Wood is not velveeta

12 replies so far

View Dallas's profile


3599 posts in 2537 days

#1 posted 06-06-2012 01:26 AM

I suggest you try your hand at making a traditional carpwnters tool box like Roy Underhill carries on “The Woodwrights Shop”

-- Improvise.... Adapt...... Overcome!

View waho6o9's profile


8237 posts in 2627 days

#2 posted 06-06-2012 01:29 AM

Keep the two good sides and keep working on your torque wrench box. You can do it buddy.

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252 posts in 2271 days

#3 posted 06-06-2012 01:39 AM

Well one of the problems is going to take practice to correct: sawing straight. The other one might as well but I’d be open to suggestions: planing straight.

Just thought of this, I’m using a small Japanese plane to do all my work right now. It’s about as far from a jointer as you can get so that’s probably not helping. But the big thing is that my sawing is making me plane more. Since i’m getting off line so often using my Japanese saw I’m trying to fix it with what amounts to a block plane. I’ve got a refurbished #5 from DonW coming soon so that might help a little with the planing part.

Bottom line after my rambling through some thoughts: Any suggestions on what I can do besides practice?

-- Wood is not velveeta

View A Slice of Wood Workshop's profile

A Slice of Wood Workshop

1073 posts in 3223 days

#4 posted 06-06-2012 01:46 AM

Make a cutting board or wine bottle holders. They are very simple and you can work on some basic techniques like sawing. What ever projects you do, always try to learn something while building. And most importantly have fun with it.

-- Follow me on YouTube-

View gfadvm's profile


14940 posts in 2740 days

#5 posted 06-06-2012 01:46 AM

power tools! Sorry, but you asked.

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

View Gatorjim's profile


217 posts in 2255 days

#6 posted 06-06-2012 02:06 AM

I go with you gfadvm give me power any time. I know some will say its not the same and maybe its not since I am new to wood working but I’ve been a construction carpenter most of my life and used plenty of hand tools. I keep a hand planer and hand saw around as a reminder of how it is when the power is gone.

-- My theroy in wood working will be. If I'm not enjoying doing it i won't do it.

View waho6o9's profile


8237 posts in 2627 days

#7 posted 06-06-2012 02:43 AM

+1 for Tim’s suggestions.

Make a wine holder or two to get familiar with your hand tools and cutting to the lines, etc.

Maybe make a cutting board or two and have fun at it.

View helluvawreck's profile


31664 posts in 2917 days

#8 posted 06-06-2012 05:01 PM

If you only have some hand tools then that’s what you have to work with. That’s all I had to start with. Learning how to saw straight is as good a thing to learn first as anything else. Use a good board that’s long enough to where you can make a good many crosscuts. Mark you a straight line with a square and crosscut using the line as a guide. Now do it again, and again, and again. Each time you do one try to improve the previous one. If you are patient and diligent you will learn pretty fast how to crosscut squarely. Now you can cut four sides to a box and you can go on from there. Get you a couple of good books. You will be surprised at what you will be able to do with the basic hand tools. The first thing that you can build is a beginner’s workbench and maybe a couple of nice matching saw horses. You can then build a toolbox or wall cabinet to put your tools in. As you go along you can add to your tools. As you can afford to start adding some power tools. You can do a whole lot with a circular saw, a jig saw, a drill, and a router with a few different straight bits to begin with. You have to realize that it’s important to start where you are and not where you want to be. The books for beginner woodworkers will have many suitable projects. However, I would build some things for your shop first. If you want to do this then you will improve faster than you you might think.


-- helluvawreck aka Charles,

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Bill White

4977 posts in 4010 days

#9 posted 06-06-2012 06:29 PM

I fully understand from whence ya come. (Dang! That sounded good.)
My first machine shop school project was to fab a SQUARE 1/4” flat steel plate. Well, I thought that anything close would be good enogh. WRONG!!
A box is an ideal first project ‘cause it encompases all the techniques of measuring, tool set up, etc.
The first thing I had to learn? DON’T GET IN A HURRY!
Keep pluggin’ away.


View premieretreeservices's profile


17 posts in 2349 days

#10 posted 06-06-2012 07:10 PM

I like the idea of a cutting board. That is a common starting point. If you want something a little more specialized though, try making a bowl. You’ll get some unique skills that will help out with decorative projects later.

If you’re looking for a bigger project, try making a little table or a new workbench for yourself. These are simple projects that are bigger and don’t require quite as much precision as working with a small box.

Above all, make sure you’re doing something you’re interested in. If you’re passionate enough about it, you’ll be sure to get it right.

-- Premiere Tree Services Network:

View Divotdog's profile


68 posts in 3492 days

#11 posted 06-06-2012 08:12 PM

I started out trying to make boxes – all I had for power tools was a router and table saw. To make a box, preparing the stock is everything – once all pieces are straight, flat and square you are on your way to a groovy box.

My advice would be to make a box that you or someone close to you will use a lot because there is so much satisfaction in seeing your work as a useful thing. Don’t be afraid to experiment – just use the Davy Crockett method – be sure you’re right then go ahead.

-- David, Dallas,Tx - golf weather is warming up but it's cool in the shop.

View Bj_D's profile


10 posts in 2228 days

#12 posted 06-08-2012 08:07 PM

I can definitly agree on the learn something from every project, challenge yourself a little bit more each time as well.

-- It's hard to focus on the daily stresses when using power tools.

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