Beginner - have some scrap red oak from my stairs, what to do with it?

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Forum topic by Gavel posted 08-13-2009 05:51 AM 1784 views 0 times favorited 4 replies Add to Favorites Watch
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6 posts in 2627 days

08-13-2009 05:51 AM

Topic tags/keywords: question new beginner ideas red oak scrap wood basic project

Hi. First post, new woodworker, be gentle. My sum total of woodworking experience is nailing together a very modest workbench out of construction-grade 2×4s and some MDF and hardboard.

Recently, I hired a carpenter to rebuild the stairs in my home (and he did a beautiful job). He left a huge pile of scrap red oak. The stair company he works for does outstanding millwork, and these boards look terrific and I want to put them to use.

First question – I assume that the wood is suitable for a basic woodworking project?

Second question – What’s a decent project for a newbie? I literally know close to nothing and will be Googling every term in the plans and buying tools as I need them. Among the things I’m interested in doing is a desk clock for my father, a simple keepsake box for my daughters, or maybe a “gunrack” for my son (he’s into paintball and airsoft).

My power tools are basically a table saw, a hand router, a random orbital sander, and a drill. I’ve also got a decent set of Marples chisels.

Any suggestions would be welcome. I don’t have a ton of spare time right now so I’d like to take on something I can finish in a few weekends. Ideally, I’d like a project that introduces me to some basic joinery techniques, too. I’ve got a modest budget available for stock and tools. I’m also taking an “intro to woodworking” class in a few months but I’d like to start a project now, I find that classes are way more helpful if you’ve got a little experience under your belt first.


-- "If we do not lay out ourselves in the service of mankind, whom should we serve?" -John Adams

4 replies so far

View GFYS's profile


711 posts in 2889 days

#1 posted 08-13-2009 08:44 AM

Hi Gavel, I don’t have any suggestions other than look through the projects pages on this site, if you haven’t already. There are some great projects and even if you don’t find the exact project you are looking for it will inspire you.

View ralmand's profile


162 posts in 2721 days

#2 posted 08-13-2009 12:34 PM

Like you, I am relatively new. I purchased some scrap red oak on Craigslist and built a wall table. Pictures in in my projects. I had to do a lot of glue ups, but am very happy with the finished project. I learned a lot while building this piece. I am sure you will find something to build with it. Just take your time and have fun! Good Luck!

-- Randy, Allen Texas

View patron's profile (online now)


13524 posts in 2760 days

#3 posted 08-13-2009 01:00 PM

sounds like you have started allready ,
the projects you want to do sound good for where you are now ,
with the tools you have .
maybe get a decent jig saw ,
like you could cut the slots over to the holes you drill
for the gun rack , and maybe some edging router bits for the
things to soften them .
welcome , and enjoy !

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

View Sam Yerardi's profile

Sam Yerardi

244 posts in 3314 days

#4 posted 08-14-2009 04:46 AM

Welcome to the world of woodworking!!! You too, ralmand!!

Savor the extra wood you have, as it can definitely be used! There are tons of information, plans, articles, etc. on the net for woodworking. This site is a great one. Another source would be to search ebay for woodworking magazines. Search for them as a ‘lot’ also. Regularly you can find dozens of magazines for next to nothing, each filled with ideas.

One good starting project, especially since you have a table saw is picture frames. Learning to make frames in the various ways will teach you a lot. You’ll learn about angles, squareness, etc. See if there are any woodworker clubs near you and visit them. Visit craft shows. You’ll get ideas from a lot of places. Start with something simple, and build your skills on that.

Keep coming back here and keep learning. I drive my wfe nuts with all of the books and magazines, internet videos, etc.

-- Sam

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