We’ve already done rope, and now we’re on to another rustic material we love: wood! It’s as basic of a material as clay and is constantly reinvented by DIYers, crafters, artists, hackers, and carpenters. To get inspired to create our own batch of cool wooden objects, we turned to our favorite fellow makers to see what projects they’ve come up with. Scroll down for our top DIY wood project picks.
The majority of books I read are lost to my memory since I had originally read them in high school when I was very active in scouting. I fell out of focus and didn't really get interested again in woodworking specifically until the last few years as my desire for learning self-sufficient skills has grown beyond just survivalism. I've read the first five Foxfire books and paid great attention to the various non-electric projects and old fashioned woodworking skills. I have also begun to watch episodes of the Woodwright's Shop (my father used to watch it heavily, but at the time I paid very little attention) and wish the first season was online since he does a lot of the basics in that first season. Most of my other reading has been online or watching videos such as the construction of a woodworking bench and the like. I do get smanterings from other books such as the Back to Basics by Abigail Gehring.

Woodworking is a highly visual craft. There’s just something photogenic about lumber getting cut to size, dry-fit, glued or tacked together, and finally sanded down and finished into a beautiful piece of furniture. Even if you’re not a woodworker yourself, watching high-quality woodworking videos is a great way to learn about how stuff gets made, and who knows, you might even realize you want to make something yourself.

If you'd like to learn more about the differences between hardwood species, I can think of no better resource than R. Bruce Hoadley's 1980 masterpiece, Understanding Wood: A Craftsman's Guide to Wood Technology. Not only does Hoadley detail nearly every species used for woodworking, he does an exceptional job at describing how to prepare, work with and finish these hardwoods. This is an industry-standard resource, one that I'd highly recommend to every woodworker.


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Softwoods are often softer and more delicate woods in general, as the name would suggest, but aren’t necessarily always weaker than hardwoods. Although, they are generally less dense and not as durable as Hardwoods, which grow at a much slower rate than softwoods creating a denser and stronger grain in the wood. Softwoods come from coniferous (or gymnosperm) trees such as Cedar, Hemlock and Pine and lean towards a yellow to reddish tone by nature. Hardwoods come from angiosperm (seed producing) trees such as Oak, Cherry, Maple and Walnut and are generally darker toned woods. Softwoods tend to be less expensive than hardwoods, as they grow much more quickly and can be milled at a faster rate. While hardwoods are generally more expensive, the durability, strength and overall look is often worth the additional cost depending on your project needs.
This style of saw will provide more power than a contractor-type saw and have the high-quality rip fence you need to do good work. However, because they are favored by professionals and serious amateurs, cabinet saws are harder to find on the used market. Scour the classifieds and online sales (be sure to check industrial auction sites as well), and do some networking. Check the bulletin board at your hardwood supplier and ask the proprietors if they know of anyone selling a saw. Also call local cabinet shops. They sometimes have a surplus tool sitting idle that they’d be willing to sell. Take your time in this step. A careful investment will pay dividends in the long run, but a well-intentioned compromise can cause long-term frustration.
For me, I watch Craigslist, and hit auctions. My g/f scored me a huge load of pallets (free wood is good wood, especially when projects made from it generate $$$), and I work in a high end window & door company, so the scrap bin gets raided quite often. I made a deal with myself to only buy what I can pay for from what the shop makes. This includes (at times) going without a needed tool as I was waiting for a better one because I had sold what I once had for more than I paid for it. Just like flipping houses, on a much smaller scale. Right place, right time.
I moved back to my small hometown just a few years later.  Had a stable income, now with my own home with a shop.  That’s were I started getting back into woodworking.  I have been doing it now on a steady basis for the last ten years or so.  I do it just for a hobby, but I enjoy doing it to pass the time or to try and make a new piece of furniture.

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The solution to potentially wedged boards on a jointer is to add a planer to the mix.  A planer has a flat surface with a cutting edge that is exactly 180 degrees to the surface.  This allows you to position the jointed edge flat on the planers surface and make a cut to the opposite side of the board that is perfectly square.  As an added bonus, the planer allows you incredible control over the thickness of the boards you're planing.  ​
By the way, before you yell at me about the fact that the price on the links for the nail gun is more than $200, listen up I have a handy tip:  There are sales throughout the year on this exact package for $200.  That’s how I bought mine.  Just keep checking back.  And be sure to follow me on social media.  I keep checking it, too and if I see it’s on sale, I will post it to let you all know!
About Youtuber My hope is to (in my own crazy way) add to the already great woodworking community here on YouTube. Broadcasting for me was a true passion, but I've always been doing some sort of woodworking since I was a kid. I have now put my broadcasting career in the rear view mirror so, my current focus is on woodworking for fun, relaxation and whatever my wife say's needs to be done. 

The Japanese style saw or Japan saw, depending on who you ask, can easily replace both the push saw and the dovetail pull saw for most of your needs. This is why I included the Japanese style saw in my woodworking budget starter kit. If I was starting over, and just going to buy one saw, this would be the one. I purchased an Irwin, but there are several other brands out there. I just found this one to be the best value at the time I was shopping.

Let’s start with perhaps the most basic tool in every household – the claw hammer. The claw on one side of the head should be well counterbalanced by the finished head, which should be somewhat rounded. The other kind of head is the waffle-head. Most commonly used in construction, it leaves a distinctive waffle mark on the wood when you drive the nail. This, of course, is not the proper nail for woodworking.

The second big tool you need is a saw. There are many types of saws, and this can be the trickiest part of setting up a shop on a budget. As a beginner, you'll likely be using woodworking books, magazines and websites for instruction and inspiration. Unfortunately, most of these sources consider a table saw a beginner tool. For those of us on a budget, or with little space, a table saw may not be an option. They cost several hundred dollars to start, and take up several square feet of floor space. Instead, look for a good circular saw that allows you to adjust the depth and angle of cut. It's also nice to have a laser to help guide the cuts. You can get a decent circular saw for around $100. 

While there are certainly tools beyond this list that would make certain tasks easier, I feel confident that you can build pretty much anything you could possible want using this beginner woodworking tool set. Everything on this list is also purposefully portable and does not take up much space at all. The goal here was to compile a list of the best beginner tools that would allow you to build almost anything, anywhere, and only take up a small cabinet in your house or garage.
John Heisz is a Canadian woodworker who makes many of his own tools to help him with his projects. His YouTube channel shows you how to also make your own tools. He has a video series on how to make homemade clamps, whether you're making hand screw clamps, wooden bar clamps or a deep c clamp. Another one of his video series takes you through the making of your own homemade vise.
About Youtuber This channel features work done by Marsh Wildman of Wildman Technology & Fabrication. I'm a maker/artisan/technologist specializing in bringing the dreams of others to reality. If you can convey your concept to me, I can build it for you! We reclaim and upcycle when possible. Wood working projects. Plasma cutting and welding. Machine shop services, PROTOTYPING and setting up production lines.
*any* glass made by the float glass process will have the same level of flatness (>95% of today’s colorless glass). However, thicker is better and I would see 5mm as the absolute minimum. When glass slabs get bigger/heavier their shards pose a real risk in case they crack. Therefore, 5 or 8mm tempered glass is what you should be looking for. If you can’t find tempered glass, cover the back with UV-stabilized (all weather) tape: this will hold the shards together and you don’t get any exposed edges.
Whether you really need your privacy or you just want to add a bit of rustic charm to your home, this tree branch privacy screen is a great DIY project. It sort of looks like a bamboo shade and is really easy to make. You just need a few strips of thin wood and as many sticks or branches as you want to add. Hang it wherever you feel you need a bit of extra privacy.

Your moisture meter should have settings on it that will account for different species of wood. For instance, oak is a hardwood, but ebony is an even harder density wood. If you are planning an inlay job using both types of wood, you will need to know the moisture content levels of each of the two species so that your inlay glue joints will stay intact. These different wood species have different specific gravities, which must be used or programmed into the moisture meter.
The next important hand tool for the woodworker is an accurate tape measure. Get a retractable one that is at least 25 feet long. Any longer than that, and you start having problems getting it to roll back up. Since measurements on large scale projects can be very susceptible to even the most minute measurement variations, you’ll want to make sure the “hook” or tab at the end of the is firmly attached, with no give. When they get loose, you’ll have as much as 1/8” variation in your measurements. This can add up to some severe accuracy problems in the long run.

If you’re looking to setup a shop equipped mainly with stationary power tools, I’d focus the bulk of your budget on the primary big tools. It’s easier to come up with $10 for a couple of clamps as an impulse purchase, than it is $1000 for a good table saw (TS). Most shops feature the TS, and that’s where I’d focus the bulk of my research and budget, unless you’ll primarily be using a band saw (BS). The biggies for me would be a good full size stationary table saw, planer, jointer, router and router table, and maybe a modest DC (like the HF unit for $150). With those main tools, you can build just alot using dimensional lumber or sheetgoods. A BS and DP are nice, but can be added down the road…in the meantime, a modest jigsaw and handheld power drill worked fine for early on. You’ll want a reasonable work surface, whether it’s a nice bench, or an old door. I’d add a good tape measure, squares, a chisel or two, sandpaper, and some basic clamps, then would add more clamps, block plane, and other extras as you go. (Ask family members for gift cards to Rockler, Woodcraft, Amazon, Lowes, HD, etc….). $3k is doable if you’re selective….the used market can be your friend if the right deals come along.
Those two tools comprise the most basic power tools you need to start woodworking. In addition, you'll need some hand tools. A hammer is an obvious necessity, and can be bought cheaply. A tape measure is a must- have for marking out lengths. A ruler or straight edge is needed to turn your measurements into straight lines for cutting, and can be clamped to a work piece to use as a saw guide. Speaking of clamps, they are important for joining pieces together for gluing, screwing or nailing. Most woodworkers have a lot of them, and you'll never have as many as you need. For now, just buy a few 6-inch and 12-inch clamps and add more as you need them.
At $300, the saw is expensive, but it is one of the more affordable saws that offer a 12 inch blade and a double bevel.  The double bevel allows you to adjust both the angle at which the blade cuts into the wood and the tilt of the blade relative to the workpiece.  Having control over both angles allows much easier cuts of trims and moldings.  It's one of those features that you won't use with every project - but when you do need it, you'll be glad you have it
While the router isn’t exactly necessary to build the most basic projects, it will really allow you to put that extra level of detail on a project so it isn’t quite so bland looking. Routers are also an extremely versatile tool that can be used in lieu of a jointer to get a straight edge on rough lumber, put a nice detail edge on a table top or piece of furniture, cut mortise and tenon joinery, cut dadoes and rabbets, mount in a table, or a countless number of other uses. Router bits can be pricey, so my advice would be to add bits as you need them for specific uses and projects. There are some variety pack kits available if you want a set to get started though. Also, there are smaller (trim) routers and full-size routers available. For the purpose of a beginner woodworking tool set, I recommend starting out with the small router and seeing just how much you can accomplish with that.

All you need to get an edge on your hand tools and pocket knives is a 100/300 grit combo stone from your local hardware, even horrible fright. This shouldn't cost more than $10. Then go to the natural slate section of the home center or flooring store & find 3-4" natural slate tile that you can barely see the grains in. This should cost another $1 or so. This tile is roughly 800 grit. If you can't find natural tile in your area, you should be able to find an 'Arkansas' stone for <$5. If you can scare up some Chrome Oxide and a piece of leather (piece of cardboard or block of MDF also work) all the better. These three things will cost you $15 and get your edged tools sharp enough to take hair off your arm and chips of your lumber.


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Whatever your dream for a rustic look, you are sure to find something in this collection that will help you along. Many of these projects are so easy to do and you can complete them in less than a day. Some make wonderful gifts as well so if you know someone else who just loves the country, rustic look, make them something to brighten their own décor. The projects use all sorts of materials, many of which are really inexpensive or even cheap in some cases.
The fourth most important basic handheld power tool every beginner should buy is a random orbital sander. While palm sanders are less expensive and can use plain sandpaper (cut into one-fourth sections), the random orbital version uses hook-and-loop fastened sanding disks, and doesn't sand in patterns, using instead a random sanding motion. This will motion will serve to reduce the chance that any sanding marks may appear on the stock due to the sanding. Of course, be certain that your local woodworking supplier has sanding disks readily available in a number of grits to fit the model that you choose, as the key to proper sanding is to use progressively finer grits as you sand to reduce or remove any marks that are left behind from the previous sanding.
About Youtuber Chop With Chris YouTube channel is focused on educational and entertaining "How To" woodworking videos using just hand tools. My DIY content covers a wide range of projects and plans from tables and chairs to foot powered machines, bows, arrows, crossbows and other related bushcraft videos as well as tool eduction. I am a maker and have a passion to share my knowledge with others.

I moved back to my small hometown just a few years later.  Had a stable income, now with my own home with a shop.  That’s were I started getting back into woodworking.  I have been doing it now on a steady basis for the last ten years or so.  I do it just for a hobby, but I enjoy doing it to pass the time or to try and make a new piece of furniture.


Let’s start with perhaps the most basic tool in every household – the claw hammer. The claw on one side of the head should be well counterbalanced by the finished head, which should be somewhat rounded. The other kind of head is the waffle-head. Most commonly used in construction, it leaves a distinctive waffle mark on the wood when you drive the nail. This, of course, is not the proper nail for woodworking.
By posting on this site and forum, the poster grants to Canadian Woodworking Magazine/Website the unrestricted rights to use of the content of the post for any purpose, including, but not limited to, publishing the posted material, including images, in print or electronic form in a future issue or issues of Canadian Woodworking magazine or related Canadian Woodworking products, and to use the post for promotional purposes without further compensation, as well as the right to use the poster's name in a credit along with the post.
One of the challenges we all face is how to move machines into a home without damaging the home, the machinery, or yourself. I actually had to bring things through the front door, and across hardwood floors, and turn 90° to descend the stairs into the shop. To protect the floors, I laid down sheets of 1/2" MDF that I could use later. On the wooden stairs, I used three strips of softwood strap­ping, held with wood screws to the stairs. I mounted a 2x4 baton to the wall studs at the top of the stairs, with a 5/16-inch eye-bolt through it.
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