Frank Howarth is a unique guy - educated as an architect, but with practical woodworking skills to rival any journeyman. He has the most enviable workshop of anybody I've seen, and his projects are aspirational on every level - creativity, originality, ingenuity, and craftsmanship. He devotes a lot of time to talking about the layout and design of his ever-changing workshop, and there's a lot of clever ideas to steal and pass off as your own. If you can't tell, I love Frank. Oh, and his stopmotion videos are awesome.
My contention has always been that you can build a serviceable shop in your home, develop your hand skills, and make fine furniture. In the past year, I had an opportunity to build a shop from the ground up after moving to a new home. I found a house with an unfinished basement, and set to work. In this article, I will discuss everything from layout, to electrical, to equipment selection. I intend to name names with respect to equipment, so that readers will know what I chose. Everyone’s budget will be different, but I think almost everyone will be able to treat this as a starting point, and adjust accordingly, depending on their own budget.
About Youtuber The English Woodworker Blog aims to share with you our passion for traditional woodworking and keep you up to date with the goings on in and around our workshop. We are the owners of ’Maguire Workbenches’ and spend much of our time designing and building high quality workbenches so no doubt there will always be a lot of workbench talk.
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You’ll need a long screwdriver with a square blade that is very heavy duty. This gives you a lot of torque. You’ll also need a small and medium slot screwdriver. For working on cabinets or tight places in woodworking, you’ll need a screwdriver with a thin shank so that you can reach screws that are inside of deep holes. This is accomplished with a cabinet screwdriver. Get a couple of medium Phillips head screwdrivers, and a stubby one too, for those tight places. You may also want a ratcheting screwdriver.
Available in both water-based and oil-based finished, polyurethane is one of the most common practices used in woodworking today. Polyurethane can be sprayed, brushed or rubbed onto the piece to obtain either a satin, semi-gloss or glossy finishes. Polyurethane is a very versatile finish that will last for many years and is easy to clean and maintain.
Alex Harris is a teenage woodworker who posts how-to videos on woodworking projects. On his channel, Alex makes the things that might be of particular interest to younger woodworkers, such as Frisbees and bottle openers and even a wood backed case for your iPhone. Alex also has a corresponding woodworking vlog where he answers questions from viewers.
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.
I wouldn’t give up on Craigslist or garage sales.. For around $1K or less, you can pretty easily find the four big ticket items (TS, BS, Jointer and Planer) and have the extra $2K to spend on accessories, material, DC, other goodies, etc. The key is patience and persistence, and if applied correctly, you can have a fantastic setup for very little compared to purchasing new. If you are setting up a business, you don’t usually have the time to scour for good deals, but for a personal shop, there is no pressing need other than that itch to get something done.
The most commonly purchased claw hammer is the 20 oz. size. It’s heavy enough to easily drive nails but easily manipulated when pulling nails. While wooden handles are picturesque, they may not stand up to the strain if you have to pull a lot of nails. Hammers with a steel handle, or even fiberglass, will be stronger. However, these won’t absorb the vibrations from driving nails the way a hickory handle will. You’ll also need to make sure the fiberglass and metal handles have a rubberized grip for control and comfort. If you’re going to be driving a lot of nails, the wooden handled hammer will be better for reducing stress on your hand, and wrist, too.
These YouTube videos provide great woodworking information that contains both traditional and modern methods. Each instructional video contains woodworking how to techniques to improve a woodworkers’ skills and also methods for how to work safe in the shop. If you want entertainment, then watch the video once. If you want learn, watch the again. If you want to master techniques and improve your woodworking skills, watch and study the videos repeatedly.
Even if you don’t live in a rustic log cabin, you can give your home a great cabin look by simply planking one or more walls. This is a relatively easy project that will add beauty and value to any home. Just choose the wall that you want to change, and add wooden planks which you can pick up at most home improvement stores for very little. Then stain if you want and you have a lovely cabin type wall
Raw material is a concept. A concept that we describe as any material that has yet to find its final home. It is a material that is en route to becoming something interesting, creative and more permanent in the world. If it has yet to be worked and transformed to create a unique piece of woodworking or artisan craftsmanship, then it is still raw to us.
If you had bothered to watch the video this would have been explained. The cupping you see is a result of mass manufacture. Few tool makers will take the time to lap the back of a chisel to degree a craftsman will (much less the bargain brand he’s using). It’s simply not practical for them to do so and still make their price point. Some higher end (Lee Nielsen, Lee Vally, Veritas) chisels will be closer but even these will require some degree of hand honing/lapping. Using a flat stone, with at most couple hours of practice, you will reliably create razor sharp straight edges.
In each case, we shuffled the bench, jointer, table saw, and band saw across to the top of the stairs, and then tied a rope around each to act as a safety while sliding the machines down the strapping on the stairs. Yeah, the table saw hit the wall, and the promise of a good mud and paint job saved my bacon. The rope worked well, and we were able to get everything down the stairs nice and slowly without any major issues.
The thickness planer can joint a board's face. On this simple jig, the stock is supported by twin rows of wood screws driven into a platform and adjusted to meet the varying clearances on the underside of the board. The stock rides the sled cup side up. Slide the board slightly sideways to adjust the screws, then seat it firmly on the screw heads for planing.
You really don’t have to do anything to get a great set of coffee tables. Well, you do have to gather a few tree trunks or stumps. Just sand them down a bit, and cut them off to make them flat. You can have a collection of different sizes sitting around the room and in different shapes. Stain them if you want but you can leave them natural for a really rustic look.
Woodworking is a fun hobby, but can be expensive as well. With all the power tools, hand tools, shop setups and, of course, the wood, many people are turned off to woodworking because of the impact on their wallets. That doesn’t have to be the case though. With a little pre-planning and inside knowledge, you can set up a basic wood shop and start making your own items without breaking the bank.
Ok, the leap from $1,000 to $2,500 is a big one. I certainly didn't make it at one time. It took me years. But I know folks that decided they wanted to get into woodworking and dropped at least $2,500 getting themselves outfitted. When you do make the jump, the thought process becomes much less about making sure you can get the job done and becomes more about having quality tools to get the job done.
Non-Standard Miter Slots - This one is a downer. One of the primary advantages of having a table saw is access to jigs that expand the saws functionality. This is a major issue if you plan on buying after market jigs. Given that we are limiting the cost of this buildout to $500, I am guessing that after market jigs are probably low on the priority list. Your going to want jigs once you start researching what they enable you to do, my advice is to build your own - there are plenty of plans online.
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.
Most chisels are beveled on the 2 sides and on the cutting edge, but specialty chisels may only be beveled at the cutting edge. This bevel will be at 20 to 25 degrees down the length of the blade on one side, and flat on the backside. The blade will be between 4” and 7” long. Make sure you get chisels with a grip that fits your hand. If the grip is too small, you won’t be able to hold the chisel steady as you work. Be sure to use a mallet or wood hammer when you work, so that you don’t destroy the head on your chisel. Keep track of the edge caps, keep them sharp, and oil the metal now and then after you’ve used them, and they should be good for years. If you don’t have the edge caps, get a roll to keep them in. This will prevent them from bouncing around in your tool box drawers and getting damaged.
You can create a beautiful coffee table by simple stacking logs together. Line the logs end up and create a circle whatever size you need. Then just tie them all together with rope or twine to keep your coffee table secure. You do need to make sure that the logs are the same height and you may want to sand the tops down just a bit to make them smooth.
You need an out-feed table to support work exiting the table saw and band saw. By placing the tools close together, I was able to make one out-feed table that works for both tools. I put four pivoting wheels on the table, allowing me to shift the table in any direction. By placing a shelf below the table, I gained some much needed storage space for portable power tools. Finally, since this is a large work surface, the table also serves as a true, flat assembly table.
Maple comes in two varieties: hard and soft. Both varieties are harder than a vast majority of other woods and are moderately priced. Because of their fine, straight grain, both varieties are more stable than many other woods and perfect for tabletops. Exotic varieties of Maple exist – such as Curly, Tiger and Birds-Eye Maple – which are used in fine woodworking for an unparalleled finish, with grain patterns that are extremely unique and distinct but come at a higher cost.
These basics are going to set you back about $180, leaving you with $320 left to work with. We are going to be leaving behind two hand powered tools from the $250 shop and upgrading to powered alternatives. This should lead to more consistent results, more enjoyable builds, and increased efficiency. These are all goods things that only the biggest fans of The Woodwright's Shop would argue with.
For under $20 I am very impressed with the Bad Blade Carver by Kwik Tool. Mounted in a 4.5″ grinder, it removes a ton of material quickly yet allows a fair amount of control. The disk has only 6 teeth so the carver is mainly a solid disk with very few teeth to bite and create kick-back or dig-in. I found I had the best control when engaging the blade between 12 o’clock (top of the grinder) and 3 o’clock. When in that range it was not overly aggressive and left me in control.
About Youtuber Woodworking is my passion and I there is nothing I won't try to build, fix, or improve on my own. I got into woodworking and the passion has completely consumed me. Becoming a great woodworker and do it yourself-er is about finding the right information and creative solutions with the materials and skill sets available to you. I eagerly look forward to showing you how I accomplish my projects.