Every woodworker needs a couple of levels. You probably won’t need one of the 6-foot levels used in construction, but 48” is a good length for many of the woodworking projects you’ll do. Usually, you’ll also need an 8” level too, usually known as a torpedo level. You’ll check the level and plum of your construction. Level means horizontal, and plumb is vertical.
Turn leftover wood or old pieces of furniture into DIY reclaimed wood projects! Wood is one of my favorite materials to work with. The possibilities are endless and they give such a homey and cozy feel to any rustic home. My husband, Dave, and I sometimes even go the extra mile and carve our initials on a little spot. It’s our own way of making our DIY project even more personal! Here’s a list of some of our favorite DIY reclaimed wood projects!   
One of the great furniture woods, Mahogany has a reddish-brown to deep-red tint, a straight grain, medium texture and is moderately hard. It takes stain very well, but looks great with even just a few coats of oil on it. For an even more distinguished look, exotic African Ribbon-Striped Mahogany adds amazing grain and texture elements to this already beautiful species of wood.
The circular saw is pretty much the first tool I grab for any project. You can use it for both rough cutting your lumber to get started on a project or making finish cuts before final assembly of your project. You can use it to make half lap joints and a variety of other joinery methods. While a table saw or stationary miter saw might make a certain task easier, it is hard to beat the cost, portability, and versatility of a circular saw. While most of these come with a blade, here is a good all-around blade that I use.
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.

Make sure to run ground wires wrapped around all lengths of flexible exhaust hose to prevent static build up, which can spark and potentially ignite. I chose the King 1.5 HP dust collector, with a 115 volt motor, so I did not need special wir­ing for it. A shop vac is a must, as well, used to vacuum out machinery, and to remove dust from furniture prior to fin­ishing. Finally, an air filtration system was installed to clear the air of tiny airborne particles. The King KAC 650 unit I installed does a nice job, has a remote control, and a program­mable delay – I usually have the air cleaner run for a timed two hours when I leave the shop.


One tool that I’ve used over and over when my clamps were too small,  is ratchet straps. They come in handy when trying to glue several pieces together, like when making a table top out of 4 x 4’s. One problem though, is that when using ratchet straps on smaller pieces of wood, or longer boards, it’s possible to warp the piece you’re trying to make. However, if you’re careful, a ratchet strap can stand in for a clamp or two.
My first projects were making things from pallet boards. I cut the boards to size using my jig saw.  It’s not quite as good as using a miter saw, but it got me by for a while with sufficient results.  Even now that I have a miter saw, I still use my jig saw A LOT to make notches (like for my outdoor table), or fun designs (like these deer heads last Christmas).
Poplar is one of the less expensive hardwoods. It’s also fairly soft, considering it is a hardwood, which makes it easy to work with. Poplar is very light in color (almost “white”) with some green or brown streaks in the heartwood (the wood that comes from the center of the tree). Because poplar is not the most beautifully grained wood, it’s almost always painted as it does take to paint very nicely for a uniform finish. Poplar makes for great table bases (often painted, with a stained tabletop of a different wood), drawers, cabinets, hutches and more. Poplar is a very common wood that is versatile and cost efficient.
For woodworking entertainment and inspiration be sure to checkout our Woodworking Video Series "The Highland Woodworker". Improve your woodworking skills and learn more about the use of woodworking tools with free online woodworking materials in the Woodworking Library. At Highland Woodworking you get more than fine woodworking tools...you get fine tool tips too!

Swap meets and flea markets? Often you see people bring all the old tools out of their garage that grandpa handed down to them and that haven't seen any use for 40 years. Hand saws, chisels, planes, drills, and all other manner of hand tools that are hard to give away because most people can't even tell what they are. An old fashioned brace-and-bit falls into that category, and all the people want for it is a couple of bucks.
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
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.
With the right tools and materials, what you build is only limited by your imagination and creativity. So why not have a little fun with the kids and teach them something at the same time? Our woodworker tools and woodworking supplies will help you put together an easy birdhouse, squirrel feeder or butterfly house. The kids will love to use our paint samples to add their creative touch, and will enjoy displaying the finished product in the backyard.
​Buying rough cut lumber saves a ton of money.  Buying lumber that has had all four sides surfaced (s4s) will cost roughly 4 times as much as buying rough cut lumber.  Let's look at an example: I'm going to build a table that will require 50 board feet of oak.  If I buy finished oak it will cost around $5.5 / bf or $275.  Alternatively, I can buy rough cut oak at $1.25/bf or ~$65.  In this one project I've saved $210.  That's enough for a new power tool.

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 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.
Let's talk about a few strategies for building out your shop below retail price.  There are the obvious ones like yard sales, craigslist, estate sales, and thrift stores, however, these can be hit or miss.  First of all, not everyone lives in an area where these avenues exist.  Second, when your brand new to woodworking, it can be hard to evaluate a tool that your buying second hand.  Because of this, I'm not going to focus on these channels in this post, but I will say, if your willing to do some hunting for second hand tools, you can easily save 50% to 75% on some perfectly fine equipment.

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.
Just how small?  Will you have an extra bedroom for your shop or will you be doing woodworking in your living room?  Do you have to put the projects and tools away every time you want to entertain or will you leave everything set up all the time?  A while back FWW had a video tour of a shop in Japan that was smaller than small.  I'll try to find it and get back.  Found it...  shows what can be done in a small space but this shop was not on a small budget so no help there.
The first word that comes to mind for describing Jay’s work: Accessible. Even if you are brand-new to woodworking and don’t have many tools, you can follow many of Jay’s projects. It’s not just the choice of tools and techniques, but also his straightforward and friendly presentation style. Here is a video that’ll be handy for anyone just shopping for a new kitchen:
There are some basic things every woodworker needs to get started. Assuming you aren't the kind of person that does everything with hand tools, you'll first need a drill. Power drills come in many different styles and price ranges. The popular trend right now is for companies to make cordless tool systems that all run off of the same battery packs, and a drill is often the first tool a person gets in the set. Cordless drills are popular and handy for doing household tasks , such as hanging picture frames; but for serious woodworking, they can lack power and might die in the middle of a job. Corded drills are a less expensive option and often work better for the tasks you'll be doing in a wood shop; just get a cheap extension cord to go with it. You can easily find a corded drill of good quality for about $100.
But until then, I’ve been thinking of other ways to use my hands and create things.  (Even though many of our saws and tools have been stolen.) But I’m feeling a little antsy to make some quick projects, because creating makes me extremely happy…..so we’re calling this surge in me to create something simple, THERAPY.  In fact, I need to call up a few friends and have them make some with me because friends and creating is a favorite combo of mine!  (Any out of town-ers want to fly in?! ;) )
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.
Turn leftover wood or old pieces of furniture into DIY reclaimed wood projects! Wood is one of my favorite materials to work with. The possibilities are endless and they give such a homey and cozy feel to any rustic home. My husband, Dave, and I sometimes even go the extra mile and carve our initials on a little spot. It’s our own way of making our DIY project even more personal! Here’s a list of some of our favorite DIY reclaimed wood projects!   
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