We think you’re going to find our newsletter and blogs useful and entertaining to read. Because we’re all woodworkers here at Popular Woodworking, we generate a huge amount of valuable woodworking information that we cannot possibly cram into the printed magazine. So the newsletter and community are both great places for us to share what we know with you.
A layout square, or combination square, comes in 6” and 12” sizes. Most woodworkers use the 6” model, simply because it’s easiest to carry around. Also, most of the stock you’ll use will be no bigger than 6” wide, so 12” is overkill. The layout square is a triangle that you can use to mark square cuts on stock. Once you measure the length of the cut, you line up the layout square with the edge of the board. The short side will give you a straight, square cut across the end grain. You can also measure off angles with the layout square. This helps when you’re trying to measure for a bevel on a table saw, or marking a cut for a miter saw. You can even use your layout square to determine an existing angle. Just be sure to buy one made of metal. The plastic ones are not only fragile, but they also can warp, making them pretty useless. 

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.


I am working hard (or hardly working) on our master bathroom vanity! I spent the whole day in the garage on Monday, but it was such a mess from all the other projects I have been working on, so I spent the day cleaning and organizing instead of building. Now I have a place to build the vanity and this coming week there is nothing going on so I will also have time. I can almost smell the progress!
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.
Before I give you my list, I am assuming (and yes, I know what assuming does) that you already have a tape measure, screwdriver and a hammer. These are common household items that most people (woodworkers or not) keep around the house.  If you don’t have one, they are a few bucks each and WELL worth the investment.  AND they are my favorite types of stocking stuffers—even if it is just July, it’s already on my mind 🙂
As an x aerospace machinist I have run manual lathes and mills and programmed and run CNC as well. IMO a manual lathe is far more versatile and useful than a CNC for the average DIY buff. A CaN C is basically a very accurate production machine but to spend time programming, setting up, proving out just for a couple or several pieces is not practical ( unless you have money and time to spare)

I use a 9″ x 12″ Chinese grade B surface plate and wet the back of the carborundum “sandpaper” to hold it in place. Obviously not the “budget” version, but I have the surface plate for other purposes. At about $17 from ENCO it wasn’t very expensive. And it *really* is flat to better than 0.001″. So the thickness of the paper is the biggest error. I also have a good assortment of Arkansas and other types of stones, though none of the Japanese waterstones. I generally don’t use the surface plate unless the edge is really bad e.g. an abused tool picked up at a yard sale.


I am working hard (or hardly working) on our master bathroom vanity! I spent the whole day in the garage on Monday, but it was such a mess from all the other projects I have been working on, so I spent the day cleaning and organizing instead of building. Now I have a place to build the vanity and this coming week there is nothing going on so I will also have time. I can almost smell the progress!

We think you’re going to find our newsletter and blogs useful and entertaining to read. Because we’re all woodworkers here at Popular Woodworking, we generate a huge amount of valuable woodworking information that we cannot possibly cram into the printed magazine. So the newsletter and community are both great places for us to share what we know with you.


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.
If you are just getting started in woodworking and want to know what tools you’ll need to set up shop, you’ll want to download this free PDF from Popular Woodworking. We have put together a complete list of basic woodworking tools to kick-start your new hobby. In this free download, you’ll get our recommendations for the best hand and power tools for beginners. Buy these tools and you’ll have everything you need to make great woodworking projects.
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.  
Saws (I'm not a fan of Japanese saws, but you can buy good new ones pretty cheap.  ) - 1 crosscut handsaw (can be a Stanley "Sharktooth" toolbox saw from Home Depot or Lowes $15).  1 rip handsaw (used ones can be found at Antique stores for $20 or less.  Try to find one that is fairly sharp to start with).  Dovetail saw (Crown has a decent gent's saw for around $25 or get the Lee Valley Veritas Dovetail saw for around $70, Highland Woodworking carries both).  A crosscut backsaw and small miterbox is also handy to have, I can't give you a recoomendation for inexpensive ones though. 

Saws (I'm not a fan of Japanese saws, but you can buy good new ones pretty cheap.  ) - 1 crosscut handsaw (can be a Stanley "Sharktooth" toolbox saw from Home Depot or Lowes $15).  1 rip handsaw (used ones can be found at Antique stores for $20 or less.  Try to find one that is fairly sharp to start with).  Dovetail saw (Crown has a decent gent's saw for around $25 or get the Lee Valley Veritas Dovetail saw for around $70, Highland Woodworking carries both).  A crosscut backsaw and small miterbox is also handy to have, I can't give you a recoomendation for inexpensive ones though.
I am working hard (or hardly working) on our master bathroom vanity! I spent the whole day in the garage on Monday, but it was such a mess from all the other projects I have been working on, so I spent the day cleaning and organizing instead of building. Now I have a place to build the vanity and this coming week there is nothing going on so I will also have time. I can almost smell the progress!
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Teak is an excellent choice, the “crème de la crème”, for fine outdoor furniture. Teak is highly weather-resistant by nature, which means that it does not have to be weatherproofed when used outdoors – although it often is finished and stained for aesthetic purposes. Teak is one of the most expensive exotic hardwoods there are, but it will look absolutely beautiful and maintain its integrity over time.
Perhaps the most satisfying move I made was to automate the dust collection system. I used the iVACPro system to link all machines to the dust collector. When I turn on any machine in the shop, the dust collector fires up and whisks the dust into the bin. The system also has a programmable delay to allow the dust to make it to the bin before the dust collector shuts down. I set my system for a five-second delay. The system works flawlessly for my band saw, planer, and router table at 115 volts, and also my table saw and jointer at 240 volts. 
Many beginners trying to get started in woodworking take one look at their budget and worry how they can afford to buy a whole shop full of power tools to get started. Fortunately, one doesn't have to spend a fortune to get started. There are really only seven woodworking tools that I would recommend any beginning woodworker have on hand from the start, and most are relatively inexpensive. However, with these seven tools, a beginner can tackle quite a number of projects.

Steve Ramsey makes woodworking fun. His YouTube Channel, Woodworking For Mere Mortals Building, shows Steve making cool stuff in his garage in Marin County, California. From games and toys to special holiday projects during his 12 days of "Craftmas" (wooden snowflakes!), Steve consistently puts out new DIY woodworking videos and projects every Friday.
Many home improvement projects and custom woodworking pieces alike call for a painted finish. Depending on the application process, paint can create either a rustic or refined finish, and it looks great when both paint and stain (or oil) are combined together in a piece (we love the look of a painted table base with a stained or oil-rubbed table top. See our portfolio for some great examples of this style). Paints are great for both exterior and interior protection and are available in an almost infinite number of color tones. Finishes include flat, eggshell, semi-gloss, and high-gloss depending on the amount of sheen you desire.
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.
Over a year ago, I wrote up a round-up of three woodworking resources Learn To Build Your Own Furniture With These Impressive Carpentry & Woodworking Resources Learn To Build Your Own Furniture With These Impressive Carpentry & Woodworking Resources Few things are as satisfying and relaxing as making something new with your own hands. Programming comes close, at least for me (and I've recently offered some tips on learning to code), but it's still... Read More which included talented YouTube woodworkers Matthias Wandel, Steve Ramsey, and Marc Spagnuolo, AKA The Wood Whisperer. All three still produce wonderful work — and today I’d like to introduce you to five other YouTube woodworking channels worth following.
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.
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