A Total Beginner’s Guide to Woodworking

you might have found this video because
you've been binge-watching videos of people making all kinds of things and
you thought to yourself hmm it kinda looks like fun
then you kept watching and thought but seriously I wonder if we could do some
of this and then you thought I really think I could do this but everyone
seems to have a lot of tools it kinda looks like a super-expensive hobby and I
don't know where to begin I don't even know what half those tools are Hi I'm
Steve and this is Woodworking for Mere Mortals the channel dedicated to
teaching beginning woodworkers how to make cool things without a huge shop or
a truckload of money first of all you don't need as many tools as you might
think be sure to check out my video on the 7 essential power tools for new
woodworkers and for everything else that you'll need to get started be sure to
download my free guide to setting up a shop for under $1000 at my tool list.com
and be sure to check out my video 18 things every beginning woodworker should
know there's links to all of these resources down in the description in
this video I want to give kind of a high-level overview of what exactly
woodworking is and what to expect from it there are thousands of videos
detailing every minute detail of this hobby but I think it's time to look at
the forest instead of the trees woodworking metaphor I will assume that
you have never built anything out of wood and have little to zero experience
I'll address the most common questions you might have been afraid to ask
because you thought they were just too basic woodworking means a lot of things
but here's a reasonably boring definition I came up with that most
hobbyist still probably agree with woodworking is a productive craft that
involves cutting shaping and joining wood to create decorative and/or useful
things there's nothing physically demanding about woodworking and you can
build at your own pace the basic concepts are simple to learn yet it's a
hobby that will always remain fresh and challenging as your skills evolve if
you're the kind of person who loves problem-solving you'll love woodworking
I've been at this for over 40 years now and faced new challenges with
every single project I build it's part of the process you will never reach a
point of perfection but the journey itself is half the satisfaction the
other half is being able to produce some really cool stuff for your home using
your hands and your brain in general woodworking is a very solitary
experience if you are a bit introverted and love taking on tasks from start to
finish you'll probably love woodworking there used to be two stereotypes of
woodworkers the cranky shop teacher who taught a really boring class to kids who
didn't want to be there and the retired grandpa who puttered around in his
garage with a lot of time on his hands to build an occasional birdhouse that
was gonna make now thankfully those stereotypes are no longer relevant there
is more diversity in woodworking now than ever before thanks in large part to
online communities and the affordability of tools and materials in the past 10
years there's been a huge rise in two groups of people making woodworking a
hobby first women it's incredible how many women have set up shops and started
building in fact it really wasn't that long ago when a female woodworker was
kind of unusual today women woodworkers are commonplace and it makes sense
because there is nothing about woodworking that anyone can't do and
making things is an empowering experience for all of us the second huge
demographic spike has been among Millennials people in their 20s and 30s
I hear from people all the time who work in Silicon Valley or just having some
sort of an office job and feel the need to make things with their hands and
surveys I've conducted of people who have taken my Weekend Woodworker courses
a big reason many of them site is that they simply wanted to do something
productive on their weekends and get away from their computers and despite
what you might think it's not a requirement to have a beard I need one
wall just to show off my hand planes a maker is a relatively new term that is
cropped up in the past decade or so it's an all-encompassing term for people who
like to dabble in different crafts this could
mean a little woodworking some metalworking epoxy and concreting
computer programming electronics 3d printing baking sewing knitting jewelry
making sculpting ceramics robotics even playing with LEGOs if you've ever made a
greeting card out of construction paper and macaroni you're a maker
so basically we're all makers a woodworker is a maker who's mostly
interested in learning and refining the craft of creating things out of wood
sometimes we bring other materials into our projects but the focus is always on
the wood it's an affordable timeless material that's easy to build with this
one's a little vague but I tend to think of carpenters as building structures
homes and buildings construction work I don't think of framing a house out of
post beams in two by fours as woodworking per se
woodworking tends to be more concerned with building furniture and other items
that can be moved around that said there are a lot of people who refer to
woodworkers as carpenters so it doesn't really matter again there is no solid
line between these two terms but to me cabinet makers build things that are
permanently mounted in place such as kitchen cabinets and are mostly
concerned with the surfaces that are visible furniture of course can be
positioned anywhere the owner likes and therefore more parts of the finished
piece are potentially visible cabinets might use plywood more often than
furniture and are assembled using screws and other mechanical fasteners while
furniture often uses solid lumber and is usually assembled with stronger joinery
and glue furniture making might demand a higher level of precision but there is a
lot of overlap here I've built plenty of furniture with plywood and screws and
I've seen some amazing cabinetry that rivals high-end furniture you might have
an image in your mind of what woodworking will entail but there are
different ways people approach this craft hand tool woodworking has had a
huge revival in the 2000s and is more popular than ever hand tool woodworkers
choose to use classical tools and methods to build things hand saws
chisels scrapers and planes are preferred over anything that plugs into
the wall getting started can be very inexpensive but as your skills improve
and the mania sets in you will discover that a 200-dollar hand plane is not
unusual hand tool woodworkers probably feel more of a connection to the process
than any other type of woodworker it takes patience has a longer learning
curve and is a slower way to build it's a lot quieter but the personal
fulfillment and satisfaction can be enormous I would guess that 90% of
woodworkers today are power tool woodworkers everything I do on my
channel and in my weekend woodworker courses are geared towards plugging in
tools or charging batteries power tools such as miter saws table saws drills
sanders are ubiquitous and can be a very affordable way to start building
projects right away cutting a board on a table saw doesn't take anywhere near the
skill and finesse of using a handsaw and takes a fraction of the time not only
that but the learning curve is very shallow for power tools it really
doesn't take long to get up to speed and build your first project probably the
biggest drawback to using power tools is that they have the potential to cause
serious injuries it's nothing that should prevent you from using them but
you need to really familiarize yourself with safety procedures please see my
safety basics video for more tips digital woodworking machines have been
around for a while but have become more affordable in the past few years and are
appealing to more and more hobbyists the primary tool here is the CNC machine
that makes precision cuts on flat pieces of wood using a router you'll need to
layout and design all of your work on a computer and the machine will take care
of the rest cutting out all of your pieces you don't
even have to be in the same room when it's
cutting the second tool some hobbyists invest in is a laser cutter or engraver
this tool allows you to make even more precise cuts than a CNC and creates a
really beautiful art the biggest drawbacks to using digital machines are
their cost you can easily spend thousands of dollars on them they have
their limitations and you'll probably still want a table saw and others power
tools in your shop some people feel that digital tools make them less connected
to their woodworking and remove the handmade satisfaction of making things
most people have a mixture of hand tools and power tools in their shops for
instance a blended approach to woodworking might make most of the cuts
using a table saw but use a chisel and hand saw to cut dovetail joints some
people find that hand tools offer greater precision and control for
cutting technically demanding joints and enjoy improving their skills at these
tasks there are two types of woodworking that some enthusiasts usually people
with an artistic bent specialize in wood turning and scrolling wood turning
involves using a lathe to create bowls spindles and other rounded objects it's
kind of like sculpting clay on a potter's wheel only with wood and
chisels the only real downside to getting into wood turning is that the
lathes can be pretty expensive scrolling involves using a scroll saw which is
capable of cutting extremely tiny curves and intricate patterns it takes practice
to become proficient but it's relaxing and you can create some stunning art
with a scroll saw unlike a lathe scroll saws are relatively inexpensive and
they're pretty quiet and they don't make a huge mess you can even scroll on your
kitchen table if you want you can certainly find uses for both of these
tools in a standard woodworking shop maybe you need to make an occasional
table leg or add some decorative scroll work to a fancy bookcase but in general
they just aren't tools that you will use that often unless you really want to
dive deep into them and unleash your inner artist is woodworking dangerous
it's probably safer than driving but safe is not woodworking understand how
your tools work and learn how to use them correctly is woodworking expensive
doesn't have to be does it require a lot of physical strength
nope does it take a lot of time to make things you can but I prefer to make
projects that I can complete in a weekend or two do you need a lot of space nope I
used to build on the roof of my apartment is there a long learning curve
know the basics of woodworking are simple in my Weekened Woodworker course
I teach you how to complete your first project in two days can I do this yes
really yes I think one of the reasons why woodworking has become a crazy
popular hobby in the past few years is that it offers people a retreat from all
of the noise that fills our lives these days I'm talking about the endless
stream of social media and the 24/7 barrage of online information we don't
want to miss out on we spend hours every day trying to catch up on social posts
from people we don't actually know and feel stressed if we fall behind on their
latest stories we love venting rage chasing trends and getting depressed
over events that are beyond our control we start to feel anxiety because none of
this ever reaches a conclusion the feeds of our lives are constantly being
endlessly refreshed and we can never find an end when you step into a
woodworking shop to build something it's just you you'll get to use your hands
for something productive other than tapping on a phone or a keyboard you
enter your shop with an idea of what you want to accomplish and can envision what
it'll look like when you're done you'll create something from nothing using
logic intelligence problem solving skills and common sense you will be
fully responsible for every aspect of making a project from finding a plan or
designing your own to selecting the tools you'll use obtaining lumber and
other materials to determining a course of action and overcoming challenges you
will not be able to pass the buck and you will not be able to blame others for
your mistakes but you will know when your project is complete and you made
every inch of it hey woodworking is fun and you get to make some cool stuff for
your house but ultimately it's about discovering who we are and finding out
that I can offer so many more internal
rewards if we simply take the time to create unplug yourself for a few hours a
week and plug in some power tools thanks for watching everybody

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