I really like building difficult cabinets, laying them out, and assembling them. It really gives me a challenge to build something better each time, but the sanding and clean up are not my favorite aspects of this work; you better get used to it. And I wish I would have taken some business classes because the part of running a business is another element added to cabinet making.
Although the term “woodworker” may evoke the image of a craftsman who uses handtools to build ornate furniture, the modern woodworking trade is highly technical and relies on advanced equipment and highly skilled operators. Workers use automated machinery, such as computerized numerical control (CNC) machines, to do much of the work with great accuracy.
Although refrigerators long ago rendered them obsolete, antique oak ice boxes remain popular with collectors, even though they’re expensive and hard to find. This do-it-yourself version is neither: it’s both inexpensive and easy to build. An authentic reproduction of an original, the project is especially popular when used as a bar, but it has many
Another classic game! (Are you picking up on a trend?). A cribbage board is really just a piece of wood with 240-plus holes drilled in it. This project includes files necessary to program a CNC machine to drill all the holes, but it also includes a template for boring the holes with a drill. There are endless opportunities for customizing this project with different species of wood. All this adds up to the fact that cribbage boards make great gifts.
Woodworkers set up, operate, and tend all types of woodworking machines, such as saws, milling machines, drill presses, lathes, shapers, routers, sanders, planers, and wood-fastening machines. Operators set up the equipment, cut and shape wooden parts, and verify dimensions, using a template, caliper, and rule. After the parts are machined, woodworkers add fasteners and adhesives and connect the parts to form an assembled unit. They also install hardware, such as pulls and drawer slides, and fit specialty products for glass, metal trims, electrical components, and stone. Finally, workers then sand, stain, and, if necessary, coat the wood product with a sealer or topcoats, such as a lacquer or varnish.
As part of the job, woodworkers prepare and operate saws, drill presses, routers, sanders, lathes, shapers, milling machines, and planers. Often using a template, woodworkers measure and verify dimensions, cut, and shape wooden parts. Woodworkers stain or coat the wood products with sealers and topcoats, such as varnish and lacquer. But, they also often install hardware, fit electrical components and specialty products, such as metal trims and glass.
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.
Cross-cut saw teeth are more difficult to sharpen than rip saw teeth, but very possible (I enjoy doing it). Look for cross cut hand saws with 7-9 ppi (points per inch). If you can’t see the tooth shape up close the PPI number (points per inch) can sometimes assist in identifying a hand saw as a rip hand saw or cross-cut hand saw because rip saws usually have smaller teeth. But the shape of the tooth is the best identifier if you can inspect it in person.
In being self-employed, one day will greatly vary from the next, but generally, I start in the morning by dealing with in-town errands or head right to the shop if there are none. Once at the shop, there’s an e-mail check, then a brief glance at various websites to look for new developments related to our market and clientele. Then the real workday starts. I’ve got a bunch of notes regarding current projects taped next to my computer and will make a list for the day’s tasks by picking the highest priority items from the notes. The goal is to get that stuff accomplished by the end of the day. There are two of us in the shop, but we usually work on separate projects, so that’s why I have my own to-do list. Some days are spent on the computer designing or creating programs for the laser or CNC. Other times we’re doing runs of sunglasses or guitar parts which we sell wholesale to other businesses. In which case, I may be operating the laser or CNC. Despite the high-tech tooling, there’s still a lot of bench work to do, and that can involve cutting and fitting joints with chisels and hand planes. Besides that, there’s always plenty of rough lumber to mill since no project can begin until boards are flattened, surfaced and cut to dimension.
With two varieties, red and white, oak is known to be easy to work with and relatively strong. However, furniture makers often opt for white oak over red oak for its attractive figure and moisture-resistance. Depending on the kind needed, oak can probably be found at a local home center or a lumberyard for a bit pricier than other hardwoods.
Sound overwhelming? Then just start off focusing on Disston saws. The Disston saws were manufactured by the millions and are the easiest to find, and most are of exceptional quality, especially the below common models. Remember to buy pre 1940’s era vintage hand saws. Here are some ebay searches for wood saws. To ensure that you don’t over-pay, when you’re on ebay click “sold” to see what they’re selling before and to see which saws are desirable. It’s fun research: