Here’s an old woodworking adage I enjoy ignoring: “measure twice, cut once.” Honestly, I measure nonce and cut thrice. I often eyeball it. I use pieces I’ve already cut to measure what I need to cut. It’s not a great habit, but I prefer it to measuring everything. And the results usually aren’t that different. At least that’s what I tell myself. I ended up having to sand down the ends of the 2×12’s running the length of the table (where they meet the aprons) because they weren’t exactly the same length.
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.
If you want your table top -- any table top -- to actually ast without bowing/cupping/twisting, you MUST attach it in a manner that allows for seasonal wood movement. Wood is an organic product, and it naturally expands and contracts with changes in temperature and humidity. I'll post link below to a couple of options that you can cheaply buy which will allow you to securely attach a tabletop while still giving the wood the flexibility to move with the seasons. When you buy decently-made furniture at a store, they all accommodate for this one way or another. Don't just screw the top down to the legs or the skirt...you'll regret it later on.
Probably the handiest shop accessory in this list would be the woodworker's bench, complete with a vise. The bench is a stable-based table with a thick, hardwood top. In the top are a series of holes that are designed to accommodate bench dogs, which are little more than pegs that can be moved from hole to hole as necessary. The end of the bench has the aforementioned vise that works in concert with the bench dogs to hold pieces steady for the woodworker.
Cedar Mini Decorative Planters/Boxes Using Interlocking Dovetail Joints Having a cedar mill within an hour of my shop allows me to work with some very nice wood. While cedar can be brittle, it is wonderful to work with and makes putting these decorative boxes together a breeze. When working with cedar I am always looking for pieces that have what is known as “heartwood”. This is the red portion of the wood. When first planed or sanded, this heartwood is almost pink in color but takes polyurethane or spar finish well giving a vibrant dark red when applied. If left untreated, cedar will turn gray in direct sunlight and a dull red color from normal household light. These boxes have been treated with a wiping polyurethane mix that allows me to apply it with a cotton rag instead of a brush. It’s faster to apply, doesn’t run and dries fast enough to apply two coats in a day. So applying 5-6 coats only takes 2-3 days to accomplish. I assembled the boxes using a dovetail joint which provides both strength and decorative at the same time. A fan shaped tenon that forms a tight interlocking joint when fitted into a corresponding mortise. The dovetails on these boxes are shown on the length of the box and not the end where the handles are located. I use a dovetail jig and a router to make these joints which is more efficient. Depending on how the client will use the box I may or may not drill two holes in the bottom of the box. If they are built to be used as outside planters then I drill 2, half inch holes in the bottom for water to drain. If they are to be used inside as a table center piece or fireplace mantle decorative box, then I do not drill the hole. In the end they are strong, durable and beautiful no matter how they are used.
Here’s another example of a stenciled tabletop. Remarkably, this table was destined for the dump when Pretty Handy Girl pulled it from a dumpster. With a stencil, primer and paint, some distressing, glazing and sealing, she gave this beauty a second life – one in which it looks like it came directly from old world Scandinavia. // Pretty Handy Girl
I used a dry brush, barely dipped it in paint, and then lightly brushed it over the wood. If you get too much coverage with the paint, sandpaper is your best friend! You can stain the wood if you want a darker look peeking out from underneath. Check out the stain in this DIY post, it’s a great way to get that aged look quickly: http://www.jasonandshawnda.com/foodiebride/archives/11310
It’s important to have an understanding of wood when building DIY furniture projects. Not just how to cut, and assemble with wood but also to understand how it works. In Mistakes with Wood Can Cause Your DIY Furniture to Crack we talked about how wood is hygroscopic. Simply put, hygroscopic means it absorbs moisture from the air. Seasonal changes cause wood to absorb and release moisture.
Using pocket holes to attach the stool base to the stool top prevents the top from moving during seasonal changes. It’s also not a good idea to drive screws through the edge of the apron into the table top. Over time the top could crack or the top could have enough force to push or pull the joints of the base apart. Skate over to Mistakes with Wood Can Cause Your DIY Furniture to Crack to see more about how I incorrectly attached the top on the stool.
I started by doing some searches around the ol’ internet to find other folks who’ve built their own tables. Using the images and information I found, I started drawing up plans. My table is approximately 6’x44″x31″ (LxWxH). You may find different dimensions work better for you (31″ is pretty tall)–so make your plans however you like. I also built leaves that make the table 8.5’ long.
To corral shelf-dwelling books or DVDs that like to wander, cut 3/4-in.-thick hardwood pieces into 6-in. x 6-in. squares. Use a band saw or jigsaw to cut a slot along one edge (with the grain) that’s a smidgen wider than the shelf thickness. Stop the notch 3/4 in. from the other edge. Finish the bookend and slide it on the shelf. Want to build the shelves, too? We’ve got complete plans for great-looking shelves here.
Manufacturers that produce woodworking tools and materials have got into the content creation game, too, and some will share woodworking plans online. Minwax and Ryobi, for example, provides their plans free of charge, and Rockler offers their woodworking plans for a fee. Seek them out along with the other blogs and you’ll have a handy list of resources you can turn to for any project.
Family Projects I was given the opportunity to build the ring bearer box for the up coming wedding of my niece. She provided me with a picture from Pinterest for an example. I said no problem. Materials Made from white oak I milled the lumber using my @ridgidtools planer and sanded it using my SuperMax tools drum sander. Then I stained it with Minwax espresso stain and finished with multiple coats of poly. To make it even more customized I used red cedar to make the first letter of the bride and groom’s names for the inside lid of the box. Project Ideas Most of my custom projects are the result of people presenting several photos of different pieces that they want combined to fit their specific need. One might show the size or depth, one might have a particular style they like, and one photo might show the wood stain they prefer. I take the time to build the plans in my drawing program and present the “new” piece to my clients for approval. It’s a great way to build just what my customers need for their home and having photos cuts down on the guesswork. Let me know if you have something you’d like built by using this form, I’d be happy to provide a free quote for you. Now it’s time to get back to the shop and make some sawdust! Disclaimer: We are now featuring affiliate links to help us fund this website. It does not cost you anything to click on the links. Thank you!
The engineering involved in building this garden bench is pretty simple, and we have provided some links to get a full cut list and plans with photos to help you along the way. Additionally, to the stock lumber, you will need wood screws, barrel locks, and hinges to complete the table. A miter saw or hand saw is also extremely helpful for cutting down your stock to the correct angle and length.
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There was a big crowd, rocking music, and a lot of excitement over the Extreme Post-it Notes at the 3M booth at the 2018 International Builders Show. Apparently these things stick to wood, hot stuff, cold stuff, wet stuff, brick, metal, plastic pipes, ladders, stair treads, flooring, the side of a truck, copper, tools, siding, co-workers, concrete, tile, drywall, asphalt, house wrap, light fixtures, switches, cabinets, leather belts, windows…well, you get the idea. Post-it Extreme Notes will be available at major retailers beginning in March 2018.
Whether you are just getting started or you simply want to hone your wood work skills, you can locate many online sources that can be extremely helpful. Online plan collections are gaining popularity and enthusiastic builders are keen to improve their skills in a convenient way, given the busy lifestyles we often find ourselves leading with a lack of time and ideas. Thanks to the people who have organized plans with technology and the internet, it is now possible to find a huge variety of woodworking projects online from the comfort of your shop or livingroom. Some of the finest guides on the net can help you become an expert woodworker surprisingly quickly, you just have to work at it.
If you bought this superb polished table in a store, it would cost you a fortune, but our detailed instructions will help you make one for less than $100. And it looks like highly polished stone, but no-one would know it’s actually made from concrete with a wooden base. Also, you can embellish the top with leaf prints, like the table shown here, or personalize it with glass or mosaic tiles or imprints of seashells.
Consider building your tabletop out of boards about 6" wide (1x6 or 2x6), or close in size (I use x4 and x8 boards on occasion). If you go smaller, you'll be adding more joints, which means more pocket holes and more sanding. If you go with a wider board, the board itself may cup over time, creating high and low points on your tabletop. I personally find x6 boards to be that happy medium.