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.
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.
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.
To save money, we keep the temp in our shop down low when we’re not in it and crank up the heat when we return. But even when the air temperature hits 70 degrees F, the concrete floor is still Minnesota-cold. We tried a space heater under the bench, but it broiled the shins and still left us with cold feet. So we recently bought a foot-warming mat, and now our feet stay toasty warm. Plus, it uses a fraction of the electricity and is a lot safer than a space heater. The mat is produced by Cozy Products. The good folks over at Cozy suggest putting a chunk of cardboard underneath it if you use it on flooring that could fade from the heat, like carpet or wood.
You can also use Google image search to research a project. Unlike the PDF search, the image search provides a photo of what the project will look like, which is helpful in determining if you want to pursue building it. By doing an image search for how to build a step stool, you will have a ton of options that all lead to woodworking plans of various quality. (The how to part of these is important—otherwise you’ll just get pictures of step stools.)
Just a little nitpick on the tape measure blurb. The hook should not be completely tight. It should move in and out about a 1/16th or the thickness of the hook. This way you get an accurate measurement whether you hook a part to measure or bump up to it. If you want more accurate measurements with a tape measure, “burn” an inch instead of hooking or bumping the part. Just line up what you want to measure with the 1″ mark and subtract that inch from the final measurement.
Hi Mitchell – Thank you for the heads up… I thought I mentioned that in that in the post, but you’re right, I didn’t. Yes, wood expands across its width, so in order to allow for expansion/contraction there should be a small gap where the edges of the boards meet the apron. You don’t need a gap where the ends of the board meet the apron because wood doesn’t really expand/contract in this direction.
This could quite possibly be the best tool on this list! Have you ever tried to get your drill in a tight spot where you absolutely had to use it and just couldn’t? Holy Moly has this happened to me like 100 times. Almost nothing is more frustrating! With this flex shaft, you can bend around corners and fit into impossibly tight spaces like a knife through hot butter! Buy this thing!!!!
This continuous absorption and releasing of moisture causes the wood to swell and shrink. This swelling and shrinking causes the wood to move and this movement causes issues. When it’s more humid, the moisture in the air is absorbed and the wood swells. The swelling actually has enough force to push and pull joints apart. Worse yet, if the wood is joined incorrectly it can cause the wood to crack and split.
Online plans can be easy, helpful, and can save you time and money if you put in the effort to usethem. But if you buy plans one by one, you might speed a lot of time organizing and searching for things to build as well as having to decipher different plan formats. You might learn a technique or two or improve your skills slightly, but you’ll forget everything by the time you go to find another plan. With organized lessons, however, you can always find the plans or instructions again easily, and come up with even more ideas of projects to build. Downloadable woodworking courses can save you money as well.
Even with the most careful glue-up job, there will be at least a little board-to-board misalignment when your tabletop comes out of the clamps. This is where cross-grain sanding helps. With an 80-grit abrasive in your belt sander, level your tabletop by working across the grain instead of parallel to it. This removes wood more quickly, making it easier to create flat results. Move to parallel-grain sanding with the 80-grit belt when all joints are flat, then switch to 120- and 180-grit belts, also run parallel to the grain.