How to Start Woodworking as a Hobby? — Learn the Basics of this Craft as a Beginner (2024)

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Starting woodworking as a hobby requires more than handling power tools or selecting a good piece of wood for your project. Learning its basics is crucial before you create furniture or starting a business out of it.

Before you start building, allow me to guide you through every stage and provide invaluable tips on how to kickstart your woodworking hobby.

What Is Woodworking?

Every woodworker must have a solid foundation in woodworking, including knowing where to begin and understanding the craft they are venturing into. It is essential to gain knowledge and expertise in various aspects of the craft to ensure success in the field.

In general, woodworking can be defined as a form of construction using different kinds of wood, accompanied by fine woodworking tools.

Contrary to the common misconception, new woodworkers necessarily don’t need thousands of dollars to start and begin woodworking.

garage turned into woodworking shop

Although some woodworking process like restoration takes time, there’s a reason why learning this is popular among home improvement enthusiasts. It brings a different kind of fulfillment that not anyone could explain—from the thrill of cutting a piece of wood and turning it into simple furniture.

Find Your Niche

Projects can range from easy furniture-making and home carpentry to complicated wood carving and turning. As I’ve learned over the years, mastering the skills to measure, cut, attach, and assemble takes time and patience.

However, there are a lot of design any woodworker can venture and learn, with the use of basic tools and simple materials like finding some scrap wood you can cut. 

It all depends on your desire to take it as an occasional hobby or turn it into a lucrative career. But is woodworking a profitable business? Find out next!

If you’re planning to create woodworking projects in the long-term, you can invest in specific set of tools to ensure a continuous and efficient construction process.

Learn the Basics

Basic Woodworking Techniques

sawing wood board with BLACK+DECKER 20V MAX

If you want to know how to get started with woodworking, nailing down the fundamental techniques is key. Trust me when we say that mastering these skills will help you produce better output according to your desired specifications and designs: 

Sawing

Most beginner woodworking projects include cutting materials into specific shapes and sizes. From my experience, it’s essential to grasp the techniques tailored to each tool you use.

Jointing

This woodworking technique is commonly used when joining two workpieces together. It requires glue or other adhesives to connect flat surfaces and joint angles. Jointing is one of the necessary skills you need to learn when you want to start woodworking.

Routing

You can execute this method using a router tool. This produces finished edges. I recommend it for creating furniture or cabinet grooves.

router on wooden surface

Planing

After you cut the material into your desired shape or size, the next method you must do is to smoothen its edges. Using planer equipment or a simple hand tool effectively removes any waste materials from the wood.

Sanding

This comes in handy in the finishing process, where you’ll use sandpaper to smooth wood surfaces. For best sanding results, I recommend using ones with medium grits. You can also consider an electric sander.

You Might Want Check Out: Best Sandblasters to Buy for Your Project

Drilling

This process involves drill drivers that create holes by driving bits and screws into the wood surface. It’s a basic technique for those who want to learn woodworking.

Gluing

It’s a process of connecting two pieces of wood materials to form a bigger layout or design. You’ll need to glue these workpieces firmly, or the joint won’t be as strong as the material. 

Lathing

This woodworking technique involves the use of lathe tools. It executes the wood-turning method and allows the tool mechanism to generate different shapes and forms. While you don’t necessarily need this technique right off the bat, I’ve found it to be a valuable skill to pick up over time.

setting up lathe

Finishing

After all the wood carving, cutting, and smoothing, the last process your workpiece needs to go through is finishing. This method includes applying a finishing product to protect the material’s surface. 

Basic Woodworking Terms

Workpiece

It’s the term woodworkers use when referring to the material you’re working on. 

Grain

You can use this term for the pattern seen on a piece. It’s a part of the material that’s unique and crucial for cutting.

Milling

It’s a method for cutting wood materials into a specific width and length.

milling black walnut

Crosscut

This term is a cutting technique that involves milling against the wood grain.

Rip Cut

It’s a cutting method that includes cutting with the grain. Saws with coarse teeth are ideal for this cut.

Square

The term relates to the wood’s edge angled at 90 degrees. You can refer to a workpiece as a square if its edges have 90-degree angles.

Swanson Tool Combo Square

Pilot Hole

A pre-drilled hole to ensure that the bits or screws are driven in the right location.

Proud

It’s a term for a protruding piece in the material’s face side. 

Reveal

It’s a term referring to the visible side of the workpiece.

Butt Joints

It’s the most basic joinery technique, where you press two wood pieces together and connect them using glue or screws to create a 90-degree angle.

Butt joint

Type and Dimensions of Wood

One of the most critical aspects of woodworking is making sure you’re using the right type of wood related on your design. There are ideal places where you can purchase wood for wood turning projects

Each piece varies in characteristics and sizes. Furthermore, woodworkers should know what wood to use to avoid warped pieces.

From softwoods like pine to hardwoods like mahogany and oak, the type you’ll use pretty much depend on what kind of product you intend to get out of this hobby. There are many sizes you can choose from depending on your project.

Even for professionals who consider woodworking as more than just a hobby, selecting wood for any project can never be easy. Although straight woods are more convenient to use than working than warped and bowed lumber, it takes competence to know how to tell them apart.

operating table saw

It’s also essential for woodworkers to know how to discern dimension expressions like 2×2, 1×1, and more. This way, you wouldn’t be confused when you purchase lumber suited for your woodworking project. 

We suggest looking up nominal and actual lumber sizes and wood-related terms for you to get the right measurements. 

Getting the proper dimension with quality woodworking squares also determines your output’s accuracy and will save you from unnecessary measurement miscalculations during the entire project construction.

Tape Measurements

Woodworkers who just got into woodworking tend to forget that measurements are one, if not the most, crucial step to consider when working with lumber. Some might think that using a tape measure is easy and simple, but it can be tricky.

If you’re still learning how to read the marks on a tape measure, we recommend getting the most basic type available. On its surface, one can see printed numbers that will indicate the measurements that could serve as a guide for your cuts[1].

Wood Joinery

When starting a woodworking project, one of the initial decisions I grapple with is the type of joints I’ll employ to piece my chosen material together. Over the years, I’ve experimented with a range of wood joinery techniques to achieve the precise result I’m after.

These step-by-step procedures need to be finalized before beginning the design. Doing so will establish the entire structure’s durability. Using many woodworking tools, a woodworker can get started in making various types of wood joints.

woodworking joints

It can range from basic ones like butt and dowel joints to complicated structures like through-dovetail and tongue-and-groove. Many people who are used to building furniture will find this easy, so I definitely encourage you to take your time to start in learning the craft if you are a beginner.

Finishing the Wood

Aside from making an accurate cut, wood sanding is one of many skills that require some time to execute. For instance, if you are making a workbench top, the wood’s surface needs to be smooth by sanding before declaring it ready for painting or staining.

For smaller lumber projects, hand sanding might be enough for beginners. You have the option to use a sanding machine or keep things clean with sandpaper. It doesn’t matter which one you decide to go for because both offer similar results. 

And although a belt sander can get the job done faster, you must learn how to operate it first. If you want to make it ultra-smooth, an orbital sander is an excellent option.

Acquire Essential Tools and Equipment

When it comes to gears to build well-made lumber masterpieces, there are two options you can go for. First, you can use a power tool, an essential requirement in any workshop, especially when dealing with labor-intensive projects.

Electrical-powered woodworking tools like a miter saw and drill equipment make the cutting operation more accurate. Although they can be intimidating and take some time to learn for beginners, these machines are handy for projects that need fast results.

woodworking cabinet for tools

If you’re unfamiliar with woodworking power tools, here is rundown of the basic ones you should know as a beginner:

Saws

As previously mentioned, I can’t stress enough the importance of having reliable saws. Given that most projects start with cutting various materials, especially wood boards, investing in the right saws—be it for curved or straight cuts—is a decision I’ve never regretted.

Blades

You should have blades suitable for the lumber cuts you want to execute. Sharpening your blades is something beginners should learn as well.

Planers

You can opt for electric-powered planers to remove excess wood quickly on larger surfaces. If not, the best hand planers are great options for making smaller wooden areas smoother. Hand planes are still pretty versatile, and can be helpful for smoothing and joinery.

Drills

You can choose between hand and powered drills depending on how massive the job is. Nevertheless, I suggest opting for a quality drill press if you intend to make deeper and bigger holes, as they require more force and power. 

power drill and wooden boards

Clamps

These are handy tools in the workshop if you want to get started with woodworking. They help keep things in the correct position to prevent inaccurate cuts or drills. 

Chisels

Chisels have a sharpened edge at the end of a metal blade, and they work best with a mallet or hammer to shape wood or remove extra wood. While some chisels are light and handy, mortise options are more effective when handling heavy-duty pieces. 

If you’re beginning woodworker, I recommend you try using manual hand tools like chisels and knives first. You could carve some spoons or bowls from stock wood. Remember, woodworking tools in your workshop don’t have to be electric-powered. Despite being more labor-inducing, tools like chisels and wood carving knives work effectively when used correctly.

(Other tools that you can consider are topnotch Japanese woodwork tools we picked here.) 

workbenches in a woodworking shop

Set Up a Workplace

Before starting with a woodworking hobby, it’s important to set up the space where you’ll be doing all the wood activities. The tools and equipment I brought into my workshop were largely influenced by the specific projects I had in mind. It’s essential to tailor your space to the tasks ahead.

You need to prepare things to keep yourself productive during construction. You could start your practice in your garage if you have the space.

Thus, I recommend carefully considering the tools and pieces of wood to work on, up to the available space where you’ll start the project. You need some hand tools, electric tools, wood boards to cut, nails, blade options, safety gear, and a stable work surface. Make sure to have a well-organized space for every item you have.

Preparing a conducive environment will make a hassle-free workshop where you can start building. Whether you’ll create simple projects, fun home crafts, or larger projects that require more advanced techniques, having a great place makes woodworking an extremely rewarding hobby.

(If you want to profit from woodworking, here are the proven ways to sell your woodworking projects)

Take Woodworking Classes

Woodworking is an activity that requires practice and skill. If you find yourself confused with all the work, you can take a step back and start enrolling in woodworking classes near you

Although many DIY enthusiasts encourage beginners to work independently, classes can be a good option for people looking for additional guidance and advice. 

There are well-instructed lessons where you can study how to operate tools like an orbital sander, hand plane, and a drill. You might also have a woodworking book that contains guides and plans. 

And if you’re interested in the woodwork of smaller crafts, woodturning and scroll saw lessons are great options to complete your skill set, too.

woodworking class

Aside from the many different types of tools, woodworking classes also tend to offer reliable guides about choosing the right type of wood and other essential items you’ll need for your project. 

It’s also a great way for beginners to be updated with the latest woodworking trends and to advance their skill level and craftsmanship as well.

Looking for fun woodworking plans, tips, and ideas? Check out the following: 

Easy Projects to Try

There is a bottomless list of fun projects you can try to craft using wood like high-quality pallet projects. For beginners, building a small table or a chair can make you get the gist of the entire woodworking process. 

If you’re slightly oriented in dealing with easy wood projects, you can try to make hardwood cabinets or plywood chairs. 

These projects are relatively easy and make a good woodworking project idea for your home, but it requires constant wood measurement before you cut your board, which is a good practice if you want to make woodworking a regular hobby.

FAQ

How do I get started in woodworking?

To get started with woodworking, make sure that you have the basic requirements laid down ahead of time. From the right type of wood to suitable tools, you need to determine everything based on your project demands. 

If you feel like you need additional help, you can try joining woodworking classes. 

Interesting Read: Beautiful Chainsaw Man Tattoo Ideas 

How much does it cost to start woodworking?

Starting woodworking project can cost from a hundred to a thousand dollars; it depends on the specifications you intend to achieve with your output. 

If you have thoughts of doing this for a long time and venturing into your own woodworking business, then investing in power tools can help you in the long run.

Conclusion

Dealing with several different types of wood and different tools can be quite challenging, but it also gives you a chance to nurture your creativity and love for craft-making. There are many ways to discover how to start a woodworking hobby. 

Who knows, you may be interested in turning your passion for woodwork into a source of supplemental income as well. With the right resources and skills, carpentry could definitely be an opportunity to make money while working in your house.

However, suppose you find yourself stuck to make the first project you have in mind, you can always seek assistance through different woodworking classes and resources. Having a tutor can help you sharpen your focus and develop woodworking techniques that can help you create better wooden pieces.

robert headshot

Robert Johnson is a passionate furniture maker & carpenter, sought after for his knowledge on the craft.
You’ve probably seen his down-to-earth wisdom in USA Today, Bobvila, Family Handyman, and The Spruce, where he has shared commentary and guidance on various woodworking topics.

Robert is the brain behind Sawinery, where he aims to share tips, tricks, and a passion for all things carpentry.

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