At first glance, woodworking might seem like an intimidating and difficult craft to try your skills at, but once you understand the basics of woodworking, you can easily turn your dream projects into polished pieces of home decor. 

So to help you gain knowledge and confidence with woodworking, we’ve compiled a list of 5 easy DIY ideas for your home.   

But first, let’s look at a few fundamental things you should know about this fun and useful craft. 

What is Woodworking?

Woodworking is the skill of making items from wood. It’s a craft that involves a variety of tools like hammers and mallets, files, and grinding wheels,  and involves the use of more sophisticated instruments like saws, drills, screw guns, and angle grinders. 

The woodcraft can be divided into several categories like carving, woodturning, carpentry, joinery, and furniture-making with each demanding a different skill set.

woman creating woodworking project

Wood is a versatile material and there isn’t really a limit to the DIY projects you can use it for. Building a simple chopping board, a floating bookshelf, or delving into a more complex woodworking project like a doghouse, is easy when you are a skilled carpenter with infinite creative options.

To feel confident in your ability to finish your project, here are a few skills you need to research and practice before you begin your woodworking project.

Woodworking Skills for Beginners

To begin creating stunning pieces made of wood, you should first understand the different skills your DIY woodworking project will require you to have. Let’s begin: 

1. Drilling

Drilling holes will be a necessity for almost every woodworking project. A  mid-range priced cordless drill and a quality hole saw kit are good choices for beginners and performs well in drilling and screw tightening operations. 

man operating a power drill

Before you start drilling, make sure you’ve picked the right drill bits (they vary in size and application), steady your workplace, and start slow. Safety gear like gloves and glasses are a must.

2. Cutting

Your woodworking project will most likely involve cutting, which will require you to use some sort of a saw (jigsaw, circular saw, table saw, etc.) 

Hand saws, table saws and jigsaws are the most affordable and versatile types of cutting instruments and can be used in many different DIY projects. 

When you have to be very precise with your cutting lines a circular saw will be the better choice.  Those machines, however, should be operated by a skilled woodworker, so if you’re someone who has no previous experience it’s best to look for help from specialists.  

man operating a table saw

Using cutting instruments, in general, is a task that involves some degree of risk and needs to be taken very seriously. If you don’t feel comfortable cutting the wood for your project, you can simply take advantage of the wood-cutting services at your local wood-supply store. 

3. Choosing the Right Screws

Screws are essential in connecting the different pieces of wood and giving your woodworking project the desired structure.

They come in different sizes and shapes that can be quite confusing. As a beginner, you should dedicate time to learning the different types and how to best choose the ones for your project. 

screws and tools on table
  • Wood screws are characterized by an unthreaded shank, coarse pitch, and flatheads. They go in the wood super easily and sit flush against the wood as well. To secure a wood screw you will need a pilot hole which you can make using a drill bit before screwing it into the wood.
  • Drywall Screws are characterized by longer and rougher threads and can support heavier structures on your drywalls. 
  • Sheet Metal Screws are characterized by shorter size due to their use for securing elements into metal (which is much thinner than wood) They are self-tapping but still require a pilot hole. 
  • Machine Screws: come in different types and shapes but have higher strength than other screws and require the use of a bolt or a nut to be well secured. 

4. Sanding

A woodworking project is not complete until you’ve sanded your wood. The wood surface has to be smoothed out to prevent splinters and other sharp wood from getting in the way and potentially harming you.

There are different types of sanding paper and grinding tools that will help you polish and make your woodworking creation safe to use.

sanding wood
  • Hand sanders are manual and the simplest to use. Ideal for beginners, they only require a plate and a handle to attach your paper to and then sand until you get a smooth wood surface. 
  • Orbital sanders require sanding disks, work great for tight spaces, and can quickly polish any type of surface. 
  • Belt sanders are the most powerful and heavy-duty sanders. They work quickly and are best for large surface projects.

Pro Tip: As a beginner, you should keep in mind that when sanding, you should ensure to sand with the grain and not against it. That will help you create a smooth face while not leaving any scratches behind.

5. Painting & Finishing

To complete your woodworking project you should use wood care products like oils, primers, finishes, and paint. They protect the wood from the elements and add character to your pieces even when you are using natural wood for your home projects

When painting, you should first apply a primer. Primers help fill in the wood grains and create a smooth surface for the paint to stick to. Then you can move to paint. 

painting woodwork

There are two types of paints that are most commonly used. Which one you choose will depend on the type of project you will use it on.

  • Latex paint is water-based paint and is used for general applications. It’s easy to apply but also easy to remove if necessary- all you need is soap and water. 
  • Oil-based paint adheres to the surfaces better but removing it can be much harder.

Now that we’ve touched on the basic tools, and tasks that a DIY woodworking project involves let’s look at a few woodworking projects that you can tackle as a beginner in the craft.

5 DIY Woodworking Ideas for Your Home

Let’s begin with a really easy woodworking project that will help you build up confidence in your woodworking skills. 

1. Wooden Chopping Board & Serving Tray

Wooden Cutting Board Serving Tray

A truly useful and easy-to-make woodworking project you’ll be able to proudly display in your kitchen is the wooden chopping board.

Here’s how to make one. 

Tools:

Materials:

How to Make it:

Take your walnut strips and mark where your board curves will go. Drill ½ inc holes centered 3/4 in. in from the ends of the walnut strips. Clamp the walnut boards with the maple boards lightly, and scribe the arcs on the ends. 

Once you mark the curves take the boards out of the clamp, saw and sand the arcs on each board, and then glue the two 5 inch dowels and boards together, leaving the dowel handles unglued.

Finish up by sanding both sides and drilling a 1/4-in.-deep, 3/4-in.-diameter hole at each underside corner. Glue the feet and dowel handles, then wipe on a couple of coats of wood oil of your choice.

And that’s it! You’ve just made yourself a chopping board!

2. Wooden Shoe Organizer

Wooden Shoe Rack

This shoe storage organizer is a simple DIY project you can tackle over the weekend. 

Here’s how to make it.

Tools:

Materials:

How to Make it:

Start by clamping the ⅓ board to a scrap piece of wood and drill holes. Repeat in the second ⅓ board.  Move to screw the ⅓ boards to the 1×4 board. 

Then cut and drill your dowel supports and screw them to the 1×4 board. Space them so they have about 10 inches between one another. 

Nail or glue the dowels into the dowel supports, leaving 2 in. (or more) extending beyond the supports at the end to hang sandals or slippers.

Apply finish before you mount the organizer to the wall. Screw the shoe ladder to studs or use heavy-duty toggle-bolt style anchors to hold it in place.

And you’re done!

3. Portable Small Bench

Upholstered X-Bench

A stepping stool, that doubles as a bench is probably the best piece of furniture to have around the house. 

Here’s how to DIY one. 

Tools:

Materials:

How to Make it:

To make this portable bench all you need is 2 plywood boards and 18 screws. Follow the scheme from Family Handyman and you’ll be able to build this handy wooden step stool in no time!

4. Easy DIY Coat & Hat Rack

hidden hook coat rack

The entryway is the place in our homes we don’t really spend much time thinking about but pass through daily. 

So why not give your entryway a bit of personalized touch to make you stop on your way out to admire your woodworking skills!

Here are the materials and tools you’ll need. 

Tools:

Materials:

How to Make it:

Begin by cutting the board into 2 or 3 pieces of the same length. Paint each board and attach the hooks.

Then drill holes at the top, middle, and bottom of the boards and drive screws in each board. 

Place the boards where you want them, and press hard to mark the spots for your anchors. Screw your anchors into each marked spot and then attach the boards.

And you’re done!

5. Mid-Century Night Stand

blue nightstand

Let’s move the DIY into your bedroom! You can easily create a nightstand using nothing more than a plywood sheet, nails, and hairpin metal legs 

Here’s what you will need.

Tools:

Materials:

How to Make it:

Start by gluing the plywood sheets together to form a rectangular, drawer shape. Clamp and let the glue dry. Later hammer nails around the edges, where the sheets meet, to secure each panel in place.

Move to screw the hairpin nails, making sure your screws are not longer than the width of your plywood sheets, so they don’t poke through on the inner side of your drawer. The plywood is soft enough and you won’t have to drill pilot holes in advance. 

Once the legs are installed you are ready with your new DIY nightstand!  

On A Closing Note

Woodworking is a fun and useful skill to have.  Mastering the work with wood is not the easiest, but once you get creating you will find how gratifying it is to build something with your own hands. 

As any other skill woodworking has its learning curve and as a beginner, it’s important to start small. 

Dedicate enough time to learn the basics and only after that move to creating simple woodworking pieces that will help you build practical knowledge. Be smart and don’t rush into overcomplicated projects that can easily go wrong and discourage you from delving deeper into the craft. 

Start, slow, gather inspiration, and practice! Only this way you’ll become a master of woodworking artistry! 

Robert