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Small Woodworking Projects for Quick and Basic DIYs in 2020

For newcomers to the woodworking world, starting with small projects could help you get a firm footing and learn the basics without taking on too much. Small projects doesn’t necessarily mean the size of the finished product, even though they mostly correlate. Small we mean not only in size but also in time and effort needed. 

Some small woodwork projects can be done within a few hours yet last many good long years. A few examples of small wood projects include a table, tray, shelf, photo frame, and maybe even a phone stand. We will not only equip you with some ideas but also the plans to complete your dream project.

Top 7 Small Woodworking Projects – Reviews & Buyer’s Guide

1 – Building Small Projects: The New Best of Fine Woodworking

The secret to building successful small projects are contained within this book. Not only do you get the instructions you are looking for, but also the skills needed to complete other small projects of your choice.

There is a little something in this book for everyone. From novice to expert, you can find a little tidbit of information or a treasure trove. Each project has visual references to guarantee you know exactly what to do.

In this book’s case, small doesn’t mean easy, as it refers to the size of the projects. I don’t know about you, but I love a good challenge! This is also where the illustrated instructions and plans come in handy.

Build your way into a DIY home of your own handmade wine bottle racks, shelves, and any other wooden pieces you can piece together with scrap wood.

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2 – Small Woodworking Projects: (Best of Fine Woodworking)

If a challenge isn’t what you are looking for, and what you want is a quick finish idea using simple materials, then read this wonderful paperback!

The designs aren’t intimidating for even beginners, and the easy projects come straight out of Fine Woodworking, which just happens to be America’s best woodworking magazine! For beginners, you can start from scratch and learn how to cut and DIY simple projects.

For the more advanced woodworkers with lots of scrap wood left over from other projects, you can find creative ideas on how to utilize these stray pieces.

Learn from the experts and realize that you don’t necessarily need formal training. All you need is the techniques and skills embedded in these pages with detailed illustrations and photographs. The experience you can build on from this simple book is priceless.

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3 – Kraftic DIY Deluxe Carpentry Woodworking Kit with 6 Projects

If you like crafts, this carpentry kit is a good choice. Though it’s woodworking meant for kids, this little woodworking kit will get anyone started on the basic concepts of woodworking. Your purchase includes all the material you need, including everything from pieces of wood to glue. 

While it does come with glue, the real work and building is done with a hammer and nails, which are also included with your purchase. 

With the detailed instructions, you can expect to breeze through the six items and gain the experience you need to move on to bigger and more complicated designs.

You even have the option of trying to figure out your own plans with the leftover pieces of wood.

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4 – One-Board Woodworking Projects

This amazing paperback is something we really recommend with a passion! Lots of woodworkers end up having scrap wood and pieces of plywood lying around gathering dust, or worse – going to waste. If you like wood projects and other wooden items you can DIY, this is the perfect solution!

As you can see from the cover, all you need is ONE board to create a beautiful woodworking project. Projects with wood do not need a ton of tools and time

Everything is clearly illustrated with each item designed for either a novice woodworker or a real master. Add more to your existing wealth of knowledge, as DIY skills are something you can always keep developing.

In this book you will find 20 woodworkers projects that add a touch of personality to your garden, home or office!

What’s more, the book also covers the latest in safety precautions and tools to use.

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5 – Robotime 3D Wooden Treasure Box Puzzle

This is a slightly tougher option, meant for kids 14 years old and above all the way to adults! It looks like a very elaborate design, but it’s not as difficult as you think. Looking for a hands-on DIY option? Then look no further.

The interlocking and precise mechanisms are what make this an ingenious design. The whole 3D puzzle can be put together without any tools or glue. It’s more of a brain teaser and doesn’t require any cutting as all the wooden pieces are sanded down, and detailed for you.

With laser cutting, the pieces are easily removed from the plywood and fits together smoothly and seamlessly. It’s a great brain teaser that can end up holding a lot of “treasure” inside!

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6 – Beavercraft, Wood Carving Kit Comfort Bird DIY

In movies, you commonly see retired seniors sitting on their front porch whittling and carving away, and they end up with a small comfort bird in the palm of their hand.

This is a DIY whittling/carving kit for beginners complete with everything you need. You might be wondering why they are called “comfort birds”. Their reputation precedes them, as these little birds are used to treat anxiety and trauma. Having them fit in the palm of your hand significantly calms those who are affected down immensely.

If you have just entered the woodworking world, these smaller wooden projects are much easier than anything that might go in your kitchen. The kit comes complete with a whittling knife, polishing and finishing supplies as well as a detailed video containing instructions and plans. Other services offer this as well, including WWGOA, which we discussed in our Woodworkers Guild of America review.

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7 – Beavercraft, Beginners Wood Carving Whittling Kit

From the same brand, when you have mastered the easier lines of the comfort bird, perhaps something with a tad more detail is next up on your list. The little wizard requires not only shaping and whittling, but some carving as well.

This kit also comes with everything you need, which includes the block of wood and the tools. There are even free patterns, or you could look on Pinterest for other ideas. Wooden projects don’t have to require hammers, screws and glue.

The step-by-step DIY guide will be given to you separately, so don’t be alarmed if you don’t spot it in the box.

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What is a Good First Woodworking Project?

Here is where we provide you with more woodworking ideas. Have you gone through all the kits and books you deem necessary and are ready to move on to bigger and better things? Well, our ideas below aren’t bigger or better, they are still small, but the difficulty may increase. We have decided to look for some smaller projects in terms of size and time needed, but are still useful to have around the house.

Recycled Key Hooks

You can recycle an old block of wood and old keys. All you need to make this work are a few old keys (however many hooks you want), and a wood pallet. You can find many lying around the park, or if you are a woodworker, we’re sure you have some sitting in the back of your workshop.

By bending the keys and nailing them through the hole onto the wood plank, it’s almost unfair to call this a woodworking project with how simple it is. You can use these old keys to hang your new keys, or anything you need to grab-and-go.

Simple yet ingenious, we love this idea!

Wooden Serving Tray

We’ve seen this item suggested on several other sites, since all it is is a few pieces of wood nailed together, but Cut the Wood adds a special touch with rope handles. You can also feel free to add any special touches you like, or perhaps a colored finish. 

The wooden serving tray will go nicely in any kitchen, adding a rustic touch in a modern interior. You can even translate the skills you learned from the books above the kits and create a special design on the exterior. It doesn’t get simpler than this!

Wooden Boxes

This should have been at the top of our list in terms of popularity. When asked what a simple project is like, a geometric shape often pops into mind. After all, it’s just wood panels nailed together into the shape you want. The reason it’s third on our list is the precision it takes to get it right.

However, if you manage to find some plans online, it could look nice in your office as a pen holder, or in your kitchen holding your spatulas.

Stools

Stools are also quite handy to have around the house, especially if there are lots of high cupboards and shelves you find it difficult to reach. Not only that, but they could be used as ottomans and little chairs to have around the house.

The skills required to build this is similar to a box, except instead of different sides, you add pegs or legs to the wood plank. With some tweaking in measurement and height, the step stool idea could even turn into a kitchen table or an end table. We’d recommend you brush up on your skills first before you put the finished product to work.

Shelf

A shelf may not be small in size (although it could be) but the project is considered small due to the level of complication. If you have perfected the box, then you have the necessary knowledge to create what is essentially a larger box.

Build the perimeter of the shelf and just add planks in between. Some great methods to make it one of a kind could be the placement of the planks and wood pieces in between. Make it uneven for a kooky yet interesting design.

Shelves are needed in the kitchen, bedroom, bathroom, all over your house. So a little bit of work goes a long way in this case.

Wooden Organizer for Pens, etc.

There are a lot of best ideas in terms of making a design even more simple than the original. We’re sure you must have seen crayon holders on the internet that look complicated due to a holed surface to hold the crayons in place. Why not just take a plain chunk of wood from a tree trunk or thick branch and drill holes in it?

It’s a simple design that looks raw (due to the untreated wood) that looks great and does the job right.

The hardest part of this project may just be the tools and material needed to create it rather than the skill set.

Bookends

Bookends are not only created for books, but they can keep anything from falling off the edge of your shelf. They are also something you can exercise a lot of creativity on. Bookends can be simple L-shaped pieces of wood, or they can be in the form of letters, flowers, and anything you can think of!

As long as there is a little protruding platform to fit under the items on the shelf, the sky is the limit in terms of design. To illustrate and liven up the end product, you can also think about coloring and putting on a nice finish.

Coasters

We love the wooden coaster idea. It’s also exceedingly simple, just take pallets of wood and cut circles (or any shape you prefer) out of it, or take a thick branch or thin tree trunk (maybe what’s leftover from your pen organizer) and cut circular pieces. 

You could in theory be finished after the above step, but most people want the piece to have a polished look. In that case, you may again invoke you skills of carving and whittling and etch a design into the wood, or sand a color it to your heart’s desire. To make it more waterproof against the water rings, apply a nice coat of sealer afterwards.

Phone or Tablet Stand

It also doubles as a book holder as well. All that goes into the design are pieces of wood, with one with a large enough surface to hold your tablet, phone or book. It’s hard to watch your favorite shows with your mobile device laying flat on the counter. You would have to walk over just to see what’s happening on the screen. By having it lay against your slanted holder, you can get a clear view of the screen from almost every angle in the room.

It could even hold your book if you need both hands while eating (assuming books are allowed at your dinner table). Two hands are always better than one or none when work needs to be done around the house. A nice phone, tablet or book stand is a great way to keep your hands free.

Address/Name Sign

Some homeowners have their last name painted on their mailboxes (or maybe that is very old school and not something we see anymore). You can up the game by putting your surname on a handmade wooden sign out in your garden.

It’s also incredibly simple and could be done with recycled pieces of wood. It requires one plank with a wider surface and one used as the stem. For all these projects, remember to sand down the edges to avoid splinters. 

For the last step, add the number of your house or letters of your surname onto the sign. You can purchase ready-made numerals and alphabet letters at the home hardware store or paint it on. Then apply a weatherproof finish and you’re done!

Handy Tools for Every Woodworker Needs

In this section, we are covering tools that a good woodworker (or a beginner) would need. We won’t be covering heavy machinery, just tools you can find at your local hardware store.

A Workbench

This may be a given, unless you were planning to work off the floor? It doesn’t have to be a professional workbench if you are looking to be a hobbyist, just some sort of stable surface to work on for shaping, assembly and leaning. 

Card Scraper and Sand Paper

Have you tried sanding down through the bark? Assuming there is still bark on your piece of wood. A card scraper can effectively scrape off the tough surface of your plank and leave a fresh and relatively smooth layer that only needs a bit of sanding, leaving the rest of the job for the sand paper.

Detail File

This kind of looks like a nail file, and is used to file down smaller areas like the ridges of a project. There are different levels of texture which gives you more freedom.

Claw Hammer

This may not only be an essential tool for the woodworker, but it’s also a very vital tool to have around the house. Find one that is well balanced with a rounded head, as the waffle-head hammer will leave those marks in the wood. Find one made of steel with a rubber grip for comfort. One at about 20 ounces is the best balance for force and handling.

Tape Measure

This is also essential in the household. Even when you are buying and not making your own furniture, getting the precise measurements is critical. A tape measure will help you measure the right size and shape of wood you need to complete your project.

Utility Knife

You might be surprised by how many of these tools you already own. The utility knife is useful to get you out of a bind, and to open parcels and other things. For a woodworker however, the utility knife is used for cleaning out joints and to scribe wood.

Chisel

You may have a rudimentary one that comes in one of the kits above. Yes, they are essential for carving, but they can also perform the tasks a utility knife can. Hopefully the chisel included in your kit is built for heavy duty carving. If not, you should look for one made of carbon or alloyed steel for durability. Look for one with a hardwood grip or something equally tough but nothing soft so it handles the thumps of the hammer.

Screwdriver

Hopefully one that comes with interchangeable heads. Wagner Meters provides more detail on the type of screwdrivers you should have in your arsenal.

Nails

You can’t put anything that lasts together without nails! Having several sizes of nails will play to your advantage. 

Power Drill

The power drill is a key tool to drilling holes in whatever you are building. Many people like cordless options nowadays but it’s worth it to note the corded options have more features.

Jigsaw

A jigsaw is important and allows a woodworker to cut curved and circular lines and is relatively safe to use.

Woodworking Safety

To be honest, you don’t get to end up with an impressive product without getting a few cuts and scrapes here and there. But you can minimize that by taking the proper safety precautions.

Always Wear Safety Gear

Even if you possess safety gear, many people go without it for small and easy jobs. However, even small and easy jobs have some risk. Gloves and safety glasses are two of the most crucial pieces of safety gear to have and wear at all times. 

Your Clothes

No loose or baggy clothes please, as they can often get caught in machinery. Even if you don’t operate heavy machines and power tools, it’s still a good rule of thumb to follow. 

Minimize Distractions

Blasting music is alright in most cases, but try not to be doing something that may take away your focus, such as playing a TV show on Netflix, or talking on the phone.

Do Not Use Dull Tools

Dull tools are dangerous in the workshop the same way a dull knife is in the kitchen. It lacks precision and requires more effort to tear through the material. You will need to exert more energy in working the tools and they could snap or kick back. The finished project will also look much smoother and refined with sharper tools.

Not Too Many Cords

Too many cords in your workspace could present itself as a tripping hazard. Since you need to turn off a tool when switching blades and to other tools, it also minimizes confusion.

Switch Off the Tools

As already mentioned, turn off one tool before turning on the next, and definitely before you switch blades and bits on the power tools.

Conclusion

Smaller projects are important because they let you practice the basics. Smaller doesn’t always mean easier, although at times it can. Look through the books for easy instructions and ideas on simpler projects, and try some hands-on kits to practice your acquired knowledge. When you are good and ready, you will be able to find and source materials yourself for any project of your choosing (you can look through our list for ideas). Once you have everything you need, don’t forget the safety precautions, you can then attempt your next big undertaking. Woodworking can be a fun and rewarding pastime that yields great results and is fun for the whole family!

Robert

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