Whether you’re just starting out in woodworking or you’re an experienced craftsman, there’s a good chance that you can benefit from a few extra woodworking tips. These bits of information won’t teach you whole new techniques or make you a master, but they can help make your shop more efficient or help speed along that next project. Here are a few very useful tips to help you be a better woodworker.
Beginner Woodworking Tips
Avoid the temptation to stock up. One of the biggest mistakes that new woodworkers make is trying to do too much. Many people are interested in a wide range of subjects, and it’s certainly appealing to turn out only large, impressive projects. Unfortunately, trying to do it all at once usually results in a messy shop that’s not well-organized. Take some time to think about your primary interests and your skill level. Stock and arrange your shop accordingly; you can always pick up special tools or materials as you need them.
Stay safe at all times. Many beginners neglect their safety equipment and procedures, especially once they make a project or two. It’s easy to rely on luck too often. If you find that your goggles, earplugs or other safety equipment spend a lot of time buried, take some time to put them somewhere obvious and easy to reach. Don’t neglect your first aid kit and fire extinguisher. Even if you’ve been lucky and avoided accidents so far, one might crop up suddenly.
Know your materials. Beginners often feel that they can substitute cheaper lumber for the materials their shed plans, shelving diagrams or other instructions require. In some projects, the exact wood doesn’t matter, but the dimensions and performance do. In others, you won’t be able to make any substitutions at all without affecting the final project. Don’t make the mistake of believing that you can produce everything in yellow pine.
Advanced Woodworking Tips
Make your own paste wax. Producing your own materials might seem arcane and intimidating, but it’s actually relatively simple. It also allows you to save some money and more tightly control your projects. You can make paste wax of your own with 1 part carnauba wax, 4 parts beeswax, turpentine and a tube of universal tinting color. Simply melt the waxes together and add enough turpentine to cover. Mix thoroughly and add the tinting color, then allow the recipe to cool.
Dip your push sticks. These simple pieces of wood are important for shop safety, but many of them slip against wood surfaces. To make your push sticks even more effective, dip the tips in a liquid coating designed for tool handles. Apply several coats to create a slightly tacky surface that won’t slide off your projects.
Use proper lighting. Too many woodworking shops are dim or even dark, with just one or two overhead lights. These kinds of conditions can make it difficult to see what you’re doing. If you need to repair a ding or dent in a nearly-finished piece, bad lighting can result in poor color mixing. Use bright lights with a balanced color temperature to prevent a blue or red cast that makes finishes and stains hard to apply properly.
These aren’t the only woodworking tips out there. Magazines, websites and fellow woodworkers can offer a wide range of help that’ll make your shop better and easier to work in. Take some time to think about how you work and what could make your process simpler. It’s amazing what a few changes can do.