🪵 Woodworking

Updated at 2022-10-06 09:09

A good woodworking workshop power tool setup: a handheld circular saw and a handheld disc sander. They take little space and allow you to do a lot.

The next important big tools are maybe a drill press and a finishing sander. It depends a lot what of projects are you making. After those, you probably want to go maybe for a planer, a band saw, a brad nail gun, a table saw, a scroll saw, a router etc.

Note that orbital (disc) sander hides wood grains so you might want a belt sander.

The two types of wood; softwoods and hardwoods.

  • Softwoods are e.g. pine, fir, spruce, cedar, redwood.
  • Hardwoods are e.g. oak, maple, cherry, walnut, balsa.

Hardwood comes from deciduous trees. Hardwood is usually harder, but not always e.g. balsa is rather soft hardwood.

Softwood comes from evergreen trees. Softwood is usually softer, but not always e.g. yellow pine is rather hard softwood.

If you want to know specific hardness of wood, Google for the "Janka rating".

  • Softer wood is easier to work with and should be your go-to choice for small things.
  • Harder wood is tougher to work with but the last longer and has more strength.
  • Veneer is a thin slice of wood, usually thinner than 3 mm.
  • Plywood is made made by gluing from three to nine layers of veneer together. Plywood is generally used as a shortcut to create large flat surfaces.
  • Hardboard is made by pressing wood fibers under heat. Useful for fine detail things that still need strength as does not splinter.
  • MDF (Medium Density Fiberboard) is made from saw dust and resins. Heavy but not very strong.


  • Butt Joint: just glue the two pieces together
  • Biscuit Joint: reinforce a butt joint with "a wooden biscuit" glued into slots in each piece
  • Dowel Joint: reinforce a butt joint with round wooden pegs or dowels
  • Miter Joint: a butt joint but piece ends are cut into 45 degree angle
  • Lap Joint: cut away half of the thickness of each piece and then glue together

Get the largest lumber you can transport, cut and otherwise use by yourself. The larger planks have less knots. For example, 2x4" planks frequently have more knots because they are made from younger trees. Freshly cut planks might also not be dry enough for use right away so you'll have to dry them yourself.

Some lumber like most softwood shrink a bit when they dry. For example, 2" x 4" can become 1 1/2" x 3 1/2".

You can use putties to fill small holes. If you are not going to paint the wood, make sure to use matching wood putty.

You can also use sawdust mixed with PVA glue to similar effect.

Sand with the wood grain. See the lines on the wood? Sand along those lines, not across them. This prevents scratches and keeps the grains visible.

  • on rough wood, start with 80 grit sandpaper
  • on smooth wood, start with anything between 120 and 150 grit sandpaper
  • finish with 220 grit sandpaper
  • wipe the surfaces with a rag to remove excess dust

Hobby store acrylic paints are good for smaller projects. For larger projects, check what your hardware store has to offer. In both cases, remember to seal the painting.

If the project is a children's toy, use a kid safe finish like a water-based polyurethane. Technically finishes are only toxic before drying, though.


  • Woodworking Projects for Women by Linda Henry