15 useful tips for the woodworkers who just started this path
If you are excited to learn more about woodworking and start developing in this sphere, you probably won’t regret it as you will learn a lot. The more you are trying, the more you are gaining knowledge and experience - the better results you get. But there is one nuance: it is essential to do everything very carefully, otherwise, the results may be not very professional for a long time and, besides, you may get an injury. So here are 15 tips that will help you to avoid injuries and make the start of your new woodworking hobby or even career more effective.
1. Make sure you don’t cut yourself accidentally
Staying out of injuries should always be a priority for many workers, but it’s especially so for those who work with blades. When you are a beginner in woodworking you may be not very good at holding and cutting some irregular or tiny parts so you can easily injure yourself. To avoid it, just attach such an uncomfortable piece to a wood scrap by using a double-ended screw. Make sure that you are attaching it straight and that your fingers are not anywhere close to the blade.
2. Understand the difference between dimensions
This thing may surprise you at first but real wood dimensions are not exactly what is written. For example, you may find wood boards that have 2x4 size but when you get them you realize they are 1,5x3,5. The same goes for the ones that are 4x4 although, in fact, they are not. It is a woodworking feature: written dimensions show beautiful numbers, although in the reality the size is different. It can be considered as a weird tradition but finally, the trial made board producers write real dimensions and classic dimensions on the package. It is very useful for the woodworkers as they can see the picture clearly, although beginners can be confused why there are 2 dimension types mentioned.
3. Learn how to find out the dimensions of something of the weird width
It may be so that you will need accurate dimensions of your pieces to create something perfect, so all the 5/8 or 7/8 weird dimensions that you may see during building will piss you off. That is why you should divide the dimensions as it will solve the problem. However, you probably don’t really want to divide fractions, so to avoid that you can just locate the tape with a specific angle across the piece you are working on to divide the dimensions.
4. Create your own mixing surface
Usually, when woodworkers realize they require some epoxy, they are searching for a container that will be suitable for this. However, you can find an easier solution: you can create a mixing surface in front of you and all you need to have is a painter's tape. So here is what you should do. Just put the parts of this tape close to each other covering the whole bench and make sure there is no epoxy on the bench. And when the work is done, simply remove the tape and put it into the trash. By the way, it is a useful tip not just for epoxy but also for glue and other materials you may use.
5. Use a spray bottle to stain difficult places
If you are just starting your path, it may be very challenging for you to stain chairs or trellis as they have some difficult parts that are deeply indented. But no worries! If your level of staining is not too high yet, make your life easier and use a spray bottle to do this work. Just spray the required zone and remove the excess using a rag. Now even the difficult areas can be stained.
6. Index the stains to make your choice easier later
Sometimes it is really challenging to understand what stain you truly need and it is even harder if there are too many options. So when you are trapped in such a situation just use this stain index. So here is what it means. Take the boards that you like more and attach masking tape to divide each board into several zones. Now apply the stains to every zone that you have and when they become dry, brush your finishes lengthwise. As a result, you will be able to see how it will look with each stain. Don’t forget to number every finish so that it’ll be easier for you to choose the right one later. By the way, you can use 2 sides of the wood boards to make them more practical.
7. Learn the notepad + sandpaper combination to sand down the curves
This tip is useful if you are planning to sand down the curves and feel that you’ll probably struggle. The solution is very easy again: you just need a daily notepad for that. It can be a lifesaver as it is solid but flexible at the same time so you will be able to do your work so that whatever you are working on will look great. Just put your sandpaper between the notepad pages and it will do its job.
8. You can re-use the wood glue even if you think it’s useless
Many woodworkers accidentally leave their wood glue without any cover as a result of which it can’t do its functions anymore. And if you think that you should throw it into the trash, then you are mistaken. You only need some vinegar as one drop of it will bring the glue into the new condition. So easy and so helpful!
9. Cut the sandpaper with the hacksaw correctly
If you need to cut sandpaper you may think about doing it with the use of a knife or scissors. This idea may be successful as many woodworkers do this but the blades will be dulled. But there is another creative option to do this task perfectly: just attach the blade of a hacksaw that you don’t usually need to the edge of a workbench. After that, take a washer and locate it at the mounting holes as a result of which it’ll be easy to put a sandpaper sheet there. One more life hack: don’t forget to pre-fold this sandpaper piece in the area where you want to cut it.
10. Use a painter’s tape to level the angles off
If you are struggling with aligning the beveled edges, then a painter's tape can save you with this issue as well. Put these edges in a way that the outer parts will look up. After that just attach a tape edge to edge, and then flip them to be ready to work with those problematic edges. Glue them and then tape the remaining edges. This tape is so awesome because you can take it off without any problems and the glue won’t stay on it.
11. Make your own drum sander for uneven surfaces
Another issue you may face is the situation when you should sand the inside of a hole but it’s not so easy to do. In this case, you should find a bolt that is 1/4x3 and insert it right into the hold of a hole saw with the help of a washer and nut. Then make a slot that is also 1/4 so that it suits the bolt. Finally, take a sanding paper but apply the adhesive before. As a result, one end of the sandpaper should be easily put in the slot that you’ve made. The last thing you should do is wrap this sandpaper around the cut to insert another end in the same slot. Fasten the bolt with the help of a drill, so that as a result you get a drum sander that’ll help you in many sanding activities.
12. Create a DIY standoff to save some money
If you are in a hurry and you want to make both sides immediately instead of waiting until one side is dry to work on the other one, then standoff will save you. You can purchase it in a specific store or create it easily by yourself. Take or buy (if you don’t have them) 2’’ drywall screws, then put them into the 2" x 2" squares with the use of 3/4" stock. Some spots after that can be made and it may annoy you but you will deal with it easily later. The main thing is that for now you can put your piece and let it dry fully fast.
13. Create a dust box to save some money
When you are a woodworker you will realize how much dust you need to deal with really fast. To clean it up you will definitely need a dust box but the good news is that you can make it by yourself. You need to have several caps and a PVC pipe (about 4 inches). When you have everything you need, you should make a cut in your pipe. Take a heat gun to soften the material to open the slit. By the way, you probably know that when you are heating the plastic it brings toxic fumes into the air so check if your place is ventilated enough. Attach the flap to the planer by making some holes in it. The last step is screwing the vacuum hose to a 2,5’’ hold; that’s it.
14. Make your sandpaper firm but fine
When you are working with sandpaper you may feel that you want it to be more solid, that is why a lot of woodworkers use sandpaper blocks but if you work with them you will end up without the finer grits. That is why professionals prefer to use thin sandpaper although for beginners it may be too hard as such a paper can be torn easily. But this issue can be solved: all you need to do is to attach some duct tape on the back of your sanding paper so that it won’t be damaged too fast. As a result, it still will be flexible but definitely more solid.
15. Use your bicycle inner tubes to deal with weird angles
Of course, to use this tip you or someone from your family should have a bicycle that no one needs anymore. So if you have one, look at its inner tubes attached to the wheels. These tubes are what you need as they can be used as clamps to deal with the odd angles issue. Just take one of such tubes and knot it until its size becomes suitable for what you are working with. Done. Now you can just put it on.
That’s it! Even if you are just starting your woodworking career these tips will definitely make it easier for you and your skills will develop fast. Just don’t forget that woodworking is not a simple routine, it is an art where you can create something from your heart but at the same time, it’s a science with its own laws and secrets. You can find your own approaches and keys to being a great woodworker but at first, you should be great at the basic things. Studying is not overrated so don’t give up until you are sure you’ve learned all lessons and tried the tips