Mastering Basic Woodworking & Carpentry Skills

man using electric screwdriver

If you've done some home repair or even a bit of remodeling, you've already acquired many of the basic skills needed to build bookcases and shelves. This chapter will add to that knowledge. If you're just getting started as a do-it-yourselfer, this is essential information to increase your range of skills as you complete your first project, then another.

Projects in Basic Skills

Building skills
In this section of our website, you'll learn the skills that will help you use the tools and materials to create beautiful, practical pieces of furniture that you and your family will enjoy for years to come. Read carefully, then practice the techniques on scrap wood. And always work with common sense and safety in mind.

The first few pages tell you how to lay out, measure, and mark precisely. The old woodworking adage, "Measure twice, cut once," is a lesson that many learn only after wasting material.

Following that introduction, you learn how to make straight cuts with hand and power tools in both boards and sheet goods. You'll become familiar with some basic terminology, such as "rip" and "crosscut." Ripping simply means cutting wood with the grain; crosscutting, as the word implies, means cutting wood across the grain.

You'll also learn how to cut precise angles and smooth curves. Along the way, you'll read about a sliding bevel gauge, a tool for accurately duplicating angles when making cuts, and a miter box, an accessory that will help you make those cuts by hand with precision.

Drilling may seem boring, but there are several kinds of tools and accessories that will help you create clean, smooth holes more easily and accurately than you could before.

Using a chisel, one of the oldest tools around, is almost a lost art these days. We'll show you how to properly use one to help make strong, tight-fitting, handcrafted joinery that sets your project apart from -- and will probably make it outlast -- much of the machine-made furniture found in stores.

One Hour or Less

Three simple projects to cross off of your to-do list -- just print these instructions and begin!