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Woodworking Fundamentals: Learn the Basic Skills

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Difficulty:BeginnerLength:ShortLanguages:

In this tutorial, you’ll learn the basics for simple bandsaw or scrollsaw projects. The fundamentals covered are simple cuts, drilling, and sanding techniques for basic woodworking projects. With knowledge and some practice of these woodworking skills, you should be able to create your own quality items.


Supplies

woodworking basics supplies

Safety

  • When working with power tools such saws it is very important to wear safety glasses at all time.
  • Make sure you are fully concentrating on the task at hand as saws and other power tools can do a lot of damage very quickly!

Selecting the Right Wood

As with any crafting project, it is important to start with good quality supplies that are free of any defects.

  • If you want to paint your final project, pay particular attention to the color of the wood. Bass, aspen and furniture grade pine are wonderful choices because of their neutral color and moderate hardness.
  • Avoid defects such as knots, warping, cracks, gouging, or water damage.
  • Select the correct size of lumber for your project. Note that typically, the dimensions given to a particular size of wood (e.g. 2 x 4, 1 x 2) is the size of the wood when it is rough cut. Once the lumber is finished it will actually be slightly smaller than the stated dimension.
wood working basics wood selection

Tools

  • For this tutorial we assume you will be using either a scroll saw or band saw. However, all photos included with this tutorial feature a scroll saw.
  • We recommend using a drill press because holes made in a press tend to be more accurate that those made with a hand-held drill, but either method will work.

1. Make a Straight Cut

Step 1

Using a pencil, draw a straight line on the piece of wood you will be cutting. You can also print out the cutting lines PDF of your project and fix it to your practice piece of lumber using packing tape.

woodworking basics line 1

Step 2

Line up the saw blade with the edge of the wood where you will start your cut. Note that most saws do not cut a perfectly straight line (they typically veer slightly to the right) and you will have to angle your wood slightly to achieve a straight cut.

woodworking basics line 2

Step 3

Once your lumber is in place, turn the saw on and slowly begin cutting on the line. As you make the cut, you might have to make small adjustments to the angle that you're holding the wood. Take care not to force the wood against the saw blade, just apply a gentle amount of pressure on the lumber to keep it feeding through the saw.

The wood should be held firmly so that it does not bounce around on the saw deck. Once the cut is complete, turn the saw off to avoid any accidents.

woodworking basics line 4

2. Make a Curved Cut

Step 1

Using a pencil, draw a wavy, curved line on the piece of wood you will be cutting. Gentle curves will be easier that tight curves.

woodworking basics wavy 1

Step 2

Line up the saw blade with the edge of the wood where you will start your cut. You will want to start your cut at a slight angle going towards the top of the first curve.

woodworking basics wavy 2

Step 3

Once your lumber is in place, turn the saw on and slowly begin cutting on the line. Make sure not to force the wood against the saw blade, just apply a gentle amount of pressure on the lumber to keep it feeding through the saw. The wood should just held firmly so that it doesn't bounce around on the saw deck.

woodworking basics wavy 3

Step 4

As you make the curved cut you will have to gently turn the wood in a continuous movement that mimics the curving motion of the line you are cutting. This process will take a bit of practice to perfect. Once you feel proficient cutting gentle waves, move on to more dramatic waves and curves. Remember to turn the saw off at the end of your practice to avoid any accidents.

woodworking basics wavy 4

3. Cut Tight Turns

Step 1

Using a pencil, draw the tight turn with a loop on the outside of the corner on the piece of wood you will be cutting.

woodworking basics turn 1

Step 2

Line up the saw blade with the edge of the wood where you will start your cut. Make sure your wood is slightly angled towards the angle of your cut.

woodworking basics turn 2

Step 3

Once your lumber is in place, turn the saw on and slowly start cutting on the line. As you make the cut, gently adjust the angle of the wood so that that the cut follows the guideline.

Apply a gentle amount of pressure on the lumber to keep it feeding through the saw. The lumber should just be held firmly so that it doesn't bounce around on the deck of the saw.

woodworking basics turn 3

Step 4

Continue cutting up past the turn to the loop. The loop is allowing your blade to turn around and cut down the other side of your corner. This technique keeps the blade from burning the wood at the tightest part of the turn and makes for a nice crisp turn. Once the cut is complete, turn the saw off to avoid any accidents.

woodworking basics turn 4

4. How to Drill a Hole

Step 1

Select the proper drill bit for the project then mark the place you want the hole to be.

woodworking basics drill 1

Step 2

Position the wood so that the drill bit will contact the wood at the right place. Check the placement by lowering the drill bit until it almost contacts the wood. Readjust the lumber if it is not positioned correctly.

woodworking basics drill 2

Step 3

Apply the drill bit to the wood until it has gone all the way through the lumber. If the wood is particularly hard or thick, pull it out of the hole part-way through the drilling process to allow any wood that has built up in the bit to disperse.

woodworking basics drill 3

5. Make Your Project Smooth

Step 1

Select the proper grit of sandpaper. A medium grit is usually a good starting point for most projects.

woodworking basics sanding 1

Step 2

In long straight motions, begin sanding your project. Be sure to to pay particular attention to the edges and corner. Try to always sand with the grain of the wood so that you don't leave any marks that cut across the grain. Repeat if necessary with a finer grit of sanding paper until you achieve the desired smoothness.

woodworking basics sanding 2

Keep Practicing

In this tutorial you have learned five important woodworking basics; cutting straight and curved lines, turning tight corners, sanding, and drilling for any scroll saw or band saw woodworking project. These skills are a great jumping-off point for making simple wooden furniture, home decor or even wooden toys.

woodworking basics final product

With just a bit of practice and creativity, you will be on your way to making quality woodworking projects. What kind of projects would you like to make? Let us know in the comments below.

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