I am by no means an expert at wood working. A lot of the skills I have I have learned from experience and simply by making. I think often that is the best way to learn. However, there are a lot of resources out there that have helped me and many others to learn the craft. I do not own the copyrights to any of the material I am going to recommend, but I will post Amazon Affiliate links to some of the materials in case you would like to know where to find them. I always like to recommend quality products that I’ve found helpful.
The first really good resource I found when I started woodworking is Fine Woodworking Magazine and website. They are an amazing source for articles, project plans, tips and tricks, product reviews, and more. The website is free to use though there is more material available for paid subscribers. There are several subscription options including web access only or both web and print versions. Fine Woodworking also posts many of their videos to YouTube and they have a very good podcast called Shop Talk Live on their website and through iTunes.
I found that as a new woodworker I didn’t understand much of the podcast at first but the more I read and listened it started to make a lot of sense. Plus they have a lot of practical tips for new woodworkers. The magazine and websites have great detailed pictures with the plans that make building projects much easier to understand. Fine Woodworking also puts equal emphasis on hand and power tools, so no matter how you like to build they are a good resource. If I were going to recommend only one online resource for a beginning woodworker it would be Fine Woodworking because of the sheer volume of material available.Check Out Fine Woodworking Here!
It seems like you can learn anything online these days and Woodworking is no exception. I found Steve Ramsey and Woodworking for Mere Mortals through another YouTube Woodworking Steve, (Carmichael), and have been hooked. Steve Ramsey has a huge collection of home-made projects that he records in his home garage. The videos are funny and well-thought-out, but more importantly they are informative and educational. He describes and shows the project he’s going to make and then takes the viewer step by step through the process of creating it. He offers a lot of tips for working that he has learned and shows how to create jigs and spacers to make creating easier. One of the best aspects of his videos is that he also shows his mistakes. Mistakes are something all woodworkers (or people for that matter) make regularly so when he makes one he shows it, explains what went wrong, and then shows how to fix it.
Another great aspect of Steve’s website and videos is the Mere Mortals community. He has gained quite a following online and he has started several video channels including a semi regular live show to show extra details of projects and to answer fan questions. These videos are just as fun and informative as his regular channel videos and often cover material he didn’t have time to put in the main channel.
Lastly, Steve posts free plans to nearly all of his projects in the descriptions of his videos so it makes it easy to watch the plan and build along with him. His videos and projects are not always easy but they are accessible and well crafted. As a beginning woodworker it gave me the feeling that I could make anything I was watching.
I discovered Steve Ramsey through the “recommended videos” section while watching videos by Steve Carmichael. Steve Carmichael is another woodworker creating simple, creative, and accessible projects for viewers. Steve is a very talented designer and woodworker, and his videos are always fun and upbeat. He does a little bit of everything in his shop, making him a good resource for just about anything you’d like to make.
Like Steve Ramsey, he often posts free project plans and cutting templates in his video descriptions. (I have used his plans for making a tongue drum in the past and they worked great).
The primary thing that is different about Steve Charmichael is that he uses some technologies that other woodworkers might not have or know of. He uses a CNC machine for some projects and even goes through things like how to screen print your own logo onto shirts (he has another video showing how to make the screen printing equipment as well).
Charmichael’s videos are very accessible to beginning woodworkers and they cover such a mode range of topics that there is something that everyone can use.
Woodworkers in Your Community
The next resource I’ve found to be extremely helpful is woodworkers that are in your community. Nearly every community has them, and they are a wealth of knowledge. I have contacted several woodworkers about different questions I’ve had and without fail they’ve all been happy to help. Pulling from the knowledge of more experienced woodworkers can really help beginners avoid mistakes or learn new methods of working. It opens up a new woodworker’s creativity to ideas and processes they may not have thought of on their own. I think that is why the resources I’ve mentioned above are so good. They offer so many new ways to think about and go about working with wood that even a novice can get started making something.
The cool thing is that “community” no longer means “people who live next to you”. It includes your Woodworking neighbors, of course, but with technology and social media your Woodworking community can be anyone in the world. The key is finding them and connecting with them. I’ve found Twitter and Instagram to be excellent ways to find the woodworking community. You can see their work and engage with them to ask questions or provide feedback. Plus you can post your own work and those same community members can give you tips or feedback. Community is the greatest free resource available to any woodworker.
Other Books and Materials
There are countless books on woodworking but there are a few that I’ve found to be very helpful. I’ll write a full post later on woodworking books that I have found to be extremely useful.
- “Good Clean Fun” by Nick Offerman. This book is really a narrative of Nick’s life working with wood. He has great stories and experiences, plus some free plans and lots of tips. Very entertaining and educational. Check out “Good Clean Fun” Here!
- The Woodworkers FAQ Book. This is a great resource for wood turning. There are great ideas for projects as well as techniques and tips. Check out “Woodworking FAQ: The Workshop Companion: Build Your Skills and Know-How for Making Great Projects” Here!
- The Encyclopedia of Joint Making. I used this book a lot when I first started making joints. It’s really easy to use and easy to read. Plus it has plenty of tips for little jigs and ways to make working easier. Check out “The Encyclopedia of Joint Making: The complete, full-color guide to wood joinery, with step-by-step instructions on how to select, cut, and assemble the right joint of the job” Here!
- Success with Finishing. Again, lots of great tips in this book on ways to finish different woods including combinations of stains and finishes. It also helps categorize finishes by what you’re trying to use it for which is really useful. Check out “Success with Finishing (Success with Woodworking)” Here!
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