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How do I Get Started?

March 17, 2011 |
posted by Ana White

So you want to build your own furniture?  And get exactly what you want?  Potentially saving tons of retail?

You can.  If I can do this, anyone can.

But you will need a little know-how and a few tools to get started. 

I try to keep the tools needed in project plans to a minimum, giving everyone an opportunity to build, but if you have advanced woodworking skills and tools, you can still alter many of the plans to fit your needs.


1. Do your homework.  First and foremost, I recommend just taking some time to build up some confidence and get yourself prepared for success.  And the more you know, the more likely you are to be successful on your first project.  

There is an amazing amount of information and resources available to you through this site. With over 60,000 Facebook Friends that are generous, helpful, smart, and many, just like you use our community to ask questions and find inspiration and answers. Visit our own Community and read through the threads. Read comments on the posts.  Go through our Bragging Board posts. 

In other words, I'm encouraging you to know what you are getting into.

And for those of you who have already been through this process, please add comments to this page to encourage others.  Any tips and tricks also greatly appreciated.


2. Your First Plan.   Once you've built up a little knowledge and some confidence to tackle a project, it's time to pick a plan.  I've created a special section of plans that are perfect for getting started.  Of course, there are hundreds of plans available online, and you can choose anything that you want, I'm just suggesting these plans because they are inexpensive, many people have had success with them, and they require the most basic tools and knowledge. 

Read through the entire plan at least twice, and all comments.  Check out brag post associated with the plan.  Be comfortable with the plan you have choosen to build as your first project.

3.  Go Shopping. The lumber aisle is huge, and everything might look the same.  I highly suggest working with pine or whitewood boards for a first project because these boards are cheap, easy to work with, and readily available.  Plan to paint your first project too, as you have to be more perfect with a stained finish.  Ask an associate to send you to the "whitewood or pine board section".  Also ask where the 1x2, 1x3 and 2x2 furring strips are located (as these boards are the exact same species as the whitewood boards but much much cheaper, but you will need to dig through to find good boards). If you are looking of 2x4s and 2x6s, ask where the studs are.

Choose your boards by pretending that the board is an arrow on a bow, and you are shooting the arrow.  Look down the length of the board to make sure it is straight.  Rotate the board to check all sides.  Inspect the board for cracks or other imperfections.  You may want a rustic finish, so some knots or rough patches are fine - it's the straightness and cracks that you need to discard.


About Boards 

I like to use standard width boards, even when we use plywood, because it saves materials and it saves cuts.  Also, your scraps will be useful for other projects.  You'll notice this throughout all of my plans.  But here's the major problem with using dimensional boards . . . the widths can vary depending on where you live.  I live up in Alaska, and most of our lumber is milled in Canada.  Most of the 1x12s I get are 11 1/4" wide, but others say theirs are 11 1/2".  This does matter.  What you need to do is measure the widths of all of your boards and adjust the plans according to your boards (if necessary).  

Here is a table of the sizes that I go off of:

  • 1x2 measures 3/4" x 1 1/2"
  • 1x3 measures 3/4" x 2 1/2"
  • 1x4 measures 3/4" x 3 1/2"
  • 1x6 measures 3/4" x 5 1/2"
  • 1x8 measures 3/4" x 7 1/2" or 7 1/4" (noted in plan)
  • 1x10 measures 3/4" x 9 1/2" or 9 1/4" (noted in plan)
  • 1x12 measures 3/4" x 11 1/2" or 11 1/4" (noted in plan)
  • 1x16 measures 3/4" x 15 1/2" - can vary - noted in plan
  • 1x24 measures 3/4" x 23 1/2" - can vary  - noted in plan

For the 1x12, 1x16, and 1x24, I give these measurements because you can rip a standard 48" wide sheet of plywood into 4 1x12s conserving the most material.  You can also get 3 - 1x16s or 2 - 1x24s. As a builder on a budget myself, I get the need to minimize waste and maximize material. 

Ask an associate if the store does complimentary cuts.  Take advantage of this for a first project if you don't have access to a saw at home.  If not, you gotta get a saw. 

4.  Cutting Boards. Depending on the project, you are going to need a saw.  Instead of splurging on an expensive compound miter saw (start saving, you will want this saw) for the first project, purchase either a jigsaw or a round or circular saw.

 

Jigsaw from Lowes

Jigsaw.  This is a jigsaw, and it's primarily used for cutting shapes out of wood.  But it could be used to cut straight lines too.  However, a jigsaw is difficult to get precise cuts with.  Jigsaws start at $25. Many first time builders consider a jigsaw less intimidating than the circular saw.

 

    Skill Saw Image from Lowes

    • Circular Saw. This is a circular saw.  It is used for making long straight cuts.  It can also be used for making short straight cuts with more precision than a jigsaw.  Circular saws start at $50.  Purchase this saw if you intend to make a lot of plywood cuts.

    • Carpenter's Square. These start at around $5.  Use a square to mark a straight line on your boards so you know where to cut your board.

    • Clamps.  These are awesome if you are working alone.  You can clamp your board to a table, mark the board with the square and then cut it.  They start at around $10.

    • Measuring Tape. Your gonna need a measuring tape.

    • Safety.  Don't forget to purchase safety glasses and hearing protection too.

    Okay, so here's how to cut. Clamp your board down.  Use your square to make sure that the end of the board is square (you'd be surprised at how many boards don't come straight).  If the end is not square, mark it with the square (I like to use mechanical pencils, but any real carpenter will tell you to get a carpenter's pencil  :) ).  Then cut it square, taking great care to cut on one side of the line.  Cut slow.  Respect the saw.  There is no hurry.  Measure the length of your board and make another cut.  One board down!

    5.  Building. So once you've got all of your boards cut, it's time to actually build the piece. Before you begin building, make sure you are working on a clean level surface.  Vacuum any sawdust.  You will be surprised at what the tiniest bit of sawdust can do to your projects.  Make all efforts to keep edges flush.  Be careful.  Go slow.

    There are a couple of different options to joining boards the easy way, but let's start with the absolute most basic and inexpensive - countersinking screws.  You can go here to see me demonstrate how easy this is to do.

    • Drill image from Lowes

    • Drill. You are going to need a drill.  I highly recommend splurging on a good drill - you'll use it for everything from hanging pictures to hanging closet doors, fixing toys to build sheds.  You can save money on a good drill by purchasing a refurbished one (often refurbished drills are brand new and were just part of a kit where another tool had issues) or purchasing a corded drill.

    • Countersink bit. The top part of the bit drills a hole for the screw shaft, the black part drills a hole for the screw head so your screw is hidden under the surface of the wood.  Choose a countersink bit that matches your wood screws.

    • Screws.  Most of the plans will call for 1 1/4" and 2" wood screws.  I like the gold screws for limited budgets, but if you can afford them, self tapping wood screws can eliminate the need for countersinking screws.  You will also need to purchase a drill bit that fits the screw head (expect these to be under $1)
    • How to attach with Screws. So you got your drill, bits, and screws.  Practice drilling a hole with the countersink bit.  Apply pressure and you will notice that the bit drills a small hole for the screw shaft, followed by a larger hole for the screw head.  With a countersink bit, take great care to keep the drill positioned at the same angle - busting a countersink bit is easy to do.

    • Pocket Holes. Okay, so you are also going to read about pocket holes on this site, most often referred to the Kreg Jig.  The image above is a Kreg Jig, starting price of $20.  You can use the Kreg Jig to build just about everything, and I highly recommend using it as your preferred joining technique.  However, if you can afford it, I highly recommend spending $100 for the full size Kreg Jig.  That's why I'm recommending for the very first project, you just stick with a countersink bit, and then when you find out you love building stuff, you can buy the Kreg Jig.  You will still use your inexpensive countersink bits here and there, so your investment in them is not lost.
    • Building 101. Mark out the joints on both sides of the joint on the board.  Predrill your holes with the countersink bit.  You most likely will only need to predrill in the first board, and your screws will not split the second board, but do some practicing to make sure.  Some boards are drier than others, thus splitting easier.  Insert the screw into the predrilled hole, apple glue, and line up the two boards to join.  Don't worry about getting the entire joint precise, you can rotate the board after you get the first screw in.  Screw it together!

    • Nails. Some of the plans might call for finish nails.  If you don't have a nailer, a hammer and individual nails as shown above will do the trick.  Just make sure your hammer has a smooth head.  Most plans call for 1 1/4" and 2" finish nails.  Always use glue with nails.

    • Nail Punch.  This one is $3.  It's a good idea to use this to get the nail to go below the surface of the wood.  That way you can fill the hole with wood filler and you will never know there is a nail in there.
    • Hammer.  Don't forget your hammer.  The start at around $6.
    • Needle Nosed Pliers. It's good to have these around just in case a nail goes the wrong way and you can't get it out with the hammer.  Don't try and cut the end off, you will never get it close enough to the wood.  You can try backing the nail out with the hammer.  If that doesn't work, grap the very tip of the nail (the sharp point) and wiggle the nail in all directions.  The nail should break off flush with the wood.  Hopefully, you won't encounter this on a first project, but for $3, it's good to have a pair of needle nosed pliers around.

    • Wood Glue.  You will need to use glue for all nail joints.  For unfinished wood, I love Elmer's glue.  If your wood has been treated or painted, you will need to use a different type of glue for treated surfaces.  Something like Gorilla glue.  Oh, and be careful when applying glue on stained projects - areas that have glue dried to it won't take stain!
    • Nailing. We most commonly nail pieces that are low use or parts of pieces that are low use.  I like to build the box with screws, then nail the trim boards on.  Screws are more difficult to disguise but stronger than nails.

    Finishing.  Finishing is likely the par that you are already good at and don't need a ton of help.  The most important part of finishing is preparation.

    • Wood Filler. The thing about wood filler is you can't let it dry out, so DO NOT leave the lid open.  And also, it may say stainable, but in my experience, it doesn't stain the exact color.  You are better off going with wood filler color matched to your stain (available in the stain aisle).  Overfill all holes with wood filler because it tends to shrink when dry.  I like to apply two coats of wood filler.  I use a putty knife (less than $1 for a plastic one) but for years, just used my fingers.

    • Sanding.  A hand sander is a good workout and can be effective.  This one is less than $5.  I use 120 grit sandpaper and sand only in the direction of the wood.  Sand all joints so that the wood filler disappears.  Sand any rough patches or differences in joints.  After you finish sanding, vacuum the project and the entire work area.  Wipe the project clean with a damp cloth - if you have sanding residue, the paint won't stick to these places.
    • Primer.  Primer is the bridge between paint and wood.  It seals the wood, preventing your piece from "yellowing" (if it's white) and also makes the paint "stick" to the wood.  I like to use spray on primer.
    • Paint.  I <3 Flat Paint.  I know you are going to read everywhere to use high gloss enamel cabinet paint, but here's what I've discovered in my years of painting furniture.  It's better to layer paint.  That way a scratch doesn't peel off a huge section.  And flat paint dries well.  And it's thin, so it will allow some of your wood grain to show through.  Just put enough layers on until you are satisfied with the color.  You can mix different colors for added depth.  Also, with flat paint, I find you don't need to sand as much between coats, but it's never a bad idea to sand between coats.  TIP: Buy some ooops paint for a few bucks to save on your first project.  The paint counter might even be kind enough to retint it for you  :)  Brush in the direction of the wood.  Oh, spray paint is marvelous too!
    • Easy Distressed Finish. For an easy distressed finish, sand edges of the piece with your hand sander.  You can then apply a stain or glaze over the paint to stain any exposed wood.
    • Top Coat. If you used flat paint, you will need to add a top coat to seal the deal.  I like to use spray on top coat.  Top coats are just clear paint.
    • Note About Board Widths - Measure you board widths first, board widths can vary up to half an inch.  I use the widest possible widths - 1/2 less than the name.  For example, a 1x6 would be 5 1/2" wide.

    Good luck with your first project!

    Thanks for the inspriation!

    I just found your site and I must say I can relate. I'd like to build a custom shelf for my kids toy collection and don't really know where to start without getting overwhelmed.  Thank you for the information! 

    posted by Guest (not verified) | on Tue, 2011-03-22 11:13

    Reply to comment | Ana White

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    posted by unfinished wood (not verified) | on Fri, 2012-07-20 09:30

    Very good written

    Very good written information. It will be supportive to anybody who employess it, as well as myself.
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    posted by sehrish12 | on Mon, 2013-03-18 11:28

    Reply to comment | Ana White

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    posted by what do you think (not verified) | on Mon, 2012-09-24 16:37

    Thank you for the advices. I

    Thank you for the advices. I started my first project last year. I made cabinets for my guest bathroom and I needed all the tools you said. This site has many great informations.

    posted by nicolae | on Fri, 2013-01-04 17:00

    This post is very useful and

    This post is very useful and should be read by all users. It is great to know how to do stuff for yourself and you can save a lot of moneys. I was searching for a while for low budget bathroom ideas and this site gave me some amazing ideas. Thank you so much for sharing this with us.

    posted by nicolae | on Thu, 2013-02-14 13:04

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    The website is looking bit flashy and it catches the visitors eyes. Design is pretty simple and a good user friendly interface.
    wellness magazine

    posted by roger1122 | on Tue, 2013-04-23 05:47

    hi was just seeing if you

    hi was just seeing if you minded a comment. i like your website and the thme you picked is super. I will be back.
    Bowflex 1090

    posted by kongk | on Tue, 2013-05-21 06:04
    clips
    simplyadorable's picture

    Drill?

    What is your favorite drill? My good drill just died after a year and I need a new one. My cheap drill won't even do through my Kreg jig. What brand and volt do you suggest I get?

    posted by simplyadorable | on Tue, 2011-03-22 19:39

    simplyadorable, Last

    simplyadorable,

    Last Thanksgiving, Ana created a blog post with the best Black Friday deals on all types of tools. She recommended using well-known brands like DeWalt and Mikita.

    I wanted to pull her suggestions from last year (2010), this Thanksgiving (2011), but that specific blog post does not exist anymore, perhaps due to website conversion.

    Keep an eye on her blog post about this Thanksgiving's Black Friday deals to see if she posts any recommendations / suggestions.

    http://ana-white.com/2011/11/black-friday-tool-deals-2011

    posted by Holleigh (not verified) | on Thu, 2011-11-24 13:36

    Milwaukee

    I personally love Milwaukee products. They're a little more on the expensive side, but the quality is amazing. We use these almost exclusively at my workplace (we make trophy cases, display cases, custom cabinets, etc) and love them. The new lithium ion ones give you full power until the very end, when they will die abruptly. They have a battery gauge right on the battery pack itself. This is incredibly helpful. If you can spend a little more, I would suggest getting one.

    Amazon usually has them at about 50 to 60% off.

    posted by Sebastian (not verified) | on Tue, 2012-05-22 21:02
    clips

    drill?

    I think that a good drill is a Bosch drill, is good to have at less 650-700 watt of power...normally with 100-120 $ u can find one good :))

    posted by robicop60 | on Sat, 2012-08-04 12:50
    clips
    LSUjeepguy's picture

    I have a Ryobi 18volt drill

    I have a Ryobi 18volt drill and love it! You can check at Lowe's for a combo pack with a drill and circular saw..


    posted by LSUjeepguy | on Thu, 2011-03-31 11:39
    clips
    biz_kid1's picture

    Ditto!

    We have the 18V Ryobi/Circular Saw Combo, too!  We also have a 12V Black & Decker Cordless Drill and it works okay, too!

    posted by biz_kid1 | on Thu, 2011-03-31 12:17
    clips

    How to get started article


    This article was just what I needed to get going.  I'd already purchased most of the tools.  I was needing clarification and more info on certain things and this "How to" article fixed that.  Of course, I still have a few questions, but I think once I get started a lot of my questions will answer themselves. Again, thanks for the article!!  I'm so glad that I found you and your web site!!

    posted by Semonurse | on Sun, 2011-04-03 10:48

    Circular Saw vs Chop Saw vs Compound Miter Saw?

    Hey, Ana.  I've discovered your blog this weekend and am in awe.  I'm excited to start a bunch of different projects but need some tools first. After making my list, the hubby started confusing me.  Now I'm not sure which is the best tool for the jobs!  Chop saw vs circular saw vs compound miter saw?  I'm lost.  What do you recommend?  BTW...I live in Anchorage!!  

    posted by Brandy (not verified) | on Mon, 2011-04-04 23:59
    clips
    dan-k's picture

    an inexpensive 10" miter saw is a good choice to start with

    A circular saw is great for cutting plywood and long rip type cuts.
    A miter or chop saw will be better for doing angled finish trim cuts and cutting 1x and 2x lumber squarely and precisely.  So if you are using lots of plywood go circular.  Otherwise a miter saw will be more helpful.

    posted by dan-k | on Wed, 2011-04-06 18:14
    clips

    Help

    Okay so I am looking to purchasing a nailer, miter saw, air compressor and a jig saw. The area that I am having difficulty is what kind of nailer should i purchase? Do I need a finish nailer or is a 18 gauge brad nailer okay to use? also what kind of air compressor can I use? I found a 3 gallon air compressor but I do not know if that is strong enough to handle everything I need. Pleas help.
    Thanks  

    posted by ejahinojosa | on Wed, 2011-04-06 15:38
    clips
    dan-k's picture

    An 18ga nailer is a good start

    You'll be able to do a lot of projects with an 18ga nailer.  Pretty much anything except weight bearing joints.  A three gallon compressor will be plenty big to run almost any nailer you hook up to it.

    posted by dan-k | on Wed, 2011-04-06 18:06

    I get a lot of great

    I get a lot of great information here and this is what I am searching for. Thank you for your sharing. I have bookmark this page for my future reference.
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    posted by larzze12 | on Mon, 2013-03-18 04:21
    clips

    Weight Bearing Joints

    Thank you for all of the information about the nailer and compressor. It is really helpful in making a decision about what I am going to purchase. I do have another question. When you say weight bearing joint what exactly are you talking about? What would be considered a weight bearing joint?

    posted by ejahinojosa | on Thu, 2011-04-07 10:59
    clips
    dan-k's picture

    weight bearing joints explained

    A weight bearing joint would be like the leg joints in a chair or a table.  A joint that is subjected to body weight or twisting/racking forces.  Joints like that need something more substantial to hold up to those types forces.  Brad nails will bend pretty easily in a situation like that.

    posted by dan-k | on Thu, 2011-04-07 13:06
    clips

    I just found you website and

    I just found you website and I am super excited. My husband ans I have built a few things TOGETHER, now I am more confident that I can do some things on my own. I just built a end table all by myself...well my husband drew up the plans for me and I got me a Kreg jig as you suggested and used it and the table turned out great. Thank you for the encouragment and the site.

    posted by OTI Woodworks | on Sat, 2011-05-07 12:22
    clips

    Im also glad of founding your

    Im also glad of founding your page, I love working with wood. I hope to learn more I will try to be a good student. Im off to buying all I need. Thank you!!!!

    posted by Ellen Bell | on Fri, 2011-05-13 17:33
    clips

    Thank you

    I love to build things. Sometimes my projects turn out great and then there are the other times. LOL I really want a nailer but my hubby thinks I should just stick with a hammer, drill and screw driver. We have a 3 story house. How realistic is it for me to think I'd be able to toat a compresser up stairs for assembling things in the room that they are going to live in?

    posted by chefsmile | on Mon, 2011-05-16 16:27

    You can actually buy electric

    You can actually buy electric brad nailer. I've got a cordless one, and I love it.

    I have a compressor and an air nailer as well, but tend to use it only in the workshop. When I have to do something upstairs or in the house, I use the electric nailer.

    posted by Guest (not verified) | on Sat, 2011-05-21 19:55
    clips

    Being a purist about tools

    Being a purist about tools is easy when you aren't the one putting in 173 pockethole screws and nailing on yards of molding.

    I use a drill for almost all screws, and a line powered (not cordless) electric brad nailer for finish work. the brad nailer was cheap, and it also does staples for unholstery.

    posted by Tsu Dho Nimh | on Sun, 2011-05-22 07:54
    clips

    Dimensional Lumber Boards vs. Ripped cuts

    In your plans, when you list 1x12's or even 1x8's, are you really recommending that we purchase dimensional lumber of this size, or would you recommend that we rip sheet material (MDF, plywood, etc) down to planks of this dimension? I just discovered the hard way that 1x12 pine planks are over $30 per 8-foot board at the big box stores! Any pros/cons to either option? Thank you much!

    posted by mlbro | on Tue, 2011-05-31 06:20

    Dimensional lumber prices

    Mlbro - have you checked at a local lumber yard? 1x12's are $30 in my Lowes also, but at my local hardware/lumber yard they are about $11.00. They are #2 grade so I have to go through them but can always find some good boards.

    posted by Guest (not verified) | on Tue, 2011-05-31 08:00
    clips

    RE: Dimensional Lumber Prices

    That's my next stop! I also discovered that my local big-(blue)-box store didn't have anything besides 3/4" MDF. I'm hoping my local lumber place will have a broader selection, maybe some no-added-urea-formaldehyde binder MDF products, maybe some options for agri-fiber board. Maybe I'm dreaming...

    posted by mlbro | on Tue, 2011-05-31 08:24
    clips
    Lis West's picture

    Lumberyard wood

    You are so right...I found that the wood at places like Lowe's and Home Depot are not only more expensive but also of poor quality. The 84 Lumber near me has less expensive wood but have very little wood in stock so I have to order my wood. The last time I ordered wood from them, it took 2 weeks to come in. Another lumberyard near me has much better quality wood and a wide selection on hand for 1/3 of the price of Lowe's. It is a "mom and pop" place, but they know me and let me pick my own wood. I just built the "sturdy work bench" (6ftx3ft dimension) and the wood was $34 and I had 1 2x4 12ft board left over (not sure why).

    posted by Lis West | on Sat, 2012-03-24 20:16

    pocket holes

    I understand pocket holes are best for joining things, but I heard with the Kreg jig that you need to use their screws in order to use their pocket hole system? Is this true?

    posted by Helen (not verified) | on Sun, 2011-06-05 01:30
    clips
    claydowling's picture

    Kreg screws

    You don't need Kreg screws, but you do need a screw with a flat bottom to the head. That flat bottom will rest on the flat surface created by the step screw and provides the joint's strength. The Lowes' by me has a large rack dedicated just to pocket hole screws, so I don't need mail order the screws when I run out in the middle of a project.

    If you don't want to deal with the special screws, Lee Valley sells a step drill designed for regular wood screws. I've used a home-brew setup that is similar and it makes a really strong joint. It took the worst that I could throw at it and came out fine.

    posted by claydowling | on Sun, 2011-06-05 09:06

    What kind of wood?

    Pressure treated or non-pressure treated for outdoor furniture (that will be painted)? Don't I have to wait until next year to paint pressure treated wood?

    posted by Thomas (not verified) | on Thu, 2011-06-16 13:25

    air compressor

    So from reading above it sounds like the Bostitch 6 gallon air compressor w/ 18guage brad nailer and 16 guage finish nailer will serve me well for nailing needs but what about a later purchase of a spray gun. Will the 6 gallon compressor work for a paint sprayer? I tried to look this up myself but got confused when many of the sprayers mention needing 4 or more SCFM@40PSI but even the larger compressors did not list CFM as that high - maybe there is a difference between "SCFM" and "CFM" that is causing the problem.

    posted by Guest (not verified) | on Sun, 2011-06-19 13:39
    clips
    claydowling's picture

    Painting compressors

    Painting generally takes a different kind of compressor to maintain the airflow needed. I wouldn't sweat that just now. By the time you're ready to start using a spray gun, you'll likely have worn out that pancake compressor and be looking for a new one.

    Consider whether you really need a compressor at all right now. They're expensive, and you need to start doing a pretty significant volume of work before there's a real payoff. A 16oz hammer with a wooden handle and a nail set (or a set of 3) will take you a long ways. Even though we had nail guns and compressors when we built my shed, we still used hammers to drive nails all day long. There were just lot of situations where the hammer made more sense.

    Don't worry about the fact that you don't have a lot of upper body strength. First, it's at least as much about technique as about strength. Second, the strength develops quickly if you keep using the hammer. Spend a week using the hammer a bit every day and you'll be a lot stronger by the end of the week. Also, make sure you have some ibuprofen. As I age I find it to be indispensible to manual labor.

    posted by claydowling | on Sun, 2011-06-19 16:58

    Thanks for the reply

    Thanks for your reply. I did do some more searching and ultimately came to the same conclusion about the paint sprayer.

    To answer the "consider if you really need a compressor" - well need is such a strong word - haha. I've done lots of work without one so I know I don't need one - but - I really, really want one and I've saved up so it is going to be my "father's day" gift from myself - as a single mom I've always thought it was important that I be honored for doing both parenting jobs and I think it is even more fitting that I get a "typically male" gift for the "male" job.

    Alway keep the ibuprofen handy as well :^ )!

    posted by Guest (not verified) | on Sun, 2011-06-19 22:23

    Thanks for your reply

    Claydowling...
    Thanks for this reply. As I am getting started I've been wondering if I would need an air nailer. I don't have a lot of arm strength and I've been worried about the idea of doing just the hammer and nails.
    Also though... I plan on doing some upholstery work so I wondered about the nailer someone mentioned that I think did brad nailers? and staples?

    posted by AngieO (not verified) | on Fri, 2012-06-22 22:24
    clips
    claydowling's picture

    Arm Strength

    I would be very surprised if you lacked the arm strength to use a hammer. Don't buy a hammer that's too light. 16oz is the smallest I'd recommend. I like my 20oz hammer, but it might wear you out too fast, so my advice would be to get the 16oz hammer.

    Nail guns to handle all the situations you need would get expensive. They're nice, but not essential for the hobbyist. I'd save your money for now and examine your needs as you get more experience.

    posted by claydowling | on Sat, 2012-06-23 20:24
    clips

    4 x 4 boards

    hey im really having trouble finding non pressure treated boards for the bed plans and i really wanted to tackle that one first. Any ideas? I went to lowes and home depot

    posted by keyetta | on Wed, 2011-07-27 08:37
    clips
    claydowling's picture

    Local lumber yards

    Lowes and Home Depot aren't very good places to buy wood. Try to find a local lumber yard. It's a different shopping experience than you're used to, which can make it intimidating, but it's usually a lot more full-service and they sell you a better quality product.

    posted by claydowling | on Wed, 2011-07-27 08:52
    clips
    natosha's picture

    what's the difference?

    Thanks a ton for the tip to find a lumber yard. HD and Lowes are super expensive. I have found a lumber yard near me and was wondering what is so different about shopping from them? I am totally intimidated thinking if I go there, they'll ask a ton of questions that I don't know the answers to. (All I know is "pine" and measurements from my cut list.) Will I be wandering around in stacks of lumber? What kinds of things are they going to ask me? Do they usually accept credit cards on the spot?

    posted by natosha | on Mon, 2011-08-08 11:42
    clips
    claydowling's picture

    Shopping Experience

    The biggest difference is that you probably won't be wandering around in piles of lumber. You'll go to a counter and order your lumber. They'll tell you where to drive your truck to pick it up. Somebody at that location will help you from there, either pulling the lumber or showing you where to pull it. All of the yards I've used they pull the lumber for you, and they'll give it a quick inspection for cracks or warping, and either load it into your truck or hand it to you for loading (not everybody is keen on having somebody else put lumber in their truck).

    They will cut the lumber to length for you if you ask, but it's a rough cut, probably accurate to within an inch, and no guarantee that it's square. The only cuts you want them to make are cutting it down if the piece is too long to load into your vehicle.

    The biggest thing people have trouble with, other than being intimidated, is that the people working the counter know most of their customers. It's not some kid working a part time job, but somebody who has an established relationship. There's a lot of socializing that goes on at the counter, which can be confusing if you're used to the impersonal service of a regular retail cashier.

    The other question that they are likely to ask is what grade of lumber you're interested in. #2 is generally good enough for the projects you're probably going to build starting out. That means it will have some solid knots, but there shouldn't be anything loose.

    posted by claydowling | on Mon, 2011-08-08 12:23
    clips
    natosha's picture

    Thank you!

    Yay! Thank you so much for giving me all the details! It's nice to have an idea what you're walking into when you go to somewhere totally new with a completely different experience.

    #2 grade lumber. Check!

    You've been really helpful Clay! I really appreciate it!

    posted by natosha | on Mon, 2011-08-08 13:53

    Yes-- THANK YOU for this

    Yes-- THANK YOU for this info!! It is good to know what to expect up front- especially when I don't really know what I am talking about! I just know how to cut/assemble-- Just not knowledgeable on grades or socializing :D or anything above and beyond my list!! ;D Thank you Clay!

    posted by Jolene (not verified) | on Mon, 2011-09-05 22:46

    checking for square

    in Anna's above instruction's on how to cut wood, I'm somewhat confused on how to check for square?? what exactly does this mean "check for square" after each cut...yes, me "newbie" and me "have allot to learn"LOL...but I'm patient and have learned reading first will save me allot of frustration when I actually attempt my first build...thanks in advance... ;)

    Maryjo

    posted by french25er | on Mon, 2013-08-19 17:19
    clips

    Larger Print Plans

    Hi,
    I'm brand new to the site and would like to use the plans for the Large Rustic X Bench. The detailed measurements shown on the individual steps are too small to read. Any suggestions regarding larger print. Thanks, Joanna

    posted by SteinkeBeyer | on Sat, 2011-07-30 15:49
    clips

    broken link

    I am afraid the link at #5.Building (where it says: You can go here to see me demonstrate how easy this is to do.) Please advise.

    posted by leonaleonard | on Thu, 2011-08-04 17:30

    Need to a little help with a drill

    I am having issues with the drill I have which is a 14V cordless drill. I dont have much strength due to several neck surgeries which is frustrating. I have strip a few screws even after practicing I still have the issue. My thought is the newer drills 18v or 19v have the new light weight batteries does anyone use one? If so I would love to know how they like it? Or would a corded be better. I know that DeWalt are not cheap however I looked at a set with impact driver when I lifted it up I was amazed at how light it was so my thought if it works well I will have to save for it but it may be worth it for me to get one because I plan on making a dresser, Farmhouse queen bed, a few doll items for my granddaughters. I have just made a Big Kids picnic table, a doll crib which the table is where I notice that I was putting my shoulder into drilling the screw into the board which I dont know if thats the right way to be doing it. So any thoughts on this would be greatly appreciated. Thank you for your time. I really do appreciate any thoughts one this. I will not allow my disabilies to stop me from making thing for my Grandbabies. Since this is my way of giving to them what I can. Thank you Ana for everything you given of yourself.

    posted by Sheri (not verified) | on Mon, 2011-08-08 04:48
    clips

    Corded Or Battery Drills

    corded or battery is a personal choice. For the projects you mentioned you only need a drill with a 1/4/ to 3/8 chuck. To avoid striping the head of screws, avoid sloted and use phillip head. Always use a bit that fits the screw head, as some are numbered. Always buy a good grade of bits as some are just junk. Hope this helps Sheri.

    Herbert Brown Skype: herbert.brown60

    Learn Carpentry and wood working

    posted by herbie47 | on Fri, 2011-08-26 22:01

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