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Getting Started

Welcome to Sawdust Making 101, first of all let me assure you that woodworking is not nearly as daunting as it may seem. It is not necessary to spend a fortune on tools many projects can be done with a minimum investment.

My advice to the person starting out is to begin by doing what you feel capable and comfortable with, try to learn something new with each project. Add tools to your arsenal as you need them, there are many ways of accomplishing the same end result, often tools are a matter of preference rather than necessity.

At one time or another we all do something that we regret, the more cheap tools we buy the more regrets we have. Often it is better to put off purchasing a tool if you can't afford to buy a quality item, eventually it will go on sale, or you may find a used one at a garage sale, flea market or on Ebay.

I would be wary of used power tools, there are bargains to be had if you carefully check what you are buying. Try to determine why the tool is for sale, is it a dud or has it been replaced with a bigger and better model?

I would definitely advise buying used hand tools, especially older brand names providing they have not been abused, generally the quality is superior to the newer models.

Another advantage to buying quality tools is that, heaven forbide, you don't wish to continue with the hobby they will have a much better resale value. Let your friends and relatives know you are interested, often they will have tools that they have had passed on to them and never use so will be glad to give them a new home.

In the section A Basic Tool Chest, click on a drawer to open it, the tools listed are all hand tools with the exception of the drill. All of these are tools that you will probably use on a daily basis so the better the quality the easier it will be to work with. This is not to say that spending a wad of money on a tool will guarantee expert results, this is only attained through practice, patience and care.

This is a hobby that can earn you money which can be used to buy tools and material, it may even turn into a livelihood if you are not careful.

Never forget how dangerous power tools can be, if you have any hesitation as to the safety of a situation stop and check out your options.

If it doesn't feel good don't do it!

Start out using softwoods such as pine or spruce, they are easy to work with, then as you become more confident try the harder more exotic woods.

One of the best ways to get a feel for woodworking is to start with a Scroll Saw, it is a relatively safe tool to use, runs quietly and requires very little space.

A good project to start with is a workbench, there are many pay and free plans available all with different degrees of difficulty. This will give you valuable experience and will become one of the most useful items in your shop.

For more plans and woodworking information check out my other sites Bench Notes and AbsolutelyFreePlans.

One of the latest additions to the site are the Free Vintage Plans for Mission Style projects from a 1912 Popular Mechanics publication. I have added tips they provided on separate pages for easy reference, this is dated information so some of the ingredients may be difficult to find these days. What I find fascinating about these articles is that any project built when the book was published would be a collectors item today.

For information on subjects such as metal working, home or auto repairs, and other hobbies and crafts see Do-It-101.com.

I have included a Glossary of Woodworking Terms with basic definations of terms and tools commomly used, clicking on link takes you to a page with additional information.

Stay on top of the latest woodworking products and tools by browsing these catalogs.

Free Woodworking Catalog from Rockler

Woodcraft.com - Sign Up Today For Our FREE Woodworking Catalog

Frank Campbell

Carpentry For Boys by J.S. Zerme, M.E. - online reprint

A 1914 book which treats, in a most practical and fascinating manner all subjects pertaining to the "King of Trades"; showing the care and use of tools; drawing; designing, and the laying out of work; the principles involved in the building of various kinds of structures, and the rudiments of architecture. It contains over two hundred and fifty illustrations made especially for this work, and includes also a complete glossary of the technical terms used in the art. The most comprehensive volume on this subject ever published for boys.

Basic Tool Chest





Combination Square


Drill Bits

Safety Glasses

Electric Drill





Tape Measure

Hand Plane


Click on drawer for information about contents

Power Tools

Information, safety tips and accessories.

Information and safety tips on using a radial arm saw.

Information and safety tips about band saws and accessories for them.

Information and safety tips about routers and accessories for them.

Information and safety tips about circular saws.

Information and safety tips about sanders

Information about CNC routers.

Information and safety tips about scroll saws.

Information and safety tips about drill presses.

Information and safety tips about shapers.

Informaton on corded and cordless drills and accessories.

Information and safety tips about table saws and accessories for them.


Information on corded and cordless jig saws.

Information and safety tips on using a thickness planer.

Information and safety tips on using a jointer.

Information and safety tips on using a wood lathe.


Information and safety tips on Miter Saws

Work Area

Whether your work area is a dedicated shop or a temporary cleared space in the basement or garage safety has to be the number one concern. A clean shop is a safe shop, spend a few minutes picking up and sweeping up at the end of the day. If extension cords are necessary try to run them overhead and drop them down to where they are needed so you are not tripping over them. Plan your time so that so that you are doing the complicated or dangerous parts of the project at the start of your work session while your mind is fresh, if you have worked at your job all day and then spend several hours in your shop you will get "silly tired". This is when accidents usually happen, so if long hours cannot be avoided spend the last hour or so doing your hand sanding and other safe routines.


Plans for a work bench from the early 1900's.

Building your own workbench is an excellent way to improve your woodworking skills.

Browse through the free workbench plans at


Simple Projects For The Home

Spool design book holder.

Small wall shelf

Make a frame to hold a calendar

Double-sided painting & chalk board.

Tote style box to make with your child.

Information and templates.

Book-end style CD holder.

Made from a cedar fence board.
Make your own unique picture frames.
Decorate the chains hanging from ceiling fans.
Easy to make candle holder
Simple napkin holder
This will bring back memories of the farm.
Small wishing well that doubles as a planter.
Add a top to an existing gateway.
Keeps the top of your table clean.

Relax at your desk

Easy to make speaker stand.
Wall shelf with three pegs to hang things.

Small side table for the patio.

Shop Projects, Jigs and How To

Gauge for marking center of board edge.

Join your corners with fingers.

How to Make Breadboard Ends

A simple jig for aligning dowel holes.
Adjustable stand for long boards, etc

Plans for a work bench from the early 1900's.

Wooden knobs for your shop jigs.

A simple jig to cut splines in mitered corners.

Simple to make clamp for mitered joints.

Guide for cutting dados

Good Old Fashioned Saw Horse

Rack to hold 4 X 8 sheets to cut them with a circular saw.

Basic table for small router, sits on a Workmate.

Basic sawhorse made from 2 X 4's.

Guide for ripping Sheet goods.

Jig to make accurate cross-cuts.

Handy mallet from 3/4" material.

Handy Reference Charts


Woodcraft.com - Helping You Make Wood Work 

Woodworking Clip Art

This is a selection of public domain artwork that could be used for Yard Art or Scroll Sawing with a bit of modification. Each image is on a squared backgroud to make them easy to transfer to your project.

- Birds

- Cats

- Cattle

- Christmas

- Dogs

- Fowl

- Flowers

- Horses


Free Vintage Plans

Reprints from 1912 Popular Mechanics Handbooks, includes material list and design drawings, limited instructions. Free plans for book racks, buffets, tables, chairs, piano benches, desks and more.

How To's for the Projects, this also is dated information:

For many more free project plans and shop jigs visit:

Plans for Sale

Woodworking project plans from Woodsmith, ShopNotes, and Workbench magazines.

Downloadable woodworking plans, featuring Cedar Wishing Well.

Large selection of plans, including a new free plan every month.


Large selection of plans for your home, garden or shop.


Original Patent Drawing
10 X 13 Prints
Printed on parchment paper

Vintage Internet Patents

General Information

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  • About Joints

To be successful in woodwork construction the possession of two secrets is essential—to know the right joint to use, and to know how to make that joint in the right way. The woodwork structure or the piece of cabinet-work that endures is the one on which skilful hands have combined to carry out what the constructive mind planned.

These are dated pages taken from a book written in the early 1900's, few power tools are mentioned, but a gold mine for hand tool use.

Bridal JointsDovetail JointsDowel JointGlued JointHalf Lap JointsHinged JointJoints for Curved WorkMitre JointsMortise and Tenon JointsPuzzle JointsScarf JointsShutting JointTongued and Grooved JointsMiscellaneous Joints

A Woodworkers Bench Notes covers several popular joints and the power tools to make them.

What is a "2 d" and more.

Choices of styles of heads and slots

An edited reprint of a 1919 school shop text book.

How to use and sharpen a cabinet scraper.

Color, Density, Grain, Machinability, Finishing & Uses.

How to cut notches, rectangles and circles out of a panel.

What to do when a compass is impractical.

The basics of universal electric motors.

Different kinds of finishing products.

Common terms and what they mean.

Descriptions of the basic 40 chair styles throughout history.

Two Simple Methods.

Calculating board feet etc.

How to build and measure square corners.

Methods and tips for shelving.

Using the right tool to get tight joints and square frames and cases.

Common materials used in building projects.

How to use handy butt joint jig.

About Me

I have been involved one way or another with woodworking for the last six decades, it began when I was about ten years old, my father built me a jigsaw by modifying an old Briggs and Stratton engine. Looking back I don't believe it cost him anything more than the price of a few welding rods to give me hours of entertainment cutting doodads out of apple box wood. The last three have been limited due to health reasons but I still do small projects when necessary.

I was lucky enough to grow up on a farm so I learned from a very young age how to improvise to get a job done. I have owned several businesses over the years ranging from making toys to custom fireplace mantels for luxury home builders.

Frank Campbell

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