Real Value in Creating Fine Woodworking

In creating fine woodworking, I look back on my life and see where the real values and highpoints in life have been and what have been life lessons that have helped to make me what or who I am today.  At this point I would usually start a discussion on spiritual things but not this time.  I believe everyone born has the ability to create something when given the opportunity to exercise that gift in them.  On a larger scale, see what man has accomplished just in my lifetime (middle 1930’s) because of man’s ability to mentally explore.  Marvelous works have been done in medicine, communications, transportation and many other things all throught up and created by men and women who put their pants on one leg at a time.

I have not created woodworkig projects that would on a scale survive the test of public scrutiny outside of my family and friends.  My pleasure came in mentally starting with a woodworking project that seemed achievable to me and then putting a rough drawing on paper.  I woud gather the tools and materials that I needed to complete what I planned to start.  It would be in the mind that the started project would take on new form and shape and the longer the project took to complete the greater the changes would be.


Trial & Error

Lessons can be painful when the mind isn't engaged


The true value that I found was in the exercise of the mind and training the body to use tools carefully.  When full mental attention is paid to a project, the cares of life seem to diminish.  It is my belief that all have some artistic abiity and as long as this ability is put into play to some degree the better a person’s life is.  I like creating fine woodworking projects because it teaches me I can do woodworking, not to professional standards, but pleasing to my family and me.

Types of Wood for Woodworking Projects

When creating fine woodworking pieces the outcome is often determined by the choice of wood used in the making if it.  Many choices are made according to the characteristics of the wood; determined by whether it is soft, hard or manufactured wood, its color, grain, durability, and whether or not it is readily available.  Also, it would seem reasonable to believe that the cost, skill level of the woodworker, the project itself, and woodworking tools on hand would also influence the choice of wood.  Some woods are only to be found in larger lumberyards, not in your local home center.  Most hardwoods can only be found in specialty stores.

Some commonly used soft woods are cedar, fir, pine, redwood, spruce and hemlock.  For the most part, soft woods are used in home construction and for some furniture pieces and outdoor projects.  Soft woods are generally less expensive than hardwoods, are easy to work with and don’t require expensive woodworking tools for good results; making it a good choice for the beginning woodworker.  One thing to remember when using soft wood in making furniture is that, being soft wood, it can be easily damaged.

It is more difficult and time consuming to work with hardwood than it is to work with soft wood.  Hardwood lumber requires drilling a pilot hole before driving a screw into it.  Extremely sharp cutting and planning tools are necessary for cutting into hardwood.  This adds to the already high cost of the hardwood and takes up more time in the construction.

Finding certain hardwoods is becoming more difficult, Brazilian rosewood as an example, because it is being cut down without regard for its sustainability.  Thus the cost of the wood is so high that many woodworkers can’t afford it.  Ash, birch, cherry, mahogany, maple, oak, poplar, teak and walnut are all commonly used hardwoods.  Out of all these hardwoods only red oak and poplar are stocked in home centers and lumberyards as a general rule.  Ash, birch, cherry, mahogany, maple, teak and walnut are more likely to be found in specialty stores.

There are numerous exotic woods which are imported from other countries.  Lace wood, granadillo and African mahogany are three examples of exotic woods.  Lace wood comes from Australia.  Its unusual grain structure creates a hammered copper appearance.  It’s used mostly for accent or in veneered tabletops.  Granadilo is from Mexico and is suitable for all furniture applications.  African mahogany is imported from Ghana and is also used in making furniture.

Plywood is made of an uneven number of alternating layers of wood.  Medium Density Fiberboard (MDF) and particle board are both made from wood particles combined with glue and bonded under pressure.  MDF has finer particles; therefore it makes a smoother and stronger product.  The problem with MDF is that it is very heavy.  Hardwood veneer is used to hide the edges of plywood and manufactured woods.  Since the veneer is so thin, care must be taken when cutting or sanding it.

This article discusses the more commonly used woods and how they are used.  Generally speaking soft woods are easier to work with and less expensive.  It is best used for outdoor projects.  Hardwood is not so easy to work with but because of its durability it is often used for making furniture.  So, think carefully about the characteristics of the wood, the project, your skill level, etc. before choosing the wood for your next fine woodworking project.

Types of Wood for Woodworking Projects


Woodworking Tool Maintenance

This is my most recent article “Woodworking Tool Maintenance” which has been published on  Very exciting.

Keeping your woodworking tools in good working condition is important for safety and quality of the project when creating fine woodworking.  Maintenance of tools is as important as the woodworking project you are working on.  Keeping tools in like new condition, by proper woodworking tool maintenance, will save time otherwise spent on tool repair and money spent on ruined projects and replacement of parts or tools.

Purchasing better quality tools is probably the best first step in a successful tool maintenance program.  Look to manufacturers with a reputation for high quality materials and design when searching for a new tool.  They will most likely save money in the long run because they will last longer and stand up under rougher work load.

You will know that your tools are due for maintenance when they aren’t performing as well as when they were new and the quality of your completed projects are not up to par.  Things to consider in setting up your woodworking tool maintenance program are keeping cutting edges sharp, moving parts lubricated, alignment mechanisms true and tools and work surfaces clean and free of corrosion.

Equipment and supplies needed for tool maintenance:

  • Tool sharpening system
  • Sharpening guide book
  • Table saw calibration system
  • Pitch and resin remover
  • Blade and bit maintenance kit
  • Lubricant
  • Maintenance guide

Keeping cutting edges sharp:

  • Have a professional sharpening service to put a new edge on a circular saw blade
  • It is best to replace dull band saw blades and router bits
  • A sharpening system that works for most popular drill bit types would be sound tool maintenance.
  • An advanced sharpening system and sharpening guide book are recommended for hand tools.

Lubricating moving parts:

  • Regularly lubricate bearings and moving parts
  • Use a blade lubricating stick on your band saw, coping saw, and scroll saw blades.

Woodworking Tool Maintenance

Keeping tools clean and smooth:

  • Have an adequate dust collection system
  • Clean saw blades with a pitch and resin remover and polish the blade when changing it
  • Clean router bits with same cleaner used on saw blades and lubricate
  • Replace worn drive belts and band saw tires
  • Put an add-on wheel brush on your band saw if it doesn’t have one
  • Kits for cleaning and lubricating all work surfaces are available which include everything necessary for this task.


  • A maintenance guide and table saw calibration system will help with this part of your maintenance program.
  • Upgrades to your table saws fence and miter gauge will improve its performance
  • Upgrade your band saw’s blade guiding system to improve its performance

The kits and supplies mentioned in this article may be found in most hardware and woodworking stores and on line.

To get the best results in creating fine woodworking projects, woodworking tool maintenance is a must.  Tools should be kept free of dust and cleaned properly after each use to maintain them in top working order.  Help in setting up a successful maintenance program is available in guide books, special kits for different phases of maintenance and different tools, and the instruction book that comes with each tool.  If you haven’t kept up with the maintenance of your tools before, now is the time to start regularly scheduled tool maintenance to prolong the life of your valuable woodworking tools and have a safe work environment while saving time and money.  What’s not to like about that?

Five Ways to Safety Proof Your Fine Woodworking

Safety measures in creating fine woodworking are essential for preventing accidents.  Five ways to achieve that are the following:

1.  Use personal protective equipment:

  • Safety Glasses
  • Hearing protection
  • Proper clothing
  • Gloves

2.  Tool Maintenance

  • In good condition, clean
  • Safety guards in place
  • Push tool available for working with saws

3.  Work area

  • Proper ventilation when sawing and painting, staining, or stripping
  • Adequate lighting–overhead and task lighting to prevent shadows
  • Clean and uncluttered
  • Adequate space for work project

4.   Know your power tools

  • Proper training in using the tools
  • Know safety precautions concerning each tool
  • Understand which tool to use for each task
  • Check for frayed cords often
  • Use extension cords sparingly, if at al

5.  Make safety a habit

  • Make safety checks the first act when entering your woodworking area
  • Always use appropriate safety equipment and aids when working
  • Never skip safety measures; just this time, need to hurry, or for any other reason

Safety in Fine Woodworking

Evaluate your work place for safety.  You may find other ways to be safe that are not mentioned here.  Make necessary changes to assure your safety when creating fine woodworking.  Always Keep Safety in mind. Remember being cautious now may add days….years of contented, happy times while completing new woodworking projects.  Practicing  safety is always a smart thing to do.

My Challenges to Creating Fine Woodworking

I have found my greatest challenges in creating finewoodworking come from within me.  A lackof self confidence can cause a variety of slipups when trying to be creative.  For instance, I have purchased far more power tools than I really needed in the belief that my final product would be of good qualitybecause of my many different tools.

Material is another area that gets me into trouble.  My last project, which was a cradle, required ¾ inch plywood, which comes in many quality levels and prices.  I ran into two things that caused me to make a decision that left me with a final product that was far less in quality and considerably more work than I anticipated.  One, the highest quality plywood, as recommended on the material list of the woodworking pattern, was very expensive and weighing that against mylack of self confidence in myself, I chose a lesser quality plywood with the idea that my losses would be less if I ruined the project.  Two, I weighed the price of the high quality material against the price of a readymade cradle and I found it less expensive to buy one than to choose the higher quality material.  I made a poor choice as I chose the lesser quality material and in the end was very dissatisfied with the amount of extra work required and the poor quality of the final product.  I have now decided that a handmade product that you are making for someone else deserves the best quality material and patience.  A readymade product may sometimes look prettier but will never have the love put into it that you or I will put in when creating a fine woodworking projects.