Building my first pieces

So far, my attempts at carpentry have been going quite good. I haven’t managed to chop my fingers off (or others) and I have managed to challenge myself quite often. Last week, I completed my first challenge- I finished a table. It was a 5-square foot beauty that is not worth a lot, but it certainly means a lot to me. I initially planned on gifting it to a bunch of friends, but I certainly don’t think I have the heart to give it up now.

First table carpentry

Here are some of the things I’ve learnt in my attempt to build the table. First of all, I’m glad I invested in a good workbench. Secondly, it took a lot of time getting the joints and the legs right- but I did not want to build legs that were not absolutely perfect or would start wobbling after a while, so I am glad I spent a lot of time on those. Third, I’m glad this is a learning process as well, because I had no clue that temperature and moisture had an impact on the wood. I moved the table from the garage one night because I was sure the rain would damage it and the table measurements slightly changed when I was working on it at the house basement (this added to the extra working time as well).

But hey, that was an amazing experience and I’m thinking of tackling cabinets next. Or maybe another table. Just for practice.

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Beginner tools

it doesn't take much to make a happy carpenter

A lot of people I speak to are put off the idea of trying carpentry themselves by the often mistaken idea that they’ll need loads of expensive tools and a shed. Sure, these things help as you go along, but for the beginner, this is not necessarily so.

If you do want to just try a simple project, maybe one of the ones I mentioned earlier, then a bit of planning is your main resource.

1) Choose your project and make sure you get clear simple instructions for its completion.

2)Do an inventory of all your tools, you’ll be surprised what you have tucked away in the cupboard, and you won’t need to much for a basic project, – make sure they’re in good working order, or give them a clean up. If you don’t have something, try and borrow it to begin – many of your friends and family will have basic equipment (maybe even unused wood) they’ll be happy to lend for a drink! And while you’re at it make sure you have all the necessary bolts and screws – these won’t cost the earth and a multi box will never get wasted.

3) Space – this is often the deal breaker, but it doesn’t need to be. If space is limited, consider doing a deal with your other half – perhaps treat them to a weekend away to allow you complete run of the house. Failing that break down your project into times, if something is going to need drying time plan a break around that, so it won’t be in your way. Store everything in an organised way based on when you’ll need to access it. For a simple project like a bird house or bookcase you’ll be surprised how little space you need with the proper organisation, even most balconies will do.

So, give it a go, with little expense you’ve got nothing to lose.