What should I build?
I’ll get started on that table once I have that new mortise chisel.
I need to build a bench before I can learn to cut dovetails.
I don’t have enough time to build anything.
Do any of these
excuses statement sound familiar? Some of them may be valid, some of them may just be the woodworker stalling for time. We have all been there. The internet has opened our eyes to a world of magnificent work and sometimes just getting started is intimidating because we have too much information at our finger tips or the stunning pictures do nothing but worry us that our work will never be that good.
I’m not gonna get all motivational on you, tell you not to care what others think, and get to the shop and start working. It is human nature to be a little hesitant and to let other things get in the way when we are trying something new. I say embrace this fear and use it to make you better.
I think the most common excuse I hear is that another tool or jig is needed before the grander project can be built. That’s great, why not build that tool or jig and use it as a skill building exercise. Shop projects don’t have to be perfect or made from expensive woods. They are the perfect playground to try out a new joinery technique. If a joint has gaps or your splinter and edge, you don’t have to fret because as long as the tool does it’s job it works.
This is a lot of what I based my Hand Tool School on when I started it. Introducing woodworkers to hand cut joinery by having them build the myriad of jigs and appliances that make our work more efficient. Hand Tool woodworking is a great example where many little projects are helpful around the shop. Shooting boards, bench hooks, nail boxes, mallets, etc are just the beginning. Don’t worry about what wood to use or messing up a joint, but just get building
This sawbench is built using only a hand saw and applies several different kinds of cuts. It’s not pretty but it works great and strengthened my ability to saw to a line. Now I use it every day.
These bench hooks are never far from hand on my workbench. They strengthened my ability to flatten a board and glue up a panel.
In some instances we dressed up really simple things in order to force ourselves to try a new joint. This dovetail marker could have been made many different ways but why not teach yourself to hand cut sliding dovetail joints and make a marker that will last generations.
These are just the tip of the iceberg and I’m not wanting to turn this post into a commercial for The Hand Tool School. The point is that there are hundreds of simple little projects that can be built in a few hours that will help you to build your skills and confidence. Moreover these projects give back by being useful shop aids and maybe even shop storage.
So go grab a saw and a board and make some practice cuts along the length. If you plan it right you may end up with a handy rack to hold chisels or clamps after 15-20 minutes of sawing. Get Woodworking!