Woodworking encompasses a great number of diverse activities, including turning, woodcarving, marquetry, cabinetmaking and joinery, however, every specialist craftsman or craftswoman has at some time mastered the fundamentals of measuring and marking, dimensioning, assembling and finishing – considered the basics of woodworking skills that are the core of any woodworking calling. The ability to think in three dimensions is needed to mark out the wood for a project and to imagine how one component fits with ...
Woodworking encompasses a great number of diverse activities, including turning, woodcarving, marquetry, cabinetmaking and joinery, however, every specialist craftsman or craftswoman has at some time mastered the fundamentals of measuring and marking, dimensioning, assembling and finishing – considered the basics of woodworking skills that are the core of any woodworking calling. The ability to think in three dimensions is needed to mark out the wood for a project and to imagine how one component fits with another and in what order is required of a woodworker. You will also need to know which tools will give the best results, depending on the level of accuracy required and the properties of the wood you are using. Dimensioning is the process of reducing raw materials accurately to size. This almost invariably entails planning components square and true – a procedure that is simple in principle but takes a lot of practice to become perfect. Cutting and assembling a variety of joints are part of all but the simplest of woodworking projects. Long been regarded as a measure of a woodworker’s skills, joinery needs a steady hand-eye coordination, but experience will tell you the best way to fasten one piece of wood to another attractively and discreetly without sacrificing strength. One necessary addition to these pivotal skills is an appreciation of how wood behaves. It is a unique, living material that continues to swell and contract with changes in humidity, a factor that a woodworker must deal with in the design and construction of every project. Some woods are easier to work with than others, and each piece, regardless of the species, is exclusive in the way the grain turns and twists. There is no one right way to do anything in woodworking. The right way is the way that works best for you and what works best is a balance between the time something takes, the tools available, the pleasure you take in the process and the quality of results you are looking for. There are arguments for both the use of hand tools and the use of machines for woodworking. Some say that using hand tools allow you to develop the ‘knack’ of cutting and shaping wood without tearing the grain. While other woodworking experts proclaim that you can often complete a project in less time with hand tools because of the set up required for the mechanical tools. Others believe just the opposite. We will discuss both options, hand tools and machine tools in this book.
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With a little patience, the right tool and techniques and a good set of plans, you don’t have to be Bob Villa to build something you’ll treasure for years to come.
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Any discussion of woodworking machinery should begin with shop safety; hand tools require safety precautions as well. Woodworking machines are made to cut, chop, abrade, slice, drill and shave materials that are considerably harder then human skin. When used carelessly, machines are dangerous and when used properly, machines can be a wonderful help. Wherever woodworkers gather, stories of accidents and near-misses come up sooner or later. Perhaps the term ‘accident’ is misleading here because ‘accident’ implies the injured person is a ‘victim’ of circumstances beyond their control; in most cases, it may be more appropriate to say that the ‘perpetrator’ suffers the consequences of his or her own carelessness. Consciousness of safety is the first requirement of good craftsmanship. Here are several things you can do to protect yourself while working with wood, either with machines or hand tools. Wear hearing and eye protection when using saws, routers, sanders and other equipment. To keep splinters and dust out of your eyes, use large plastic safety goggles, a face shield or safety glasses.
1. Goggles – the rigid lenses of safety goggles are surrounded by a soft plastic frame that fits and seals against the contours of your face. The sides are ventilated to prevent condensation and they can be worn over prescription eye glasses.
2. Hearing protectors – earplugs and padded ear muffs protect your hearing from overexposure to noise. Always wear protectors when using noisy power tools that could cause long-term damage to your hearing.
Keep your workshop area clean and neat so you won’t trip over a scrap of wood or an extension cord at an inconvenient moment. Tie up long hair; don’t wear loose-fitting clothing or any jewelry. All of these items can get caught in the machines and drag you towards the blades or other sharp parts. Don’t use machinery when you are tired or have consumed alcohol – any amount of alcohol, even a little bit is too much for operating machinery. This type of machinery is dangerous enough when you are fully alert, so why increase the odds of an accident? Focus on what you are doing at all times and