How to Plan a Personal Woodworking Project

If you’d like furniture for your home that fits your style—maybe a desk or bookcase—or simply want a hands-on creative outlet, woodworking may be for you. Like many activities, this one’s intimidating if you haven’t done it before. Here is how to plan a personal woodworking project, beginning with understanding why you’re doing it to putting on its finishing touches.

Ask Why You’re Making It

Think about the project’s purpose. If it’s for fun, then that’s reason enough, but if you want it to have a function, then this part of the process will help orient decisions around that function. If you’re making a desk, is it the right height and width to accommodate a chair? And if it’s a table, what are the stylistic consistencies you want it to share with the rest of your dining room? These questions can help you keep your mission in mind for when you start building.

Decide on Wood

Sure, you’ll be using wood, but there are many options to pick from. You need to pick an appropriate color wood, consider material costs, and decide between hardwood and softwood based on the specs of your project. Picking a wood color also involves understanding how finishes and stains will change the appearance and function of your finished project.

Get or Borrow Tools

You’ll also have to have the right tools on hand to work. You can purchase a circular saw for bigger tasks and/or a miter saw for cutting two-by-fours. Also, determine what router bits, which shape your cut ends, fit your woodworking project. Obtain a power drill, nail gun, and sander as well to make your job much easier; the sander will definitely save you hours of labor. If something is out of your price range or you don’t want to commit beyond this venture, friends or family may be willing to lend their more intricate tools.

Go to the Drawing Board

Whether working from a purchased plan or your own design, you need to understand how everything goes together when the screw hits the wood. Visualize each step and then sketch out your ideas, making adjustments when (not if) something doesn’t go as planned. Don’t be afraid of scrapping an entire feature of the design if the reality of the product can go in another direction—that’s part of the adventure of woodworking.

Make Cuts and Put It Together

With plans in hand, you can make all your cuts. Do similar cuts back to back to save time and pay attention to how different joints need to take shape. Then fit your pieces together, and when you know they are the right size, glue, screw, and nail everything together appropriately.

Finish It Off

When your project is securely put together, use the stains and finishes you chose. Be aware, certain stains take many applications until you achieve the look you were going for. Afterward, apply your finish to protect the wood for years of use and enjoyment.

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Written by Logan Voss

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