Basic woodworking tools are different from beginner woodworking tools. For one thing, I don’t like to use the word “beginner” unless I am using it accurately. It’s not a very useful label, in my opinion, because it implies that there are clear-cut and hierarchical steps in your growth as a woodworker. Who wants to return to grade school during his or her valuable shop time? So I only use the word “beginner” when I’m talking about someone who is touching woodworking tools for the first time.
It's generally more difficult to find long boards. Stock under four or five feet long can often be cut from longer boards, but as the parts become longer, the rough stock will have to be either very clear and straight, or have extra thickness to allow you to remove any bow along its length. In making parts for the room divider (featured in this issue), four stiles had to be set aside: three because they kept bowing no matter how often they were jointed flat, and one because it was under the minimum thickness by the time it was flat.
Often referred to as Douglas Fir, this wood has a straight, pronounced grain, and has a reddish brown tint to it. Fir is most often used for building; however, it’s inexpensive and can be used for some furniture-making as well. It doesn’t have the most interesting grain pattern and doesn’t take stain very well, so it’s best to use it only when you intend to paint the finished product. Douglas fir is moderately strong and hard for a softwood, rating 4 on a scale of 1 to 4.