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.
I’d like to add some type of sharpening system to your list. A simple sandpaper and slab system, stones, or the more expensive slow grinder system. Although listed, files should be in this sharpening/maintenance category as well. You’ll need these as soon as you purchase a majority of hand tools. They’ll be needed throughout each day of using the tools. Initial setup and routine maintenance will give better results with less fighting the grain and tool. Whether your a beginner or a master, the tools must be sharp and maintained.
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Dan, my work space that is available for power tools is quite small, about 6′ x 20′. It may seem like a lot on the surface, but a long rectangle is a bear to work in. It requires a lot of serpentine action. That said, I don’t have too much room for large footprint tools. I have settled finally on three big tools; a small bench saw, a thickness planer, and a drill press. I had to forgo the jointer, so I use hand tools to make up for it’s absence (as I do with a lot of my hand tool techniques). I have gotten to the point where I can flatten one side and true an edge of a board reasonably quick. I then finish it up with the thickness planer and table saw, giving me a nice flat board. I guess what I am basically saying is, there’s more than one way to skin a cat, and don’t write off hand tools as a quaint way to experience the past. They worked for thousands of years, and still do! Thanks for the blogs, they make for great reading.


The next hand tool every woodworker should have is a nail set. In fact, you should have several sizes. They look like awls, and you use them to drive nail heads into the wood so they are flush or right below the surface. This allows you to fill the holes and prepare for staining or painting. The nail setter will usually have either a convex or concave surface to grip the nail better and keep it from sliding off and marring the wood.
When I started planning this makeover, I knew I wanted to get rid of the glass coffee table I had and go with something more rustic and cozy… something with beautiful wood grain that looks like it’s been in an old farmhouse somewhere for ages. So rather than searching every single antique store in town or buying something off the shelf at a big box store, I gathered up my tools, picked up some lumber, and made myself a new coffee table!
More than a year ago, before I joined the staff, Megan Fitzpatrick and I talked about an article I wanted to write about lumberyards and the perennial discussion about domestic versus exotic lumber. At the time, I was also working on an interactive map of New York City’s neighborhoods, and I floated the idea of creating a map of local lumberyards that would accompany the article.
11-2. Pipe clamps, I have about 10 of them with varying lengths of black pipe in 1′ increments. I can switch out the clamps for larger lengths on larger projects, or downsize as needed. (very rarely do I need more than 6 clamps on a project during drying time, and when I do, it’s time for a cup of coffee and a 1/2 hour break while I wait) You keep your initial investment down, and buy them as you need them to increase your collection.
This is the side table version of the stylish project we shared previously. In certain configurations, it could function as a coffee table. It’s a design suitable for small spaces. The wooden top has this hollow storage compartment which is great for keeping things like a book, a magazine, the remote control or the phone when relaxing on the sofa. The hairpin legs give the table a slender look.
This is a project that proves building furniture can be really easy when you’re creative. This is a rolling coffee table made up of four wooden crates. The crates are joined together with screws and their interiors can be used as storage spaces for books, planters, magazines and personal belongings. The center is hollow and you can either leave it as such or cover it with a piece of wood.

This project actually started with me wanting to build a chair for myself, however I lacked advanced woodworking tools and a workshop. I therefore began making furniture that was as straightforward as possible and could be build easily with simple tools. Most importantly, all parts could be cut at the DIY store where I got my plywood. This meant I didn't need a saw bench or lots of space. The cut parts were easy to transport to my home and I could pretty much build the whole chair on the kitchen table. This inspired me to make other furniture pieces in similar fashion.

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