Lots of good comments! I do think it is a bit of stretch to include a jointer and surface planner on the ‘basics’ list – we’ve got a slippery slope here! And a lot of different approaches – money, space, time, resources, etc. But lets plunge ahead. If you buy your wood already (or mostly) prep’ed, then the jointer & surface planner can be postponed. You definitely need a way to accurately measure linear distances (e.g. length, width) so a good ruler and tape measure. You need to be able to measure squareness – so you need a good combination square. You need to be able to mark the wood – so a good marking knife, an awl, some chalk, a fine pencil, etc. You should have some decent chisels (and good ones don’t need to cost a lot!). You will need to sharpen them (again not expensive – piece of plate glass and some sandpaper). You need a way to accurately cut your wood – a couple of good handsaws and a file or two for sharpening. You really should have a decent work surface/work bench/etc – a good first project by the way. Last of the basics – a good drill (3/8″ vs battery type). Lastly (I could go on but room is lacking), take a look at Paul Seller’s video’s for simple but highly competent work.
Solid wood will at all-time remain a top selection where furniture is concerned. It is a particular resilience; sturdiness and texture in time enhance and add coziness and warmth to any home. It is clear that it might be considered Rudimental and rustic, in some occasions the bold contrast among a solid piece of wood and a modern interior design scheme is to be desired.
Certain species of wood have traditionally been associated with different styles of furniture. The wood of choice for the Arts & Crafts movement was quarter sawn white oak, valued for its appearance, durability and dimensional stability. An Arts & Crafts style piece executed in maple might be a well-made example of a classic style, but the choice of wood would be visually at odds with the design. Pine and other softwoods impart a more relaxed, country influence, while traditional hardwoods, such as cherry and walnut, are more likely to be associated with fine furniture.
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The sequence in which boards are cut from a log will determine how stable the boards will be once they dry. As a board loses moisture it will shrink in three dimensions. The change in length is so small as to be considered insignificant and the change in radial movement is always less than the tangential movement. This is most significant as the wood dries between the time it's cut (i.e. green wood), and the point where it is kiln dried or air dried and ready for use. Wood that shrinks excessively, or that has been dried improperly, will often develop checks at the ends. When shopping for lumber, carefully inspect the ends for any checking, or for excessively long checks. It is best to allow for some scrap at the end of each board, just in case. As you trim the end, hit the off-cut across the edge of your bench, and if it breaks in two, you'll have to cut off a little more.
If you have already completed some college or university education, then many apprenticeship programs will give you credit for prior learning. You can even receive credit for work experience you possess in the construction field. It is important to note that any education and work experience credits will likely be evaluated on a case-by-case basis, so if you want to explore this option, then checking around for the best use of your experience is key.
I think it depends on the type of woodworker you would like to become. Are you more interested in traditional “electric free” carpentry or are you drawn to the ease and convenience of modern machinery? Also, I think you should take into consideration what kind and how much shop space you have available. I have worked with all the modern machines for years now, and are just presently finding personal satisfaction in traditional woodworking. In fact, last night I built my very first bookcase with just a few “powerless” hand tools. So in all, I would suggest some personal reflection…What type of woodworker do you want to become?…and from there garnish your shop appropriately.