Note: If someone reading these has any comments, I am happy to hear your thoughts. At my age, I am not interested in defending what I do, but I am very interested in learning new techniques myself😉

There are a number of techniques or skills that you need to pick up to get you started. The thing to remember is that woodworking is about problem solving. The more different operations and techniques that you understand and have mastered, the greater your arsenal of solutions to a given problem.

I’d like to demonstrate a number of these techniques by assisting our students building a workbench. We will start with a basic drawing and modify it according to the needs of the students in the class.

Also – another note about safety.  I seem to draw blood about every two weeks – luckily I only typically need stitches once every couple of years.  Biggest culprits? Handling more weight than I probably should, and probably, handling material in general. The biggest thing to remember? Whenever you pick up a piece of wood, if it has nails or screws coming out of it, make sure you know where they are. Nothing is more aggravating than tossing a piece of salvaged wood on a pile only to find that a stray nail sticking out has caught your arm or leg as it was thrown. Bu the way, the feeling I get when I do that is not “OMG, look what I’ve done”. It is more like, “You’ve got to be kidding me, I wonder if I need to stop the bleeding or can I just keep working?”. My favorite short term bandage is electrical tape, but that’s for later…   


  • Designing/sketching
    • It’s fair to say that I have never worked from a detailed plan for anything I’ve ever built. Even my own pieces. They are constantly changing – as I see how things fit together, how they look in proportion and how that feel. 
    • I will also say in my defense, that it is very difficult for me to see all the details when I am planning. I can visualize the rough concept easily and clearly, but the specific details always seem to change depending on the circumstances. And, it’s how I learn.
    • In this session, in addition to learning several skills, we’ll focus on understanding what our needs are for a workbench and designing (rough sketching on a napkin) a plan based on those needs.
  • Cutting to Width
    • For this operation, I’ll use a table saw to demonstrate the techniques, but because I was taught to immediately remove all safety equipment from my tools (thanks to my grandfather), students cannot yet use this saw. My grandfather also taught me how to be safe, what to watch and what to do to keep all my fingers. So far, those lessons have worked😉
  • Cutting to length
    • This is much easier to teach because you can start with a basic hand saw and work your way up. That’s what we’ll do. Your first quiz will be to cut a 2X4 with a hand saw. Easier said than done unless you practice.
  • Fastening/Joinery
    • Attaching different pieces of wood together is one of the most important tasks you need to master. When your piece is complete, it should generally not move. If something you have built feels loose or shaky, it’s probably not right. “If its worth building, its worth overbuilding”…
    • This will also include what fasteners to use, how long, etc.
  • How to use a screwgun
    • I have to say, I almost NEVER use nails any more. There are specific examples when they are still valuable, but generally, we will always use screws for fastening in this class. Besides, you can always take screws out if you make a mistake.
  • Why I almost always predrill holes
    • It basically provides for a longer lasting, stronger hold. And it helps prevent wood from splitting.
  • How (and why) to use clamps to hold pieces together
    • Stronger, longer lasting results. Also helps act as a spare pair of hands, and helps to prevent injuries from pieces moving when you are working on them.
  • Understanding the concept of relative level (and square).
    • Sometimes, when your floor is uneven, or the pieces you are working woth are not perfect, you need to be able to allow for these differences and work around them to produce the best possible end result.
  • Sanding
    • Seems like an easy one, but several examples will show you what to use and when to use it. Sanding can be used to make a piece feel like glass, or it can be used to remove pretty large chunks of material.
  • Other stuff, if we get to it;-)
    • Installing dowels to hide screws
    • How to inlay basic shapes
    • Glue-ups

General form (one example) – worktable is 48”(L) X 32”(W) X 33”(H).

3 @ 2X4’s – 8 @ 32” – legs (3 @ 8’)

1 @ 2X4’s – 4 @ 24” – shelf and table support (ends)

2 @ 2X4’s – 4 @ 40” – shelf support (sides

1 4X* ¾” plywood – 1 @ 48X32; 1 @40X24 (shelf); +  small fabricated corner braces