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Woodworking 101

I am taking woodworking for beginner at Vancouver School Board. Today is the first day of eight lessons. At the end of the lessons, I will build a small table with a drawer. Before today’s class, I always thought how can can woodworking be? It seems quite easy to buy some piece of wood, cut them to the right size and then screw them together. I totally underestimate the depth of knowledge involved in woodworking. Even I don’t care about workmanship, decoration, artistic design and all those useless subjective aspects, there are still lots of thing I need to know in order to build a functional and sturdy table.

The first class covers some basic workshop safety, required by the school board for using the workshop. Then the instructor spent almost an hour teaching us different kinds of wood. I just realize soft wood is not always soft and hard wood is not always hard. Soft wood refers to wood from evergreen tree and hard wood refers to wood from deciduous trees. I saw many wood samples from pine, fir, spruce, cherry, to maple, birch, alder to oak, walnut and teak. I get a general understanding on how to pick good wood and why the good wood worth the more expensive price tag. I learn the difference between vertical cut and flat cut, rough lumber and finished lumber, construction grade and trim grade. I also learned that a 2×4 is not really 2″ by 4″, it only got 1.5″ x 3.5″.

The instructor shows us how to use the machines in the second half of the class. It is the first time I operate a sliding saw and cut my first piece of wood. Safety is very important in working with power tools. Always pay attention where your hands are and stay away from any moving parts. You don’t want to lose your fingers. I learned how to use mitre saws, table saws, jointer, planner and difference kinds of blades. I also learn three ways of making a join, pocket hole, dowel and biscuit. Too bad that the class is only 3 hours long, the instructor did not have time show us all the power tools. We will learn routers, other drills and saws in the advance class.

The instructor is very nice, he will take us out on a field trip to buy wood this Sunday. I still haven’t decide what kind of wood I want to use. I want to use the cheaper pine if I screw up my table or I can use a better looking cherry or birch if I want to display my work in the living room. Buying wood is not cheap, the material cost of the table is at least $50, it may be over $100 if I go for expensive wood like walnut or oak. Buying a MDF table from IKEA is cheaper than building your once.

I am looking forward to next class. Woodworking is quite rewarding since you can see your production born from nothing other than a pile of wood. I think all men should know some basic woodworking skill. Woodworking is a very manly activity You are not man enough if you don’t know how to work with wood.

3 comments to Woodworking 101

  • Take some pictures of your various work-in-progress will you? To share here or for your keep-sake. It sounds like a lot of fun.

    If nothing else, you will get a small table with drawer out of this class! Years ago, I took a auto class from Richmond School Board to learn about how car works. As a bonus, I did my own oil change and changed the breaks (under the instructor supervision), so not that bad.

    Have fun.

    P.S. How’s your kitchen? Love to see some photos of the work-in-progress and the final product. Good luck on that too.

    • Good idea. I should take pictures of my small table.

      Learning auto work is on my to-do list. One thing a time.

      The cabinet is done, I am waiting for the counter top now. Let me pose some picture.

  • I could tell that you would love it!!!! =)

    Yes, make me a good, sturdy table – I want to put something nice on top of it =) (like our wedding photo frame?)

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