Beginner Woodworking Projects Using Hand Tools

Beginner woodworking projects should be simple, easy to follow, and should involve a number of classic techniques that will really give you a sense of what woodworking is all about. Choosing a project that’s too complex can be overwhelming, frustrating and discouraging, so if this is your first time working with wood, make sure you take the time to choose a project that matches your skill level.

Six of the Best Woodworking Projects for Beginners

A hat rack or coat rack is a very simple woodworking project, but it’s a functional one. If you have the right tools and materials on hand and some basic woodworking skills, this project should only take a couple of hours to build. Plus, a rack can help to keep your home more organized, so it’ll be a highly functional piece that everyone in the home can use.

A basket stand is another easy to do woodworking project and it translates to a very useful and versatile piece of furniture. This type of project also makes use of biscuit joiners which are highly durable and super tough.

Nesting trays are easy enough to build so a beginner should have no trouble tackling this project their first day. You can whip out these handmade pieces every time you have guests over, or use them to organize makeup and personal belongings on top of your dresser. Truly, these trays have a number of uses and they’re incredibly simple to make. These trays make use of simple template routed handles and rabbeted corner joints.

Tip: Nothing can be more satisfying than creating a beautiful new bench for your backyard. If you’re searching for a project that’s more substantial, then creating a solid bench made from rich thick lumber should interest you. This bench makes use of simple biscuit joinery that makes the bench both durable and tough. The good thing is, this type of project should only take a couple of days to complete.

If you have a collection of pallets lying around and haven’t figured out a way to put them to use, then creating your own pallet chairs can be the perfect solution. The best thing about this beginner project is that it can be completed in just a couple of hours and requires cheap supplies you probably already have lying around your garage.

The X-table is another beginner-friendly project that’s simple to do. This table is made using leftover fence boards and takes only a couple of hours to create.

Beginner woodworking projects should always be simple. Once your skills have developed you can try moving on to more complex project designs.

Tips for the Novice Woodworker

If you’re new to woodworking and you’re on a tight budget, making a project out of scrap wood is a great option.

scrap wood projectBut the word scrap often means something else to lumberyard owners. Typically, at a lumber yard, you’ll be able to pay a flat rate for as much scrap as you can carry, regardless of wood type. This means you can fill up on quality hardwoods such as mahogany, cherry, maple, and black walnut. You won’t be able to purchase huge pieces, but smaller pieces of quality lumber can allow you to take on a variety of projects that are perfect for the beginner and they’ll turn out beautifully.

While a good electric saw will help to cut down on the time it takes to complete a project, never underestimate good old woodworking hand tools. Some people simply think hand tools are less effective than power tools or too slow to be useful. But hand tools can actually be more efficient, they’re quieter so you can use them any time of the day or night and they give each project a quality look. Using hand tools will also give you a better idea of how different types of wood behaves, while also giving you a new respect for the art of woodworking.

The Right Tools for the Job

Woodworking can be an expensive hobby, so you’ll have to learn how to save cash on supplies where you can, but tools are the one thing you should never cheap out on. More often than not, you’ll find that lower-priced power tools will not last. Especially if you enjoy taking on larger projects. If you have to, save up for a few months to get that more expensive circular saw. It will last for several years and most manufacturers offer extensive warranties.

Learning how to take care of your hand tools is just as important as learning how to work with wood. If you don’t know how to properly keep your tools sharp and in good working order, sign up for a sharpening class where you’ll learn how to expertly care for your tools, how to take them apart for cleaning, and most importantly, how to keep them sharp. Dull tools can affect the overall quality of your work. You’ll also find that if you keep your tools in excellent working order, you’ll be able to complete certain jobs in less time, even as the quality of your work increases.

Tools and Work Area

Carpenter's little working tools on a dusty table.

You’ll find that there are hundreds of useful and neat tools to choose from that can make woodworking even more exciting. But there are only a few basic tools you’ll need to get started.

Hand tools: Chisels, screwdrivers, carpenter’s hammer, sandpaper, sanding blocks, handsaw, tape measure.

Power tools: Power sander, jigsaw, table saw, circular saw, and drill.

With these basic woodworking tools, you’ll find that you can create just about anything from a simple hat rack to an outdoor play structure.

Before you get started on your first woodworking project, you’ll need to create a safe, organized work area. One of the most common causes of injuries in woodworking involves an unsafe work area.  Unstable work surfaces, too many extension cords, and a lack of ventilation are among the top culprits. If you don’t have much room to set up a safe workshop area, try working outdoors. On a beautiful day, it can be a true pleasure to work outside and spread out your woodworking supplies safely.