Where To Start Your Woodworking Journey? (11 Tips)

Last Updated on February 17, 2022 by Barry Gray

Woodworking can be an extremely fulfilling and rewarding career path. Whether you are a woodworking hobbyist or planning on a full-time woodworking career, you will never be disappointed when choosing woodworking as a hobby or as a career.

To begin your woodworking journey, you first need to have the passion, will, and drive to succeed. If you are driven and passionate to succeed in woodworking, the next aspect is the right tool for the job. You will need a few essential handy tools when you are starting.

So, now that you have decided to start your journey on woodworking, you want to know what’s next? Read on, and I will guide you along with this immensely satisfying and rewarding career!

woodworking journey

When you start your woodworking journey, a few basic skills are essential to succeed in this field. 

Whether you have worked with wood previously or are just starting on the journey, you need a few basic woodworking skills to be good at woodworking. 

These skills are simple skills that anyone can pick up, and you do not need any expensive tools to get started.

An Understanding Of How Wood Behaves

Before you can begin working with wood, you should first understand the orientation of wood and in which direction you need to plane the timber. 

As a tree grows, you will notice that it has growth ring layers, creating a gorgeous grain that shows up on the timber when it is cut. 

The grain of the wood can make it tricky when we must plane the wood, especially if we ignore the direction of the grain. It is also vital to understand how humidity fluctuations can cause wood to expand and contract. 

All woodworking projects need to take cognizance of this natural property of the wood, and ignoring this fact can be ruinous for any of your woodworking projects.

Sharpened Tools At Your Disposal

woodworking sharp tools

Many people believe that working wood by hand is callous work. However, that is an incorrect judgment, only because they are not using the correct tools for the job, or the blades for their tools are not sharp enough. 

It is common knowledge among all woodworkers that you must let the tool do the work for the work to go smoothly. 

Having sharp tools for the job is an essential skill you need to master. It is not only inefficient for you to work with unsharpened tools, but it is also dangerous for you to do so. 

If you have to push your chisel using your body weight, and when the chisel does push through the wood, you can lose control, and your tool will jab into whatever object or surface is in its path. 

Ensuring that you always have sharp tools at your disposal will not only make woodworking enjoyable, but it will be safe and efficient for you too. 

Making Use Of Hand Tools

making use of hand tools

Many people would falsely believe that to succeed in woodworking, and you require exotic power tools to prepare and finish a woodworking project. However, this is not a correct statement, as you can still complete most woodworking projects with basic hand tools. 

You would finish a wooden project to perfection with a few relatively inexpensive hand tools

Back in the days before power tools became mainstream, many carpenters and woodworking enthusiasts had to make do with whatever tools they had at their disposal. And more often than not, they had basic hand-operated tools to work with. 

If you are not familiar with using hand tools for your woodworking project, buying a “How To” book on using them would probably be a good investment. 

It will take a little bit of practice initially, but once you have become proficient with using them, you would be lost without these basic hand tools.

Cutting Simple Joints

Your basic mortise and tenon joints and dovetail joints are necessary for any wood construction project. Knowing what each of these joints is and when to use each would be essential for completing a woodworking project. 

If you are putting together a wooden table, constructing a wooden staircase, or a deck for your outdoor patio, each of these projects would require some form of a joining technique for putting together a few pieces of timber. 

Having this skill and being a master would go a long way in your woodworking journey. You can think of this as another “tool” in your toolbox.

Your Finishing On Furniture

wood furniture finish

Your finishes on your woodworking project can say a lot about your woodworking skills. This final attention to detail can mean the difference between a beautifully finished project or one that might look like it could belong on a scrap heap! 

The finishings on a wooden project beautify it and make it stand out from the rest. In addition, the final finishings that you add to a wood construction can also protect your wood and give it that extra strength from the harsh elements and give it a long lifespan. 

Once you see a final finished project, it will inspire you to take on more woodworking tasks. A good starter book on Wood finishes can be helpful to put you on the right path to get your wood finishes just right.

When you have mastered each of these skills listed above, you can consider yourself a masterful woodworker. 

It may take a little bit of your time to master each of these skills, but once you have perfected each of them, your future in woodworking will be bright, and you can take on several different types of woodworking projects. 

It will become second nature to you with much practice and consistency, and one day you will thank yourself for mastering your craft! 

Know The Differences Between Woodworking And Carpentry

Carpenter Using Manual Wood Planer

As a beginner in woodworking, you might have heard each of these terms mentioned. You may think that they are the same thing; however, they are not. 

The basis of carpentry does require a good knowledge and understanding of woodworking methods and techniques. 

Carpenters and woodworkers use wood to construct their projects with similar tools and materials. However, there are some fundamental distinctions between each of these areas. 

A woodworker will specialize in wooden manufacturing projects such as furniture, cabinets, musical instruments, and even wooden toys. On the other hand, carpentry is a broader field, and carpenters construct buildings, put together structures, and work on larger wooden projects. 

A woodworker will primarily work with wood, while a carpenter will also work with wood and use other materials such as cement foundations, dry-walling, and much more.

Learn Basic Woodworking

When starting, woodworking can be fun and easy to learn. The only way to start learning woodworking is to build something for yourself. 

Woodworking is a lifelong learning journey, but it is achievable when you start on one project at a time. You are guaranteed to continuously hone and perfect your craft by learning a little each day. 

It would be best to start with small projects and then work your way up to bigger, more complex projects. It doesn’t matter if you do not master one skill straight away. But with constant practice and focus, you will eventually perfect your skills. 

Learn About The Different Types Of Wood

lumber stack

You need to also learn about the different types of wood and which type of wood you need to use for simple projects. With so many different wood types available, it can get confusing for you as a beginner. 

So, learning about all the various types that are available for you can get you very far.

When starting your woodworking journey, you do not need to use rare and exotic wood for your project. 

A few offcuts that have been thrown away from wood factories can still be used. Don’t spend too much money on wood when you are only learning how to make dovetail joints or practicing mortise and tenon joints.

Another aspect of understanding wood is to know how the dimensions of wood are written. You will generally see dimensions on sheets of timber written as 5 x 2 (five by two) or 3 x 10 (three by ten). 

These dimensions indicate the length and width of the timber. Knowing these dimensions can help when purchasing a board from your local timber store or hardware store. It would help if you told the shop assistant the length and width of the timber using this measurement technique.

Seek Out An Apprenticeship In Woodworking

If you have mastered the fundamentals of woodworking and would like to pursue a career in it, you can opt for an apprenticeship to learn and work with a professional woodworker. You can also enroll in a few accredited courses that would take your career as a woodworker even further. 

Once you have the skills and the experience to succeed in woodworking, you can start a woodworking shop and work on bigger projects for paying clients.

 Keeping A Clean And Organised Workspace

woodworking workshop

Having an organized and clean workspace can save you a lot of hassles when working with wood. Being able to find where all of your tools are stored and getting easy access to your most commonly used tools can be a big lifesaver, especially since your collection of woodworking tools is bound to grow over the years. 

Keeping your workspace area clean and neat after each woodworking project is not only a necessity but it is also a safety measure. You would not want to slip over some sawdust that has been leftover on the floor from your last wood project—or even injure yourself with a chisel that you left lying around either. 

Remember always to turn off any power tools you have used and roll away any power cords.

When you have limited space or do not have a garage or a basement from which to work, a makeshift table set up in your backyard can also be used. As time progresses, you can work towards having a proper workshop. 

The Right Power Tools For The Job

power tools

You do not require complex power tools or machinery when you are starting. With only a few simple tools, you can learn most of the basic woodworking skills. 

For smaller projects, you can even be a little diligent and try and use a few of your tools for multiple purposes. When you are getting started on your woodworking journey, a helpful tip is to find used tools that people might be selling online. 

There isn’t anything wrong with buying a slightly used circular saw, or jigsaw, instead of a brand-new costlier version. The internet is a potential goldmine for second-hand tools if you know what to look for.


There is so much to learn when you are only beginning your woodworking journey. It is undoubtedly a fun and enjoyable area of expertise that will surely give you many hours of satisfaction and a few grey hairs along the way to! 

But, with consistent practice and time, you will be proud of what you can build and achieve. 

Once you see your first finished cabinet or table, you will thank yourself for starting on that journey. Someday even your grandchildren might still be using a table that you have made with your own hands.

Photo of author

Barry Gray

Hi, I’m Barry. I’ve loved woodworking and bringing things back to life for more years than I care to remember. I hope my passion for tools comes across loud and clear in everything you read here on The Tool Square.

Leave a Comment