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Few things are as satisfying and relaxing as making something new with your own hands. Programming comes close, at least for me (and I’ve recently offered some tips on learning to code), but it’s still quite different. Typing just isn’t the same as clamping planks of wood together, drilling holes and watching something you’ve envisioned (or planned out in SketchUp) come to life. But where’s a good place to start?
If you’ve never built any furniture before, going out to a hands-on woodworking class in your area might be a good idea. But it’s not your only option – here are some great resources you can learn from even if you don’t have the time or budget to attend a local class.
The Wood Whisperer
I’m going to start with the one I like best. The Wood Whisperer has been around for years now, and offers some truly excellent video content, both paid and free.
The screenshot above comes from the Wall-Hanging Magazine Rack video tutorial. Like other projects on the site, this one has a stated purpose (building a magazine rack), but that purpose actually serves as a way to demonstrate several useful techniques you can apply to many other projects (using pocket screws, in this case).
The guy behind the videos and the site, Marc J. Spagnuolo, is both knowledgeable and fun to watch. Also, the videos look excellent – the About page includes a bit of information on Marc’s background in tech, which explains that.
As I mentioned, not all content on the site is free, but there’s more than enough to get you started. And if you prefer YouTube, there’s also a YouTube channel.
Woodworking For Engineers
Next comes Woodworking For Engineers, because I’m pretty sure there are many geeks in the audience. This Canadian website will teach you how to build handy projects such as this stand-up laptop table (Bakari explained why you might want to work while standing). One important thing to note here is that the format isn’t video based:
It’s more of a slide-based approach, where each step gets a single image (quite large) alongside a detailed text explanation with links. This has the advantage of being easier to browse and search through, but obviously, it conveys less visual information than a well-produced video would.
The site does offer some video content, such as these SketchUp tutorials (and you can also find a filmed tutorial at the end of that page). SketchUp is geeky, but that’s not really where the site got its name. If you’re looking to create something other than typical cabinetry or living room furniture, Woodworking For Engineers might be able to spark your imagination with these interesting wooden contraptions. In fact, even if you’re a geek with no special interest in woodworking, you really should check out the binary marble adding machine.
Woodworking For Mere Mortals
Finally, we come to Woodworking for Mere Mortals, a site by one Steve Ramsey. Steve has his own YouTube channel, and he’s pretty entertaining to watch, as you can see on this Valentine’s Day project video:
Woodworking for Mere Mortals, or WWMM for short, is fairly ad-heavy, but it has an active community of users and has been around since 2010, which is a small eternity in Internet blog terms. The design isn’t exactly astounding, but there’s plenty of information. I like how Steve features his community members in blog posts like this one showing two reader projects.
What’s nice about WWMM is that it’s not entirely project-centric. Some of the updates are just plain fun, and aren’t very serious.
Are you into woodworking? Have you used any online resources to improve your skills or get ideas for interesting projects? I’d love to see some of those in the comments, with your own take on what makes those resources special or useful for you. Any recommendations?