I am ready to go with my first project. I would appreciate input on what others did for their first project. I have a table saw, 1/4" router, various hand tools and alot of desire. I am looking for suggestions that would allow me to do the project with the tools I have and be a good learning experience. If you have plans for what you did, great! If not, I will find plans on the net and buy them.
I don't have all of these dovetail jigs, etc. If I need to build some jigs, no problem.
The thing I always ask myself when I'm looking for a project is "What do I need?". I like to make things for myself rather than buy them, so if I can make it out of wood I do.
So for your first project you should make something that you need around the house or workshop. Need a place to put some books? Build a bookshelf. Need a place to do some work? Build a workbench. I'm buying a new pool table so I need a light to go ever it. So my next project is going to be a pool table light.
When it comes to plans I can't help you out much. I find that it is much more rewarding if you design your own projects. The feeling of satisfaction is doubled if you not only build the thing for yourself, but also figure out your own way to build it. It also makes for an original, one of a kind piece that you know no one else will have.
You might want to make something for your shop - like a saw horse or a bench or even just a small tool tote. The first few things I made (and that was not long ago) had a few problems, but I was able to make them work and I learned so much. They were not good enough to display in the living room, but were fine for the shop. Once you get a few basics down, build something for the house.
I think boxes are good - not alot of investment in wood, but lots of skill to do it right. Maybe you could make a bread box or a piggy bank. Once you can do that then try something with legs, then drawers and so on. Before you know it you have a wide range of skills and plenty of confidence.
The thing about this hobby is that there's always something to learn and something you can improve on.
One piece of advice I was given (which I didn't follow but wish I had) was to start by getting cheap wood, or plywood even better, or MDF, and just make boxes. Over and over again ... practice making them square, true, and well-fitting with each other. Practice making them different heights, depths, and widths. Practice making them with various joinery methods; mitered corners, butt joints, tongue-and-groove, dual-dado joints ... anything you can think of, to join them together, do it.
Why? Because, almost everything that you make, from now on, will probably be some modification of a box. Kitchen cabinets, entertainment centers, end tables, workbenches, speaker housing, stuff to store your tools in, jewelery boxes and cedar chests, buffets, dressers, secretaries, desks of all kinds ... all of them are at least in part based on the basic box. Master it, and you've mastered quite a lot.
You might consider building a workbench. This and a table saw are the heart of any woodshop. To save on expenses, I'd use a combination of softwood and plywood. A recent issue of popular woodworking has detailed plans for a beginning workbench. Also, search through the project plans offerred by "The New Yankee Workshop". I built my first workbench from one of Norm's plans.
first thing i started with was a coffie table, funny thing is i got a bit carried away and made it like a dining table, but havent complained at all even though it"s huge.the bigger the more junk you accumilate on it.good luck
My mind set is inline with Josh's. Practice and perfect some jointery on cheap wood. Get yourself a book on jigs and make some of them. The jigs and practice will aid you in a perfecting showcase quality projects. I would also suggest utilizing a plan for your first few projects. Someone suggested boxes and birdhouses were also suggested. They're not bad projects as numerous types of jointery can be employed, and birdhouses certainly aren't required to be square, try hex's, oct,s and such. Birdhouses and outdoor projects are great for getting family involved, kids love to paint\stain\decorate birdhouses.
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