6 Easy Woodworking Techniques You Need to Know

Did you know that wood can be broken down into three distinct categories, comprising hard, soft, and engineered wood? With more people turning to traditional crafts as a hobby, working wood has had a resurgence in popularity. But do you know the basic skills involved?

Unfortunately, even basic craftsmanship can be harder than you think. Read on as we discuss the essential woodworking techniques.

1. Know the Wood

The first thing you need to know is how the wood you are working with responds. You need to know the correct orientation, the way the grain goes and the properties of the wood you are working with.

For example, if you decide to make an outdoor table and you live in a humid climate, making your woodworking project from oak is a waste of time. It will bend and break with the humidity. Instead, you should be using tropical woods such as teak that do not mind heat and moisture.

The type of wood will also have an impact on the finish you choose to apply. Some woods will work better with varnish or paint, and others may not hold adhesive as well as others.

2. Drilling Holes

You should always start at the basics, and nothing is more basic than drilling a hole. However, when starting out, it can be harder than you may believe at first. Bad carpentry here can mean misaligned screws that make your work weak and give it a shoddy look.

Make sure you get a quality cordless drill. This essential tool will let you do a multitude of jobs much quicker than you can do alone, from screwing to drilling holes. It will also cut down on the time it takes to finish a job.

3. Cutting and Sawing

Cutting and sawing are other basic carpentry skills, but ones that have a multitude of different facets. There are also lots of tools and saws to use, with techniques that change slightly for each one. However, the most used tools will be a jigsaw and handsaw.

The jigsaw is a mechanical sawblade that you can use to push along the wood. They are good for cutting out curved edges and intricate parts. However, they are a little too slow for large straight lines.

Handsaws are the opposite and are great for making big, straight cuts without finesse. Their only downside is that you need a different saw blade, with different teeth, for various types of materials.

4. Dovetail Joint

A standard construction technique since the 1700s, a dovetail joint is a triumph of carpentry. On one side, it has wedge-shaped fantails that slot into pins on the other. Not only does this form an extremely strong bond, but it stops the two sides from falling apart.

Originally, this joint was considered crude and ugly. It was often hidden away at the back of the furniture or covered in veneer. However, the art and craft movement relished in the chance to show fine craftsmanship, and the dovetail joint took center stage.

The dovetail joint is not easy, but that should not put you off. Instead, try to refine it as you learn the process of woodworking. This article from TailSpin Tools can help you with marking out your joints.

5. Cutting a Mortise and Tenon

This joint is used for locking together a horizontal piece of wood with a vertical. For example, the frame of a chair seat may need to attach strongly to the legs. The mortise creates a solid 90 degree angled joint.

A mortise is a hole in a vertical object. There are many techniques, with the most common being the use of a chisel to bore into the wood. You need to aim for a tight fit, and should judge the size of the width of the tenon using your chisel.

Cutting the tenon is a much easier task. It involves a saw cut on each edge. Do this before you decide to attempt the mortise to judge the space you need better.

6. Finishing

After all the hard work, you need to make sure you get the wood finishes right. A good finish not only makes the item look great but protects it from wear and tear. This will ensure it lasts longer and stays looking fresh.

Finishing starts with the sanding process. This removes uneven surfaces and burs in the wood. The best way to start is with a hand sander and various grades of sandpaper.

Once you have got used to the grades and the finish they give, you can start on the power tools. Orbital sanders and belt sanders get the job done quicker, but they will lack the finesse. Some people prefer to stick with the hand sander regardless.

Always sand with the grain of the wood. This will create a much more even texture.


Once you have sanded and cleaned the area, you can begin coating the wood. The choice is down to you, and what you want the final look to be like. Some people choose to use varnish, others shellac, and some oils and waxes.

Each of these will have a specific way to apply it, so do your research. Varnish, for example, must be applied with the grain. Beeswax and oils must be rubbed into the wood in small circles.

Woodworking Techniques

Now that you know the basic woodworking techniques, you need to practice. Invest in good but basic tools, and find a space. Don’t be disheartened if your first few attempts go wrong.

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