Over the years, the editors at The Family Handyman have built nearly a hundred bookcases. From all that experience, we’ve learned that the best building tricks are shortcuts that avoid complex steps. So whether you’re a beginning builder or a veteran, these bookcase and shelf building tips will lead to beautiful results with less time and effort. Get the bookcase and shelf tips.
One quality about this bench that is definitely lacking is space – both tabletop and storage. The Olympia Tools does provide an adequate shelf, but it does not come with any drawers, nor does it offer the option of adding them later. The table top is the smallest we saw at 50” long and 2’ wide, though the width is actually better than most of the other table we reviewed. Still, a significant chunk of that width is occupied by a trough. This trough is designed to hold smaller workpieces to keep them from falling or getting knocked over, but it removes about 6” of width from the tabletop.
At the age of 9, Mark’s interest in woodworking began, which led him to begin an apprenticeship with Homestead Heritage Furniture at the age of 17. In his own shop he has built many pieces of furniture from small dovetail boxes to large 10′ round conference tables. Most of his work has been for clients who have ordered custom pieces for their homes and offices. Mark has been building custom furniture for the last 20 years and is now the manager of the Heritage Furniture business. Mark enjoys making hand tools and jigs that can simplify the building process. He has taught children how to shape simple utensils like wooden spoons and cutting boards as well as other larger projects. “Seeing the young grow to maturity in their craft is what I appreciate.”
Isn’t now the time to spend some time with your son or daughter? Used to be that fathers spent time teaching their children how to do things. It built memories. It built self-confidence. It built life-long trust and respect. And it built skills that remain for the rest of their lives. Isn’t now the time for you to make some memories with your children?
I ended up making a number of practice cuts. The first revealed that I hadn't tightened the screws on the edge guide enough. The second revealed that the design of the edge guide provided very little support at the end of a board, because of the cut-out for the router bit. In the "Getting Started in Woodworking" video, they had screwed a piece of hardwood to the edge-guide, to provide a continuous -- and longer -- bearing surface. I may do that myself, some day, but I didn't have the materials at hand, so I clamped some 2x4 scrap to the end of each board, to provide a continuous bearing surface past the ends. The two grooves in the long stretchers and the side groove in the short stretchers have identical layout. I made practice cuts in scrap until I had the edge guide set correctly, then I cut them all with that one setting. The bottom groove of the short stretchers uses a different setup, so it was back to the scrap, before cutting them.
I built my first platform bed by following the steps mentioned in the tutorial and the end result was everything I expected. It was as beautiful as comfortable and strong. It only cost me around $60 to build this one from the scratch. And if I can build it, anyone can. What you need is a little bit of woodworking experience and a lot of confidence. Collect the items as suggested in the video and start working now.
Cut 15 top boards 5 ft. long and rip them to 3 in. wide with a table saw so the top will glue up flat without the typical rounded edges of 2x4s. For the leg slot, cut two of the top boards into three pieces: a 39-in. middle piece and two 7-in. end pieces. Glue and screw the top together, one board at a time, with 3-in. deck screws, keeping the ripped edge facing up and level with the adjoining boards. Use a corded drill so there’s plenty of oomph to drive each screw below the surface. Note that the third glue-up from each end is where each leg notch is inserted. You can also create a nifty tool tray in the top by notching the three top pieces with a jigsaw. Clamp every 8 in. or so before driving in the 3-in.deck screws. Predrill the screw holes near the ends to prevent splitting. When you’re screwing on the 7-in. long 2x4s to create the leg slots, use a scrap piece of 2×4 as a spacer.
Tuition for Practical Woodworking is $1200 for six 8-hour days of instruction and active woodworking. Lumber is provided and costs an additional $85. We provide most tools, students are only required to bring a tape measure, sharpie, pencil, and eye protection (sanders and sandpaper are encouraged if you've got them). Visit our Course Project page to see the table we make!
There are a number of tricks to using a router. First, the bit spins in a clockwise direction, as you look down at the router from the top. This means that when you cut with the router from left to right, the bit will tend to pull the router away from you, and when you route from right to left, the router will pull towards you. So, if you're hooking the edge guide along the near side of the board, route from left to right, and when you're hooking it along the far side of the board, route from right to left. Second, always test the position of your bit on scrap material. Your odds of getting it exactly right by eye are nil. Third, don't cut more than 1/4" deep on a single pass. We want a 3/8" deep grove, so make your first pass at 3/16", or thereabouts, and make a second pass to reach the full depth.
I don't like to be ignored either. I came the same day Mahndo left after waiting 30-45 mins. I left a note with name and number but no one even called me back. I was completely ignored. I found a class over at The Corona Heritage Park in Corona instead. Their instructor answers when I call or text. Nice to be acknowledged! Going to finish beginning and take advantage of the key access in their intermediate class.
They immediately tried 2 of the projects, and first found that the instructions were a little vague (so many similar sized/shaped pieces - it was difficult to sort them!). The glue included in the kit had separated, and was not usable - but basic wood glue, which we had on hand, worked just fine. The projects turned out great, and, the time spent working on them was priceless!
After I left the magazine for a new job, I did all of my woodworking in my small two-car garage, but it was a struggle. Power, lighting, and temperature control were limited. And because I shared space with our cars I was always moving machines around, often while in the middle of a project. On top of that, my tool and machine collection had long since eclipsed the space. For all these reasons, fixing up the garage wasn’t an option. My finished basement is a family room, so it was out, too. An addition to the home or a stand-alone building would have been too expensive. I had to find a better path to a shop.